Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Style Secret: Runway Modesty

Runway modesty? Yes! One of my favorite blogs that I follow is Thread Ethic, “where modesty thrives in style.” Desirae and Melody Brown, of the famed 5 Browns piano quintet, give a filtered review of runway fashion, which highlights current trends that are modest. I like how Desirae and Melody feature pictures of both cutting-edge high-end inspiration and mass-market brands’ interpretation. As legendary model Lauren Hutton says, “Fashion is what you are offered four times a year by designers--and style is what you choose.” It’s encouraging to realize how many fashionable options we modest girls really do have. =)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Picture found through Google image search. Source: http://www.myspace.com/jamesconnorstone

“What has God done, that you want to remember?” Pastor Ray challenged us as we celebrate this Memorial Day weekend. Lest we think of this holiday weekend merely for cooking out with family and friends, let us remember…. Remember the more than 600,000 soldiers over the years from the American Revolution until present-day warfare in the Middle East who gave their lives to keep us free. Remember the one and only begotten Son of God who gave His life to set us free. Both political freedom and spiritual freedom come at high cost. Great is our debt of gratitude; sacred is the responsibility entrusted to us. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free” (Galatians 5:1).

Friday, May 27, 2011

Congratulations, Graduates!

What a privilege it is to be back at Verity Institute for a few days, celebrating the graduation of the class of 2011! Many blessings to each of you graduates as you continue in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

His Eye is on the Sparrow

 “His Eye is on the sparrow/and I know He watches me.” Do you ever have days that make you extra aware that God is watching you, taking care of you? Yesterday was one such day for me. =)

Yesterday morning before I left home to drive to Indy for the week, an unexpected letter of congratulations came in the mail, regarding an excellent score I had earned on one of the licensure exams that I had taken earlier this month. Thank You, Lord, for that timely encouragement. You know how much the affirmation meant to me—an extra confirmation that You are causing me to flourish where You have planted me for this season of life.

Several hours later while I was driving on the highway, my brother called and we had a nice chat. I knew that the exit ramp I was supposed to be looking for was approaching sometime soon, but while we were talking I neglected to pay close attention to the road signs. The moment we hung up, I noticed the last of the three signs for that exit. The exit was right there! Talk about precise timing! In my carelessness, I had missed the first two signs—which I knew to be looking for—and at the very minute I needed to turn onto the exit ramp, God opened my eyes so I could continue on my trip without getting lost or having to back-track. Thank You, Lord, that You know the way You have laid out for me, and You guide me in it.

Once I got to Indy, I ran an errand to Michaels. It was raining hard when I pulled into the parking lot. After getting out of the car and starting to dash across the parking lot into the store, I noticed the windshield wipers were still going. How odd; what would cause that, I wondered. . . . well, come to find out I had unintentionally neglected to take the key out of the ignition. Oh no! My heart sank, as I stood there beside the car door, in the gusty wind and pouring rain. Had I just locked myself out of the car?! Those windshield wipers were taunting me now. To my great relief, I saw that the driver’s door was unlocked, even though I had locked the car. I learned something valuable just then: the driver’s door won’t lock if the key is still in the ignition. Phew, I sure am glad that the auto designers thought to compensate for blonde moments! Moreover, I am grateful for yet another reminder that “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

* * *
I wrote the above post early this morning. Now at the end of the day, I am especially grateful for those little reminders that I have a good, wise, and loving God, who is in control. Days like yesterday help me keep perspective for days like today. This season of life for me is a series of constant battles of frustration versus victory. It seems that I keep encountering challenge after challenge in my quest for my master’s degree and licensure. Sometimes I get so exasperated on this journey. Simultaneously, however, I can also point out many of God’s blessings that He is making abundant in my life these days, as evidenced by yesterday’s happenings. Today I experienced another two considerable obstacles. . . . What do you do when you’ve prayed about something and then given it your best, only to feel utterly inadequate about it? Give it to Him. What do you do a few hours later when you find out that a significant part of your plan for the upcoming school year is unraveling? Give that to Him too. “The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever,” I’m learning to declare along with the Psalmist (Psalm 138:8).

OK, Lord. Your eye is on the sparrow, and my life is in Your hands. I’m looking forward to seeing how You will perfect [complete, perform, fulfill] these situations in a way that showcases Your mercy in my life.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Recognition of Excellence

Don’t you love unexpected happy news?! In the mail this morning came a surprise letter regarding my results for one of the licensure exams I took earlier this month. This particular assessment, the PRAXIS II, tests teacher candidates on general content knowledge in Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, and Mathematics. Basically, the exam contains common academic facts that everyone should have learned during grade school and should hopefully still retain. Well, last week I received my score report with the good news that I had passed. Yay, one step closer to my goal!

But then to my surprise I received this letter in the mail today. “Congratulations!” it reads, “You have earned the ETS Recognition of Excellence for your recent outstanding performance . . . [which] earned a score that ranks within the top 15% of all test takers who took this assessment in previous years. . . . This honor . . . formally acknowledges your personal effort and commitment to learning and to teaching . . . .”

What a morale boost to receive this news! Working toward a Master’s degree online takes a lot of perseverance. Often I get discouraged, weary, and frustrated in this season of life. This timely commendation is testimony to God’s faithfulness. Many friends have been cheer-leading and praying for me in this endeavor, so I want to share my latest reason for celebration. I still have a lot of work ahead as I continue on my degree, but it’s great to pause and rejoice in God’s goodness so far. =)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Study Break

Yesterday and today I’ve been cramming for yet another exam, but one thing I’ve learned over the years is the value of taking a needed study break--especially on an extraordinarily beautiful day. On my favorite walking route this afternoon I passed numerous golfers, bike riders, and gardeners, as well as many trees and flowers that are still in full bloom. Ahh, what a wonderful day to be outside enjoying God’s creation!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Simple Veggie Bake

When life is busy, the last thing I feel like adding to my To-Do List is detailed menu planning, recipe searching, grocery-list making, and grocery shopping. That’s too much hassle just to put something home-cooked on the table for dinner. I find it’s way more convenient—and fun—to create dishes from ingredients already in the cupboard or fridge.

One of my latest “Kristina Creations,” as my family and I are apt to call my frequent culinary experiments, is a yummy veggie bake that I made from basic ingredients we had on hand. (I prepared the dish as one of the sides for a dinner for six.)

From the fridge, I grabbed . . .
  • three heads of broccoli
  • one red pepper
  • ½ an onion
  • the rest of the package of shredded cheddar cheese (about half of the package)

From the cupboard I opened . . .
  • a can of cream of chicken condensed soup
  • a new jar of medium salsa
  • a package of croutons

This simple veggie bake took only a few minutes to throw together. First, I chopped the veggies and tossed them into a casserole dish. Next I added the soup, a few scoopfuls of salsa, and the cheese and mixed everything together right in the casserole dish. Then I crushed the croutons and added them to the top, before baking in the oven at 375.

As a friend pointed out to me, cooking in this manner is also an easy way to save money. Learning from her, I’ve started making my grocery lists according to the sales and then designing menus accordingly, versus planning a menu first and then shopping for the necessary ingredients. Don’t you love it when something is convenient, economical, and delicious?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rainy Day Walk

I awoke this morning to the melodies of a gentle spring rain just outside my window. When the showers ceased, I headed out the door with my camera. Here are some of the delights I saw around the neighborhood on my rainy day walk . . .

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

By the Front Steps

The tulips by our front steps are in full bloom this week. I took pictures of them the other day in the bright sunlight, but this year's editions don't compare with the ones I took two Springs ago, following a rain shower on a gray, drizzly day. I just love those raindrops on the petals. These pictures remind me that times of rain possess a beauty that times of sunshine do not.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Grass Can Wait Five More Minutes

As I set out to mow the lawn this afternoon, I became mesmerized by the sunlight dancing amidst the delicate blossoms on the small tree at the corner of our house. "The grass can wait five more minutes," I told myself, running inside to grab my camera. Below are my favorite pictures from today's spontaneous photo shoot. . . .

Friday, May 13, 2011

More Spring Splendor

One of the things I love about living in Midland, Michigan, is being within walking distance to the Midland Center for the Arts, the Grace A. Dow public library, and Dow Gardens. Yesterday afternoon when I swung by the library to pick up a book that I had on reserve, I brought my camera along and took some more pictures of the spring splendor at the entrance of Dow Gardens, around the parking-lot, and along W. St. Andrews Road between the library and MCFTA. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Style Secret: Flower-Power Sandals!

I've never been thrilled with these white sandals--they're just blah. Last summer I wore them only a few times because they're so boring. They definitely need some panache before I start wearing them again this summer. 

To transform these shoes from boring to fabulous, I simply hot-glued two silk flowers onto the strap of each shoe. This refashion cost me $1 for the silk flowers and took five minutes--talk about easier than shopping for the perfect pair of shoes!!!

Now I can't wait to wear my fabulous flower-power sandals =)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spring Splendor

With mild temperatures and lots of flowers abloom, mid-May is one of the loveliest times of the year, I think. Yesterday evening after taking another exam toward my teaching license, I celebrated by heading over to the Dow Gardens to admire the many tulips, daffodils, forsythia, magnolias, rhododendron. Enjoy with me some glimpses of spring splendor here in Midland . . .