A student’s diary: making your study sessions a lovely time

elizabeth

 

Yes, a lovely time ! You know, after 5 years of being a uni student, I have come to realize that working in a clean, pleasant environment plays a big role in being able to stay focused on that page.

I don’t know if I have a attention-deficit disorder but sometimes I find it incredibly hard to focus on one page of a lecture… And I find that a routine and a certain setting really help, so as I am taking my 10 minutes break right now, I thought I would share a quick post on how to make your study time pleasant and something you will look forward to:

  1. A clutter-free desk makes everything clear ! If you can, start with a desk/a table in a calm environment and get rid of all that clutter on it: keep the bare minimum ! The textbook, a few sheets of paper to take notes and just the few pens and highlighters you need.
  2. A pleasant place: though I don’t like to put decorations on my desk as I feel that a cluttered place does not help, there are three items, apart from my study tools, that I like to keep: a pot of flower, a cup of tea and a candle. I was given beautiful white orchids by a friend, and they light up the whole room, along with the candle (which, for your safety, you must never leave burn when you are not in the room), and a delicious tea or fruit-infused water will ensure that you will have a bit of beauty, liveliness and sweetness as you study
  3. Color, color, color ! In most cases, I think that highlighting and making your lectures and notes something pleasant to the eye is not a waste of time but will help you memorize things.
  4. Of lipstick and perfumes and nails: now, this depends on your personality. I remember that during my first years in university, I felt like I had to sit at my desk in my pajamas and unbrushed hair and without makeup in order to have a “clean conscience”, meaning by that, that if I looked this tired, then GOOD ! It meant I was spending 27 hours/day studying… But to be honest, it was not really efficient. Now, I took the habit (though it’s true that I have less exams that a few years ago) to, even during the exams, take 5 minutes in the morning to fix my hair, do a quick makeup. Far from being a waste of time, it helps you, along with a cup of coffee, to lift your spirits and feel less miserable during those exams where motivation is required. I like to think of the Queen of England: she works every day in her office, and she works definitely very hard (she is probably the most informed woman in the world), and yet, even if she is at home, she is always properly dressed. Now, we can learn a lesson from that: far from being a waste of time and being frivolous, taking 5 minutes in the morning helps you work with joy and helps makes the most of the time and energy you have.

 

And now I am back to my lecture on smoking ! Have a lovely evening !

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A student’s diary:

bureau

Studies:

Today I covered:

-Hypothyroidism

-Epileptic seizures

-Osteoporosis

-One type of cancer

-Cardiac arrhytmias

-Psoriasis

-Gout

And then took a huge nap !

Karma, yoga, incense, Buddha and namaste:

You are probably encountering those words regularly, these days.

I then prepared dinner and listened, while I was eating, to a short 13 minutes podcast by Ravi Zacharias, “The Spurious Glitter of Pantheism”. The religion I have the most studied is Islam, and so far my knowledge about Eastern religions is very limited. However, I am observing a new phenomenon in our society, as probably all of us are, whether we are living in America or France.

I had the occasion, during my internship this year, to get to know a young woman in my class, whom I did not know really well until this year. And as I was talking to her, I came to realize that she was practicing yoga and that she loved Buddha’s teaching. Yesterday, I noticed that a girl who was with me in highschool- a lady who had lots of questions about life, who loved to think, and was obviously trying to figure out the meaning of life– has become involved in buddhism to such an extent that she is blogging about it, had interviews with a buddhist monk, and, when she comes back from work, starts her essential oil diffuser, lights incense sticks, and meditates.

I might have an idea why more and more young people are attracted to that zen, green religion but I think it would be interesting to study that as this trend is spreading and we will probably meet colleagues or people that will “profess” New Age ideas. Ravi Zacharias is a reference when it comes to Hinduism and Buddhism.

And now, I am getting back to my desk ! *The student life*

 

Have a nice evening in the Presence of our Lord Jesus-Christ, our Only Rock,

 

Stéphanie

My heart is heavy

rose

 

 

I am writing this post on Thursday because my weekend will, God willing, be very busy.

To be honest with you, I had scheduled in advance, for Friday, two articles. One on homemaking, and I thought of posting a recipe of those falafels I did for dinner tonight. But I decided to write something else instead because tonight, my heart is heavy. Sure, I enjoy all these things about homemaking and recipes and fashion and whatnot, but a few things happened this week that made me think, and made me sober:

I am working in a hospital, and my whole semester is about cancer. And everyday, I get to see patients who know, and I know it as well, that they only have a few months or weeks to live, and for some, they could die anytime. I will spare you the details but, though in medicine and pharmacy we have to take a kind of “distance” as to not be overwhelmed by emotion, in order to truly focus on our job… It is hard. We often have that illusion of immortality, we are so alive, and when you learn that soon, it will be the end, everything shatters in your head. You either deny it or face it, but my poor patients, do they have hope ? Do they know the Savior, and do they have hope ?

What made me ashamed about myself is that lately, it seems that I have made myself the center of my own little world and some aspects, was guilty of self-idolatry… And it was the words of an unbelieving friend at university that gave me a slap: “What I am seeing in the hospital, these days… It makes me think about life…What happened in Belgium… makes me sad…”.

I am truly guilty, sometimes, of wanting to lead a peaceful life free from pain and free from life’s reality -sure, I don’t want to live in a huge mansion in Miami and dress in Dolce and Gabbana, but even as I dream of a humble life, I find myself making the comfort of my home an idol, homemaking and my little routines idols, but till now I did not want to put a name on these things.

So tonight, as I am writing those words, I want to humble myself before our God and wake up. This life is not eternal, we are mortals, and at any time, we could die. As someone said, then, “Only one life twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last“.

Oh, to not seek to achieve spiritual disciplines for the sake of being called “spiritual women, godly women”, just for entitlement ! Oh, I am so ashamed that often I am knowledgeable about many things when it comes to the spiritual realm, or the Christian “culture” but when it comes to the work of Christ, how little do I know ! How few my thoughts are when it comes to what He has done !

Maybe it’s about time, to start getting serious about these things. I am not talking about doing more as a quantity but maybe, at least for me, it’s time to start evaluating some things in my life, and some of my priorities.

As I come back from school, I often cross a glamorous place in the Centre-Ville.

 

home

The said street.

There, you find all those French shops selling high-end clothes. All those lovely French cafés. Those restaurants that make us all proud of our culture Francaise. Yet it breaks my heart to find that in the midst of all this architectural beauty, there are TONS of beggars in that street. And it kills me to see that we have made food an idol, especially here in France, and do not care for our poors the way the early Christians did: they fed everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, with such love that even the last pagan emperor of the Roman Empire, though he hated them, could not but admit they were full of good deeds. As Leonard Ravenhill said, the early Christians did not have all those huge churches and technologies and ministries and all those things yet they turned the world upside down. We have so much, and at least in my case, I do so little.

Truly, as somebody else said, prosperity does more harm to the Church than adversity does. You see that in the Proverbs, I think:

“give me neither poverty nor riches,

but give me only my daily bread.

Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you

and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’

Or I may become poor and steal,

and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:8-9) 

I clearly remember that when I went through hard things in my life, it is there that I cried for God. That when I lost everything and everyone, when my little crystal castle shattered, God was my only refuge. But how careful are we to be when we have a lot… The cares of this age (Mark 4:19) are like ropes around our necks. You just finished eating, and before you are done with the last bite, you are scrolling down endless pages on Instagram looking for more food, instead of giving thanks. Instead of being like John the Baptist, who was happy that he could decrease so Christ would increase, we constantly worry about what people are thinking about us, as if we were the center of the world ! What a culture of narcissim we live in !

And I wonder, is all what I am doing just wishful thinking and pretty thoughts put together just so I would publish another post on my blog ? We talk SO MUCH these days and do SO little !

So this is it. I would love to apologize for this post with randoms thoughts here and there, but my intention was not to make a Pinterest-worthy post here. I wanted to express my thoughts: maybe it’s time, to take life seriously, to realize that there is pain in the world, maybe it’s time to go down on our knees and to pray, for real, and not out of boring duty, maybe it’s time, to wake up, and follow the Savior, and pray that others would come to know Him as well.

A lack of intentionality

As you can see, I now blog every Friday because it is the only time of the week where I have the leisure of writing.

This will be a very short post to write down my thoughts on something that I find is plaguing our society: the lack of intentionality. That kind of social laziness that sees that, given that everything is so easily available these days, is slow to be intentional.

Let me give you short examples:

-We rarely remember birthday dates because, of course, Facebook will remind us of them

-Since we have the world in that little box called a phone, we take people for granted since they are in our contacts and rarely have meaningful conversations with them

And that applies with our time with the Lord, as well.

We pray when the mandatory, traditional occasions “command” it: such as before the meal, in church, when we are in an emergency, and sure, these occasions are important, and necessary… but is that all there is ? The Bible says to pray at all times, throughout the day, but as someone said, young people love those prayers they can utter during the day, but it is absolutely necessary, along with that, to set an intentional time of prayer, of intimacy with the Lord.

In every relationship (true friendship, marriage and family), of course, sometimes, we will not have the whole day to have long walks and discussions, but I find it inconceivable that the whole of our interactions be reduced to text messages and short words.

Quality time requires intentionality and preparation, and therefore, creating quality times is incompatible with laziness and unwillingness to invest effort in a relationship, in my opinion. It says, I am going to put everything that might distract me away and dedicate this hour (or this day) to you, and we don’t necessarily have to scream it from the rooftops on every social media: I want to spend that time with you, just for the sheer pleasure of being with you. Or, intentionality says, “Today, I am going to call this person and ask how she/he is doing, not just randomly call the first person who I see online because I am bored“.

Likewise in our relationship with God ! “But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” (Luke 5;16). The Lord is a Person, and even more, the Most Glorious Person. And that calls for our attention, and intentionality, and concentration, and focus, and our deepest interest. Oh, to not be lukewarm in our affections and intentions !! He certainly was not when He died on the cross for us…

 

 

 

 

Frugality and natural beauty: my favorite products

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Beauty best reviews

This year, as I began a journey toward frugality and buying less, I have learned that this new way of life did not have to be synonymous with cheapness and inferior quality.

At first, writing a post about beauty was not something I thought I would do since when it comes to that area, every lady is different: each one of us has a different budget, a different routine, a different skin type… Some ladies wear makeup, some don’t, some take five minutes to get ready while some will take a little longer.

I am just sharing here some beauty products that worked for me. Also, remember; if taking care of our outward appearance is nice and important… “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3:3-4). External beauty fades, but inner beauty is something that is precious, and is imperishable !

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When it comes to beauty products, they ideally have to as natural as possible (non-toxic, without ingredients that are impossible to read), versatile (i.e, ingredients that are multipurpose), and not overly expensive. If they can be reusable too, and environment-friendly, it’s even better !

HAIR PRODUCTS

I dye my hair with henna ! Henna is a powder that comes from a plant (or rather, from different plants). Henna comes in different shades: browns, black, differents shades of reds and copper and there is even a clear henna ! Henna makes your hair glossy,thick (you’ll notice it when you will tie your hair ! It definitely sheathes hair) and ultra-shiny… I love henna ! I buy mine from a French Website for only a few euros and dye my hair every 2 months. It fades gradually and is very subtle so I never had roots problems so far. However, if you buy it, make sure it is 100% pure, as it is important.

Apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse ! You probably have it in your kitchen, and mixed with water, apple cider vinegar makes your hair shiny.

-Coconut oil: or almost any oil/butter, used on your lengths before shampooing your hair, is like a pre-shampoo conditioner.

A lighter butter if you have long hair and you wish to apply, before leaving the house, a bit of it on your lenghts in order to protect them. I bought, for 1,25 euros, a small jar of mango butter and its non greasy finish makes it easy to apply without ending with greasy lengthts^^

Rice flour or corn starch as a dry shampoo. Because what is the main ingredient in those Batiste dry shampoos ? Rice flour. Apply it on your hair roots with an old makeup brush and it will absorb the excess of sebum on those days you have to skip shampoo time !

 

Skincare

 

Coconut oil as a makeup remover: it works even on waterproof mascara !

Vitamine E capsules: those caps you buy at your local pharmacy are actually a key ingredient you find in your store-bought eyecreams ! I apply it from time to times before going to sleep… However, used on its own, Vit.E is a bit greasy so I would suggest to mix it with a bit of coconut oil (here is one recipe) and voilà ! You have a chemical-free, homemade eyecream.

Shea butter ! This year, I made my mom a shea butter cream I made with shea butter of course ^^, a bit of beeswax to make it more “solid”, different oils I had at hand a lavender essential oil. Let me tell you, it’s the best cream I have used so far: creamy, chemical-free, with a wonderful scent of lavender… And packed with good stuff. It’s fun and easy to do, inexpensive compared to those creams you buy; you could also use shea butter on its own but I’d rather have it in a cream.

Jojoba oil: I love this oil because it is one of the oils that is the most similar to the ones that the skin naturally produces.

Oatmeal as a face scrub ! Take a spoon of oatmeal and grind it into a powder, add a bit of water and you have a soothing face scrub.

Honey as a face mask ! Honey has amazing antibacterial properties. Do a bit of research on the internet and you’ll see that lots of things you have in your pantry and fridge can be used as face masks: yogurt, tomatoes, cocoa powder with honey, avocado…

 

Essential oils

I am not going to go into detail here, but those I use the most are Tea Tree oil for blemishes and acne (it is a powerful antibacterial agent !), Ylang-Ylang for hair and lavender in face masks… Do a little research about it and be careful with essential oils ! However, when appropriately used, they might become your best friends when it comes to beauty and homemade cleaning products as they have wonderful properties.

 

Others:

Save money ! Instead of cotton pads and disposable makeup wipes, invest in reusable baby wipes, or, if you have sewing skills, use an old tee-shirt or whatever old fabric  and DIY your own makeup pads.

As you can see, most ingredients can be found in your kitchen and the others are not as much expensive as most beauty and skincare products and, at least in my case, they really work. I have been sticking to that routine since the beginning of the year and my skin and hair have really improved !

And some DIY’s…

beetroot.JPG

Here is an example of some DIY’s beauty product that I do. This super easy body butter took me less than 10 minutes to prepare, an old marmelade jar, a bain-marie= a pan on the stove filled with boiling water. In the jar, I have put beeswax, olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, vitamine E oil as a preservative and, a bit of thyme honey and a pinch of vanilla beans (can you see the brown beans in the jar ? It smells amazing as well 🙂 )The other jar is a tinted lipbalm, with basically the same formula colored with beetroot juice I bought from AromaZone. It gives a very natural hue to the lips…and doubles as a blush as well !

N.BHowever, be careful: natural does not equate innocuous (for example, the well-known cinammon mask you see on Pinterest is not something I would recommend as it is really dangerous !)

Becoming a homemaker: an introduction

 

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A few definitions from the dictionnary to start off…

Frugality:  the quality of being frugal, or prudent in saving; the lack ofwastefulness

Homemaker: A person who manages the household of his or her own family,especially as a principal occupation.

These few years of university, spent on my own/ with my brother for a few years taught me a lot about homemaking. Not only I learned that domestic skills such as cooking, cleaning and washing your clothes were important- sure they were, but something I have learned is that a homemaker has this unique ability to “set the tone” in her house. I have learned that you who are and how you manage your home will without doubt have an impact not only your immediate sphere of influence, such as your family and your guests, but beyond that, that will influence society. Home is the theatre of family, marriage, motherhood, fatherhood, interactions with siblings, quality time. It tells a lot about who we are really.

It is where you can extend hospitality. Where your husband, children, or friends, can find comfort and love and acceptance and a listening ear and loving hugs after a day where, maybe, things were not easy. Where things did not go as expected with the boss, where school was a burden, where temptations were constantly threatening your family. Where uplifting words are a rarity, and spiritual encouragement is clearly not a priority.

I am, as you can see, convinced that we women have this unique capacity to nurture others and use our creativity and talents to serve others, so that, for them, coming back to home will not feel like a chore, home will not be a place to be deserted and to escape as soon as possible but a place to which they will run because of the spirit of love they will find there.

When I was sixteen, for some reasonn I had to care for my siblings and I had zero knowledge of how to run a household. I clearly remember not knowing at which moment I had to throw pasta because I did not know if the water had to be just hot or boiling. Eventually I learned. Though I am far from being Martha Stewart, there are some things I learn every day that I thought I could share with younger girls.

Just a remark: as single young women, I realized that we have no idea of the impact we can have on younger girls/teens. By mentoring them, we are caring for the next generation and they are in great need, in this world where role models are rare, for an older sister, a mentor that will teach them godly things and at the same time, sympathize with them because they will have gone through similar things. Let us not waste that precious time called singleness ! It is not a time spent of the bench, but something to be used for the glory of God, and for others.

I have learned that homemaking does not necessarily imply being the perfect hostess, a gourmet chef or something that surpasses other. I will come back to that in a future post, God willing, but it is a way of life that aims at loving God and serve others through our skills.

I shared a definition of frugality because I believe frugality is a must as a homemaker: for lots of reasons I will detail later, I believe that a household cannot function efficiently if money is not well spent and if we are careless in the way we buy things and use them.

Grab a cup of tea, make yourself home, and join me as we talk and discuss about ways to make our home a place where godliness can flourish, and people can be loved.

 

Stéphanie

N:B: I want to thank every person who came to visit my blog since I start blogging. Reading your comments make my day !

 

Sharing the goodness of the Lord

I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. (Ps 22:22)

I am writing this quick post before heading to work, as I’m eating my breakfast. I just wanted to share how GOOD the Lord is. In some particular area recently, He has been fighting for me, defeating my sin through His power and His Word… And He was been my refuge when everything seemed to fail. This verse was a great encouragement to me yesterday:

David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.” (1 Sam 30:6)

Have a lovely day, dear readers, and may you find strenght in the Lord our God.

 

Saturday fun: of hats and calligraphy !

Hello ladies !

As much as I enjoy blogging, with my new internship starting on Monday, I will have to post less often… It’s almost the end of the year (it’s March already, time flies so fast it’s unbelievable), so that calls for more study time ! Anyway, it’s break time now and I wanted to write a bit.

 

Outfit of the (other) day ! 

 

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A quick outfit I wore last week. Spring is starting to come around and I am glad that except for a few rainy days here and there, heavy coats will no longer needed ! In this outfit I am wearing a passe-partout knee-lenght black skirt, a champagne shirt and a white wool jacket along with a black hat, and long mustard earrings. I just love how hats add a final touch to an outfit; you can find those wool felt hats at H and M.

 

Calligraphy !

As I am starting to look for practical, beautiful yet inexpensive ways to make my appartement more homey and cosy, I am considering starting calligraphy ! In a way, I already do it on a daily basis since in France, when we were little, writing beautifully (often with a fountain pen and in cursive script) was something we were taught from the beginning of our elementary years.

I often saw on pinterest and blogs wall decors of quotes and verses and I thought that it was inexpensive and that with a bit of creativity, a frame or two, arranged on a desk, a kitchen counter or the living room, could add a lot of that unique touch to a room. One sweet lady, Jen, whose blog I have been following for years (it’s such a delight to read !), has started a her own calligraphy business, Arabella Calligraphy. Here are some of her works:

 

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How lovely is that ? Here are some other works from Pinterest. I find that not only they enhance a room, but they could be good reminders of God’s Word throughout the days.

 

Have an amazing weekend,

Stéphanie