Monday, July 26, 2010

Bane–noun. a person or thing that ruins or spoils

I thought there could only be one "bane of my existence"... and that would have to be sin and/or Satan, right? But I actually use this phrase quite often and according to the above definition (thanks, Websters!), my existence can have multiple banes. Why am I introing what's supposed to be a food blog entry with this? Well, I'm actually taking a small break from the food series (sorry, I just haven't come up with a killer mid-afternoon snack! Any ideas?) to talk about relationships. To say relationships are the bane of my existence would be an absolute lie... but keeping up with important relationships sometimes does fall into the "bane"ish category.

Don't get me wrong. I WANT so badly to keep up with everyone I love on a regular basis, but I'm realizing more and more there are a lot of people I love! Yesterday I brought this before the Lord. I told him I was overwhelmed. I hate losing touch and yes, some relationships must preside over others, but I feel like I'm in a tricky spot. I actually wrote down the names of everyone I want to catch or keep up with: girls from my Bible study, out of state family members, my old roommates, high school friends, co-counselors from camp, RA staff members, my girls from camp, Ha! That's like over 30 people. Firstly, Lord thank you for these valuable human connections...

Secondly, how do I do it? Is prioritizing people too task-oriented? Have I over committed myself? If you don't struggle with this, you're probably rolling your eyes by now, so please, give yourself permission to stop reading (yeah, I know, I tend to be an over-analyzer).

I think this is the answer: my expectations of myself must be lowered. Maybe I should just stop wasting time with apologies for the long time between visits or chats and get to the main event of hanging out! I'm learning the Lord has grace for me in this area as well. Last night, I prayed, "God, to everyone for which I'm supposed to be praying, please love them in specific and obvious ways tonight and tomorrow. Use them and encourage them. Help them to stay eternity-minded." I prayed this with a sincere heart and I believe the Spirit truly interceded the love I have for others, along with the overwhelming state I'm in to the Father, who in turn, is blessing these people AS I WRITE. Wow! Thanks be to him.

P.S. If you're my friend (and you probably are if your reading myHandH), I do love you! Don't take this to mean "you're a burden to me...get out", ha! Let's chat soon, ok?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

If I Were Stranded...

You know the age-old question, "If you were stranded on a desert island and you had just one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?" Well my answer is pasta salad! It's got all your food groups, is extremely versatile (not to mention, usually healthy), and it's tasty times ten. Now, I don't know why there would be pasta salad on a desert island, but my answer still stands.

And that is what's for lunch today! My pasta salad includes: pasta, olives, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, basil, and chicken. I like pasta salad with a half Italian, half Ranch dressing combo, but suit yourself with whatever you prefer. With my salad, I had apples and peanut butter and some sparkling water. Yum-O!

Next up: the mid afternoon snack.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm Feelin' Hungry...

I don't know about you, but about two hours after breakfast, I, in the main, get hit with a major snack attack. So part two is for all my hypoglycemic (or close to it) kindred spirits!

The mid-morning snack special of the day is: Italian Delight Atop Focaccia. While watching Rachel Ray the other day (yes, love that lady), she gave me a tip for grilling bread face down so all the nooks and crannies get evenly buttered and grilled. With that tip in mind, I set my focaccia, buttered, down on the pan. "Atop", I placed mozzarella cheese and covered the whole deal with a lid (which allowed for room to breath... we don't want a cheesy lid). Once the cheese was melted, the snack (I'm struggling to find fitting words for "the piece of bread with cheese on it") was removed and plated. I placed three sliced of yellow, garden fresh tomatoes and a sprig of basil over the cheese. Buon appetito!

A good rule of thumb: Put anything with ice in a goblet and it'll look fancy, put anything in a ceramic mug and it'll look homey. So, paired with a glass of iced white grape juice, this elegant mid-morning snack should keep you going for hours!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Friends, I am so excited to start a food blogging 6 part mini-series!

Here's the scoop: I eat about 6 times a day (breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dinner, dessert) and I eat like a lady (in small amounts and I'm obnoxiously slow). I tend to be pretty passionate about... a lot of things, acutally. But food and feeding times are up there! So I thought I would give you a little profile of the ideal food day in the life of Christine.

Today is breakfast! I woke up at an ungodly hour (Turkey still has a hold on my sleeping patterns) so naturally I was starved. Here's my usual standard for any meal or substantial snack: starch, protein, produce. As long as those three things are in one's meal, it will probably carry one for at least a few hours. Unfortunately I did not follow the rules this morning as I forgot to put starch in my breakfast (I think it's because it was 6am and I wasn't thinking straight). However, I did manage to put together a tasty meal for breaking the fast of a sleepy night.

Profiled in the picture above is a bowl of Greek yogurt (well, some may call it Turkish yogurt but I personally think the Greeks do it best) with homegrown and fresh sliced peaches drizzled in honey. Since my favorite two condiments in the world are sour cream and cream cheese, nonfat Greek yogurt is like an excuse for me to eat sour cream by the spoonful! And of course, a lavish breakfast (though this particular one isn't overly lavish) must come with a perfectly brewed cup of coffee. It's strong with a hint of vanilla creamer. Bon.

Next up is my mid-morning snack... oh you're gonna love it! So what did you have for breakfast today?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Safe and Sound...

That's right, after 32 hours of traveling around the world, I've made it back! And I'm glad to be back for sure, though I miss Turkey dearly. I wrote this in my journal yesterday: "I just left so many good conversations, so many fun evenings, and little bits of my soul over there..." I feel like I really need to go back in this lifetime. So usually when someone I love is coming home from a long trip, I advise them to choose three words or short phrases to describe their time. It's an easy way to answer the ever-perplexing question, "how was _____?" But it's also a good way to begin a longer conversation with the people who actually care! Now I'm the one to have taken a long trip, so I shall heed my own advice.

Ready? Turkey was: a beautiful country, full of life lessons, and highly relational.

Turkey was a beautiful country because God is amazing. Seriously! We saw so many natural wonders at sea, on the beach, in the mountains, at sunrise, on the harbor... oh my goodness, I could go on and on. My expectations were significantly blown away. It was a beautiful country also because of Turkish culture. These people are so hospitable. I felt surprisingly comfortable in Turkey, though it is so different from anything I'd ever experienced. Turks, who I can only describe as a lovely mix between Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean, are really pretty people!

Turkey was full of life lessons... many of these life lessons came from my high schoolers. They showed me the importance of community by the way they interacted with one another at camp. Olive Grove serves as one of their only physical Christian communities in life and as such, holds extreme importance for them. I learned how to better be a servant. Truthfully, I needed an attitude adjustment just about every day of camp. The Lord was patient and gracious to me, which I was very grateful for. Other lessons I encountered I think I've already written about.

*interruption: my mom just asked me to write a list of things I want at the grocery store...I already told her all I want is steak and she hasn't seemed to realize I REALLY want it. So I wrote: hot cheetos, juicy-juice, fruit roll-ups, sunny delight, bologna, gushers...maybe some passive aggressive hilarity will cause her to understand.

Turkey was highly relational. I made many fantastic friends during my time there. Friends I'm already missing, ones who will last. Not only were friendships among the counselors at camp made, I also bonded in special ways with some of my campers. Praise the Lord for Facebook (seriously!).

My soul's debrief will continue and I'm sure I'll keep you posted. Soon, I'll be off to other summer adventures.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


I'm back in Antalya! Eight of us from camp went on a tour of some ancient sites in Turkey a few days ago. We hit up Laodicea, Hieropolis, Ephesus, Pamukkula, and quite a few other sites. This may sound silly, but my favorite part of touring these historically rich places was climbing up columns, temples, amphitheaters, anything I could get my hands and feet on really. There was something so satisfying about being at the highest point of places so... poetic, some might say. Another interesting factor in traveling where Paul and his contemporaries traveled was thinking about what Paul would do if he were there. For instance, if he were in Laodicea and the same time he were, he probably wouldn't be reflecting on his message to the Laodiceans. Rather, he would be witnessing to the excavation crew that was working on a nearby site. This was pretty convicting.

The Lord has taught me many valuable lessons since being here, but one I believe has been most important: I must never stoop to worship the blessings he gives me. I rather need to worship the Blesser with all of my heart all the time. How did I come across this thought? Yesterday I realized there have been very few moments during my time in Turkey where I have needed to depend solely on God (and yesterday was one of those moments, as most of my good friends have now gone home). This is embarrassing and even sad to admit. Yes, I knew I was here to serve him, but I had not expected to be surrounded by such great people and such fun things. When those people and things came into my days, I caused myself to be satisfied with weak times of prayer and thanksgiving. When I stopped to think about why I've felt so drained, the Lord laid this on my heart. Of course those of you who know me know that I tend to be terribly hard on myself, and this instance should not be excluded from that tendency. However, I have come to realize that I always want to have the motivation to make time and space for my personal relationship with God wherever I go.

And yes, I want to keep going! I'm a traveler; I know I'll soon feel cooped up again when I've been home for "long enough", but then again maybe the next lesson I'll learn is contentment. Praise God for his grace and timing!

More to come...

Saturday, July 3, 2010


I'm currently having an American fix...I just went out with friends for Doner (not American, but very tasty) and Starbucks this afternoon! As Coldplay plays in the background of my pretty Pansiyon room, I praise God for little breaks and reminders of home at times like this. What do I mean by "times like this" exactly? Well, we left Olive Grove this morning, along with the beautiful high schoolers we've grown to love the the breathtaking turtle beach. What an experience! I don't feel like I'm yet in a place to write a huge summary about camp, but I'll give you my top ten from the past two and a half weeks:

1. The beauty of Cirali, Turkey... the Mediterranean is absolutely wonderful. Kayaking out a ways to watch the sunrise earlier this week was a sweet time at sea.
2. A killer staff. I've loved getting to know Michelle, Katie, Albi, Chris, Ashley, Jamie, Lindsay... just a few of the many friends I've made at camp.
3. My dear Janan, a camper I was able to connect with in a special way this week.
4. My biggest cultural blunder so far (the American word "sick" is a very bad word in Turkish, so I accidentally cursed my cooks as I was being served lunch...I got dirty looks and shaken heads from the Turks, but lots of laughs and a moment I'll never live down from the Americans. You make mistakes, apologize, and move on to make new mistakes; it's the beauty of learning to navigate a culture!)
5. Teaching drama! My kids did an awesome job with "Lord of Lords", our mime drama.
6. The high school party last night. It included a unique talent show and lots of fun dancing with the kids and counselors...
7. Turkish breakfast. Here's my "usual": a hard-boiled egg, two pieces of fresh bread with butter and raw honey, beaz penir (white cheese), cucumbers, watermellon, and coffee. Yum!
8. Siesta! 1:45-2:45pm each day was utterly peaceful.
9. Learning a ton about wisdom myself while leading Bible studies on wild wisdom for my girls.
10. Being constanly challenged to have a servant's attitude toward our campers. Watching them in this community was such a neat experience, as many of the campers have their closest friends there at Olive Grove. It's such a safe place for TCKs and Turkish Christians. As an added bonus (and a huge reason to praise the Lord), some of the Turkish students gave their lives to the Lord this week! Though this may seem typical of a camp experience, every Turk who comes to the Lord is a special statistic. Since my home church contains more Christians than all the believers in Turkey total, every soul won for Jesus is such a victory! Pray for them... that their choice to follow him may be permanent and strong, that they would receive the follow-up and encouragement they need.

Please also pray for my week following our tour around Turkey. I'll return to Antalya and will most likely not have a phone or computer. On top of that, I'll be staying by myself. The town is safe, but I still need prayer for getting around during that week and finding good things to do with my time. Thanks! Hopefully I'll have time for another update before that time comes. Happy 4th of July!