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Bullies With Bombs

There are times when I know I’m okay (of course), but friends and family hear news from Europe and become concerned. Yesterday was another such day.

Brussels. About 2 hours down the road. One of the locations where our sons’ sports teams compete almost every season. I took the metro into the Grand Place on several occasions and blogged about the food there a couple weeks ago. We’ve flown in and out of that airport more times than I can remember, most recently when I flew to our mission in the DR Congo. Yesterday, a US military family like our own was among the injured, evacuated, and separated at the airport. The only heightened concern I’ve had there was whether the boys stayed together in the restroom while they were out of my sight.

Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images on The Daily Mail report.

Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images on The Daily Mail report.

While my heart goes out to the victims and their loved ones, my mind wonders which capital city will be next. Will wearing one glove (as the attackers at the airport did) become associated with terrorists more than Michael Jackson? Will the next attack come soon? Will is strike closer to home?

I have many questions, hear lots of theories, and know few answers. I know this, though. I am not to have spirit of fear. My holy scriptures tell me, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 New International Bible translation).

Does that mean I will always be safe? No. These words were for Israel, for the Jewish nation as they faced the many battles it would take to claim their promised land. Although the Daesh (AKA ISIS) want to take it, Europe is not the promised land for the so-called Islamic state. The World will not be ruled by bullies with bombs who are intent on the genocide of Christians, Shiites, Yazidis and anyone else who will not submit to them.

How do we respond?

Be alert! Your enemy is on the prowl.

“Do not be afraid.” “Be strong and courageous.” “Stand firm…” These are phrases that I have heard my entire life at Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and Christian Camp. Every Christmas the story is told about how God sent angels to announce the birth of His son, and the angels said, “Fear not!” The celebration of Easter this Sunday reminds me how the Jesus’ followers faced His death, witnessed His resurrection, and placed all their faith in Him despite what they were told would come next: persecutions, suffering and slayings.

One man who went on a crusade to oppress Christians ended up becoming one. Perhaps these words from one of the letters he wrote will encourage you as they do me. The battle is not about who is bigger or stronger, or who can land the best blows. How we do things is as important as what we do.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love” (Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14 lines 13-14).

Kristin King

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Posted by on March 23, 2016 in Events

 

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Prinsjesdag 2015 – The Best Parade of Hats on the Web

This hat and coordinated outfit got best in show by the blog from RTL News. Visit their site (linked to photo) for more.

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Princess Laurentien’s hat’s flair could not compete with the elegance of her dress which left her husband, Prince Constantijn the younger brother of the King, in shadow by comparison. (Photo ©KristinKingAuth – Permissions by Request)

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Royal Footmen (?) and horseman for the Golden Carriage (Photo © KristinKingAuth – Permission to Use by Request Only)

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Maybe the military and ceremonial hats are the same every year, but the best parade of hats should include them. (Photo © KristinKingAuth – Permission to Use by Request Only)

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Carraige Coachman salutes with his whip in a classic tricorn hat with tassels. (Photo © KristinKingAuth – Permission to Use by Request Only)

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A member of the media. (Photo © KristinKingAuth – Permission to Use by Request Only)

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My photo of RTL News’s winning hat. (Photo © KristinKingAuth – Permission to Use by Request Only)

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(Photo © KristinKingAuth – Permission to Use by Request Only)

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(Photo © KristinKingAuth – Permission to Use by Request Only)

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(Photo © KristinKingAuth – Permission to Use by Request Only)

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(Photo © KristinKingAuth – Permission to Use by Request Only)

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The home made children’s hats were great as well. (Photo © KristinKingAuth – Permission to Use by Request Only)

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Some of these shots are blurry or edged in by folks who stood in front of me, but even this allows us to learn something. Hats shot from a distance were typically on those associated with the Senate. House members and their guest entered right beside our  risers. So who do you think had the better hats?

 

(All images except the one noted are © KristinKingAuth – Contact for Permission to Use)

(Photo © KristinKingAuth - Permission to Use by Request Only)

(Photo © KristinKingAuth – Permission to Use by Request Only)

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2015 in Events, Living in Holland

 

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Prinsjesdag Count Down (Part 3) – Match The Hat

The Hat to Match

The Hat to Match

We live in a smaller town outside The Hague which has a quaint pedestrian area in town center. Shops of all sorts line the wide cobblestone thoroughfare: shops for flowers, toys, baked goods, chocolates, pharmacy, shoes, and clothes. I mentioned previously that the area is rather upscale in that the cheapest bicycle around here is 800 euro. Clothes shops are, for the most part, similar, thus I have not set foot in most of them. Till this weekend.

The dress and thigh length cardigan I’ve worn with my chosen hat before are not dressy enough for Prinsjesdag. When I mentioned with dread to my older son and his friend that I had to go shopping, the friend was shocked. I don’t think he’s ever met a woman who doesn’t like to shop. Here I am. Shopping is only enjoyable for me when done as a social activity with a friend–preferably one who spends more than I do and makes me feel smugly thrifty.

Brands at the least helpful shop.

Brands at the least helpful shop.

This was a special occasion and the clock was ticking, though. I set myself a budget of 200 euro (including some birthday money) and set out to find a suit or coordinates in blue and off-white. Amazingly almost all the stores organize their goods by color. No wonder the Dutch always look incredibly coordinated–their casual elegance is often spoken in the expat community here. With my mission to Match The Hat, the shopping was a fantastically stream lined experience. Inspite of the posh fashions and other clientele, I was offered help, sometimes repeatedly in the same store, and only followed about at a respectful distance in one establishment.

What is upscale to me? Skirts 70 euro and up, casual blouses over 50, and sport coats running from 129 to 250 euro. The dress I eventually found that day, one which would work in a pinch, had semi-deep v-neck, long sleeves appropriate to the ever changing weather, and was within my budget at 70 euro. The ladies at that shop were delighted Dutch and delighted to help someone attending the Prinsjesdag events. The dress wasn’t quite the thing though, especially since I wanted the added factor of a suit jacket which wasn’t to be had without going over budget anywhere in town. I held that option in mind and decided to grin-and-bear the open mall next town over.

Next morning I announced at breakfast that I did not want to go shopping by  myself.

“Who would you like to take with you?” my husband asked as if any of the five males in our home would be made immediately available to me.

“You,” I said. And he was up and getting ready. God bless him and God bless my mother-in-law who brought him with no qualms getting on board for a day at the mall. I suggested he bring a book so he might enjoy a cafe at some point.

Inside the Dutch Parlaiment during a previous Prinsjesdag - King and Queen on their thrones.

Inside the Dutch Parlaiment during a previous Prinsjesdag – King and Queen on their thrones.

At the mall everything summer was deeply discounted, so I found a jacket in the perfect hue at the second shop we entered (see here types of items they carry). Previously 99.95 euro, it was a steal at 15 euro. Good deals inspire my well-trained husband who knew the hat and located a dress, previously 79.95 now only…15 euro. I was trying on the pair when Ryan came carrying three more skirt options and pointing out another jacket that might be too good a deal to pass by. “On a mission,” I said. “Let’s not get distracted.” I knew he was making his mother and sister proud and commended him appropriately.

The dress required a specialized under garment purchased a couple doors down which brought my total expense to less than 60 euro–so well within budget I began to think about shoes. Ryan hit the coffee shop and held onto our purchases while I traipsed around to every shoe store. Only one possibility seemed like it would go…only…well the color was off and heel a bit higher than might be advisable for a 9am-4pm dress event with limited seating.

We headed home to sons who claimed we’d been gone “forever.” We were quite pleased with the budget, and I began to think of shoes and hair as the next preparatory expenses for Prinsjesdag 2015.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher, and president of the nonprofit, Future Hope Africa. She seldom splurges on anything except her children and travel.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2015 in Events, Living in Holland

 

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Prinsjesdag Count Down (Part 2) How to Plan Your Shopping

Royal Head Gear at Prinsjesdag in Holland.

Royal Head Gear at Prinsjesdag in Holland.

As providence would have it, I am from the state of Kentucky which often draws a big question mark if given in answer to the question “Where are you from?” I prefer to clarify with “The United States” followed by “my state is Kentucky” and say we are “known for the Kentucky Derby, Bourbon…” — and before I can finish my sentence I hear “Like Kentucky Fried Chicken?”

2015 Hat Show  (Photo Copyright of the Hague Committee 200 years Kingdom - permission for educational use.)

2015 Hat Show (Photo Copyright of the Hague Committee 200 years Kingdom – permission for educational use.)

Yes, that’s the place. Sometimes foreigners even mention The Colonel–who actually did look like that in case you were wondering. Last week someone commented with admiration on how old The Colonel was when he began KFC. (Sorry the new moniker has not taken hold.)

What does this have to do with Prinsjesdag? Well, the Kentucky Derby and Prinsjesdag have one thing in common–besides quality horse flesh– and that’s hats. Big hats, designer hats, incredible hattery will be displayed on par with a Royal Wedding. However, these Hat Spectaculars take place every year. In fact, as part of four days of festivities leading up to Prinsjesdag, there was a hat show downtown. And can I just say I really, really, really like hats–also…they seem to like me.

(Photo Copyright of the Hague Committee 200 years Kingdom)

(Photo Copyright of the Hague Committee 200 years Kingdom)

Time for a little confession (cough cough), I’ve never been to the Kentucky Derby, but the hat I’m wearing for Prinsjesdag has! My cousin wore it a few years back and then passed it down to me. I’ve made good use of the wide-brimmed wonder during two Easters and wore it for book signings at the Titanic Museums in Branson, Missouri and Pigeon Forge Tennessee.

Thus my shopping for the Big Day starts with the one item I already own–a fabulous hat.

Part 3 – Find a Matching Outfit for The Hat

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and US expat living in the Netherlands. She will be wearing a large, crowd infringing hat for Prinsjesdag.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2015 in Events, Living in Holland

 

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Prinsjesdag Count Down – What? (Part 1)

Photo of the Golden Carriage from last year by The Telegraph.

Photo of the Golden Carriage from last year by The Telegraph.

I remember the first time it occurred to me that I was under the rule of a monarch. It was an educational tour of the United Kingdom when I finished university, and as an American born in the USA…well, it just felt wrong.

Nowadays though I’ve found a new appreciation for the pomp and circumstance. I have great admiration for Queen Elizabeth, and there is definitely a certain character and pride preserved in holding onto these traditions.

Thus, for someone like me, the invitation to Prinsjesdag is a once in a lifetime event. Sure, next year I can stand by the parade route as the King’s Golden Carriage takes him to Parliament, but this year I will be with the dignitaries…or are we VIP’s, or….well whatever my husband and my section of attenders is called. I think we will actually visit Parliament and see the King give his speech. I’ll write more about that when I find out.

One of the traditions of Prince’s Day is the procession by King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima in the Golden Coach from Noordeinde Palace to the Ridderzaal, where the King reads the Speech from the Throne.

Online you’ll see Prinsjesdag translated as Prince’s Day although a quick trip to google translate gives you “Budget Day” instead. Both seem to be correct. The Head of State in the Netherlands is the currently enthroned royal, and the speech being given is for the government’s budget which was trimmed into ship-shape over the last three weeks to be ready for the Big Day.

Since my birthday was earlier this month and this really is a very special occasion…I decided to splurge on new outfit clothes. Nothing in my current wardrobe seemed quite up to snuff. Thus I set my own budget and hit the concourse.

Part 2 – The Shopping.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher and US expat living in the Netherlands. She looks forward to playing her very little part in the 2015 Prinsjesdag.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2015 in Events, Living in Holland

 

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My First Bar Mitzvah Part Two – A Christian’s Jewish Experience

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 10.53.40 AMIn Part One I wrote about how my eyes were opened to anti-Semitism in Europe when I attended my first bar mitzvah last Saturday. Now I want to focus on the actual experience of this landmark in a young Jewish boy’s (now man’s) life from my protestant Christian perspective. Let’s face it, that’s the only perspective that is wholly mine.

It’s difficult to describe how honored I was by the invitation even though I wasn’t the prime guest. My son’s Jewish friend from the international school chose a handful of friends to invite, and my eldest child was one of them. Vaguely knowing what an important day this was made me proud of my son and quite excited about my +1 status.

How did I prepare? Did I call or email a Jewish friend or acquaintance? Of course not! I hate to cop to how ignorant I am in most any subject (other than the Dutch language), so I turned to the internet. I learned there is a bat mitzvah for girls, that in some synagogue’s women only wear dresses (as I was expected to do as a child in our protestant church) and in others they wear pants, some places have women cover their heads (wore my own scarf just in case), which accessories declare your religion (i.e. the tallit, men’s prayer shawl) and which are simply to show respect (i.e. kippah, the small cap worn by men), that we should follow the movements of others for when to stand and bow (a bit different from Catholic services I’ve attended), and no taking pictures or notes allowed.

One particularly odd practice to me was that people came late, left early, and quietly went to speak with each other during the service. There’s the Rabbi running the service and people obviously not paying attention at times. One acquaintance of mine was appropriately surprised to see me there, waved, and then came over later to talk just a bit.

In the churches where I grew up such interactions would have been seen as disrespectful, disruptive, and would have garnered frowns. I wasn’t even allowed to leave the service to use the restroom unless it was an emergency. Of course I didn’t realize the Shabbat (i.e. Sabbath) service would be 3 hours long. What this different practice gave me was a sense of community, of valuing each other and that we met to be with each other with God. This was refreshing (and I should note similar to the church we attend now). And I felt so much better about being 15 minutes late (we chose the wrong street input for the GPS) when folks were still arriving an 1.5 hour after that.

All 3 Torah were held up near the time of their use during Shabbat.

All 3 Torah were held up near the time of their use during Shabbat.

What struck me the most during the ceremony was the great respect demonstrated for God’s word. The service was what I would call “liturgical” in that scripture passages were pre-chosen based on the Jewish calendar, and then, (I learned this from a Jewish school teacher after) the local Rabbi chose sections based on the particular celebration and for his community. And every Sabbath is a celebration. At one point the open Torah was held up high and turned in a circle for all to see.

Scripture was sung beautifully by the man I’ll call “The Cantor” and the community joined in certain portions such as The Shema and the Amidah (more here), and everyone followed along in a book. Online two books were mentioned,  the siddur, or prayerbook, and the chumash, or Torah book, but this synagogue had only one green hardback book that looked a lot like the hymnals I grew up using.

Unfortunately for us, the prayerbook had Hebrew on the right page and corresponding Dutch on left, no English. Occasionally I could make out the song, such as Psalm 99, usually not. No one ever brought out an electronic of any sort, so I didn’t think I should pull my phone out to look up Bible verses.

The Rabbi chanted/sang his readings, and many of the sections were done by various members of the community some of whom appeared to be regular leaders (perhaps another Rabbi?), and some simply tapped for that day. An Israeli dad, who we know because his son was on our sons’ basketball team, did a couple readings. The father, grandmother, and older sister of the young man whose big day we were celebrating also read among several other congregants. I wondered how many of them were family and knew a good number had actually traveled from Israel to be there. I was surprised how many people were part of the service. A “progressive” community according to the synagogue website, maybe I should have expected women to read/chant and wear slacks or for kids to have jeans and tennis shoes. I was really taking it all in.

Examples of Torah "cloaks" that can be ordered today.

Examples of Torah “cloaks” that can be ordered today. Those I saw were similar to the middle, but more ornate, were blue and burgundy and had silver plates and toppers like the one pictured on the right.

The primary movement was standing and turning toward the cabinet on the opposite wall from the lectern, though there were some knee bends and bows that I didn’t figure out and were over quickly. The cabinet is called the Ark and is where the Torah or scripture scrolls belonging to that synagogue are kept.

This synagogue actually used 3 different Torah during the service. They are kept in special coverings They were removed from the cabinet with care, carried around the congregation so people could kiss it or touch their scarf or service book to it, and then taken to the front to be uncovered and opened only during certain times.

Why might a 13-year-old Jewish boy choose to have his Bar Mitzvah in Holland when he had the option to do it in Tel Aviv? I don’t know all his reasons, but one might have been the particular Torah from which he read. When the Nazis were taking over Europe, they destroyed synagogues and all the sacred Hebrew items they could find. In Den Hague, the Jewish community removed and hid every item they could. Apparently they did such a good job, that the Nazis didn’t recognize their building was a synagogue, so this is one of few that remained undamaged by the invaders. Having come from Spain in 1492, their Torah was saved and is now the oldest Torah being used in worship any where in the world. Perhaps, though, this boy wanted to serve with a larger role during the ceremony than one could do in Israel where, the Rabbi told us, 150 Bar Mitzvah’s were celebrated the previous weekend during the Rabbi’s visit there.

When this boy, now young man, went to the lectern to read from the oldest Torah, I listened and reacted like I do at weddings, crying and dabbing at my face with my tissue. When he sang again later in a clear strong voice, my soul felt connected to his God who is also my God. During his speech I laughed and cried at the same time as he addressed the community, a young man now taking on the responsibilities of such, becoming accountable for following the teachings of his spiritual heritage. He reflected all this in his poise, his strength, his humor, his gratefulness for God, family and friends.

Truly, the Bar Mitzvah was beautiful. I recognized so few words, Adonia (Lord of Lords, used often in the Bible and by Jesus to address God in what Christian’s call The Lord’s Prayer), Yeshua (The Lord is Salvation, also Joshua, used by Christians in Greek Iēsous or in English Jesus), Elohim (God the Creator). Always the focus of the Bar Mitzvah was on our God. I prayed. I sang. I worshiped much like I did the following day at our church in The Hague.

A few sections of the Shabbat service were teachings on what was read, and these were given in English. I was so grateful. The Rabbi told us we were celebrating not only a Bar Mitzvah but the first Sabbath of the Celebration of Light, the time of spring and increasing light in the world, a time of growth and renewal for the earth and for our souls. He spoke about the sacrifices that used to be given at first the tabernacle and then later at the temple during its time, and how now our sacrifices are our hearts, given completely to God. He quoted a passage I also grew up with about God not wanting our animal or grain offerings but rather the sacrifices of prayers, of our praises. We prayed together for peace, for Jews around the world, for the country of the Netherlands, for the King here. I prayed for everyone to see the Light incarnate.

My first Bar Mitzvah was a time of learning, experience and worship. I could write so much more. The on-site reception that followed wasn’t much different from my own church wedding reception in atmosphere. Minor differences, the young man was carried in his chair for a lap or two around the tables with folks cheering, and there was no meat in the various dishes served. But there were two kinds of cake as well as several finger foods and more. I was enriched and left with a well-fed spirit.

I found myself wondering, did Jesus have a Bar Mitzvah? Was that what was happening when his parents lost him at the temple? (Looked that one up on BibleGateway). I know there are many Jewish Christians, do they celebrate Bar or Bat Mitzvahs? (See Jews for Jesus.) As a Christian I never lose site of the fact that I believe the Hebrew Messiah spoken of in the Torah has already come, his name is Jesus of Nazareth, and he is my Savior. Jesus is the most important person in my life, and yet how easy it has been for me in my practice of Christian faith to lose site of the Jewishness of my Lord. That the first chosen people were the biological children of Abraham, that God chose to bless the world through this people, and that I have been adopted into that family (Ephesians 1:5).

I continue to reflect on my First Bar Mitzvah and am tempted to attend Shabbat again. In our world today, so many rites of passage for young men and women have been lost. My son is thirteen, and as I looked at him with the kippah I only wished there were a special Christian celebration to emphasize responsibility and spiritual growth at this time in his life.

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 Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2015 in Events, Living in Holland

 

My First Bar Mitzvah – Part One (Anti-Semitism in EU)

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 2.42.53 PM My 4 stop-light hometown didn’t have a synagogue. In fact the nearest one was a 45 minute drive away. So it’s no surprise that my first Bar Mitzvah experience is later in life as I embrace being an expat in the Netherlands. With little idea of what to expect and with no faith that Hollywood depictions would serve me very well, I did a little research to discover what to wear, what gifts are appropriate, what cultural traditions would I encounter and what did they mean?

What I didn’t prepare for was anti-Semitism. I wasn’t concerned for my safety or that of my eldest son as we navigated The Hague and found parking last Saturday morning. Little did I know that a similar place of worship would be attacked in London that same day.

What was my first clue that maybe my great parking place wasn’t so great after all? The four heavily armed and Kevlar-vested police were notable. The striking difference between the open doors at Christian places of worship I’ve been to and the locked doors of the synagogue with a plainclothes man choosing who to buzz in and who not. This layman and another took turns manning the door, checking unfamiliar people (like my son) off a guest list, and eventually made a security announcement later that the afternoon.

The courtyard view (i.e. not street side) of the synagogue we attended.

The courtyard view (i.e. not street side) of the synagogue we attended.

“We are locking the front doors,” he said. “You are welcome to continue to enjoy the celebration. The police will remain on duty outside, and you can use the cellar door. Please remember to leave in groups no larger than 2 or 3.”

Had I not known those 4 police were within a couple of meters of my car for the whole morning, I would have checked my family minivan for car bombs.The threat is real and came home to me, a small town girl from Kentucky.

My heart and prayers go out to folks the world over whose faith is tested each week, whose courage is demonstrated simply by showing up for worship. My thoughts and prayers go beyond to those who gather in secret lifting up songs of praise to God even though the threat of prison, death and other persecutions hang over them.

When I planned to write about this experience, I hadn’t considered this angle. Now I’ll never forget. For part two, though, I’ll focus on what the actual Bar Mitzvah and Shabbat were really like.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher, and an American expat living in Holland. 

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2015 in Events, In The News

 

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