Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ethiopian Coffee and a Reminder of the Simple Things

Yesterday I opened a bag of Ethiopian coffee from a friend. It is grown in Aleta Wondo. The smell of the fresh roasted beans was exquisite. Then I ground the beans while I put the kettle on for hot water. The aroma filled the kitchen. It was a touch of earth, a hint of cocoa, and something sweet I couldn't quite place. How long has it been since I savored coffee before I even brewed it. I have no idea, but too long indeed. My beans in the french press and my water at the perfect temperature, I poured the water into the french press and oh how they frothed. It was marvelous. I tasted that beautiful froth and knew this coffee was going to continue to be an amazing experience. I stirred the press and waited, stirred again, and waited. Finally the four minutes had passed. I pressed and got down my tiny cup. Pouring the rich coffee into the cup I noticed the opaque chocolate brown color and could hardly wait to taste, but first, the smell. It was smooth a velvet aroma, with cocoa tones. Finally a sipped the coffee. It lived up to the aroma. My roommate said just watching me savor the first sips was priceless.

In a world where packing our days is prized, and worth seems to be increasingly measured in accomplishments, I struggle to remember my worth is not found in humanity. My worth is more precious than jewels and more costly than silver. I am created in the image of God and treasured by the Creator of all. R. C. Sproul's The Holiniess of God reminds me that God created from nothing. Nothing. We cannot even thing of nothing, for if we think of something, it is no longer nothing. My mind was aching a bit from trying to wrap my thoughts around the implications of the very aspect of nothingness, when he continued. "The shaping and forming of paint, clay, notes on paper, or some other substance. In our experience we have not been able to find a painter who paints without paint, or a writer who writes without words, or a composer who composes without notes. Artists must start with something. What artists do is shape, form, or rearrange other materials, but they never start with nothing." (The Holiness of God. Audio book found in chapter 2) It is God who created from nothing, created by speaking the very word of creation bringing all into existence, who gives me worth. He finds me precious enough to send his Son down and die that I may then respond to his love and choose Him.

When I take time to go slow, I see beauty in the simplicity of an egg. I appreciate the rain, which brings life to the thirsty. I have been contemplating meditation as presented in Richard Foster's Celebration of Disciplines. I think I have finally begun to understand that I will never fully understand the practice of meditation. I can only practice it imperfectly and prepare my heart for encounters with a Holy God. Regular encounters with God both build my relationship with Him and free me from the forces that the world presses upon those who search for their fulfillment in worldly accolade. For it is when I attach my self more to God that I separate myself from the assessment of the world. I am beginning to understand why the disciplines are to be celebrated.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

So today is day two of my personal challenge. I am particpating in my very own 30 days of Creativity. Stagnation be gone. New and vibrant come hither. Yesterday I kicked off the month with a a journal.

This is the lovely journal. I used an old chiildren's book.Firts I took out the pages inside and added my own blank pages. Then drilled holes through the cover and new pages. I wove gold thread through the holes, reinforced the corners with clear tape, and now have a unique journal.

Today is day two: Who knows what I shall create today. Stay tooned for updates throughout the month.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami Night

I woke up at 2am. My phone twirped and I thought who is texting me in the middle of the night. It was not a text. It was a tsunam alert from the weather channel. I was wide awake almost instantly. I turned on the TV to both check how severe the tsunami warning was and where the earthquake had occured. I was floored by the devastation of the 8.9 quake in Japan. I saw that whatever tsunami would arrive on the Northern California Coast wouldn't arrive until after 7am so I went back to bed. For 45 minutes I tried to sleep. Sleep did not arrive. I was restless. My friends all over the world were tweeting and updating their facebook status' and yet there were thousands of people I didn't know in danger. I spent the rest of the night watching the weather channel, praying, and sleeping in fitful lengths. I know I slept a little because I dreamed I was caught in a tsunami as I was stuck in  a small beach town. I am continuing to pray for those affected by the quake and the results of the quake.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Transformers, Robots in Disguise.

Seminary was a crazy life changing experience. I spent 5 years of my life on a tiny campus in Northern California. I was amongst many others who were there to also obtain a degree. The common needs and difficulties bonded friendships in a way that college did not. Then I graduated and moved 10 miles north. Not so far, right? Yet it might as well been a thousand miles for all loneliness that ensued in the following two years. I spent the first year working two jobs, serving in two churches and knowing that there was more to life than what I was doing. By the second year I was down to one church and one job. However I had exited all semblance of a social life. I was serving in a church plant (read not a lot of people in my church). I was working in three different schools (read not a whole lot of time to build relationships with the other staff) I was lonely and living the life of an introvert. I knew the TV schedule from 3-10 pm on too many stations to count. I was discontented with my life.

 I know that only a fool repeats the same plan and expects a change in the results. Therefore over the summer I set out to make some changes in my life. Interestingly the theme for my computer curriculum was all about goals this year and I knew I needed to make many goals. I June, I began learning the piano. I know that seems like more alone time, but for me it was a step because it removed me from the couch. Then in August, I began changing my eating habits. I used the Food Pyramid website to track my intake and adjusted my diet to include more fruit, vegetables, and dairy. I was overloading on bread, grains, and meats. It took time to find the fruits and veggies I would gravitate toward. Then in early November I had an urge to go for a run. Now for those who don't know me, I do not like to run. It is strange now I usually run 3-4 times a week. I go about a mile and I still don't like running. However the post run feeling is worth every torturous step. I am healthier than I have been since high school. I used to say that exercise took to much time. It does not.

So here I am March 2011. Change is still in the air. I sense the stagnation that had settled over me as I adjusted to life after seminary is being peeled off layer by layer like an onion. My inner and outer self is being transformed into something beautiful (yes I meant to quote the song). There is something coming and my transformation is only the beginning.