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Thankfulness

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Thankfulness

I have really enjoyed walking around my neighborhood lately. There are so many little places to go and enjoy. This picture is of the sidewalk behind my place where I always begin my run. One thing I love about this sidewalk is the miles of the tree-lined paths it connects to. Way more than I can run at one time, that’s for sure!

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Frequently, there will be live bands, which always draw a crowd. It is so entertaining to people watch on these nights. You should definitely come out and visit if you’re ever nearby!

I know these things are simple, but they are major reasons why I don’t want to leave this town. Part of me thinks it would be wonderful to try something new, but the other part of me knows that I wouldn’t be able to find anything that compares to what I already have. That sounds contrary to what most young, single women think. Maybe I’m scared, but maybe I really do have a good thing here…I’m thankful for it, that’s for sure.

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Winter Wonderland

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I spent some time perusing (yes, perusing…I do know what that word actually means) Etsy this afternoon for some gift inspiration for Christmas. I came across a number of really beautiful items, so I decided to create my first treasury to better organize them.

Check it out here: Winter Wonderland Treasury

There are scarves, candles, boots, and other warm treasures to get you through the cold months of winter. I kept my color theme to reds and browns. I hope you enjoy it!

Three Songs at the End of Summer

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With the first day of school under our belts, signaling the official end of summer break, I thought it appropriate to share this poem that I found over on Debbie Diller‘s blog. She posts a poem every Friday, and I love it.

I’m thankful that the season of summer carries into the beginning of the school year. It makes the transition easier because we don’t have to give up on all of those wonderful things we love about this time of year. The afternoon rain showers and even the fresh vegetables at the market are comforting as they stick around just a little bit longer.

photo by: nikki.jane

Three Songs at the End of Summer

By Jane Kenyon

A second crop of hay lies cut
and turned. Five gleaming crows
search and peck between the rows.
They make a low, companionable squawk,
and like midwives and undertakers
possess a weird authority.
Crickets leap from the stubble,
parting before me like the Red Sea.
The garden sprawls and spoils.
Across the lake the campers have learned
to water ski. They have, or they haven’t.
Sounds of the instructor’s megaphone
suffuse the hazy air. “Relax! Relax!”
Cloud shadows rush over drying hay,
fences, dusty lane, and railroad ravine.
The first yellowing fronds of goldenrod
brighten the margins of the woods.
Schoolbooks, carpools, pleated skirts;
water, silver-still, and a vee of geese.
*
The cicada’s dry monotony breaks
over me. The days are bright
and free, bright and free.
Then why did I cry today
for an hour, with my whole
body, the way babies cry?
*
A white, indifferent morning sky,
and a crow, hectoring from its nest
high in the hemlock, a nest as big
as a laundry basket …
                                    In my childhood
I stood under a dripping oak,
while autumnal fog eddied around my feet,
waiting for the school bus
with a dread that took my breath away.
The damp dirt road gave off
this same complex organic scent.
I had the new books—words, numbers,
and operations with numbers I did not
comprehend—and crayons, unspoiled
by use, in a blue canvas satchel
with red leather straps.
Spruce, inadequate, and alien
I stood at the side of the road.
It was the only life I had.

Growth

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There are just a small handful of places that I consistently visit, and Disney World is easily one of my favorites. Some of my fondest memories and even a few mile stones can be pinned to this magical place, including learning to ride my bike and my sixteenth birthday celebration.

Each time I step onto Disney property I can’t help but to think about how much has changed for me in the last 27 years; numerous events in between each visit that have created and shaped my personality. Because of that, this place is a symbol of growth for me. Yet, at the same time, seeing Tinker Bell fly out of the castle, watching movies with Chip and Dale while roasting marshmallows, and riding my bike all over Fort Wilderness will never cease to excite me, just as it did when I was a kid.

Summer Travels

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I was blessed to spend some time in Kenya, Africa this summer with my parents. We held a retreat for missionaries living in the eastern region of the continent. My mom and I led Vacation Bible School for the third through fifth graders, which mostly served to ingrain some very catchy kids’ tunes in my head. The kids were so sweet and shared some amazing stories that usually began with, “One time, when I was being chased by baboons…” I loved it!

I was thankful for how appreciative they were of our time. It was good to see so many different personalities and cultures coming together for the same purpose. They were just normal people, doing a big work that only God could prepare them for. It was a blessing to be part of that, even for a short time.

We enjoyed a safari at the end, too. We saw so many elephants as we traveled around the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro!

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I’m still thinking about this meal…

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You know those dishes that you just can’t get out of your head? The ones that were so delicious that you could hardly refrain from licking the plate? (Not judging if you do though!) Well, this recipe is that sort of dish. I made it for a couple of girlfriends and they both texted me later thanking me and asking if we could make it again the next night. Love their enthusiasm! Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

Almond-Apricot Chicken

Almond-Apricot ChickenIngredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, (6 ounces each)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 4 dried apricots, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (3 tablespoons) — (I used way more than this! As long as you’re buying them…)
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Mint Pesto — (This is a link to the mint pesto that is supposed to go with it, but I wasn’t a huge fan. I personally don’t love mint, but that’s just me.)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut a slit in one side of each chicken breast to create a pocket about 4 inches long.
  2. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup almonds with the goat cheese and apricots. Stuff each breast with 1/4 of the mixture. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  3. On a plate, combine breadcrumbs and remaining 1/4 cup almonds. Dip each breast into egg, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken until golden, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to oven; bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Serve hot with pesto on the side.

*Directions taken from: www.MarthaStewart.com with my adaptations noted in parenthesis.

Also, I paired it with a salad and white sweet potato fries! If you haven’t tried a white sweet potato, you need to find one. Stat.

Haiti Journals, part 4

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Day 5

13JUN11

After working yesterday afternoon, we set out to get water for the community. In our little upstairs living area, the water was running low. It was stored in two large fifty-gallon barrel drums. We relied on that source for bathing and flushing the toilet, which requires much skill in order to perfect! (I will say that I’m a pretty darn good toilet flusher. Thank you very much.) The water was also filtered for drinking using a system they had set up on the campus.

This is the assembly line we make to carry smaller buckets up to the big barrels.

We loaded the truck up with several of the barrels and drove around the city of Montrouis. We stopped at a spicket that was off the side of the road, one of the boys hopped out, turned it on, and nothing happened. It was dry. So, we moved on to another one. After trying again, we found that it, too, had no water. After trying a third location and finding the same problem, our driver told us, “Well, no water tonight. We will try tomorrow.”

What? I can’t have water? No one has ever told me that before. I know people all over the world face this exact situation on a daily basis, but not me. I was suddenly feeling more dehydrated than I had the entire trip. A minor panic attack ensued.

Thankfully, we stopped at another orphage in town and after some questioning and relaying messages to higher authorities at the home, we were permitted to use their well and fill up a few of our barrels. Crisis averted. Praise God!

I can’t tell you what this experience has done to me…

{Today I spent the morning working in the school and then I helped the team pour a sidewalk. I didn’t write about this in my journal, but here are some pictures…}



Day 6

14JUN2011

Today was not easy. It started off great while I was testing students in the school, but once I joined up with the rest of my group things became tough. Pastor Joel (the man from Canaan directing our group) asked us to complete a few tasks around the orphanage, but failed to give us the necessary equipment to finish the jobs. We started sanding and then painting the interior of a house, but didn’t have enough paint, there were no drop cloths, and the rooms were difficult to get into because there was nowhere to move the furniture.

After we did as much painting as we could, he analyzed our work and didn’t seem very pleased…What else could we do though? I feel there may have been some underlying issues with his lack of approval, but it’s obviously not something we could control. It still affected us though, and that’s what was frustrating.

I’m proud of our group though. They are such hard workers, and did their very best to complete the job with what we were given. I can say that they were so positive about the situation and did not complain. (No poison bombs, Justin!) It was impressive. However, I cannot say the same for me. In my frustration, there were definitely a number of complaints that were voiced. Sorry team…

I shared during the devotional time tonight from Philippians 3. Before reading the passage I asked the group to pay attention to the ways in which Paul changed, but also the one thing that remained the same about him. He went from persecuting the church to serving the Lord, but he did both things with great passion. Before I shared, I spent a lot of time praying about my attitude that day. I knew my heart wasn’t right. I should press on toward the goal regardless of what someone else thinks of me. It’s easier said than done. Hopefully tomorrow will be more productive. I should not have slacked on my work ethic because of my attitude. I pray for a change of heart. Tomorrow is a new day.

The July Fly

While I was at Aunt Nelda and Uncle Mike’s house in Greenville, SC last week, my uncle came into the house shaking a huge insect. It sounded like some babies had teamed up for a revolt and were using their rattlers to gather their forces. He always has something up his sleeve, it’s just part of the Kay way, and I never know exactly what to expect. He explained that it was a July Fly, and they’re also called Cicadas. We took it out on the porch and attempted to release it, but the darn thing just didn’t want to fly away. But, every time he shook it, it buzzed like crazy; all the while sitting there like he had not a care in the world. I almost wondered if the noise really came from it because the fly appeared to be so calm.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is the loudest little critter this side of the Mississippi…