How Cyber Monday Can Change the Lives of Homeless People in Dallas

Hi all. I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I would like to share with you how you can do more good on cyber Monday than saving a few extra dollars on some things that you have had your eye on for a while. And these purchases actually will benefit others more than you could possibly imagine.

Dallas, Texas is currently piloting a project that will provide housing for chronically homeless persons. The 50 Cottages at Hickory Crossing are set to open in March. Check out their website and the news stories.

Here is where you come in. The Cottages at Hickory Crossing need to finish furnishing these homes. They have set up a Target registry with 1,667 items needed (yes, you read that correctly). With Cyber Monday deals everywhere tomorrow, why not do more good with your money than buying that new (insert whatever it is that you really want) and throw in a few extra dollars toward helping someone? Check out their registry here.

I hope that you will join me 1) in praying the God will do great things through this project; and 2) in helping make a dent in their registry list.

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Planned Parenthood, I’d like to introduce you to someone…

pillarsgirls

I’d like to introduce you to someone. She is one of the strongest people I know. In every sense of the word, she is a miracle. Her name is Charli Sophia and she is two years old.

Charli is my second cousin. Her mother, Mallory, is my first cousin. I remember hearing the news that Mallory was expecting. I was overjoyed! I was also expecting with my second child. Mallory was that wonderful mother who documented every step of her pregnancy with crafty chalkboard announcements. It was adorable. I secretly longed to be cute too, but it was child number two and I really just wanted to make it through the day with my Icee. See how sweet this is:

This would be the last chalkboard sign that Mallory decorated for Her pregnancy journey. Just a few short days after this was taken, Mallory, after complications, delivered a very tiny…

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the Big D

January 11, 2014: Exploring your home town is not always on the top of everyone’s list, but I decided I was having withdrawal from European culture, so I headed to downtown Dallas and went to the Dallas Museum of Art.

The decision to go to the museum was perfect. I got to see some of my favorite artists and favorite pieces. Here is a quick recap of some of my favorite paintings.

4th Century BC Gold Greek Wreath

4th Century BC Gold Greek Wreath

Mondrain

Mondrain

Buddha of Healing; Japanese; 792-1199; 12th century wood

Buddha of Healing; Japanese; 792-1199; 12th century wood

Mexican mask; 1300-1500Mexican mask; 1300-1500

Frederic Edwin Church; The Icebergs; 1861

Frederic Edwin Church; The Icebergs; 1861

Monet; 1884; Valle Buona, near Bordighera

Monet; 1884; Valle Buona, near Bordighera

Sam Francis; Emblem; 1955

Sam Francis; Emblem; 1955

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcoming in 2014

January 7, 2014: This past year has been a whirlwind to say the least. In the past year I moved to England and back, received a MA in Museum Studies, and have begun the transition into the “real world.”

The next few posts that I will write will be a look back over this past year’s travels and some of my favorite memories. Hopefully something new and exciting will happen soon, but until then, enjoy the next few blog posts where I catch up on all of the blogging I haven’t done since this summer…

Exploring Paris, France–February 2013:

Paris is still definitely one of my favorite cities in the world. The beauty, romance and different culture of Paris are some of the reasons I think I am drawn to the city. I can also definitely tell you that my unhealthy fascination with Marie Antoinette is another reason I love Paris. Here is a quick snapshot of some of my favorite pictures I took whilst on that fantastic adventure to Paris last February.

Musee d'Orsay

View from Musee d'Orsay Saint Chapelle Notre Dame Champs Elysees Eiffel Tower at night Palace of Versailles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope that you enjoyed the first blog of my trip down memory lane to the best year I have had so far!

P.S., in case you didn’t know, we took Megabus from Leicester to Paris (12 HOURS in a bus to get there…but obviously it was completely worth it). We took the train home.

Why millennials are leaving the church

If only every church would adhere to this advice. Hip doesn’t matter. Jesus is the only thing that does.

CNN Belief Blog

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

(CNN) At 32, I barely qualify as a millennial.

I wrote my first essay with a pen and paper, but by the time I graduated from college, I owned a cell phone and used Google as a verb.

I still remember the home phone numbers of my old high school friends, but don’t ask me to recite my husband’s without checking my contacts first.

I own mix tapes that include selections from Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but I’ve never planned a trip without Travelocity.

Despite having one foot in Generation X, I tend to identify most strongly with the attitudes and the ethos of the millennial generation, and because of this, I’m often asked to speak to my fellow evangelical leaders about why millennials are leaving the church.

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Moving to Bath

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Royal Crescent


Royal CrescentDay 1, Sunday, 21 July, 2013:
Well, on Wednesday morning, I turned in my dissertation (which I cannot believe is still finished) took a load to Bath, was shown around by my wonderful friend, returned to Leicester on Thursday, said goodbye to some friends, and then packed everything else up and I moved to Bath from Leicester on Saturday. I spent Saturday unpacking and somewhat exploring Bath, but my real adventures started on Sunday, when I decided to explore as much of Bath as my feet would allow.

I got up, did some more work on things in my room, read a bunch of pages of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, and then decided that it was such a lovely day outside, that I could finish my book with a picnic beside the River Avon. So, I finally forced myself out into the heat wave that is currently afflicting England (I will say, I am not upset with the heat, just the fact that I cannot find a fan for my bedroom, which is unbelievably warm at night).

Bath across the River AvonI picked up lunch, walked to the River Avon, and found a nice picnic bench overlooking the Bath Weir where I ate and finished another of Austen’s novels (I have decided that since I am living in Bath, and she wrote so much about Bath, that I would read all of them this summer). After I finished the book, I walked around the city of Bath for a bit, exploring parts I had not been to before, and found myself wandering toward the Jane Austen Centre and eventually to the Royal Crescent and Victoria Park.

In Royal Victoria Park, I wandered around and eventually found my way to the Botanical Gardens there. After throughly exploring those, I walked back toward the Royal Crescent, and found a band playing in the Band Stand of the park, so I sat down and listened for a while before moving on to see some more of the city before I thought my feet were going to fall off.

Prior Park on the Palladiam BridgeDay 2, Monday, 22 July 2013: Not only was today my first day of my placement in Bath, but it was also the day that the royal baby arrived! Which, I must say, is kind of cool.

Palladiam Bridge, Prior ParkToday, I started my placement with the Bath and Somerset Heritage Services, working with the Learning Programmes office! I absolutely LOVE it. Today, we started by being introduced to what we were going to be doing, and then (the other girl that is in the placement with me) and I were sent down to a table next to the large Roman Bath, where we dressed up tourists in Togas and Tunics! It was so much fun! This afternoon, we explored Prior Park, where we will be helping with the Festival of Archaeology this coming Saturday. We hiked around the whole park, which I must say was a lot larger and steeper than it looks, but I thoroughly enjoyed being in the wooded park area, and seeing the beautiful house and Palladian bridge in Prior Park!Prior Park
And to top off this wonderful day, we ate at a Mexican burrito place, and I had an A&W. It was the perfect end to a great first day at my placement in Bath!
I cannot wait to see what else is to come with this museum placement! Check back soon for more updates!

“Oh The Places You’ll Go…”

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Friday, 5 July 2013: So I have been very bad (basically horrible) about updating my blog since I started writing my dissertation, which, thank the Lord, is almost finished. So, here is a quick review of all the cool places I’ve been, and maybe when I get tired of editing my dissertation, I will actually tell you about where I’ve been and what I’ve done. But for now, enjoy!

Canterbury, England

 

 

1. Exploring Canterbury, England! The White Cliffs of Dover 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Exploring the White Cliffs of Dover!

The White Cliffs of Dover Gibson Mill, Yorkshire, England London Oxford Oxford Hampton Court Palace Hampton Court Palace Texas for a wedding! Honey-butter-chicken biscuit. BBQ Athens, Greece Kastella Beach, Athens, Greece Hadrian's Library, Athens, Greece Canada Day in Leicester Stratford-upon-Avon Hosting the 4th of July party in Leicester

 

 

 

 

3. Exploring the White Cliffs of Dover!

 

 

 

 

4. Gibson Mills, Yorkshire, England

 

 

 

 

 

5. London with my bestie, Jacque!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Day trip to Oxford!

 

 

 

 

7. “Hogwarts” at Oxford.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Visiting Hampton Court Palace (my favorite place ever…I’m a HUGE Tudor nerd!)

 

 

 

 

9. Exploring the gardens at Hampton Court Palace.

 

 

 

 

 

10. Flying to Texas to be with my awesome college roomies and see the Littlejohns finally get hitched!

 

 

 

 

11. Naturally I ate some Whataburger while in Texas. I had been experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

12. Fixing my BBQ symptoms also.

 

 

 

 

 

 

13. Then I just popped over to Athens, Greece for a few days. No biggie.

 

 

 

 

 

14. And hit up a local beach in Athens, Greece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

15. And went through the ruins of Hadrian’s Library in Athens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16. Then came back to Leicester to write this dissertation, but of course we took a break to celebrate Canada Day with this cool Canadian!

 

 

 

 

 

17. Then we decided we needed to learn some more history, so we dropped in at Shakespeare’s house and caught up to speed on some of our sonnet memorizing.

 

 

 

 

 

18. And finally, we celebrated the America on July 4th in style in England.

 

 

 

 

So, maybe once I’m done with this dissertation, I will actually tell you about all of the really cool and awesome adventures I have had at all of these places.

5 US Presidents

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5 Living US PresidentsThursday, 25 April 2013:
That Thursday was probably the most historic event that I will ever witness in person. I was privileged enough to bear witness to the historic opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Texas.
GWB Opening

GWB Library and Museum OpeningThere, Presidents Carter, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, Obama and George W. Bush (in that order), along with Laura Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and others, addressed the crowd prior to the official opening of the newest Presidential Library and Museum.

I have interned and volunteered for the GWB Library and Museum since the summer of 2010, and I have to say that the 1000+ volunteer hours I have given to this institution was worth every second when we were able to sit 60 yards from the podium and witness all five living United States presidents speak. IMG_2424

 

That night Southern Methodist University, the campus that the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum is situated, threw a block party to honor the opening and the lighting of “Freedom Hall” at the museum. The night was filled with a concert, food trucks, and fireworks.

The day was absolutely perfect.

IMG_2433Wednesday, 1 May 2013: Wednesday of May 1st was the official opening of the GWB Library and Museum to the public. I was asked to help with a tour of the first 43 visitors  to the museum. The first 43 visitors were students selected from various Dallas schools. 43 students were selected to correspond with George W. Bush being the 43rd president of the United States.

President Bush came and surprised the students in the Oval Office replica of the museum and spoke with them for over half an hour, answering any questions they had and telling them about the Oval Office.

It was amazing to witness this man speak to these students.

If you are ever in the Dallas area, I cannot recommend enough that you visit this museum. For more information about the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, click here.

Cultural Budapest

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National Opera HouseWednesday, 17 April 2013:
Wednesday morning, we had a tour of the National Opera House of Hungary. It was such an amazing tour and building! Fun fact: when the opera house originally opened, it had one of the first “air conditioning” systems in Europe, had the most advanced opera scenery system in the world, and was created by only Hungarian workers.

Museum of TerrorAfter we finished our tour of the opera house, we walked to the House of Terror Museum, where we learned about the Hungarian Jews in World War II and the Soviet occupation of Hungary. It was fascinating and heart-breaking to learn about all of the horrors that occurred in this country during those years. One thing that was really interesting was that the museum is housed in the old building that was used as headquarters by the Soviets and Nazis, and the basement was used as a prison and torture chambers. 

Heroes SquareHeroes SquareAfter the House of Terror, we ventured to lunch and Heroes Square. At Heroes Square, we decided to visit the Museum of Fine Arts, where I was delighted to see works by some of my favorite artists, including: Rembrandt, Rubens, Monet, Durer, Corot, Pissarro and many more.

After our museum exploration for the day, we grabbed tea at a cafe across the street, re-boosted our energy and walked toward home, stopping at one of the best gift shops in Budapest. That evening we went out for some delicious pizza and then ventured to the original “ruin bar,” Szimpla Kert for a night out. Szimpla Kert is definitely a place to add to a list when visiting Budapest–it was so cool! Szimpla Kert

Great Market HallThursday, 18 April 2013: My last day in Budapest was a more relaxed adventure, but still very fun! We started the day off by purchasing tickets to go to Athens this summer, which is going to be absolutely awesome! After our flights were purchased, we headed through Budapest to the Great Market Hall to see what cool local things we could find. We definitely struck gold on souvenirs! I got an absolutely beautiful hand-made lace table runner (and I cannot begin to tell anyone HOW excited I am about my purchase–it’s awesome!). We then ate lunch at some of the local stalls in the market hall–I had the best goose leg a girl could ask for!

Museum After we finished our purchases at the market hall, we headed to the National Museum of Hungary, where we saw items owned by the Hapsburgs (I might have been overly excited about that), learned about the liberation of Hungary from the Turks in the 1700s, and we saw the Coronation Mantle (which was really cool since we saw the crown at Parliament a few days before!).
gelatoAfter the museum, we went to the best gelato place in Budapest,  (I would agree with that statement) Gelarto Rosa, and had gelato that was shaped like a rose (yes, they are THAT creative). It was absolutely amazing and delicious.
Then we headed back to the hostel so I could collect my things, and I headed off to the airport to catch a flight to London and then to the greatest place on earth, Texas.

Dracula Meets Budapest Tourists

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St Stephens CrownTuesday, 16 April 2013: 
Tuesday was the day that I arranged for our group to have an English tour of Parliament. The tour was one of the best decisions of the trip. It was such an amazing building to visit, and our tour guide was fantastic and knew so much history about the building.

The Parliamentary building was built in 1888. It has the crown that was used to crown St. Stephen in 1000AD, which is considered Hungary’s Holy Crown. Fun fact #1: Parliament is on wooden pillars in the Danube–very similar to the way Venice was constructed. Fun fact #2: There are 691 rooms in the Parliamentary building.

Hand-painted eggs- Ethnography MuseumAfter our visit to Parliament, we ventured across the street to the Museum of Ethnography. That place was really cool. I learned SO much in there that I had never even heard about before. I cannot recommend this place enough if you want to learn about the history of the people who live in Hungary and the different origins and customs they come from.

St Stephens BasilicaAfter our visit there, we got a quick bite to eat, relaxed a bit in the park, and then headed to St. Stephen’s Basilica. The inside of this Basilica is fantastic! We even saw St. Stephen’s mummified hand in the back chapel of the building…it’s awesome. After completely exploring the interior of the church, we climbed to the top of dome. And yes, that was a hike up there (a very dizzying one since the circular staircase goes so high) but the view was absolutely worth the climb. View on top of St Stephens Basilica

FunicularAfter we exhausted our pictures on the dome, we climbed down and walked across the Chain Bridge to the Buda side of the river, where we rode the Funicular up Castle Hill. When we reached the top we were greeted with not only a spectacular view, but also were able to witness the changing of the guards next to a government building on the hill. It was really cool to see the ceremony procession and exchange.

National GalleryNext, we walked across the hill to the old Buda Castle, which now houses the National Gallery of Art. It was such a fantastic museum! There was an entire section of the museum devoted to alter pieces as well as a section that had paintings of the Hapsburg family (I am a huge nerd when it comes to this family!) as well as other important Hungarian figures and Baroque pieces. The rest of the museum was great, but I was on cloud nine when I found this part of the museum!

After we all finished exploring the museum (and we were all pretty exhausted), we walked over to the Labyrinths. This is where our day got even better. If you are ever in Budapest, go to the Labyrinths just after 6p.m.–I cannot begin to describe how cool this was. We were going through the labyrinths and looking at the displays the opera house had set up down there with wax figures in different areas (there was music and they were dressed in the scenes with descriptions in Hungarian and English of the opera…it was pretty cool!).

Opera scene in the LabyrinthAnd then all of the sudden, the lights went off and a man came out of nowhere and handed us a gas lantern and walked away. The whole place was covered in smoke, and it was so dark you could not see your hand inches from your face without the light from the lanterns.

It was awesome.

Naturally, we attempted to scare each other.

Eight of our group were together when the lights went off, and we stuck close together when we found an absolutely terrifying hooded figure behind one of the caged walls (don’t worry, it was a wax figure). After we rounded the corner, we found another sign with the name “Dracula” across the top…being the nerds that we are, we read it all, realized he had been captured by King Matthias, (according to what we learned there) brought with his wife to Buda Castle Hill where he was held prisoner. The king was even the one that started the rumor about Dracula being a sanguanarian to keep his army from growing so that they would not attempt to recapture Dracula and subsequently take over the Hungarian empire.

OH MY GOSH. Talk about a way to begin to freak a group out.

We then continued down the creepy one-way tunnel toward complete darkness, where we came across a room with a tomb. Yep, you guessed it, it was where he had a tombstone. Way too cool.

Well, that sums up our second day in Budapest, and obviously, with an encounter with Dracula and totally freaking ourselves out, it was a perfect day.

For more fun adventures, follow me on Twitter @amyestone12 and Instagram @amyestone12!

Sunset and Parliament on the Danube