Sunday, February 26, 2012

the weekend's top 8.

This past weekend, I (along with 5 members of my community group), had the distinct pleasure of taking a brief respite from our normal schedules to have a little R&R in Sarah's hometown. We took the short drive up north to OK on Saturday morning and were pampered from start to finish by her most gracious mother. Our jam-packed time included trips to the antique store and the cloverleaf, a may-juh kitchen dance party (cupid shuffle? check!), numerous rousing rounds of catch phrase, a gourmet pizza party and most importantly, some sweet time with each other where we were able to share what we were reading and share the love of Christ, communing over His body.

Rather than break it down for you in my normal, long-winded fashion, I thought I would share my top 8 list for our time in OK.

8. recreate green acres through an impromptu photo shoot (you can't tell me this doesn't bring that famous image to mind).

7. channel our inner fashionista and surreptitiously take numerous "non-permitted" photos in the antique store, modeling our sweet finds.

6. take a journey through a twilight zone episode via the "cloverleaf" vintage store (or amusement park if you were judging by the random paraphenalia strewn about the exterior grounds)

5. simulate a group bike ride complete with pink schwinns and a pink greek adonis whom we quickly befriended (and by we, I mean Lauri Ann).

4. spend a pensive moment with Paco, contemplating life's mysteries.

3. jam out in the backseat with two of my favorite blondes (and fellow lovers of car dancing)

2. toast life with a re-frescing can of Fresca (ahhh...takes my back to the lake days...I digress).

1. cap off the day of rich community, communing together over a delicious plate of custom pizza - prepared using a veritable smorgasbourg of sumptuous ingredients

Our time was both lovely and beautiful. The presence of God and the knowledge of His love continues to knit our hearts together. I praise the one who has given each of us the gift of open eyes and a receptive heart that make us ready and willing to receive His great sacrifice, His body and blood. No matter where we come from or who we are, we are united through Christ.

“By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.” 1 John 4:9

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

it's the little things.

It's the little things that make life worth living, if only we would stop and smell the proverbial roses, we would find (more often than not) there are little graces all around us.

It's the little things, like an impromptu pizza party (pepperoni for the kids and goat cheese & fig for the champagne drinkers), complete with glasses of bubbly for all ages -- tried and true andre for mommy and auntie and sparkling pear juice for Mere and Hay. Because everyday is worth celebrating, so why not cheers to life and maybe President's Day while we're at it.

It's the little things, like a glorious bouquet of tulips that upon opening their petals revealed a most beautiful surprise inside: a bright yellow center that screams, "surprise! you would have never guessed from the outside that I contained such a bright sunshiny center."

It's the little things, like a Sunday night dinner with one of your dear friends whom you've been friends with since age 14. Nothing like grilled fish, pear salad, buttery beer bread and Italian wine to turn a Sunday night into a celebration. Oh, and there may or may not have been a girls vs. guys catch phrase and scene-it showdown that occurred after dinner which the girls dominated in a total shutout victory 4-0 (in case anyone was interested).

And, well, it's the big things, too, like scoring a suite at a Mav's game to watch them defeat their opponent in DOUBLE OT. Easily the most exciting game I have ever been to and even more thrilling that I paid a cool $0 for my ticket. Thanks for Christy for the invite and thanks to Kori for supplying the appropriate fan wardrobe.

"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."
Robert Brault

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

made my day.

Right smack in the middle of my day, sandwiched in between long meetings and upset clients, I received a little ring-a-ding on my office phone. Despite my less than cordial greeting, there was a pleasant voice on the other end asking me to come downstairs. Frustration oozed out as there was much to do before another phone call, but I quickly made my way outside the building and received such a beautiful blessing.

I was met with a smiling sister, a pair of nieces in matching Valentine's Day shirts and the following:

I couldn't help from posting proof that I have the best, most thoughtful sister, who, despite being responsible for single-handedly wrangling a rather boisterous twosome (AKA Haylee and Meredith), still managed to take time out of her day to bring me a beautiful bouquet of pink tulips and a bottle of my drink-o-choice. She is a girl after my own heart and knew better than to bring me red roses and chocolates and I could not have been more surprised or overwhelmed.

She truly showed me the love of Christ today and it was as if I felt God wrap His arms around me and give me a giant hug. Thank you so much, sister, for being the hands and feet of Christ to your baby sister. It meant more to me than you will ever know. (FYI - there are tears welling up in my eyes as I type, if you must know.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

love is in the air.

Everywhere I look around...feel free to break into song. Love is, in fact, in the air. From the dozens of heart-shaped balloons filling the grocery store aisles, to the commercials urging men that "every kiss begins with Kay," it's clear that February 14th is upon us and far be it for retailers to not capitalize on such an opportunity.

I had the distinct pleasure of attending a little pre-Valentine's day celebration of sorts. There were only three guests, but two happened to be my most special valentines. We started off our night of love making homemade dough for our pizza dinner. Both Haylee and Meredith got in on the action and after insisting on getting their hands on the dough, quickly realized it was much too sticky. Haylee opted to promptly wash it off, whereas Mere thought licking her hands was a much more expedient solution.

While we waited the 45 painstaking minutes to let the dough rise, we wasted no time in whipping up something sweet to go with our savory offering. In anticipation of our pre-party, their mommy dutifully purchased a gourmet package of none other than Valentine's funfetti cupcakes. With the girls each holding my hand as I combined the ingredients and beat that batter into submission, we finally managed to get the cupcakes in the oven. The cupcakes might have come from a box, but not to worry, my strong convictions wouldn't allow me to take the easy way out on the frosting front. I mixed up a lovely pink buttercream to top our funfetti creations.

After the girls scarfed down their pizza in record time (it's amazing how quickly you can get kids to comply to eat their dinner when the intoxicating scent of fresh baked cupcakes is lingering in the air), I let them decorate their own cupcake with an inordinate amount of pink, red and white heart sprinkles. Once the pale pink frosting swirls were properly coated, they dug in (Haylee head first) with sheer abandon. There may or may not have been streaks of pink frosting in Haylee's hair when it was all said and done, but watching her attack that cupcake was so worth it.

Love Himself was present throughout our time (in between me telling Meredith "no" and "yelling" at the girls to be nice to each other) and it sure beat any cheesy box of chocolates (most of which I wouldn't like anyway) or cliche bouquet of roses.

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope your celebrations involve the same spirit of Love...and of course, some delicious treats.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Monday, February 6, 2012

pencil lines on flat paper.

So I was spending some time with one of my dearest friends this weekend (C.S. Lewis if you must know) and I found myself, once again, reflecting on the eternal world and the reality of this world, specifically how the good on this earth reflects, or is a glimpse of what is to come (not coindentally, I read this after taking a walk outside and where I snapped about 6 random shots of the love affair with the clouscapes continues). I was reading a collection of some of his most famous essays (thank you Cryssie for the great Christmas gift) and become enraptured with his writings on "Transposition."

In particular, he constructs a short fable where a woman (who also happens to be a talented artist) is captured and placed in a dungeon. She bears a son whilst in said dungeon and attempts to teach him about the outside world through pencil drawings on paper. The gaping hole in these attempts becomes apparent when it is revealed that the boy was living under the misconception that the real world was full of lines drawn in lead pencil. Without the context of these lines, he gets the idea that the "real world is somehow less visible than his mother's pictures." C.S. Lewis continues on with the following:

"So with us. We know not what we shall be; but we may be sure we shall be more, not less, than we were on earth. Our natural experiences (sensory, emotional, imaginative) are only like the drawing, like pencilled lines on flat paper. If they vanish in the risen life, they will vanish only as pencil lines vanish from the real landscape, not as a candle flame that is put out but as a candle flame which becomes invisible because someone has pulled up the blinds, thrown open the shutters and let in the blaze of the risen sun."

"You can put it whichever way you please. You can say that by Transposition our humanity, senses and all, can be made the vehicle of beatitude. Or you can say that the heavenly bounties by Transposition are embodied during this life in our temporal experience. But the second way is better. It is the present life which is the diminution, the symbol, the etiolated, the (as it were) 'vegetarian' substitute. If flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom, that is not becuase they are too solid, too gross, too distinct, too 'illustrious with being.' They are too flimsy, too transitory, too phantasmal."

I'm sure it goes without saying, but I LOVE this concept and the way C.S. Lewis constructs this illustration to give us a way to think about aspects of this world and relate them to the eternal (while still, of course, in a very rudimentary way as we have not seen "behind the curtain"). I love the thought that the world we are living in is but mere pencil lines on flat paper compared to the glory that will be revealed to us when we are united with our Beloved. Can you believe that? Every bright fuschia bouquet of wild flowers is but pencil lines, every glorious sunset bursting with a million different hues of orange, yellow, pink and purple is but dull pencil lines, every majestic forest, every sky full of snowflakes (none of which are the same) -- it's all MERE pencil lines on flat paper. If every good thing is from above and God is the Creator of all things, we are only viewing portraits of the original.

How on earth can this be? It absolutely blows my mind and I get positively giddy just thinking about it. I smile and almost laugh when I think of Mimi and my Grandma running across fields that are greener than anything they have ever seen and drinking from sweeter waters, all within the presence of our Heavenly Father. I want to share in this delight with others, but I think all too often we are much too busy to sit and reflect on the wonder that is to come...and that we get to catch glimpses of every single day.

Do not get me wrong, I know life is less than picturesque most days and becomes muddied with sin that causes pain, suffering, anger, frustration which can all produce sadness and hopelessness which will certainly leave us less than desirous to see the beauty around us and to then, in turn, revel in the overwhelming thought that all this is but a tiny glimpse. But might this thought that this present earth, while positively lovely and full of wonder, is our temporary home. Soak in every sunset, stop and smell every rose and delight in every wave that crashes...and then reflect on the thought that all of this glory is just a pencil line on flat paper.