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, doing VBS, hut to huts, 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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Tout Bagay Deja Byen

While I was in Haiti, I was mainly at the mission in St. Louis. But my group spent a couple of days in a small village called Beau Champ which was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was out in the middle of nowhere- it took us 3 hours to get there by tap-tap cart through rivers and streams and dirt/mud roads. There is a small mission in Beau Champ. It’s surrounded by beautiful mountains and goats and sheep and donkeys. We walked through the market one day and there was a huge space that served as a donkey parking lot!

At the mission, there were a lot of painted signs that said “tout bagay deja byen” which means “everything is already ok.” They sang a song about that too, where the lyrics were basically “everything is already ok because our God sits on the throne.”

Think about what they’re saying: everything is already ok. Not “it’s going to be ok” or “it would be ok if we had x, y, and z” but it is ok right now, as it is. That attitude is almost unfathomable to me. These people who have pretty much nothing are ok with their lives. They don’t have houses, clothes, food, clean water, medical care, and they’re saying that everything is already ok?

Yes. Because they know that God sits on the throne.

And even though things are hard and painful, one day they will go to heaven and join God by that throne.

Tout bagay deja byen.

Peach Scones for Breakfast!

One of my favorite things about summer is that I can choose to do whatever I want to in a day! If I want to wake up late (10am), get up and make peach scones, do Jillian’s 6 pack abs and bike 3 miles, collapse on the floor and watch The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo until I have the energy for a shower, eat scrambled eggs for dinner, make peach crisp, and finish the day with watching The Girl who Played with Fire, I can! So that’s what I did yesterday :)

I am usually not a fan of peaches. I much prefer nectarines- I think they taste better and aren’t all fuzzy. But my grandparents brought us a whole bunch of peaches and I didn’t want them to go bad so I decided to bake with them. I was going to make peach pancakes for breakfast but my sister was craving scones. I used to make scones all the time- and I’m pretty good at it if I do say so myself! I hadn’t made them in a really long time, though. I got a recipe for peach scones off of Sugar Plum. The scones turned out pretty delicious but you couldn’t tell that there was peach in them. In the future, I’m going to stick to my regular scone recipe. Now I’m all inspired to make more scones!

Peach Scones (Slightly adapted from Sugar Plum)

Ingredients:
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons honey
1/3 cup finely chopped peach, peeled
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
Powdered sugar to top (optional)

*I like to brush my scones with a beaten egg and some milk. It helps them get nice and golden brown.

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a large sheet pan with cooking spray.

Whisk together egg, milk and honey, in a small bowl, until well combined; stir in peach.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt, until well combined. Add the butter in, using a pastry blender or your fingertips. After the butter is mixed in, the mixture will have little lumps in it. Stir in milk mixture until dough comes together but don’t overwork the mixture.

Place dough on a floured surface and form a ball. Make it into a circle a little less than an inch thick. Use a pizza cutter or a large knife to slice this into 8 equal triangles. Beat an egg and add a little bit of milk. Use a pastry brush (is that what they’re called?) to brush some of the mixture over the scone slices. Place them on a cookie sheet with parchment paper and bake at 400 degrees F, for 18-22 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Sprinkle them with powdered sugar and them put in the oven on broil for a few minutes until the sugar starts to sorta melt into the scone. It’s extra super delicious!

Makes: 8 scones

Lemon Basil Pasta with Chicken

I made dinner the other night- I wasn’t sure what to make but I was in the mood for pasta! I settled on Pioneer Woman Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta. Except I didn’t grill the chicken. Because grills are big and manly. And I am not. Don’t comment on that.

So I thought this pasta was pretty good! My family (especially my mom) loved it. The recipe calls for Penne pasta but I was really craving angel hair. It worked with angel hair but I think it would have been better with penne because the angel hair was a little fragile to hold the sauce. On the plus size, we have a flourishing basil plant so I got to use fresh basil!

I marinated the chicken in lemon juice, some dijon mustard, and honey for a couple hours. Then I pan fried them- making the whole house fill like smoke. I swear I do that every time I cook. But I have yet to set off the smoke detector (at my house…).

After cooking the chicken, which was very nice and lemony, I cooked the pasta and prepared the sauce. The sauce was cream based with lots of parmesan. The texture of the sauce was kinda…grainy. I couldn’t get it to get smooth even with adding water and stuff. I don’t know how I could do it differently in the future…

I added the sauce to the pasta and also added the chopped up basil.

Then ate it with the chicken! This wasn’t my favorite dish I’ve ever made but it was still good!

Recipe slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman:

Ingredients

  • 3 whole Grilled Chicken Breasts, sliced
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta (or penne), Cooked Until Al Dente
  • 1/2 stick Butter
  • 3 whole Lemons, Juiced
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 cup Half-and-half
  • 1-1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • 20 whole Basil Leaves, Chopped

Preparation Instructions:

Marinate the chicken (for at least several hours) in a bunch of lemon juice, some honey, and dijon mustard.

Cook pasta, reserving 1 cup of hot pasta water when you drain. Set pasta aside.

Now melt the butter over medium heat. Add the juice from 3-4 lemons and whisk it all together. Pour in the cream and half-and-half and whisk it until hot. Dump in the cheese and whisk until melted. Add salt and pepper. Check consistency, adding some of the hot pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed.

Pour pasta and sauce into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle remaining basil all over the top, then add sliced chicken breasts. Serve immediately!

What I’m Reading

I’ve gotten to do quite a bit of reading this summer which is great! I absolutely love reading and I’m getting as much as I can in now because I never have much time to read during the school year. I’ve read some really great books lately so I thought I’d share!

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy by Stieg Larson. I thought they were pretty incredible! I had seen the movies before I read the books (something that I never ever do but I wasn’t planning on reading the books) but the movies really intrigued me so I decided to read them after all. I’d heard such mixed reviews about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Some people absolutely love it and others have a really hard time getting into it. The first half of the book is difficult to get through- there is a lot of political/economic/financial jargon that’s rather uninteresting. What Stieg Larson does really well is paint really vivid characters and as you read on in his first book, you start meeting those characters and it becomes a lot more interesting. I think it actually helped me that I’d seen the movies first because I was able to get through the more tedious parts of the books without much trouble. Larson is definitely a good writer but he has a very meticulous style- he will often take up several pages explaining some complicated political something or other when really a paragraph would have sufficed. However, the story line of these books is very captivating. The series is very dark, dealing with issues such as rape, sexual violence, murder, etc. It’s always hard to read books that deal with such difficult topics but I find that I never regret having read them. The books are very graphic, however, so if you are bothered by that I would be careful before reading them. There were parts that I could hardly read. So what is the story line? Well the first book is slightly different from the second and third. The main characters are journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who in the beginning of the book is charged with libel, and Lisbeth Salander, a troubled computer hacker. The two team up to solve the murder of Harriet Vanger, a murder which has gone unsolved for 40 years. The second and third books (The Girl who Played with Fire and then The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) focus almost completely on Lisbeth and her dark past. I enjoyed the last two books more than the first. I was reading them in Maine and after I finished the second book, I immediately bought the third on Amazon so I could read it on my Kindle- and then I didn’t put it down for the day and a half it took me to finish it. I got so sucked in to the story! So I would definitely recommend these books and the movies (don’t even get me started on the fact that Hollywood is re-making the Swedish movies…blah!). Get ready for a really interesting, dark, and exciting read.

  • The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors- she’s also written the Poisonwood Bible which is one of my all time favorite books. The Bean Trees was another great book. Here’s the description from Amazon: “This debut novel follows the gritty, outspoken Taylor Greer, who leaves her native Kentucky to head west. She becomes mother to an abandoned baby and, when her jalopy dies in Tucson, is forced to work in a tire garage and to room with a young, battered divorcee who also has a little girl. With sisterly counsel and personal honesty, the two face their painful lot. The blue-collar setting, described vibrantly, often turns violent, with baby beatings, street brawls, and drug busts. Despite the hurt and rage, themes of love and nurturing emerge.” It may not sound very interesting, I didn’t think it did, but it was a really sweet book. I really fell in love with the characters. I would definitely recommend it!

  • I’ve also read some chick flicks lately…hem hem. Sometimes you just need a break from serious books! I read Certain Girls and In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner. Certain Girls is told from two perspectives, a mother and her soon-to-be teenage daughter. While reading it I was yelling “Can a teenager really be so irritating!?” and “What kind of mother is this!? She’s crazy!!” haha so I guess it’s good that it illicits strong feelings! In Her Shoes was told from the point of views of Maggie and Rose, two sisters, and their grandma, Ella. Sometimes it was pretty slow going but overall I enjoyed it. After reading these two, I read Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin. This book was kinda irritating. It was about a lawyer (do all chick flicks star dissatisfied lawyers? It would appear so) and her love affair basically. The main guy in the book irritated me and it really just gets frustrating reading books where people are constantly cheating on each other. But I did finish the book! It’s not like it was awful or anything, I would recommend any of these 3 if you just want to read a mindless chick flick, but it certainly didn’t impress me.

So those are the books I’ve read lately!

Things we forget or never really knew

Failure is an event, never a person.- William D. Brown

Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you’re going to do now, and do it– William Durant

Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality– Les Brown

Never think that you’re not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. People will take you very much at your own reckoning. — Anthony Trollope

Take control of your destiny. Believe in yourself. Ignore those who try to discourage you. Avoid negative sources, people, places, things and habits. Don’t give up and don’t give in. — Wanda Carter

There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps, for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less. — Kurt Hahn

“Each body has its art” – Gwendolyn Brooks

“I see my body as an instrument, rather than an ornament” – Alanis Morissett

Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon. When we love a woman we don’t start measuring her limbs.- Picasso

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.

Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.

I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being. ~Hafiz

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

You are very powerful, provided you know how powerful you are.
~Yogi Bhajan

Of all the judgments we pass in life, none is more important than the judgment we pass on ourselves. ~Nathaniel Branden

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within. ~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~Albert Einstein

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you will ever own. ~Mary Schmich

Whatever you are doing, love yourself for doing it. Whatever you are feeling, love yourself for feeling it. ~Thaddeus Golas

You are as amazing as you let yourself be. Let me repeat that. You are as amazing as you let yourself be. ~Elizabeth Alraune

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her.  ~David Brinkley

It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.  ~Author Unknown

Aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know that so it goes on flying anyway.  ~Mary Kay Ash

People are crying up the rich and variegated plumage of the peacock, and he is himself blushing at the sight of his ugly feet.  ~Sa’Di

It’s hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.  ~Sally Kempton

Never dull your shine for somebody else.  ~Tyra Banks

If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.  ~Thomas Alva Edison

A gold medal is a nice thing – but if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.  ~From Cool Runnings

Once you become self-conscious, there is no end to it; once you start to doubt, there is no room for anything else.  ~Mignon McLaughlin

When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.  ~African Proverb

The best way to gain self-confidence is to do what you are afraid to do.  ~Author Unknown

Be proud to wear you.  ~Dodinsky

The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.  ~Sonya Friedman

Our ordinary mind always tries to persuade us that we are nothing but acorns and that our greatest happiness will be to become bigger, fatter, shinier acorns; but that is of interest only to pigs.  Our faith gives us knowledge of something better: that we can become oak trees.  ~E.F. Schumacher

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.  ~Marianne Williamson

Trust

I feel like God really uses the summers to teach me things. Well of course He uses every day throughout the year but summer is a time where I don’t have the distractions of school and God really speaks to me and works in that time.

Last summer He taught me how without Him, I am nothing. I was so broken and He spent all this past year building me back up. This whole past year the verse I have remembered and repeated to myself countless times is 1 Peter 3:4 from the Message: Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.

This summer I feel like God’s message to me has been a little different. He used Haiti to teach me that I am a lot stronger than I thought. This coming year I am facing a lot of uncertainty with high school, college, and life in general. He has given me confidence that I have the strength to get through this year. But He’s really asking me to trust Him. I don’t like not having a plan, feeling uncertain about what’s coming next. It’s hard for me to surrender all of this worry and just trust that He will take care of everything and that I will get through this year just fine, I will end up at the college that I need to, that I won’t have to stress about whether or not to get a job and finances for college. He’s telling me that I need to just pray and trust. This is the verse that I have in my heart right now…and that I anticipate will be on my mind for most of this coming year: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.

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