Keeping my eyes open to glimpses of God

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Magic Under Paper Lanterns

A taste of our dinner party
This past weekend we hosted an outdoor dinner party, a garden party if you will. It was a beautiful night of feasting on tangy hoisin pork, crunchy Asian slaw, fresh Israeli salad, still-warm bread, and more. Our guests showed up in festive summer clothes, happy to be in airy dresses rather than thick sweaters after a seemingly unending winter. We sipped wine from the other side of the world and danced under paper lanterns to a playlist made just for the occasion. It was all so beautiful.

A few times during the evening I found my eyes tearing up, my throat tightening in utter thankfulness in the midst of a perfect night with amazing friends. We laughed and joked and sang and swatted mosquitoes. We smiled appreciatively, knowing the hard week so many of us had faced. It was truly joyous, and I could feel the fleeting nature of it all, even as we sat enjoying spoonfuls of avocado mousse.

As we all took to instagramming the evening, I knew others felt it too. This was a rare, beautiful event, and we all wanted to drink it in as deeply as we could, to capture it somehow in pictures.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

When We Forget Who We Are

A meaningful passage from my Lent devotional
by N.T. Wright

Sometimes, when we’re hurt and tired and fearful and fed up, we forget who we are. We forget our identity and who God created us to be, who he calls us to be. In the midst of our humanness, we forget we are God’s children.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls his followers to claim their rightful identity—the identity God chose for us when he created us. He calls us to be people who are different from the societies in which we live, different than the fearful, cut-throat cultures we know. He calls us to be loving, peaceful, gentle, forgiving, humble, merciful. But he doesn’t just say to do the right things, to act the right way. Instead, he tells his followers, he tells us, about identity—who we are as his followers.

We’re salt and light. We’re not from here; we’re from heaven. We are valuable to God. We are God’s children.

It’s in light of this identity that Jesus lays out the way we’re to live—a lifestyle that reflects who we are.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Fair-Trade, Fair-Wage, Upcycled . . . and Taking Risks

Our small group throwing a
birthday party for our new friend, Allan
There was a fascinating article posted yesterday by This Is Our City called, “You Can’t Buy Your Way to Social Justice.” It’s an article written to my generation of American Christians who are focused on saving the world by buying fair-trade coffee, fair-wage clothing, and upcycled accessories. The author, Rachel Pieh Jones, not only speaks to my generation—she speaks directly to me.

I am conscious with my shopping. I care about buying organic cotton to protect the farmers in developing countries. I avoid certain stores and brands because of their mistreatment of workers. I prefer fair-trade coffee and go out of my way to purchase it. And I do it in the name of Christ.

I do it to love my neighbors far away—even in a small way. Because I believe that in a free market country, in a world where money speaks louder than anything else, the choices I make with my money matter.

But that said, Jones makes some excellent points, namely that these actions alone don’t count as living a life of social justice.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cooking, Cleaning, and Praising God

Fresh Homemade Challah Bread
Today was a good day. I woke up early to bake bread and an egg dish for Mother’s Day brunch. I shuffled around the kitchen in my pjs, making a mess of flour and egg. I spent a few leisurely hours in front of the TV with my husband waiting for the bread to rise.

And then we spent several hours eating and laughing and chatting over the kitchen table with my parents, my sister, and her boyfriend. It was glorious. And simple. And filling—for both our stomachs and our hearts.

I spent most of the remainder of the day cleaning up around the house, doing laundry, and organizing my craft room.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Living Out My Passion

A fun night at small group: cup towers!
Sometimes I forget just how passionate I am about small groups.

I mean, I work for, so I literally think about small groups every day. How can I forget about this passion? But alas, I do. It's easy to begin thinking that this is how everyone feels about small groups, that everyone knows the benefits and the reasons to join a small group. But that's simply not true. Actually, a lot of people don't.

But tonight I finished a freelance assignment on starting your own Bible study, and as the words came fast and furious, I was reminded that God truly has placed this passion within me.

It reminded me of just how thankful I am to be able to work somewhere that directly relates to one of my biggest passions.

It reminded me that all the waiting for this job was worth it.

It also reminded me that God's had this plan all along. I mean, I have a degree in English education, a Master's in Christian Formation and Ministry, and four years of experience working at a church--how else does that work together so perfectly?

It reminded me to have extra grace for people who don't quite get it, who don't see small groups as completely amazing and worthwhile things . . . yet.

Lastly, it reminds me that being able to live out my passion is a blessing, and I want to empower and encourage others to do the same.

What passions has God given you? How are you living out your passions? Please share!