All over the world people are hurting (physically, emotionally, and spiritually). It's important that we remember them and keep them in our prayers. But lets not get so caught up in worrying about what is happening elsewhere when we have our own backyard that needs tending to.Read More
I'm excited to be renaming and revamping my blog.Read More
Being a missionary kid is not always easy. However we do have some life-altering experiences that help shape us into the people we become. Although we might find it difficult to find a place that we call "home" or know where we are "from", I have yet to meet a missionary kid that wishes they hadn't grown up abroad.Read More
The term, "Third Culture Kid", was coined by Dr. Ruth Hill Useem back in 1960 and is used to describe someone who has spent a considerable part of his or her developmental years outside of their parents' culture. I am a TCK because my parents are American, but I grew in Belgium and South Africa. Actually, my dad is also a TCK because my grandfather worked for Phillips Oil Company and raised his family in Libya, and later Norway.Read More
As believers we know that there is power in prayer. Let's get down on our knees and pray for the hurting nation of Kenya.Read More
Life can get overwhelming. In fact, so often I become discouraged because I just can't do it all. But there is peace in knowing that we don't have to do it alone. God knows our needs and wants to help. "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." ~Matthew 10:29-31Read More
This morning I was reading John 21 and verses 15-17 suddenly meant more to me than they have ever before. When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" #scripture #truth #ChristianityRead More
The dictionary defines the word "organic" as: of, relating to, or derived from living matter. The very core belief of Christianity is that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and His power is in us. Meaning that Christ and His Spirit are a living matter. That is to say, we as CHRISTians are "of, relating to, and derived from [Christ]".Read More
How are your new year's resolutions going? If you have already given up, it's not too late to get back on track!Read More
Within these past few years, the many cases concerning cop brutality such as Trayvon Martin , Eric Gardner , and Michael Brown have now gotten me thinking.Read More
I look around and see faces; faces that are masked over.
There’s a girl with a smile on her face, but I see desperation in her eyes.
I see a boy with a mask of anger, but I hear his faint plea for help.
Are they being real? Showing who they really are?
Why do they hide what’s inside them?
They need to be real. Real like Jesus,
Like His life, His death, and His love.
They need to be real.
I look in the mirror and see my face.
What do people see when they look at me?
Do they see me in a mask, or do they see the Savior inside me?
Can people see Christ’s love shine through?
Does my face radiate my joy inside?
Am I being real? Showing who I really am?
Why do I mask over who’s inside me?
I need to be real. Real like my Jesus,
Like His life, His death, and His love.
I need to be real.
Look at your heart. Look at your life.
Do the two match up?
If your heart is real, why isn’t your life?
Do people see the real you? Does your light shine bright?
Are you being real? Showing who you really are?
Why do you mask over who’s inside you?
You need to be real. Real like Jesus.
Like His life, His death, and His love.
You need to be real.
Don’t you think its time to be real?
We need to stand out and show people we care.
We need to be real. Real like Jesus.
Like His life, His death, and His love.
It's time to be real.
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I wrote this poem several years ago, but never did anything with it. Then, I stumbled upon it the other day while cleaning out my computer and thought I would share it all with you. Enjoy :)
I think of a poor little child who is
Lost and alone and I cry.
I see a baby all skin and bones
Dying from disease and hunger and I cry.
I hear the desperation in a lost
Soul’s voice and I cry.
I feel a person pull away when I
Speak God’s name and I cry.
Cry, cry for the child that is hungry and cold.
Cry for the heart that is hard as stone.
Cry for the souls that want to find love.
Cry, cry for those who are hurt and afraid.
God thinks of the poor little children that are
Lost and alone and He cries.
God sees the babies all skin and bones
Dying from disease and hunger and He cries.
God hears the desperation in lost
Souls’ voices and He cries.
God feels us pull away as He offers
His love and He cries.
I think of life, when I’ve sinned, or just pushed God aside.
I now look up to the cross, I see God’s love,
His arms open wide and I cry.
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As I have said on multiple occasions, I am in the process of learning Chinese Mandarin. In general I don't find language learning to be an easy feat. I am familiar with studying different languages as I have had to study Flemish, Afrikaans, a little Latin, and Spanish throughout the years. However, Chinese has been the MOST difficult of all these languages. Probably because the language doesn't have the Latin or Germanic language roots that I'm familiar with. So, because of this I have been working harder than ever before to find tricks to help me in this language learning endeavor.
A while back I had shared five tips for language learning that I have found really helpful. Here, I would like to add a sixth suggestion. So, here it is:
Watch dubbed movies.
I'm sure you have already figured out that you can watch shows or movies that are filmed in the language that you are trying to learn. That's great, I like to do the same thing. I love watching my Taiwanese shows. But I've come to realize that while it is helpful to watch movies and shows in Chinese with subtitles, I have also started treating those subtitles as a crutch. I can't watch the shows without the subtitles though because I'm not fluent enough to follow the plot without them. So, I decided, why not watch movies that I already am very familiar with that are dubbed in Chinese? Being the big kid that I am, I immediately began looking for Mandarin dubbed Disney movies. Last Christmas I was given some Mandarin dubbed Disney movies from my parents and since then, I have been hooked.
I don't have to understand every word to know what is being said, because I am so familiar with these stories. I have actually learned quite a few new phrases and words this way because I completely understand the context in which they are being used. Getting rid of the subtitles has gotten me to really listen to the words spoken. I have found that I can even turn a dubbed movie on in the background and I'm understanding more than I realized just from listening to it. This may seem like a method for kids, and yes, it is often suggested for children, but that doesn't mean it won't work for you too.
If you are really adverse to watching children movies, then it is also pretty easy to find "grown up" films that are dubbed. The reason why I choose Disney movies is because I love Disney and am very familiar with these stories. Also, just like it can be annoying (and hard to take seriously) to watch a kung fu movie that is dubbed in English, watching a movie dubbed in another language can be equally annoying and strange. I find that the same is not true of animated movies. I don't have any trouble watching dubbed animated movies, so that is why I choose Disney movies. But it's really up to you. If you don't have a problem with this, go for it. So, for all you language learning movie buffs, go out and enjoy watching your favorite movies in your new language. Have fun!
I have added links for some sites for finding movies in different languages:
Chinese Mandarin: http://www.chinesedubbed.com/
*Sometimes it takes a bit of deep searching to find movies in the language that you want. Not all countries even dub movies. It's actually pretty difficult to find movies dubbed in Dutch because they prefer to watch movies in the original language with dutch subtitles. But if you can find a movie in your new language, I highly recommend it. Happy watching!
For More Reading Pleasure:
In the United States, November is really a month set apart as a time of thanksgiving. The Webster dictionary defines the word thanksgiving as "a public acknowledgement or celebration of divine goodness; also, a day set apart for religious services, specially to acknowledge the goodness of God, either in any remarkable deliverance from calamities, or in the ordinary dispensation of his bounties." Sadly, I think that many of us have begun to lose sight of the very definition of what the act of thanksgiving is.
Since the beginning of November, I have begun noticing some social media posts that include hashtags such as #givingthanks, #thankful, #blessed. Many of these posts are in response to "thankful challenges" that have been floating around for a while. I know that more and more of these posts will begin to surface as we near Thanksgiving day.
I'm not saying that this is bad. I think it's great, really. Finding things to be thankful for daily is important. These challenges can actually help teach us to even find small things to be thankful for. There are also studies that show that an attitude of thankfulness is good for overall health and wellbeing too. However, in all the time that people spend finding things to be thankful for, and then sharing them on their social media sites, they tend to forget to actually thank God. Doesn't that kind of defeat the point then? Yeah, it's good to have a spirit of thanksgiving, but it's better to properly express it. God doesn't care if you announce to your thankfulness for the world wide web to see. He wants to have you come to Him and thank Him personally.
Think of it this way. What if you gave a gift or did something for someone you really cared about and their response was to tweet their thanks? Yeah, you would know that they are thankful, but wouldn't it mean so much more if they came to you in person and actually genuinely thanked you? You probably don't need to be thanked properly, but that respect and acknowledgement is still something that you likely expect in return. It's the same idea with God. He doesn't need our thanks, but if we love Him and have a relationship with Him, then we should respect and honor Him enough to give thanks where thanks is due.
I'm not perfect, and I am working on this too. I have actually been really convicted of this matter this week, and I thought I would share these thoughts with all of you too. So, here is what I'm going to do about it. I'm personally challenging myself to thank God for at least one thing every single day. On top of being thankful for the obvious things, I'm working on finding God's hand in my difficult situations to thank Him too. I am writing all of these thankful items down in a journal. This way, on days that I am struggling to be thankful, I can look back and see God's hand in my life. I don't have a time frame for this challenge. Just like exercise and healthy eating is a lifestyle, I am learning to see being thankful as a lifestyle as well.
I have also noticed, that I tend to not thank others enough either. Yes, I have always made a point of thanking a bagger for taking my groceries out to my car, or a stranger who holds a door open for me. But I've realized that I don't thank my family and friends enough. I have been taking them for granted. I want my husband to know that I acknowledge how hard he works and that I am thankful for it. My parents and grandparents don't hear often enough that I am thankful for all their prayer and support. My siblings aren't aware of how thankful I am that we are so close and that I can go to them whenever I need a good mood booster. And I haven't thanked my friends enough for all the little things. This is something that I fully plan on rectifying. In the media age, I think that it is so important that we still make the effort to make personal contact with those in our lives and really express our love and thankfulness.
I invite you to join me in this challenge of thankfulness. It doesn't need to be a grand public expression of thanks. Rather, I encourage that you look within yourself and really focus on these things that you are thankful and give thanks where thanks is due.
Last week I wrote a guest post on the Multicultural Kids Blog where I shared one of my favorite fall recipes. After writing that post, I decided that I wanted to share a fall recipe on my own blog as well. I love fall and all the delicious warm treats that come with the season. Growing up, I was not a big fan of dessert in general and would usually turn down dessert when offered (I'm not sure why I was such a strange kid), but I was always up for any kind of fruit dessert. Although (unfortunately for my waist line) I have grown to enjoy dessert, I'm still a sucker for sweet fruity desserts. Baked pears is one of my favorite treats and its such a quick and easy recipe. Seriously, you can prep these in about five minutes and will be ready after baking for 30 minutes.
Baked Pear Dessert
1. All you need for this super easy and delicious treat are:
- Pears (each pear make 2 servings)
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground nutmeg
2. Wash your pears and cut them in half. Then simply remove the stem and scoop the cores out with a small spoon. I put them in a pan that is covered with foil because baked honey can be really tough to wash later, so I just save myself the headache.
3. Spread some butter over the pear halves and then drizzle honey over them.
4. Next, simply sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg over the pear halves and cover them up with foil.
Here is the final product. I drizzled a little more honey on top before serving. This also tastes really good with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream (or you could put a some greek yogurt on top for a healthier treat). Enjoy!
I think that Autumn might be my favorite season. I love watching the leaves on the trees change colors, wrapping up in warm sweaters, drinking seasonal lattes, and eating warm, comforting foods. Sadly I haven't ever really lived anywhere that I can actually see Autumn in its full glory, so maybe I like the idea more than anything else. But seriously, I think there is something exciting and romantic about this season. So, even though the temperatures are still in the nineties here in LA, I have really been craving a good stew or bowl of chili. Then, yesterday, out of the blue, my husband asked me to make my special stew. I gladly did that for him and thought I would share it with you too.
I'm not sure why my husband thinks that my stew is special, because the truth is I almost never make the exact same stew twice. The reason for this is because I really just throw whatever I happen to have in the fridge in the crockpot. This is actually something I learned from my mom. While growing up, my family often had "clean out the fridge soup" and it was usually awesome. Today I had beef short ribs, potatoes, and a lot of vegetables that needed to be eaten. So I just threw it all together and let it simmer for eight hours.
1. What I have here are: - Short Ribs
- Half a bag of baby spinach
- 2 Stalks of celery
- 1 Tomato
- 1/2 Zucchini
- 1 White onion
- 1 1/2 Cup baby carrots
- 2 Potatoes
- 1 Red Pepper
- 1 1/4 Cup sliced mushrooms
2. I put everything in the crockpot. The meat was put on the bottom and I left the meat on the bones to add more flavor to the stew. I left the spinach out until the last hour because I have learned that it will completely disintegrate if cooked too long.
3. Now for the spices. First I put two cups of water in the crockpot. Then I got another two cups of water, beef bullion cubes, salt, pepper, garlic, parsley, rosemary, basil, cumin, and cayenne pepper.
4. Add four cubes of beef bullion (or 1 cube for every cup of water) to two cups of boiling water. Stir it until the cubes are totally dissolved. After that, add and stir together:
- 2 tsp. Salt
- 1/2 tsp. Black pepper
- 1 Tbs. Garlic
- 1 tsp. Cumin
- 1 tsp. Rosemary
- 1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. Parsley
5. Just put one bay leaf in the crockpot and pour your spice mixture over everything. Set the pot to low and allow it to simmer for about eight hours.
6. After eight hours we had a delicious, warm stew. Enjoy!
The past few months I have been hitting the gym pretty hard. Then yesterday I had my first truly difficult workout. I don't know what was wrong with me, its not like my muscles were unusually sore, but I just couldn't seem to get my limbs to move like I wanted them to. Yet, I pushed through (it took me twice as long to get through my workout then it should have). This morning I woke up feeling frustrated with yesterday's workout and feeling like I had been hit by a train. So, I got online to see what workout forums had to say to get me back to feeling human again. Here is what I found (though its not like I didn't know this already, I just hadn't been paying attention):
1. When you work out you need to eat so that you have the fuel to keep you going (I realized I hadn't eaten much yesterday)
2. Protein, protein, protein. Seriously, it helps with muscle recovery
3. Its important to consume vitamins when working out because your body needs them for the best performance.
Even though I had already heard this before, I decided it was time to actually follow the advice. Which led me to the whole reason for this post: I decided to try making the banana pancakes that one of my paleo diet friends keeps raving about. My friend has said on multiple occasions that these pancakes taste just like the real thing and that she doesn't even think about the high carb pancakes anymore. I seriously doubted that a recipe that requires just two ingredients (eggs and a banana) could possibly taste the same as a real pancake, but I decided I would go ahead and try it. Because I am very sore today, I decided to add a few more ingredients to increase the protein in take, but I still kept it low carb. Here's what I discovered, it doesn't really taste just like a real pancake (as I expected), but it did taste really good. And it's really easy and quick to make. Here I am sharing my first attempt at making these very healthy, high protein, delicious pancakes. Below the recipe I have added the nutritional information for you to take a gander at too. Enjoy! ;)
Banana Protein Pancakes
1. If you want to make the original recipe, all you need are two eggs and a banana (this will make four pancakes)
2. Yes, eggs are an excellent source of protein, but to get an extra protein boost, I decided to add a scoop of protein powder and a tablespoon of powdered peanut butter.
Isopure is a great protein in you are looking to trim down instead of bulk up as it has only 6g of carbs in a serving (2 scoops).
The powdered peanut butter can be found in Target, health stores, and possibly select grocery stores. It's awesome because it has all of the nutrients of peanut butter without the oil.
3. Just put all of the ingredients in a blender and blend it all together. You could mash it and mix it with a fork, but it needs to be REALLY well mashed and mixed or you're going to end up lumpy with dry spots in your pancakes. Just a heads up, the mixture will end up very liquidy, it won't look like pancake batter (and that's how it's supposed to be).
4. Preheat your pan on medium heat and spray it with non-stick spray.
5. Pour your batter in your pan. You need to keep an eye on it, because you won't get those little bubbles in your batter telling you when it's time to flip it. I burned my first pancake a little because I had waited too long.
6. Here is the finished product. They are really thin and have a bit more of a crepe like texture to them.
7. For my meal I put black raspberry jam on the pancake, ate a few strawberries, and had a cup of orange juice. I also took two fish oil pills as well. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how good it tasted. I think it will probably become one of my staples from now on.
Orange Juice (8 oz):
Calories 194 48 112
Carbohydrates 288 g 117 g 26 g
Total fats 2.1 g 0.5 g -
Protein 21.7 g 1 g 2 g
Cholesterol 225.8 g - -
Sodium 179.9 mg 1.5 mg 2.5 mg
Vitamin A 11% - 10%
Vitamin C 23% 149% 207%
Vitamin E 8% 2% -
Vitamin K 6% 4% -
Vitamin B6 27% 4% -
Vitamin B12 7% - -
Calcium 14% 2% 3%
Iron 7% 3% 3%
Phosphorus 14% 4% 4%
Potassium 16% 7% 14%
Magnesium 18% 5% 7%
* Percent daily values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Sunset in Missouri
This summer has really been a time for me to really find myself again. I have previously mentioned that I felt that God was urging me to trust Him as He led me to Chicago for school. So, I had stepped out in faith, leaving my husband and friends in Orlando, packed my bags, moved in with my parents and began taking my last two pre-requisites for my graduate studies. Then after more praying, advice seeking, and talking to my husband, I felt that God was telling me it was time to move on again. He didn't want me to be separated from my husband, He wanted me to turn down my seat in the graduate program I had been accepted in, and follow my husband to LA where I would have to begin the whole school application process all over again. Again, I became nervous. Not about being with my husband again of course, but I began questioning if I should really turn down a graduate program that I was already accepted in and about to begin. Should I really put myself out on the line and head, once again, into the unknown, without the guarantee of a school or job for me? The answer, Yes.
Then, I began wondering if my summer spent in Chicago had been a waste. Had I misunderstood God's direction? Had I made a mistake? Now, looking back, I don't think so. I think God wanted me to stop relying on my husband and friends so much. I believe He was pulling me out of my comfort zone so that I could really begin to focus on Him and find my confidence and purpose in Him. Sometimes, we are called away for a little while to re-group, to find ourselves again and rediscover our identities in our Creator. That is exactly what this past summer has been for me. First, God called me out on my own and then He led me back to my roots. After all this, I realize that I have been called to do so much more. I wasn't meant to become comfortable in Chicago, to settle, or to find an identity completely separated from my husband. I am called to be flexible, move when God calls me to move, and listen closely to His direction.
So, all that to say, a couple of weeks ago, I found myself once again packing up my car and hitting the road. My husband and I spent five days together driving cross country. At first my husband and I were nervous about this drive. How would we survive such a long drive, especially with a dog in the car (which was completely packed)? We were sure that we would be tired and bored and impatient for the trip to get over with, but it wasn't like that at all. The drive was stunning, I never got tired of looking at the scenery, we broke up the trip so that we wouldn't have to drive too long each day, and Chloe (our dog) was amazing. (Pictures of our trip can be seen on my Facebook page).
While on the road, I realized something about myself. I realized (like so many other TCKs) that I wasn't fully living in and appreciating the culture I am living in. Having lived and experienced so many countries and cultures, I have (without really realizing it until now) been unappreciative and underestimating of the amazing richness of America. I have always seen America as being less in some way, really only an in-between place until I was called somewhere else more amazing, more exciting, and more in need. But this trip has really opened my eyes. Watching God's creation pass by my car window, I realized that this country is amazing. Seeing the Grand Canyon, stopping at a Native American reserve, and now living in LA, I realize, this country is exciting. And looking at all the faces around me, I realize this country is very much in need. It is desperately in need of God, of His ambassadors to step up, speak out, give the love, grace, and healing that Jesus Himself gave.
I have learned that I need to open my eyes and to truly see and appreciate where God has placed me and to follow His directions wherever I am. I know I am called to missions, but aren't we all? Missions doesn't just mean going abroad to an exotic or foreign location, missions can be right at your doorstep. It IS on your doorstep, and mine, and we are called to serve Him wherever we are placed. No matter how long that time may be. There is no "in-between" when it comes to running the race we have been called to run, the race is continuous and I realized I've been resting too long. I'm done waiting, I have sought forgiveness, and I am ready to make my mission field where I am, not where I hope to go.
My self-discovery was not easy or comfortable as I was stretched, my patience was tested, and I was humbled by my pride and arrogance. But I know that I am better for it, and I pray that I will continue to grow as my identity in Christ deepens. I know that this summer was not a waste, it was necessary, and I am so thankful that I learned all that I did.
I had mentioned in a previous post that my family went to Belgium this summer to visit our old home. Actually, what made that possible was that my grandparents took all of the extended family (all 26 of us) to Norway for a week so that we could see their old home. My dad and his family grew up in Norway while my Papa worked for ConocoPhillips oil company. It was such a great experience being able to spend a week with the family and exploring my father's and his siblings' expat country. I had been to Norway before, but I was so young that I couldn't remember much of it. Now, I have made some new memories that I will keep with me forever.
Our way around the coast of Norway was actually by cruise ship, so we were able to see quite a bit of the coast. Our first day was spent in Oslo where we hit up the Viking museum, the Kon Tiki museum, and the Fram museum. It was very interesting to learn about Norwegian history and culture. If you don't know much about Norway, I highly recommend you look into it, they are rich with culture and their history is fascinating. Sadly, we didn't make it to the Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park, which I really wanted to see. I think I might have been the only one who wanted to go anyway, when I was disappointed that we couldn't make it to the park, my sister told me, "you're not really missing much are you? Why would you want to see a park full of naked statues anyway?". So, from the mouth of a fourteen-year-old, maybe I didn't really miss out, but it still would have been fun I think.
Our second day was spent in the old part of Kristiansand. There isn't a lot to do in this town entertainment wise in the time frame that we had. There are a few shops and the town square is pretty to walk through. The Kristiansand Cathedral is also worth taking a walk through. What made this place so much fun for all the cousins was the hiking. We hiking trails were beautiful and all the lakes were just stunning. After our hike, we walked over to the Christiansholm Fortress which was built in 1672 to defend the city. Although this day was pretty relaxed, it is one of my favorite memories because of the cousin bonding time and the chance to walk around and appreciate all the beautiful nature that God has created. It really is wonderful.
The third day of our trip was the most exciting for the whole family. This is the day we went back to their old home town, Stavanger. We all put on matching t-shirts, which were designed by my very talented designer friend (shout-out to Kait Robison), and headed off the ship to meet our bus driver. An old family friend surprised my grandparents by meeting them at the dock, which was so sweet. Another surprise was when my Papa met the bus driver. The bus driver looked at my Papa and said, "I remember you, I used to be a helicopter pilot that flew you out to the oil rig years ago." This wasn't planned at all, and it was a happy coincidence. Our first stop of the day was at the old house my family used to live in. We walked around the neighborhood and met the old neighbors, who still lived there! After that, we went and did some touristy things by going to see the Three Sword Monument, and went to a spot to that over-looked the city. After lunch, my Papa, dad, and husband went to take a tour of the ConocoPhillips office that my Papa used to work for while the rest of us went to the beach to tip our toes into the frigid North Sea. Our last stop of the day was back in town, where we met and had tea with some old friends from Norway.
Our last day of the trip was spent in Flam, which may have been the best day in terms of seeing God's awesome hand in creating nature. We woke up early to see the fjord as we came in, though we actually missed most of it because we arrived early. However, the view we did get while docking and then at the end of the day when we were leaving was truly something to behold. Words can't really describe the beauty, it's something you just have to see for yourself. We took the Flamsbana (a train) through the mountains for an hour long tour. The view was truly breathtaking. I would love to go back one day so that I could actually spend more time there and hike through the mountains. The rest of the day was spent perusing the gift shops and buying souvenirs.
All in all, the week spent with my family in Norway will be one that I will never forget. I can't thank my grandparents enough for making it all happen and giving us such a special memory. This trip was so special (I think especially for us grandkids) not just because we got to see where our parents and grandparents used to live, but to really see first hand what a strong impact they had on the people they knew. It was very touching to hear the stories that these old friends shared of how much of an impact my family had made in their lives and that they were never forgotten. My Papa has often told me that he worked hard to build up the Ingram family name and that it was the responsibility of the grandkids to keep it up. Now I know first hand how true that statement is and I am more driven to do just that and make my Papa proud of me.