Thursday, November 24, 2011

How I Found Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving I'm having a hard time figuring out how I feel. I know how I'm "supposed" to feel, but honestly I don't feel very thankful. Rather, sad and little bit angry. I think of Thanksgiving last year, and I guess the thing that I'm thankful for this year is that last year is over. I never want to relive last year.

But as I was verbally processing all these thoughts this morning, my husband said something that showed me once again why I married him.

"It's not about what we're thankful for as much as Who we're thankful to."

Suddenly I realized that when I focus my thanksgiving on people, traditions, food, material blessings ... all of those things are temporary. So if, or more accurately, when I lose them, I also lose my source of thanks.

There is only one thing in existence that is not temporary. So it makes sense to me that I should focus my thanksgiving on that one thing that I will never lose.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our Culinary Adventure: A Night in Brazil

In one of my recent posts, I mentioned how traveling is one of the few interests Chris and I share. But I now realize that I forgot about a big one...

We share a love of food. We love eating. We love cooking together. We love trying out new restaurants. (Which, I might add, is quite challenging in Colorado Springs, the world's mecca of chain restaurants.) Our favorite TV channel is the Food Network, and if we ever decide to pay for cable, it will be to watch that channel. We've even gone so far as to throw around the idea of moving to a big city just to be able to experience more culture. (By the way, this plan isn't off the table.)

We're trying our best to pass on this love of food to our kids. We have made it our mission to introduce our daughter to a wide a variety of food as early in life as possible. By 10 months old (thanks in big part to a trip to San Francisco) she had eating authentic Mexican, Persian, Greek and Thai food. She loved it all. Being that she's a Giovagnoni, of course she's also eaten Italian and American. And just last weekend, we introduced her to Brazilian food.

Chris recently came up with this idea to cook and eat different recipes from the countries where Compassion works and then he'd share our experiences on Compassion's blog. I loved the idea. 

Mise en place for Moqueca de Peixe
So our first foray into cooking international cuisine was to Brazil. You can read Chris' post about the experience, but let me just sum it up to say, after the first meal I'm very excited about this new culinary adventure! Even though we cannot travel as much as we might want to in this moment in our lives, we can still experience a small taste of the world through food. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I Don't Fight Alone

I have an enemy, of this I'm sure. He hates me and wants me to fail. And sometimes I feel like he's very close to winning.

It seems like the more I start to focus on what it is God's doing in my life, the more opposition I face. It's very hard to make any forward progress when I'm constantly fighting off attacks. I truly don't know how I'm ever going to succeed.

Why is it that life doesn't become easier when I'm on the right track? Honestly, I could use a little covering. Some sort of protection from the devil as I'm trying to learn how to fight.

I know this isn't the case, but I often feel like I'm all alone in this battle ... like God's sitting on the sidelines, cheering me on from afar. But I don't need a cheerleader. I need a teammate. I need a defender. Him by my side, in the arena, fighting with me.

Because I will be defeated on my own, I know this.

I wish I could see the real battle. I wish I could see, even just for a minute, what I know is the truth ... that God is fighting with me. For some reason, though, He's chosen to hide reality from us right now. And this makes it so hard to fight with strength, perseverance and courage.

I'm struggling to remember that what I think is reality, that I'm alone in this battle, is not actually real. It's a lie.

The truth is, I do have a Warrior by my side. I have a Defender. I have the King of the Universe, the Creator of all Heaven and Earth, with me in this.

I'm not alone. And the victory is already ours.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
~Ephesians 6:12 

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
~1 Corinthians 13:12

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Vicarious Trip to Ecuador

Chris and I are very different. We often marvel at how our marriage works when we are so completely opposite. There is one big thing we have in common, though. We both love to travel. And, I might add, for being so different, we travel quite well together. I so look forward to the day when life slows down and we can see the world together. (Read: retirement.) First stop: northern Italy.

Until then, however, I will live vicariously through Chris. He gets to travel for his job. Mostly domestically (and really, who can complain about San Francisco?) but occasionally internationally, as well.

This week he is in Ecuador. I'm very excited for him. Of all the trips to Compassion countries I've been on, (okay ... that's only four, but still) Ecuador was definitely my favorite!

He'll be posting on Compassion's blog about the trip. I'm looking forward to reading along, particularly on the days when they visit the jungle. From what I understand, it's very remote. They have to travel for over an hour in a canoe to get there!

The group is made up of eight women and three men, so I imagine that should any of the jungle fauna decide to make an appearance during their adventure, there will be inordinate amounts of high-pitched squealing. I am confident that my super manly, incredibly strong, extremely courageous, east coast bred and raised husband will not be among them.

After all, he is sporting a mean mustache.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Finding My Faith: The Beginning

As I sit here writing this morning, the sky out the front window is pink. Or maybe orange. Actually it's somewhere in between the two, like a color from Heaven that doesn't exist on Earth. It's pretty amazing.

God continues to surprise me. (Really, why should I be surprised? He's God.)

This morning I got an email from a friend who said she really related to my recent post on faith. (This wasn't the first time, but it was written in a way that really struck me.) It's weird to share something so personal only to find that someone else feels the same way.

Sometimes I wonder why God made me the way He did. I've never felt like a complete mistake, but like maybe (as I so often do) He overlooked the details. Why, when I have the ability to express myself through writing, do I have such a hard time articulating my thoughts and feelings verbally? Why do I want so desperately to do things differently, and I find myself doing the same old thing? Why am I so totally driven by emotions? Why do fear and anxiety have such a stronghold in my life? Will I ever be free of them or will they haunt me forever?

Since my dad died in December, I've had to face the overwhelming fear I've been running from my whole life - the death of my parents. Over the last year of trying to make sense of it, I don't think I've made much progress. I still am confused why I prayed more fervently than I ever have only to watch him die. I still struggle to understand the point of prayer. I don't understand how a God who created and desires intimacy still feels so far away. Why do I cling to something that, in the darkest hours of my life, didn't seem to make much difference?

I guess it's in the face of these questions that faith really becomes faith. When there is no evidence and it seems like anyone in their "right" mind would give it up, stubbornly I still believe. I still believe that God is good and loves me. I still believe that He'll make good on His promises that death is not the end and I'll see my dad again. I still believe that He hears my prayers.

I don't think I've found faith yet. I'm just beginning to see what it might look like in my life. Until I questioned my faith, there was no way to know if it actually existed. Because what I thought was faith wasn't.

Faith isn't what I do on a daily basis or how I think. It's what's left when there's nothing else to hold on to.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

We Fly Acoustic Airlines

We fly Southwest Airlines almost exclusively. Traveling with a child, you can't beat their luggage policy. Now here's just one more reason we'll keep flying them ... I can hardly wait to see who's going to show up on our next flight! (If it were Mat again, I wouldn't be disappointed.)

Who's the artist you'd most like to surprise you with an in flight concert?