God Stuff

A Place at the Table

With the start of Lent last week, tooth I was going to fast from meat and desserts. But the first day of Lent, I was on Twitter and saw Compassion International ask “could you eat like your sponsored child for 40 days?” That really made me stop and think. I’ve mentioned on here before that I sponsor a girl in Kenya through Compassion and I was intrigued by this challenge. There was a link to Pastor Chris Seay’s website about how new book called A Place at the Table, which outlines this challenge of eating like a child in poverty for 40 days. I felt like this was something I was really interested in and decided to participate. So the second day of Lent I started eating like a child in poverty eats.

What do you eat?

I am eating rice, bananas, peas, and apples. Seem like an odd food choice? Let me explain. Many children living in poverty in the world live mainly off of rice, beans, and whatever fresh fruits/veggies are available to them. When I was in Haiti, some of the kids I came in contact with ate bananas for pretty much every meal. I don’t like beans, so I substituted them for peas and added apples because I didn’t know what other fruit/veggie to add. I don’t feel like the point of this fast is to get hung up on exactly what foods you choose. Rather it is a time to eat a few simple, basic food in order to start to try understand what children in poverty eat and how they live.

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Why am I doing this?

I went on a mission trip to Haiti last summer and for the first time saw what true poverty is. The kids I spent time with were often hungry and malnourished. I have never been in a situation where food was not available to me and, not only that, but I have so much food available to me, so many options, that I often focus large portions of my day on it. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing (obviously I love cooking/baking or I wouldn’t have this site), but I think it is also valuable to gain some perspective about how people in other countries often live. Since I have been on this fast, I have thought about the girl I sponsor every single day. I have thought about the children in third world countries every single day. And that is something that is so important because these starving people are often so easy to put out of our minds.

I bought the book A Place at the Table and am doing the daily readings. I would encourage any of you who are interested in this fast to pray about it. It’s not too late to start up now and you don’t have to do it for Lent you can do it any time you feel called to :) I will be posting more details about my experience later :)
Have a wonderful week!

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Merry Christmas

I cannot believe there are only three more days until Christmas! I feel like I have so much to do, meningitis but slowly people’s presents are coming together and I will start wrapping this evening. I love giving presents :)

I also love making Christmas crafts. Here are some step by step instructions for how to make this precious little snowman ornament. All you need is some felt (2 colors), seek some thread, a little bit of stuffing, tiny piece of yarn, and sequins/buttons. I found a picture of these ornaments on Pinterest and knew that I had to make them. I’m no expert when it comes to sewing or crafting, so I just did this the best way I could see how. It was easy and turned out great :) I might make some more if I have time. I’m thinking it’d be really cute to give him a hat if I can figure out how. I hope all of you guys are having a wonderful holiday season!

Materials:

White Felt (I used less than 1/4 of a 8.5 by 11 piece of felt…it just depends on how big you make your snowman)

Colored Felt (This is just for the scarf so you don’t need much at all)

Thread (Dark Blue or Black for the eyes, Orange for the nose, and Light Blue to sew up the snowman)

Stuffing (Very little needed)

Small piece of yarn (to hang the ornament)

Extras- small buttons, sequins

Directions:

Start by cutting out two identical snowman bodies. On one of them, use the dark blue/black thread to stitch the eyes and orange thread to make the nose. The one I saw on Pinterest didn’t have a mouth, but I wanted mine to have one so I stitched on a little smile.

Next, either sew on little buttons or use some hot glue to attach sequins for the snowman’s buttons. Next, tie the yarn into a loop and then, on the body piece that doesn’t have the face on it, hot glue on the yarn towards the top of the snowman’s body.

Now it’s time to start sewing him up! Use the light blue thread to sew around the snowman’s body (making sure that the knot of the yarn is on the inside of the snowman), leaving a gap at the bottom so you can put the stuffing in. When you only have a small opening left, stuff the snowman. Then finish sewing him up.

The final thing is to add the scarf. Cut two thin pieces of felt. One of the pieces will be glued around the snowman’s neck, and the other will be the part that hangs down. That sounds confusing…it’s really not. Just look at the pictures :)

Glue that final scarf piece down and you’re done!


I hope those instructions made sense. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions, and I’d love to see pictures if you end up making this ornament!

For to us a child is born, allergy
 to us
 a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

I hope you have a peaceful, joyful Christmas surrounded by the ones you love :)

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cookies and the Best Christmas Present You Could Give

Recently I posted a list of ideas for Christmas presents. I love giving Christmas presents and think it’s wonderful to give people things that they’ll love. But I also think that it is very important to remember what the real meaning of Christmas is, information pills the real reason we celebrate. Here are some Christmas present ideas that are very meaningful, and will help many people in need this holiday season.

1. Compassion Sponsorship

Compassion International is an amazing organization. Several people in our church work for Compassion and have seen first hand what they do for children living in third world countries. Sponsoring a child costs $38 dollars a month and provides them with food, clothes, education, and spiritual foundation. About a year and a half ago, I started sponsoring a girl who lives in Kenya. She is almost exactly my age and her name is Fresiah. I get letters from her and write her letters. Several times a year (birthdays, Christmas) you can give a little extra to pay for presents. Last year, Fresiah wrote to me, telling me what she bought with the money I sent her. She bought things like clothes, cooking oil, wheat, matches. It was pretty eye-opening to see what she got for Christmas, compared to what I ask for. I would encourage everyone to consider sponsoring a child.

2. Compassion Gift Catalog/Baby Survival Gift

If sponsorship isn’t for you, or you just want to give a one time gift, you can go onto the Compassion website and give a one time donation that will provide prental care, ongoing health care, infant survival training, the support of a local church, and much more for moms and babies. This is an incredible way to help save the lives of both moms and their babies. You can also check out their gift catalog and buy things like vaccinations, African Drought Survival, or a gift that will help a child live until age 5. These are amazing, life-changing gifts.

3. World Vision Gift Catalog

There are many organizations that allow you to buy gifts for families around the world such as goats, chickens, cows, etc. World Vision has a lot of options for giving, all at different prices. You can buy a rabbit, a small gift that will provide a family with food, all the way up to a dairy cow for a woman, a gift that will keep her independent and out of the sex trade. I thought for a long time on what gift I wanted to give and decided on a gift that offers hope for sexually exploited girls. When you give, you can give in honor of someone else and World Vision will send them a card, telling them about the gift. But even cooler than that, you can buy someone you love a present like a bracelet, necklace, silk scarf, or travel mug and coffee, and the money you spend on that gift will go towards helping others in need! Seriously awesome. Go here to check out all the things you can buy :)

4. Northwest Haiti Christian Mission

As many of you know, I went to Haiti last summer on a mission trip (you can read about my experience here, here, here, and here :) I had an incredible time and it really was a life-changing experience. I went to Northwest Haiti Christian Mission and saw first hand the amazing work they do for children and adults. Right now, they are trying to raise enough money to send one million meals to Haiti for the holidays! One meal only costs 5 cents which is crazy. I can personally speak to the work and authenticity of this organization as I have seen it first hand. I would really encourage you to give to help feel people in Haiti. And as an added bonus, anyone who gives enough money to pay for 400 meals (only $20!) will be entered into a drawing for an iPad 2! :)

I hope you guys consider giving to one of these amazing organizations!

You can also make many people happy by giving them these chocolate chip cookie dough cookies :)

I couldn’t decide which mug I liked better so I used this pink one and the red one..what do you think?

These are cookies that taste like cookie dough. Cookie outside, cookie dough inside. Umm yeah. Pretty amazing. These are different than if you make regular chocolate chip cookies and just underbake them a lot. The outside is firm like a regular cookie, but the inside stays gooey and raw. The flavor was delicious and they stay good for several days (just heat them up in the microwave for a few seconds and you have yourself a nice tasty cookie dough cookie!).

I hope you’re having a wonderful week and get to spend a lot of time with loved ones :) Do you have any plans? Any special Christmas traditions? I’d love to hear them! I’ll be sharing more of my Christmas preparations and traditions soon.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 stick butter, softened/room-temp
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix sugars and butter till creamy. Add egg and vanilla and mix till combined.
  4. Mix wet into the dry. Note: it will appear there is not enough liquid for the amount of dry ingredients, but continue mixing. It will form into a dough, it will just be a firm dough. I used my hand to mix it all together.
  5. Gently fold chocolate chips into the dough, without overmixing.
  6. Refrigerate dough for at least 20 minutes before using a small cookie scoop to scoop out dough into small mounds. Roll each mound into a ball and spread evenly on a baking sheet, leaving roughly 2-3 inches between each ball.
  7. Bake balls for 10-14 minutes, depending on how set you want your centers. You can use a thermometer to make sure the centers are 160 degrees F, or you can be daring and dangerous like me.
  8. Let your dough balls rest on the baking sheet to cool at least 5-10 minutes. Or not ;)

Source: The Chic Life
Enjoy!

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Daniel Fast

Today I am starting something called the Daniel Fast. This is a fast I’ve done twice before and just felt led to do it again. The fast traditionally lasts for 21 days and you eat only things from the earth basically- all fruits and vegetables, approved nuts, cheap and unprocessed grains. You can have spices but not sugar or any sweeteners like honey. The fast is modeled after the one that Daniel (from the Bible) did. Daniel did this fast when he was taken into the Babylonian king’s palace:

“Daniel determined that he would not defile himself by eating the king’s food or drinking his wine, so he asked the head of the palace staff to exempt him from the royal diet. The head of the place staff, by God’s grace, liked Daniel, but he warned him, ‘I’m afraid of what my master the king would do. He is the one who assigned this diet and if he sees that you are not as healthy as the rest, he’ll have my head!’ But Daniel appealed to the steward…’Try us out for ten days on a simple diet of vegetables and water. Then compare us with the young men who eat from the royal menu. Make your decision on the basis of what you see.’ ” And at the end of the 10 days, they were healthier and better nourished than the other men.

It’s a challenging fast to do because it’s a totally different way of eating and it’s hard to do when you’re eating with people not on the fast. I’m the only one in my family doing it but that’s fine with me :) I’m actually excited to experiment with making Daniel Fast meals. So here are my reasons for doing the fast:

1. Spiritual. Fasting has a way of re-focusing you and you can grow closer and more in tune with God. When you stop focusing on food, you have more time to devote to God and you remember to talk to Him.

2. I have a bad relationship with food. Even though it’s gotten better this past year, I still hate how stressed eating can make me feel. Sometimes I eat way too much because I’m upset or I don’t eat because I feel guilty. I don’t feel guilty when I eat on this fast mainly because it’s healthy. Especially since I’ve been back from Haiti, I hate that I have this horrible relationship with food because I am so blessed to have access to basically as much food as I could want. I hope that this fast will help me relax when it comes to eating.

3. It’s healthy. Eating like this is seriously so good for you. Your body detoxes and gets rid of all the chemicals and crap that’s in the food you usually eat. When I’ve done this fast before, I’ve had a ton of energy and felt really good! So I’m looking forward to that.

4. I’m going to see if it helps my migraines at all. I don’t really think it’s going to…but I might as well try!

Here’s another verse I think of when fasting. “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.” -Matthew 6:16. I think this verse is so important. Fasting can be a great experience but not if you do it for the wrong reasons. I think to get attention or to be admired are wrong reasons. To fast because other people are doing it is a bad reason. To do it to lose weight is a bad reason. I think your #1 reason for fasting has to be God, to focus on Him and get your strength from Him.

I’ll be updating how the fast is going for the next few weeks :) and posting Daniel fast approved recipes!

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Break my heart for what breaks yours <3

I was part of the Restore retreat at Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. It was pretty cool because we would spend all day serving others, population health doing VBS, pharmacy hut to huts, neurosurgeon feeding programs, playing with babies at the orphanage, etc. But at night, we would all get together and spend some time in worship. It was a great chance to re-group and process what it was we were experiencing. It is hard to take in everything you’re seeing and it can be really overwhelming so it was a real blessing to be around other teenagers and people who were experiencing the same things you were. We would also have devotional times and were encouraged to pray and journal. One thing we were encouraged to pray was “God, break my heart for what breaks yours.” The prayer was to really see the hurt and pain around us and to be broken hearted for our Haitian brothers and sisters. Because the thing is, the conditions in which most Haitians live are not ok. People should not have to live like they are forced to. We should be appalled that people in the world are living like that. But it’s hard to focus on other people when we’re in our comfortable homes and the hurting people of this world seem so far away…

But I believe we have a responsibility to the people with which we share the earth. We have a responsibility to our Hatian, African, South American, Asian, European, Australian, and American brothers and sisters. We have a responsibility to help others who are hurting. I speak from a Christian point of view but even beyond that I believe everyone has the responsibility to help their fellow humans. We share this earth with 6,905,551,213 people, more than that by the time you read this post. We share in many of the same struggles and hurts and yet we are scared to look around and take in what’s really around us.

I was talking to another person who has been to Haiti before and she said that she found that when she talked to people about her trip, they seemed almost unwilling to hear about it. I think that because we’re all a little scared to hear and see what is really happening around us in this world we live in. Because there is something so wrong about how so many people live and if we knew how they lived, then we’d probably feel uncomfortable about it. So we turn away from the hurt in the world.

It is hard to understand the pain in this world. It’s hard to allow yourself to see it. But I think when you do allow yourself to see it and then do something about it, you’ll never regret that you did.

I got sick when I was in Haiti. I felt lousy and tired. It was a billion degrees outside. It was dirty. The food and water tasted weird. Transportation was unreliable, unsafe, and not enjoyable. I saw malnourished babies and toddlers and broken adults. I saw beaches and streets covered in trash. But I will never regret that I went to Haiti. And now that I’ve seen Haiti, I can’t just stay at home anymore. I hope and pray that I will never be content to just stay at home and live my comfortable life. I hope that I will always allow God to challenge me and push me and take me to different countries and places and experience more of his world and meet more of his children. And I pray that you will feel challenged to go beyond your comfort zone. Not everyone has to leave the country- there are hurting people everywhere. But I hope you do branch out…listen to God and allow him to break your heart for what breaks His. You will never be the same.

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