Why we (still) need to rethink our value and identity as women

 

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Have you ever noticed that even in most Disney movies that glorify a strong female character, the story inevitably ends in a marriage?

She’s defeated warriors (Mulan) and saved lives (Frozen), but the plot isn’t really complete until she’s found a husband, presumably with whom she will have many, many babies.

Please hear me: the desire to be married is beautiful and God-given, and should never be looked down upon, in a man or a woman. But what I take issue with is the idea that a person- specifically a woman- is somehow incomplete until she’s entered into marital union, and then, given birth.

For the majority of human history, in most every time and place, a woman’s value has been defined by her ability to bear children. You can imagine what this has meant for millions of females over the centuries who have remained single, or remained unable to conceive: extreme pain, loss of identity, powerlessness, despair.

We like to think that things have changed—but have they really? Continue reading “Why we (still) need to rethink our value and identity as women”

Feed your friends: 4 cultures of hospitality, grace & good eats

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‘Tis the season to feed and to be fed. Christmas and the surrounding holidays have got me thinking a lot about why we celebrate special occasions by feeding each other- our family, our friends, those we love, and maybe even those we don’t know particularly well. In the U.S. we don’t normally spend too much time in the kitchen, preparing, cooking, and plating labor-intensive dishes- but come November and December, we’re roasting 20 lb. turkeys, sugaring hundreds of tiny cookies, melting chocolate for ganache truffles, peeling apples for pie, and kneading all sorts of crusts and breads—all for the sake of others (okay, maybe we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor a little).

It’s an exceptional time of the year to be hospitable. But in other parts of the world, and in other cultures, hospitality is a year-round tradition, expectation, and joy. Since I’ve had the awesome opportunity to do a good bit of traveling to different countries, I’ve had the equally awesome opportunity to eat my way around the world, in the kitchens (and living room floors, and straw huts) of some of the most talented and generous cooks I’ve ever known. They’re not professionals, but their capacity to wow on an often limited budget is just as impressive as any restaurant chef—if not more. Here, a few of my favorite experiences… Continue reading “Feed your friends: 4 cultures of hospitality, grace & good eats”

What I learned about staying healthy while living overseas (it’s surprising)

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Before moving to Morocco in 2012, I had one major fear. I didn’t fear loneliness, or being far from my home country, or not being able to communicate with those outside of my culture and native language. I wasn’t afraid of not finding a job, or even of the possibility of terrorist attacks (although there had been a major attack in Marrakesh in 2011). This one thing crossed my mind again and again while packing and preparing: the fear of gaining weight. Continue reading “What I learned about staying healthy while living overseas (it’s surprising)”

Germany part 3: willkommenskultur

Don’t let anyone tell you that English and German are close cousins. After four weeks spent in small-town west Germany where the majority of townspeople do not speak English and my German does not go past “Hello” (Thank God we have at least one word in common), I am pretty much at the mercy of hand signals and Google translate to fulfill even the most basic tasks. However, look at the title of this blog post. Can you tell what it says? “Willkommen” sounds a little like “welcome” and “kultur” sounds a lot like “culture”. So there you have it: welcome-culture. In 2015, it was the word of the year in Germany, and it refers to the attitude of welcoming that Germans have adopted towards incoming migrants.

As immigrants continue to flood into Europe and terrorism simultaneously increases across the continent, it’s easy to become a little fearful. I’ve tried to imagine what it would actually be like to be German and to consider the future of my home as the face of the country rapidly changes. I can’t speak for Germans, but I can speak to my friendships with some of these immigrants, and to my knowledge of Arab/Middle-Eastern culture in general. And in my experience, it is the very same people who are forced from their home nations that are themselves warm, hospitable, and welcoming. Continue reading “Germany part 3: willkommenskultur”

Traveling solo: pros and cons

I first got my feet wet traveling solo during my semester abroad in Strasbourg, France. The third day after arriving, I got lost in a snowstorm alone, breaking me in for the next few years of my life, which would involve a) getting lost more than I want to admit and b) finding my way back every time, thank you Jesus. By now, I’ve traveled through Morocco, Spain, France and Belgium on my own, mastered the art of bus, train and airplane schedules and learned to navigate my way through any city (visual cues are the key).

 

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Paris, in the winter

Continue reading “Traveling solo: pros and cons”

Why you should (or shouldn’t) travel solo

I first got my feet wet traveling solo during my semester abroad in Strasbourg, France. The third day after arriving, I got lost in a snowstorm alone, breaking me in for the next few years of my life, which would involve a) getting lost more than I want to admit and b) finding my way back every time, thank you Jesus. By now, I’ve traveled through Morocco, Spain, France and Belgium on my own, mastered the art of bus, train and airplane schedules and learned to navigate my way through any city (visual cues are the key).

 

Paris

Continue reading “Why you should (or shouldn’t) travel solo”

3 things I learned in Morocco about being a kinder person

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Last year around this time, I was wrapping up three years in a country in the northwestern tip of Africa, known for a few different things, depending on who you talk to; for some, beautiful beaches; for others, world-renowned cuisine; for others, gorgeous home decor; and for others, questionable safety. When it came down to it, I went to Morocco for one reason: I was overwhelmed by the sense that not to go would be to reject some crucial part of my life purpose.

I didn’t know it last year at this time, but it would be my final few months living in a country that changed me and taught me more than I could ever could have anticipated going into it in September 2012. When I boarded the plane Los Angeles- Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf- Marrakech, I knew it would be an awesome adventure and an incredible challenge, but I could not know exactly how either would unravel. Almost four years later, I can look back and name some of the things I learned there, the larger pieces that I took away with me. Continue reading “3 things I learned in Morocco about being a kinder person”