We begin again…

We are starting up a new semester at Texas State. (Actually, I’m a little bit behind–we are on week 3 of the new semester.) There’s a lot going on as we start up again. This weekend we are putting on a retreat. It has been awesome to watch this retreat come together. It is almost entirely led by students. We have 12 students giving talks and testimonies and many other students leading teams to run small groups, transportation, registration, snacks, and many other things. It has been a different experience guiding students through the necessary tasks to prepare for the retreat (rather than doing them myself). But, it has been awesome to see the ownership and responsibility that students have by doing it this way.

 

Another thing I am excited for this semester is renewed focus on preparing students for the Christian life beyond college. This semester we are scaling back some of our big events so that we can focus on guiding students in learning how to build habits of prayer and community that they can take in the rest of their life. By focusing our resources and energy on the Household program and Formation program, we are seeking to build up a group of students that know and live a radical life for the Lord. We still want to invite new students into the things we are doing, but that will be primarily through building friendships rather than huge events.

 

Finally, Ben and I are looking forward to settling into life in Texas. We’ve been here almost six months and I am just starting to feel settled in. Our apartment is set up, I can drive most places I need to go without a GPS, and I am getting more used to the weather. I think the next six months of living here will be much more comfortable and calm, now that we have the transition of moving and getting married behind us. Last year I felt a lot more calm in the spring because I was used to living in New Jersey and I hope it’s the same this year in Texas.

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written here, but thanks for reading my little updates. We can always use your prayers because we continued to be challenged and tested (both in our work and in marriage), but God has been faithful and good, even in challenging times. God Bless!

And, because a post without pictures is not as fun, here are some pictures from our last Lord’s Day Celebration of last semester:

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Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.

Saint Francis de Sales

Texas, here we come!

Good afternoon!

I’ll give you a little background before I get to explaining the title of the post. I have been serving as a campus missionary for the last year at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. Saint Paul’s Outreach has chapters in seven states across the country. Each year, missionaries are sent out to work at these different chapters. Some missionaries return to the campuses where they went to school. Most missionaries embark on an adventure to a school that they have never been to before. It’s an exciting, but often scary, proposition: will you move across the country to serve at a school you’ve never been to and with students you’ve never met?

This past week all of the SPO missionaries have been gathered together for our first training of the year. We are learning how to raise funds for our mission work and how to explain what SPO does to those who will be partnering with us (both financially and spiritually) in the coming year. And, for new mission leaders, training is the time where they find out where they will be serving the next year. Individual mission leaders find out where they are going personally throughout the week, but we do not learn who we are serving with until the team announcements on Tuesday. It’s a time of great excitement and hope as everyone learns who they will be serving with for the next year!

And now for the big announcement…drum roll please…

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Ben (my Fiancé) and I will be serving at Texas State University this coming year!

We are sad to be leaving Seton Hall, but excited to serve with our new team and meet all the students in Texas!

Here’s the story of how this came to be: We had a great year this past year and I met a ton of amazing people. In January, Ben and I prayed about whether God was calling us to continue working in college ministry with Saint Paul’s Outreach. We got a resounding yes from Him and planned to continue for another year at Seton Hall. But, God sometimes has different plans for us than what we expect.

Around Easter, our supervisor came to us with a proposition. They needed a Mission Director and an administrator at Texas State University this coming year. Ben had served at Texas State the previous year, and it would be beneficial for them to have someone who had been there before lead the team. So, they asked us if we were willing to move.

Through a lot of prayer and conversations, Ben and I decided that if the Lord was asking us to step outside of our comfort zone and move to a new campus, we wanted to say YES! to his call. It was a difficult decision to make because we have so many friends at Seton Hall, but we know that the Lord has great things in store for those who follow where he leads. We will definitely miss Seton Hall and our team from last year, but we know that the upcoming year will bring great blessings and abundant grace.

This post is the beginning of another great adventure. We will spend the summer raising financial and spiritual support for our mission work, getting married, finding a new apartment in Texas, preparing for the year ahead, and moving. It will be a busy time, so please pray for all the transitions coming up. I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for us!

I’m back (hopefully for good)

It has been over two months since my last post on this blog and I am finally back and writing again. I am excited to start a new era of this blog now that I am back home from my study abroad trip this summer. I took a much needed break from blogging while I transitioned back home and started up another year of school.

As I move forward with this blog, I hope that it will be a good platform for sharing my writing, photography, and thoughts. There may even be a recipe every once and a while. There will be a lot of posts coming up because I never finished posting my photos and thoughts from my trip this summer. The posts will have a little different perspective since I have been back for a while, but I want to tie up the loose ends and post the last of my pictures. I also have a lot of writing that I did in my travel writing class that I want to share. School and life are very crazy right now, so I don’t know how often I will be able to post, but I am excited to be back online!

Strawberry Scones

Last Friday I made scones from fresh-picked strawberries. They were delicious. A little different from what I thought they would be based on the recipe, but delicious nonetheless. I got the recipe from one of my favorite food blogs: www.smittenkitchen.com. I always love reading the posts and especially looking at the pictures, but this is the first thing that I have tried from this blog. I love how the author give step-by-step picture instructions for her recipes.

I used fresh-picked strawberries for these scones and I want to encourage you to do the same. The best part of the scones are the gooey, melted strawberries in each bite. This recipe will be the most successful if you use very ripe, preferebly small berries. Visit your local farmer’s market or berry farm to get your hands on fresh berries. Visit this link for some of the farmer’s markets in Minnesota http://www.mfma.org/pages/OurMarkets/.

I made two batches of the recipe. The first used margerine and the second used butter. They were both different textures, but one wasn’t neccessarily better than the other. The margerine version was more fluffy and cake-like. The scones also spread out more and were flatter. The butter version had a more biscuit-like texture, and turned out a little taller. The bottom line is that either type of fat works. Just use what you have in your cupboard.

Margerine:

Butter:

Strawberries and Cream Scones

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon table salt

6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter (or margrine–I used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. See my results above)

1 cup (or a little more) chopped very ripe (preferebly fresh) strawberries

1 cup milk

 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Stir together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt until combined. Add butter by cutting it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, mixing it in until the butter is evenly distributed, but still in pea-sized chunks.

Using a spatula or large spoon, very gently stir in the strawberries so that they are coated by the flour mixture, but aren’t crushed. Stir most of the milk. You may not want to add  the last 1-2 tablespoons until you see how moist the dough is. If it seems extremely sticky, don’t add the last of the milk.

Using a large spoon, scoop the batter onto the baking sheet. Try to drop the dough onto the sheet in round clumps (if your dough is too flat to begin with, it will spread out into pancake-biscuits.) Leave 2 inches of space between the scones because they will rise and expand.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let them sit for a few minutes before you remove them from the pan to cool. They are best served warm, but they are also delicious served cold.

Original recipe from http://smittenkitchen.com/2012/06/strawberries-and-cream-biscuits/#more-8596