Monday, January 30, 2012

The padding of feet

It is an unseasonably warm day in January. I am dressed and as I slip on my shoes before scurrying out the door, I turn back to gather a scarf from the bottom drawer of my dresser. Keys in hand, purse on my shoulder, I am eager not to be a minute late . . .

It is not a far distance to drive and I make one slight detour to pick up a new friend. I know little about him, so I bombard him with questions and urge him to tell me about himself the moment he takes the seat beside me. God has given me such an inquisitive nature. I glean such insight from listening to the stories shared by those I meet – stories of a life well lived, stories of love, stories of bitter struggle.

A few moments longer and we have arrived at our destination. We spill out of the car and greet the man who has led us to a rather small, unassuming building. He responds with a broad, white smile and we follow him beyond a gate and to the entrance of the building. Now I slip off my shoes and carefully align them with those already left behind, toes touching the side of the building. We step inside and enter into a hall of white walls and green carpet. In this moment, I retrieve the scarf from my purse and slip a pair of socks over my bare toes. I whisper goodbye to my new friend as he follows our guide through a door to the right. I enter the door to the left leading to the same large room.

As I step through, I take in my surroundings, noting the details of the modest d├ęcor, the smell of the worn carpets, the green partition now separating me from my guide and new friend sitting together at the front. I am glad to find myself alone, for I am eager not to be a disturbance. I sit in silence with my legs crossed underneath me and my scarf draped over my head. I sit patiently, staring at the make-shift wall before me. A small slit at the bottom of the partition allows me to see the bare feet of the men as they go padding by. Once, and then again, I hear a door open followed by a pair of feet and then a whisper of a greeting. Feet, followed by feet, and yet I sit silently alone. To be distanced from the men is not unexpected, and yet, I sense my inquisitive nature nudging me ever so lightly. What is it that my eyes are not allowed to see at the front of this high-ceilinged room? How many pair of feet are on the other side? What might my new friend be doing in this moment?

In the midst of my thoughts comes a booming voice from beyond the partition. As he speaks and leads those in attendance in prayer, I glance to my right at the sound of a woman slipping through the door from whence I entered. She has strikingly beautiful features and comes closer to take a spot on the carpet near me. She leans near and asks quietly if I am here as an observer. I reply that I am. She smiles softly and seems to tilt her head to listen to the voice on the other side.

The moments pass and the voice speaks of believing in that which is invisible. As an illustration, he tells a story of a king with a castle in the sky. I am reminded of the ephemeral nature of our earthly possessions.

I continue to listen with great intent, but my mind begins to drift to my list of tasks, to my friends, to my family. I must remember to remind a friend that I will bring dessert to our gathering this evening. She will be grateful to have one less thing to prepare. I glance over to my right to see my carpet companion checking her phone deep in her lap. A smile crosses her face as she reads a message she has received.

The story of the king has come to an end and now another voice is heard. She gently places her phone in her purse and rises to take part in prayer. She fervently goes through the motions of this ceremonial act. She raises her head and then bows down again. With each word uttered, she alters her position accordingly. As she does so, I silently say a pray with the palms of my hands pressed together and my own head bowed in reverence. I thank God for the continuation of my learning, for the people I have been blessed to meet, for the stories told to me, for the opportunity to express His love to others. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The sock method, you say?

via otakulei

Print via: Mocha Cafe

What a fun illustration to start out my day! I was, however, quite confused upon seeing the first image. A coffee sock? Given my inquisitive nature, I set out to discover what it might be. My searching led me to an article titled, "How to Brew Coffee in Costa Rica -- The Sock Method." This is what the website has to share:

"The filters and frames can be bought in most Costa Rican supermarkets or souvenir shops. In case you are not currently in Costa Rica, we suggest you travel to Costa Rica. Otherwise, you might want to try using a plain cotton sock. Take an unused one if you prefer your coffee without a slight note of cheese in it!"

How funny! I don't know about you, but I find this to absurdly intriguing! Are any of you brave enough to attempt this cheesy brewing method?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mousse au Chocolat

Chocolate Mousse Recipe

Photos via: Cafe Fernando

The originators of this recipe attest that this is "the best chocolate mousse of your life." Additionally, the recipe can be made in under five minutes and only calls for three ingredients. Doesn't it sound just divine! The very next time I have guests over for dinner, I know precisely what I will be serving for dessert! Of course, it is probably best I give it a try (shall we say tonight!) before serving it to guests. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

This clip from "You Never Marry the Right Person" by Timothy Keller, published in RELEVANT Magazine was shared with me this morning and spoke directly to my heart. 

. . . "The Gospel is—we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, and at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us. Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace." . . . 

Please see article, should you wish to read further. 

Original photo via: Classy-in-the-city

Hearts drifting above Paris, . . .

I find this print so endearing. Do you see the little hearts drifting above Paris or the windmill set in the background of Amsterdam? This print depicts four of the loveliest cities. I feel so blessed to have traveled to such places as these . . . to have experienced the vibrancy of each distinctive city. If you could pick your top four destinations, what would you choose? This print sums it up pretty well for me, minus my dear Austin, of course!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Current read, January

Original photo via: Modern Hepburn 

There are a multitude of things I treasure about Germany and this week, my mind has often drifted back to my time at home. Though the people and place are dearly missed, I have also been learning a great deal about the many things I have to value, here in the present. How lovely it has been to meet with friends over tea and sweets and hear about their own adventures over the Christmas holiday! Among other things, I had quite forgotten how much I missed Thursday night "small groups" with some of my most cherished friends here! We were able to meet yesterday evening and I was struck by the insight gleaned and the general warmth fellowship brings to my heart! After finishing The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis last semester (which I highly recommend) we will now be reading The Call by Os Guinness (yes, as in the beer!) The description of the book is as follows: 

The Call continues to stand as a classic, reflective work on life's purpose. Best-selling author Os Guinness goes beyond our surface understanding of God's call and addresses the fact that God has a specific calling for our individual lives.

Why am I here? What is God's call in my life? How do I fit God's call with my own individuality? How should God's calling affect my career, my plans for the future, my concepts of success? Guinness now helps the reader discover answers to these questions, and more, through a corresponding workbook - perfect for individual or group study.

According to Guinness, "No idea short of God's call can ground and fulfill the truest human desire for purpose and fulfillment." With tens of thousands of readers to date, The Call is for all who desire a purposeful, intentional life of faith.

Have you read this book before? I would so love to hear your insight as we begin on this journey together as a small group! 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I shared this post once before, but if you know me at all, you know quite well that I am constantly in need of reminding. The moment I think I am alone in this challenge, I meet another woman who shares with me about their own heartfelt pain. There is great hope to be had, however it is all too easy to forget how beautifully and wonderfully made we truly are! And so, I wish to re-share with with you a message adapted from Ransomed Heart Ministries that spoke to my heart, once more, in the wee hours of the morning.

. . . "Every woman possesses a captivating beauty. Every woman. But for most of us it has been long buried, wounded, and captive. It takes time for it to emerge into wholeness. It needs to be cultivated, restored, set free.

How do we cultivate beauty? How do we become ever more beautiful? By tending to our hearts with great care, as a master gardener tends to her work.

My mother's sons were angry with me
and made me take care of the vineyards;
my own vineyard I have neglected. (Songs 1:6)

Yes, life is harsh on a woman's heart. It has been so on your heart. The assault on our beauty is real. But Jesus is urging us now to care for ourselves, watch over our hearts (Prov. 4:23). The world needs your beauty. That is why you are here. Your heart and your beauty are something to be treasured and nourished. And it takes time. Every gardener knows this. In our age of instant makeovers and microwave meals, we don't like to wait. But a newly planted rose's presentation in its first year is nothing compared to its second. If properly cared for, its second year's display doesn't hold a candle to its third. Gardens need to become established; their roots need to go deep, through summer rains and winter frosts. A garden's beauty does not diminish with age, rather it takes years for it to become all that it can become.

Our hearts need to feed on beauty to sustain them. We need times of solitude and silence. We need times of refreshment and laughter and rest. We need to listen to the voice of God in our hearts as He tells us what we need.

Contrary to what the world claims, Beauty does not diminish with time; beauty deepens and increases. "Your latter glory will be greater than your former." True beauty comes from a depth of soul that can only be attained through living many years well" . . .

Original photo via: wetpaint

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happiness is homemade

Print via: La Cannella Fragola

My clever brother shared a little trick with me that though simple, has the ability to transform one's day from dreary to delightful. He said, before his eyes flutter open in the early morning, he makes a choice. Rather than trudge about the house in his pajamas in a rather cantankerous, morning mood, he says silently to himself, “This is going to be one great day!” And just like that he jumps out of bed with a spring in his step and goes about his day in the cheeriest of demeanors. Throughout the course of the day he reminds himself time and time again, “This is the greatest day!”

Perhaps this notion seems somewhat silly to you, but there is something subtlety profound about consciously making the choice between dreary or delightful, unpleasant or lovely, disheartened or thankful. So, though this day brings much heartbreak, I am making a simple choice. Rather than goodbyes I choose I-will-be-praying-for-yous and I-will-always-love-yous, . . .  for how thankful I am for the precious time gifted to me! I choose to delight in the Lord’s blessings and expectantly look forward to our coming times together. So, hold dear this sentiment: “I will like you forever and love you for always for, as long as I am living, my loved ones you will be.”