Saturday, July 30, 2011

ZucCarroNana Muffins

I've been reading about BlogHer 11, taking place in San Diego next weekend... and I want to go! I won't be going because I don't have the money or the real need to attend such a conference, but it sounds SO cool. And from reading all about it, I'm inspired to write something simply brilliant!

But alas, I baked zucchini muffins this morning and I'm going to share my (self-formulated!) recipe with you. Snooze? I hope not.

Tasty, tasty ZucCarroNana muffins:

2.5 c flour
1 c brown sugar
1 c sugar
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 t pumpkin pie spice (or 1 t cinnamon, 1 t nutmeg)
1.5 c grated zucchini
.5 c grated carrot
Half banana, mashed
.5 c milk
.5 c oil
1 t vanilla

Mix it up (I'm really not particular about doing the whole wet, dry separate thing but...), place in lined muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

...I wish I had a picture and a scent function, but my camera is broken, and the later hope would require a severe stretch of technology.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Homegrown, a poem

I am from the noodle shop, from Kirkland products and Friday night football games.

I am from the blue house, up there near the top of the hill. Peaceful, distinct, warm.

I am from the apricot tree, hydrangeas, and backyard waterfall, the patchy grass, fat roses, and vegetable garden.

I am from bacon on Christmas morning and loud sneezes, from Evelyn and Louise and Dora.

I am from the proper hostess and never-disruptive guest.

From "bread and butter" and "be a lady".

I am from every single Sunday at church. "You'll thank us one day", and I did.

I'm from America... Ireland, Germany, Perogies, and Oliebollen.

From something in a bottle that smells good, the repeated stories, and the reusable paper plates.

I am from the red brick hearth, the old duffel bags, and the musty attic.

From habits of regular picture-taking, summer camping trips, and frugality.


Poem template taken from

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Country "Bucket List"

Today, I'm making my list... the official list of countries I want to visit before I leave this earth. And you know what? I feel that if I don't make it to all of them, I'll be able to travel all I want on the new earth (Isaiah 65:17). Well, who am I to say what the new earth will look like, but I do hope that travel is a part of my life for eternity.

To start off, I've been to: America (duh), Canada, Mexico, Kenya, and Turkey.

And here is my list!

1. Italy

2. Greece

3. England

4. Morocco

5. Spain

6. New Zealand or Australia

7. India or China

8. Chile or Argentina

9. The Netherlands

10. Ireland

11. Denmark

12. Ukraine

13. Germany

I want to visit numbers 1-8 because... just because these are countries that fascinate me! Italy and Greece have always been on my life list, but I also want a well-rounded view of the world and would like to hit each continent (except maybe Antarctica)

Numbers 9-13 are there because I want to go to all the countries my ancestors are from. That's right, I'm Dutch, Irish, Danish, Ukranian, and German... (woof woof!).

Here's to an inspiring Sunday!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

No me gusta.

I've always wanted to do a whole post on things I don't like...but the only time I think of actually writing that list out is when I'm already in the world's worst mood. So I thought, "Hey tonight I seem to be in a pretty good mood. Why don't I think about stuff I don't like!" I know, a little illogical, but I try.

You can learn a lot about someone by knowing what they like... but by knowing what they don't like, do you think you can learn more? I wonder. Maybe I'll start asking people what they do not prefer when I meet them. No, that would scare them off and I have already been called "refreshingly candid" in my life...which could be a euphemism for "strange and blunt".

Just kidding. The friend who called me refreshingly candid really meant it and I was flattered. So! With that candid spark lit, I'm going to share with you: una lista de cosas que no me gustan.

1. Styrofoam. Absolutely horrible for the environment and it feels really unnatural.

2. Black licorice. They say men have more of a natural inclination toward this flavor? Well, I'm not a man, that's for sure.

3. Swear words combined with improper grammar. Though I don't use foul language for the most part, I'm still a believer in the "a time and a place" theory when it comes to strong words. But it is never the right time or place when you can't even use your swear word in its proper part of speech. People, there's a difference between a verb and an adjective.

4. Certain genres of music: smooth jazz, screamo, soft rock, womanizing rap...

5. Hair in the shower drain. Gag.

6. Ayran. If you haven't heard of it, look it up... believe me, it does not taste like milk (though it looks quite like it).

7. Texting during a face-to-face conversation. If you must reply, could you please say, "excuse me"?

8. Nightlife. I know that's really general and no, I don't despise night in general. I just am not the girl you'd usually find in a noisy club dancing the night away... I'm good for about 5 dances max and then I'm done. Really done.

9. Sad movies. Though sometimes I crave a good, cathartic cry, I can not usually handle them.

10. Rude customers. "Sir, I'm just doing my job. You realize this was not my personal decision, don't you?"

11. A tacky color combination. For instance, fuchsia and was cool in the '80s and then again in 8th grade for like 6 months. No longer.

Wow! I think I should stop while I'm ahead, but good news: I am not in a bad mood from making that list. It was actually quite helpful to articulate some of those things that just irk me; even some things that I simply don't prefer. You should try it sometime. Digame, porfavor, las cosas que no te gustan.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I absolutely love the parable in Luke 15 about the prodigal son. I need it. If you're unfamiliar with this story, it's truly worth a read. This story has been emerging a lot in my life over the past couple of months. I love that we can see the Father's heart for reconciliation...and the fact that Jesus, the one who makes real reconciliation possible, is telling the story, makes it really whole and settling for me. Verse 20 is the one that I'm sure will bring me to tears more than once in my life.

"So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."

This speaks to me so deeply. As a woman, and as...Christine, God has given me a great appreciation for physical touch. Anyone who knows me well understands this because, as odd as it may sound, they've been (literally) touched by me. I long for the day when I can wrap my arms around my Heavenly Father's neck and express my love to him in that way. To just hear about the father in this story, who most certainly represents our God, giving his son a hug of desperate relief and kissing him with that fatherly love...oh wow. I may just be at a loss for words.

I've been reading The Practice of the Presence of God, the letters and conversations of Brother Lawrence...or as I more endearingly call him, Bro Low. It's a great little read that has actually taken me some time to get through (seriously, it's like under 100 pages, people). I didn't know what my opinion of this man was at first...I kept thinking to myself, "If Brother Lawrence was around today, I don't know that I'd connect well with him. I mean he is really, really obsessed with God!" That sounds awful, no? Well, my heart has been a bit softened since and the other day, I was just struck by the following passage:

I consider myself as the most wretched of men, full of sores and corruption, and who has committed all sorts of crimes against his King. Touched with a sensible regret, I confess to him all my wickedness, I ask His forgiveness, I abandon myself in His hands that He may do what he pleases with me. The King, full of mercy and goodness, very far from chastising me, embraces me with love, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the key of His treasures; He converses and delights Himself with me incessantly, in a thousand and a thousand ways, and treats me in all respects as His favorite. It is thus I consider myself from time to time in His holy presence.
-Second Letter, pg. 37

Wow, Bro Low... I'm sorry, I do want to be your friend.

I hear lots of Prodigal in that statement! There's no other commentary I can give that passage that would enhance it more, so I'll move on to my last piece, I guess I'll call it. My last piece that relates directly (in my opinion) to the story of the prodigal son.

Mumford & Sons "Roll Away Your Stone" is a song that has moved me quite frequently in this season of life. I must, first, thank my friend Marianna for introducing me to these boys...and then I must say that I can't be certain my interpretation of the song is correct. In fact, I just read parts of a forum on the song and many people are at a loss.

But when I hear the following verse... I just think Jesus.

Stars hide your fires,
for these here are my desires
and I won't give them up to you this time around
and so, I’ll be found with my steak stuck in this ground
marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul

I know it's a stretch, but my first thought when I heard this bridge was "Prodigal!" Stars (shiny, sinful lusts that draw them in) hide your fires. For these here (these kidos, these ones!) are my desires and I won't give them up to you this time around. And so, I'll be found with my steak stuck in this ground (running and hugging and kissing and ring-putting...I'm SET on it!) marking the territory of this newly impassioned (forgiven) soul!

Forgive my jumpy thoughts, but isn't this good stuff?! I have no conclusion to wrap this up neatly... so I'll leave you with a link to yet ANOTHER Prodigal piece. Thanks for reading.


Saturday, July 16, 2011


I love introducing people to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI. If you haven't ever heard of it, look it up! In fact, at Olive Grove this summer I helped teach an elective in which I got to administer a version of the MBTI to teenage girls. Whenever someone is taking this test for the first time...or for that matter, whenever a discussion about the difference between introversion and extroversion comes up, I have a little disclaimer:

All extroverts need quiet time and all introverts need people.

It's true! I am a newbie introvert. By this I mean that as a child, I was an extrovert...until about the age of 15 or so, actually, I derived my greatest portions of energy from being around people. But ever since the early years of high school, I've been much more of an introvert. I now need quiet time to think and I need space to be independent. I love that quiet time and space! I always joke with people that I spend at least 2 weeks of every summer all by myself in the house and love it. This is because I'm a "grown up" and my parents now vacation alone. I'm ok with that.

And right now, I'm in that season. I do love it, but I wasn't expecting the 2 week solitude bit to be a part of summer 2011. I've had some crazy moments. Don't get me crazy, I just mean "I'm gonna GO crazy! I need to cook, ride a bike, organize something!" So at least I have been productive.

And this is my conflict. I am an introvert and love being one, but I need people! I haven't been totally isolated (I've stayed at Laura's a lot!)...but my mom and dad arrive home tomorrow and I can honestly say I'm excited to be living with people again.

...I wonder if there's a title for introverts like me who need that "leave me alone-I want to go to bed" time, yet can enjoy being outgoing and bold when needed...but only for about 2 hours (and then I crash). Title? I know not. What I do know is:

All extroverts need quiet time and all introverts need people. Our Creator is fascinating.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I feel like the phrase "it's therapeutic" can often be used as an excuse. But when you really get down to the root of therapy, an exercise in which one broken person talks to another broken, yet specifically-educated person and, ideally, walks away feeling better...there's meaning! With that somewhat ambiguous purpose in mind, I think to myself: what are those things that soothe my soul? When do I feel so connected to God that I have no doubts of his plan or his presence? What do I enjoy? What makes me feel better?

There are lots of therapeutic activities I've recently been employing... not because I feel I must soothe my own soul, but rather because God has given me a sound mind! And this sound mind is saying to itself, "do things that make you happy".

So what have I been doing that I find simply therapeutic?

Gardening. I water the garden and pick tomatoes, zucchini, squash, green beans, peppers, cucumbers, and peaches about every other day. There's something really satisfying about using my hands and being barefoot in the dirt. This is how God intended food to grow! Gardening is a lifestyle I want to always carry with me... even if I live in an apartment for the rest of my life, I will employ a garden as at least a fractional portion of my produce supply.

Listening to Mumford & Sons, Jon Mark McMillan, and Adele... they make an excellent play-list, those three. My heart has also been sweetly tugged on to the extent that I'm enjoying some newly awakened oldies these days as well. Live on, Beatles.

Creating my own recipes. I can truly say, "here, have MY recipe for tomato soup!" Now that feels like an accomplishment. That helps me to feel in control (another thing the word "therapeutic" naturally carries with in gaining control). I'm going to do something with zucchini muffins tonight.

Doing things the old fashioned way. When's the last time you rode a bike to the post office? Yes, it is so satisfying (when not painful and exhausting, hehe)!

Having some good, good quiet in the mornings. Oh, sing praise my soul...the mornings have been cloudy (today I even felt some drizzle drops!). How did God know?? I like to think, at least, that the weather is a very personal gift for me, but I think the rest of SoCal is also celebrating.

Meditating on Scripture. Today: Proverbs 11...I sat there for a while.

Creating art. [Yes, I did go to Michael's the other day for their Christmas prep sale...very cheap yarn!]

Spending time with important people and having conversations with ones who love and know me well. It is SO good to be known, to be understood... I believe this is a new passion that's been ignited in me this summer. I will forever be an advocate for people who feel unknown!

Eating the snacks I brought home form Turkey...originally meant for others, but I haven't seen too many others so...more Tutku for me!

Making a list of things I wanted to do this week. From "read in the sunshine" to "make a new journal" to "learn Turkish", I don't mind being both practical and ambitiously imaginative with myself at the same time.

Blogging. Oh, myHandH readers, how dearly I cherish the attention you pay this site...but how much more do I cherish the sheer ability to express myself with the written word?! Mmm.

Go do something therapeutic for yourself, please! Doctor's orders.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Change of Plans

When I was six years old, I really wanted a My Size Barbie for Christmas. Anyone remember those? I don't exactly know what the draw was... a portable friend, I guess. Age six was also the last year I believed in Santa Clause (for such an imaginative kid, I was really practical when it came to Santa). You see, I asked Santa over and over for the My Size Barbie as Christmas fast-approached. To no avail. My mom even said so delicately one day, "Honey, Santa can't afford a My Size Barbie this year", to which I naturally responded, "But he's buying one for Allison!" I, instead, got a Little Tike's "my size" desk that worked out beautifully. Change of plans.

By age eleven, I was no longer concerned with Barbies, but was rather more concerned with beginning my journey to self discovery. I wanted to get back into dance classes, as I hadn't done ballet for a few years. My mom and dad were always eager for me to get involved in group activities ('cause I'm the girl who has NEVER been on a sport's team. And proud of it!) so they enrolled me in a ballet class. As it turned out, my heart could not take it. I know this sounds ludicrous, but my ballet class was actually too overwhelming for me. At the time, I had an irrational fear of not being picked up by my parents at the end of...anything. Praise God for healing me of that soon after, but at eleven, I decided that the ideal ballet class was NO longer ideal for me. Change of plans.

A few years later and my love for travel began. At around thirteen, I decided I wanted to go on a service trip to Panama...or was it Peru? Somewhere in South America. I got so excited! I planned out a compelling speech for why Mom and Dad should consider my request, I did my research, I had a friend who was going to go with me...but they said no. No?! I was really not able to see why they weren't ready to send their thirteen-year-old youngest child out of the country yet. Change of plans.

During my Sophomore year of high school, I took seven classes instead of the required six. I did this so that I could continue to pursue my "sport" of show choir. We had an excellent director during Freshman year who had placed me into an advanced group for the next year. I was ready to take on the extra work load and the extra long school days (6:55am-3:00pm!) in order that I could continue my on-stage passions. Much to my dismay, classes were exceedingly difficult, choir was very lonely, and my heart was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff going on in life. I really wanted to switch over to home school. Seriously. But again, my mom who knows me well and loves me much said...let's wait it out. She really is a vessel of God's wisdom, guidance, and love. Thanks, Mom! (Almost) change of plans.

Skip ahead 3 years and find me, a wide-eyed freshman in college (not far from who I still am). At the first sign of the dating game, I was eager to take my turn. When a young man found me, charmed me, and then decided to not pursue me I was...well, as you can imagine, very sad. As it turned out, I was just playing the pre-dating game. Sad is my word. I don't dare go beyond sad when I recollect because sad is all I need to remember. God's goodness has always gotten me through the most difficult of difficulties. Again, change of plans.

And now. If you haven't heard, I'm back in the States...a little earlier than I'd expected. Don't worry, I didn't get kicked out by the government or anything! I believe my story in Turkey is not yet over, but rather needed a pause. My health was not in the best of often I forget that feeling healthy is SO important. Praise God for healing my body since being home! Thank you to those who have prayed for this area because I can skip and hop and eat whatever I want now. Yay! Because of those health concerns and because of a few misunderstandings, it was better that I remove myself from the community of service a little early. How I hate to leave you readers guessing at the details, but I simply have not processed my time in Turkey deeply enough to know how to share specifics. God is faithful to take care of his children and I have seen this over and over again! Change of plans.

Picture: I had lots of great "see you later" moments by the Med before leaving.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Olive Grove 2011

I'm alive!

Haha, you could take that many ways. No, I've not been able to blog much because of being at Olive Grove. And yes, I survived the two and a half weeks of madness...hence my liveliness. It was a successful year and we saw many kids come to know and trust the Lord! That is worth it all.

As you can imagine, there is a lot to process after an experience like this. Coming back to Antalya yesterday afternoon felt, in a strange way, like coming home. To know what's going on here; to be able to navigate my way around the city...that felt good. I've been resting and preparing for a vacation, actually! I leave tomorrow for Marmaris, a town north of Antalya. I have the pleasure of staying at one of my camper's homes and getting to know her family, as well as hang out with my numerous friends who live there. It should be a really great change of pace and a nice week of rest in between two very different ministries.

So, because I'm still processing my experience, I thought I would instead share my top 10 pictures from Olive Grove and leave you with little captions to ponder...

1. Orientation: a time to have good conversations about TCKs and to get acquainted with one another as a staff.

2. Beads! This is how kids (and counselors) buy ice cream throughout the hot days... my personal favorite: pistachio disc.

3. Discovering new additions to the facilities... some of the high school girls got really cool cabins!

4. Opening night introduction skits: an Olive Grove must.

5. Tie dye day!

6. of my many beloved girls and my hostess for this coming week! (We also happen to have matching Nalgenes.)

7. I got to spend lots of time working in this office during the second week. Hooray for air conditioning!

8. A hike up to the eternal flames...another Olive Grove tradition!

9. Bonkers! The Friday afternoon big group game.

10. And...saving the best for last: a beautiful sunrise on the beach to end everyone's week on a sweet note.