An update

I thought I would write a sort of random post about how life is going and where I have been lately !

I finished the exams two weeks ago and I am very thankful the year is over. It will be, God willing, my last year of community pharmacy- my initial plan was to become your typical pharmacist but the Lord has other plans for me. If the Lord wills, I will start, in September, my Master’s degree in immunology, which hopefully will be the last year of my pharmacy program… unless I pursue another Master’s degree… School is so fun and I have always loved learning differents things !

Last week’s conference 

Last week, we went to Houlgate, a beach located in the North of France for a Christian conference in Arabic this time.

houlgate crabe

FYI, the crab was dead

 the topic of the preaching was on the short yet powerful book of Malachi and the great lesson I will remember from this weekend is that we ought to aim at honoring the Lord, that so often we honor humans more than we honor Him: “A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty.” (Malachi 1:6). It made a deep impression upon me and recently, I have been feeling more intensely the conviction of the Holy Spirit to seek to honor the Lord, even when I am alone at home, and with my thoughts, because the truth is, He is always here, and is the most Majestic being in the Universe, and deserves all the honor and worship.

We can’t do this on our own. It is because He loved us first that we are enabled to love Him ! But recently, that conviction led me to stop giving God the last crumbs. The last minutes of the day. The occasional thought or prayer when I am bored and I have nothing to do but pray. Sometimes, instead of putting some music on, I feel the conviction, again, to intentionally seek to “integrate”, “include” the Lord while I do my everyday tasks, such as cleaning my appartment, cooking… I thought, no one would talk to a loved one out of boredom, right ? We have to be intentional !

 

Thoughts on being useful as a young single woman

I noticed something interesting during the conference: a lot of young girls, between 11 and 17 years old, wanted to chat with me- the kind of one-on-one talk. About lots of things: school, God, the Bible, guys, and whatnot. And I began to realize that all the struggles I have faced during my life, what the Lord has taught me, sometimes in painful ways, was found to be useful during those conversations. Chance is that if you begin to see those young teens as younger brothers and sisters in the faith, you might become a mentor to them, an older sister, and your experiences might be useful, not to mention that they need to talk to someone who has been there and understands. These moments fill me with gratitude because though the world might portray single as desperate and “waiting on the bench”, God has ways to use ordinary people to encourage others.

 

My new hobby

 

Watercoloring is so fun ! I bought myself a watercolor palette and I have been painting nearly every day since the last week (yep, even at 6 AM in the train, I was wide awake and ready to paint the Eiffel Tower). I hope my mom does not read my blog because the picture on the right, “Tea Time” is a painting I am intending to give her as a mother’s day gift and the first one was a quick sketch I made for a friend who works at the hospital with me- we are both fond of a jumbo lemon-flavored muffin they bake at the cafeteria so I had to paint it 🙂

That was everything for today !

Have a lovely weekend readers !

My frugal week

You know, far from being synonymous with a miserable life, I think frugality -making the most of what you have, learning skills in order to save- teaches you a lot. I think it taught me to pause, to stop, and no longer jump from one shopping spree to another. It taught me to work with my own hands, to be grateful for the clothes I had, to take care of them, to cook my own food and be grateful for it, to not take anything for granted… I am no longer in that rush that keeps me thinking, what should I buy next. I am learning to be content with what I have and I feel, honestly, richer that I have ever been, more that when I allowed myself to buy tons of stuff…

Also, I really think that as Christians, frugality is something we ought to aim for, in the sense, that we ought to be good stewards of what we have and not waste things. Think about what the Lord did with the loaves of bread…

Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. 12When they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”  (John 6: 11-13)

 

Little steps I have been taking, and things I have been doing recently in order to save money, increase my creativity and take care of the environment…

 

  •  I started carrying a small fabric tote bag in my purse so I would be able to say “no” to another plastic bag when I buy something
  • I made sushi for my family last week-end.
  • I have started adopting the need it or not ? mentality. Last day, I was considering purchasing on Amazon a makeup palette and I gave myself a few days to think about it. Eventually, I realized that I had tons of makeup and that I actually did not need that palette at all.
  • I am learning to say “no, I’m good” when pressured to buy something.
  • I have started making my own bread. Bread was something I avoided trying as I thought it was something too fancy and that you could not do unless you had a bread making machine… But trust me, it is really easy ! I don’t eat a lot of bread so I thought making my own small breads would be a good alternative:

bread.JPG

 

  • I used what I have in the pantry to blend my own chai latte mix. In France, we don’t have that Starbucks/Tim Hortons culture so we don’t really have that budget hole due to Frappucinos and other drinks.

 

What frugal steps will you be taking this week ? I would love to hear your ideas !

 

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…

 

 

 

 

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 ! 

 

ootd

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:

 

arabella

 

arabella 2

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

Getting organized ! #1 The fridge

Last time I wrote a quite long post about why I was trying to spend less time on social media. Some days after I posted this article, I got rid of the app to which I was most addicted: Instagram. And one of the results of that is that my appartement has never been so tidy and organized ;). I have even printed a little ebook on homemaking and the new cleaning routines I have adopted are making my life much easier these days !

These new series of posts, Getting Organized, are just images from Pinterest that I find useful, within the context of my situation, to help me as I acquire new homemaking skills. I had just no idea how having a real routine, helps alleviate the stress and makes you more productive throughout the day. I hope you enjoy these series and again, everyone has a different home, organization, schedule… You just got to figure out what works for you !

For me, the one thing to remember here is to have baskets in which to put the food. They make a world of difference !

fridge
This “dollar store makeover” is definitely helpful: I am putting everything as well into baskets. That keeps everything visible before your eyes without risk of having that tomato hidden behind something else and ending up… rotten.
fridge
The ultimate fridge chart !

 

Organization: bedtime and morning routine

I finished the first semester exams a few weeks ago and without the few days of break we used to have the previous years, I started right off the bat the second semester, and my number one struggle, these days, or, to be more exact, this year, is organization.

I thought I was disciplined ! Well, the main problem when you are on your own for the first time is setting a routine and sticking to it. Since my brother left for another university, I had to set a schedule but I have trouble following it… I never go to bed early, my mornings are just hectic, it seems I can’t focus at work and in class, I am often eating on the go and therefore lacking energy and so on.

One of the things that keeps me motivated to persevere in a habit is having the necessary tools at hand. Today, while I was looking for practical ideas on how to deal with that problem once and for all, I landed on the Artful Homemaking blog which had some really good tips on that. It gave me the idea of an evening and morning basket.

panier

Pinterest

Actually, two of them. One for bedtime, and one that I’ll use upon waking up.

Evening basket:

  • My pyjamas
  • Herbal tea and a cup
  • Lavender essential oil-
  • Lipbalm, creams #justgirlythings
  • Socks
  • My diary
  • One or two books (like a devotional, a book about animals- at least something that does not have something to do with pharmacology)
  • And a list of encouraging verses and reminders I like having at hand

The morning basket will be similar: clothes for the day, to-do list, etc.

Why I think this would be useful is because, not only you have everything you need in one place but also, it keeps you from being distracted: for example, how many times I used my Iphone to read something before going to bed and ended up on Facebook, Instagram, and had a completely counter-productive, not relaxing at all evening ? Checked e-mail for no reason ? Worried instead of meditating ? That’s why I’m trying to put the phone away after, maybe, 8-9 pm after I finished studying.

If you have any others ideas, I’d be glad to hear from you !

martha.JPG

A few of my favorite things: My diary, herbal tea, coconut oil as a makeup remover, tea tree essential oil for blemishes, mango butter to keep my locks hydrated and Martha Stewart. I just love everything homemaking.

Being ourselves at home ?

home

Pinterest

~

I read those lines before going to sleep today and thought I’d share them. Below is the part of the text that caught my attention, answering a question that was very present in my mind, but that I never was able to put into words so far. How do we come to that place, that shelter called home and, there, in that little parcel that we call our own, are merely ourselves ? 

“How, then, are people to behave at home? If a man can’t be comfortable and unguarded, can’t take his ease and “be himself” in his own house, where can he? That is, I confess, the trouble. The answer is an alarming one. There is nowhere this side of heaven where one can safely lay the reins on the horse’s neck. It will never be lawful simply to “be ourselves” until “ourselves” have become sons of God….” 

C.S Lewis, God in the Dock

Home sweet home…

I never realized the haven a home could be until this year. I mean, now I am working as an intern at the local hospital and my schedule is hectic, I am beginning to understand the importance of having a restful corner ;). When it comes to household management, my role model is my mom. Through good and bad times, she always made sure the family ate together, at dinner time, and always thought home should be a place, a haven where her husband and children, after a long day at work/school, would be able to rest and have a good time as a family.

Whether she prepares the most basic dish or something more elaborate, I always felt, because of her love, her warm smile, and devotion to her family, that every dinner was a banquet. Literally. As my friend’s mother told me (she reminds me of my mother in lots of ways), “You can prepare the most rudimentary macaroni, as long as it is done with love”. There is nothing like a mother waiting for you at home, greeting you with kind words, and doing her best to create a environment where her family feels love and warmth. We went through good and bad times, and in spite of this, my mother always trusted the Lord, and thanked Him for His provision- needless to say, it had a big impact on me.

Here are a few things my mom and my friend’s mom, who I greatly admire as well, taught me…

Set the table, even when you are eating alone

table endroit

“I learned from my mother to always light candles
at the dinner table and put music on every evening,
whether we had a piece of toast or a banquet fare for our dinner.

It calmed down the children and soothed all of our souls.
Even when my children were little, they were drawn
to the beauty of flickering candles and rich music.
Bringing them pleasure also brought me fulfillment.”

Sally Clarkson

It does not have to be expensive

At the end of the summer, my friend came over (yes, the one whose mother has wise sayings-by the way, she is the one who made me the lovely butternut-chestnut cream, pictured above), and she wanted us to make a DIY project for my appartment. She is the kind of girl who is very crafty, and we spent, one time, one or two hours cutting out butterflies out of soft cardboard. Those two hours- without involving Ipads or Iphones or I-whatever-exists-and-starts-with-I… Were just beautiful. We talked, laughed, had a good time, and today, she sticked the butterflies on my walls and I ended up with this:

appartement

As I looked at the wall, it made me think; wow- cardboard is probably one of the most inexpensive things you can find in an Arts and Crafts store, we had such a good quality time together- chatting over tea and scattered butterflies, and I now have a oh-so -cute wall… It does not have to be expensive, it just takes a bit of creativity 🙂 (And guess what ? My friend is an accomplished seamstress as well- she made me those liberty fabric pillows !)

Hospitality 

My mother, my best friend and her mother excel at something: hospitality. I always thought, for a long time, that hospitality was the art of entertaining your guests in a fancy ways- fancy food, elaborate parties, etc. There are so many etiquette books and lessons and today, with Pinterest and social media, we often feel like we can’t measure up to others if we don’t have the perfect Instagram living room or Shabby Chic garden party, but watching those three women taught me something: it’s not about you. It’s not about impressing people. It’s about others, and about God. Those women always made me feel at home. They made me feel as if I truly was a member of their family. We sat and ate lunch as a family, had tea and a slice of cake and, sitting in the living room, we talked about the Gospel. And it triggered off something in my. Those women were hospitable, the food was good, but ultimately, I left their house mainly not impressed by that but encouraged spiritually.

It is then that I realized what home could be to our families and other people gracing it of their presence: a safe shelter where the Gospel could be proclaimed, in words and in deeds…