“I’ll Race Ya!”

“I’ll race ya,’ yelled the battle cry as chubby legs pumped through the grass and rocks running down the hill. Breathing became heavy as feet ran forward but the head was cast in glances to see how close the competitor was. “AGH,” came the yell as the person behind suddenly started catching up, legs pumping harder. All the teasing that led up to this moment caused panic as they realized they would lose.

 

Suddenly, out of the corner of their eye, came their grandfather, beating them down the hill. The two siblings, once competing, now became one team as their goal shifted from each other to catching their grandfather. Their grandfather, the one they anxiously waited until the afternoon to see when he would get off of work, was home. Driving up, he would walk in the kitchen to smell the food on the table and then head out for chores – feeding and watering the animals, chopping wood, helping tend to the garden, whatever it was that needed to be done.

 

Two shadows following him around, climbing on fences or matching his stride talking, not even caring if he didn’t respond as much back. Soon enough, the parents will be back to pick them up from at their grandparents, and they would recount the story of how they lost to PawPaw, said in utter shock that they could even lose. However, they never realized at the time that they had truly won.

Best Traveling Apps

 

There are two types of travelers, those who unplug for peace and those who use technology in their travel. Forbes has a list of the best apps for 2016. They are the following:

Trip Case – organize multiple flihts, hotel reservations and plans

Snapchat – Share quick photos or videos with other users

Pro-tip: Filters

BringFido – Maps out dog parks and pet-friendly hotels

Bravolo – 13-language phrasebook

Currency – keeps track of your finances in multiple countries

CityMaps2Go – Downloadable maps and guides

 

Karie’s Suggestion:

Before you leave, download all the apps you think you will need in case you don’t have Internet to do it. Also, check to see if the country you are going to has some apps censored.

Apps I would suggest is WhatsApp, to communicate over wifi and any language app that you can use without the Internet.

“What is He Doing in the Kitchen?”

Christian

“What is he doing in the kitchen,” asked a frustrated voice. Christian, standing there in his summer tank top and shorts, was eating a Pop Tart and stirring Kool-Aid. The clock was ticking and it was time to leave but he was dancing, a slow calm dancing that resembled the early morning that it was, getting supplies for the rest of the day.

 

“What is he doing in the field,” asked a perplexed voice, watching underneath the shade of trees folding laundry from the outside washer and dryers. Christian, dancing, was in a field with no one around. The sun is setting, the blades of grass have grown higher than what is comfortable and a shadow plays across the ground, as if he was dancing with it.

 

“What is he doing on the dance floor,” asked a voice laced in humor. Christian, shadowed by bright lights, dancing outside at Downtown Disney in Central Florida. Laughter erupts as people latch arms swinging each other around, careful to not step on the small children around them. Christian, smiling and encouraging others to join him, threw back his head in laughter as his friends attempted to dance together, bumping into each other.

 

What makes Christian special? What makes Christian dancing in the kitchen, in the field or at Disney so unique? It is not the dancing that sets Christian apart; it is the music. The music he hears, not through his headphones or from a DJ, is what makes it wonderful. It is the music he dances to, it is why he dances and what he hears in his head that many do not understand. It is waking up dancing, it is going throughout life dancing and it is drawing others into his joy.

 

Many may see his dancing and not understand, but that is because they do not hear his music. Christian, his zest for life, his joy that overflows and his ability to enjoy the moment, is the music that plays if one will just listen closely.

“The Climb is Worth It.”

MtRainier

The only mountains I grew up seeing was the Smokey Mountains until I traveled to the Pacific Northwest and my eyes landed on Mt. Rainier. Driving up the road to where my group and I would park the vehicle and hike was gorgeous. There were beautiful waterfalls, lakes and green foliage everywhere. It was beautiful, and although I was excited to hike a little bit, I was content staring out the window at what was going on around me.

 

When I arrived, there was people walking around, visiting the lodge and tourist shops. I started the hike, easy paved walkways but still hills that soon transformed to rocky paths. I was able to see deer that were like none I have ever seen, flowers that looked like they belong in a Dr. Seuss book and marmots. Marmots, very unique animals that remind me of fat prairie dogs that are actually big squirrels, sit along the paths in the meadows acting as if there were not crowds of people around.

 

I was able to smell the fresh air, see and hear the animals, look at the flowers close-up and feel the rocks beneath my feet. I was able to sit on a giant rock overlooking a steep drop to where a glacier was until it melted and left a giant cavity in the Earth. I would look up and see the snow capped tops when the clouds will roll past, imagining what it would be like to climb the mountain.

I was content and comfortable in the vehicle going up the mountain to where we would walk, but the beauty there, although safe, had nothing to compare to the beauty that I experienced once I stepped out of my comfort zone and climbed.

 

I think life is like that, we are comfortable with what we know and there is beauty that surrounds us here. However, there is so much to experience if we just take the time to truly see, not on the screen of a phone or a window, but really taking time to see that even if the climb is hard, it is worth it.

“Why is Fancy Standing in the Road?”

“Why is Fancy Standing in the Road?”

“Why is Fancy in the road,” screeched a voice laced in panic. Fancy, a woman who lives behind a local church in small town Mississippi, lives with her husband and their pet dog in a cozy house next to an open lot. As the youth ministry in the local church grew, so did their desire to host the teenagers in their home. What started as one day grew to twice a week as the teenagers would flood the house, making themselves at home.

Fancy and her husband would sometimes cook for the teenagers but always be there to talk to them, invest in them and pray for them. As prom night neared, Fancy went to look at the seniors take photos near the railroad tracks. A truck was driving down the road and saw the students, but the students didn’t see the truck. Fancy stood in the road until the last student walked to the other side on the shoulder. Then she nonchalantly joined them.

Of course, watching Fancy stand in the road with her light pink shirt and a smile on a face caused instant panic. However, Fancy thought nothing of it. Fancy didn’t save a life that day. She didn’t push a child out of oncoming traffic or another other crazy act of love we often read about it. No, that isn’t Fancy’s story for this season of her life.

Fancy’s story is one of radical love, a persistent ordinary person that creates extraordinary results. It is opening the door smiling, listening, praying, watching them play sports and believing in them. Fancy and her husband may not have a plaque on the wall of their achievements from helping this church, may not have a building dedicated to them at a school or even for people all across the world to know their name, but for the teenagers that flood their house, they have found a second home in the love of Fancy, her husband and their dog.

 

Because a radical love isn’t just a one-time instance, but it is a daily choice that those around you are more important than yourself.

“I Love Chinese Food..” 6 Somewhat Shocking Things When It Comes to Eating in China

  1. Desserts – Not as Sweet as They Look

Along the crowded streets of the large cities in China are what seems like never-ending storefronts. As you walk, you will see these wonderful bakery and pastries storefronts. Inside are delicious looking cakes and pastries, and you may become excited to eat some sweet desserts. However, this will never be the case in China.

If you see dark brown bread that looks like chocolate bread, it is not at all chocolate. If you have a sweet tooth in China, it can fixed by buying some chocolate (like Hershey’s) at stores, but the bakery is not for people who grow up on sugary desserts, cookie dough and love cake… that takes like cake.

  1. Burger King, McDonald’s & Dairy Queen

After eating traditional Chinese food for a few weeks, I saw a Burger King and almost lost my mind in excitement (not something I have ever done in the U.S.). Nationals love red spice, so everything is spicy. Other than that, it is almost like you are back in America, except everyone is taking pictures of you as you eat.

The McDonald’s was pretty much the same but with a smaller menu and a weird looking bean pie instead of apple. If you see a Dairy Queen, they have green tea ice cream – check it out!

3. Scorpions, Crickets, Ants, Seahorses

Name it. If it chirps, bites or looks super cute in an office aquarium, you can probably find it on a stick moving around until they quickly cook it and sell it for about $6 in American cash. Yum!

 

       4. Wu Mart

I think of Wu Mart like Wal-Mart, this magical place in China where I can find bamboo chopsticks, all the candy I can’t read and tea I can’t pronounce. They also have a meat market, but unlike the meat sections I am use to, they just lay out the meat on a table covered in ice and you grab a thin plastic bag (like you would put fruit in at Wal-mart) and just put your chicken leg or whatever else you want in it to take it home.

5. Ice, Ice, Nada

I love ice in my soft drinks, sweet tea, green tea, water, lemonade.. You get the point. However, they feel like cold water will get you sick so you will be served hot water or hot tea at your meals and bottled drinks won’t be refrigerated at stores.

6. Fruit on the streets

By far my favorite! Along the streets you will see people selling large, beautiful-looking fruit with more flavor and less money than in the U.S. However, if you buy anything where you eat the peel (like an apple), wash it.. then wash it again… and just go ahead and wash it a third time and make sure the water is not absorbed into the fruit. If it is, toss it and try another.

 

 

Karie’s Helpful Hint:

If you’re in the larger tourist cities, they’ll be McDonald’s and Starbucks and other American-style restaurants that you can point to the familiar looking options on the menu to order. If you are in areas that are not common tourist destinations, when in doubt, go for dumplings (my favorite is mutton) and rice.