Saturday, October 19, 2013

One Thousand Gifts

Have you heard of the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp? The girls in my Bible Study and community group, and life in general, have DEFINITELY heard me talk about this book....way, way too many times. But I can't help it. It's just one of those reads that lifts your soul and reminds you that we have but one life to live -- so why not live it well??

The book, which is essentially the author's reflections on thanksgiving, and grace, joy, trusting the Lord, and spreading grace to others, is set on a rural farm in Canada. Ann is literally folding laundry or washing dishes or feeding her family or going to doctor's appointments the entire time. That's it. That is pretty much her life. But she has discovered the secret to it all: thankfulness (Eucharisteo) that leads to a life of joy. 

I've started to do this -- training my heart to be one of gratitude. A grateful heart. Having a heart of gratitude sure does bring in the joy and the peace, and makes me keenly more aware of God's grace in my life. 

The main way to turn your heart into a grateful one is to begin to open your eyes to see the simple wonders that are in everyday life. I remember a distinct time when I did this on a regular basis: it was when I came home from a semester in Argentina and was utterly and completely high on life. I had just gone through a low valley, full of mourning and sorrow and confusion, and had just begun climbing the mountain back to contentment and joy. I was ecstatic to be back with my best friends for my fourth and final year at UVA. I was healthy, I was whole, I was aware of the immense blessings in my life. 

I was in love with everything. 

I distinctly remember walking from my apartment on University Circle to two buildings down to visit friends at their apartment, and was struck -- no, I was utterly captivated -- by the brightness of the purple flowers that were growing near the sidewalk. I actually am pretty sure they were weeds... but what does that matter? Yellow bees were swarming in and out of the purple buds. I couldn't believe the colors. The beauty of that small moment. How had I never noticed this before? I felt like a child seeing purple flowers and yellow bees for the first time in my life. And I'm sure I thought my favorite saying, something that I think I'd like to have on my epitaph one day....

Will wonders never cease. 

Will wonder never cease! 

Reading One Thousand Gifts has brought this feeling back to me. A sense of gratefulness and joy. The feeling is always there, but sometimes it lies dormant, buried deep -- covered by worries and work and busyness and selfishness and laziness. Sometimes I just don't want to open my eyes to the small wonders in my everyday life. But what kind of life would I be living then? What kind of person would I be? Well, I'd be anxious and mean for starters. And I would be neglecting the reason why I live -- to glorify God and enjoy him for all eternity. 

Say what? Yes. That is the reason why I live. And why you live. Will wonders never cease. 

I sat down to write this post about my reflections on Acts 9 -- the story of Saul's conversion on the road to Damascus. But I started writing, and I guess I needed to give this explanation first about what has been stirring in my heart these days. I love that, about writing. You don't really ever know where it will take you. So... if you want to, read Acts 9, and hopefully I will rally my lazy soul and soon write about what I have learned from that one passage. It's about having your eyes opened. No, it's about the Lord opening your eyes. 

"Open my eyes Lord, that I may see..." Psalms 119:18

Speaking of amazing wonders, here is my mom holding the new baby boy of one of my best friends.

I'll say it again, because really, how could I not:

Will wonders never cease.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Georgetown Cupcake and Things I Love about Georgetown, a Series!

I'm going to start a little series on the blog. It's called TILAG.

Yikes. That just sounds awful. Maybe I'll just call it like it is:

"Things I love about Georgetown."

As if I don't talk about my hood enough... but consider this the inaugural posting of the series. Let's begin!

I need to address something exceptionally important in my life that causes both befuddlement and amusement on a pretty consistent basis.

Let me set up the situation for you: everyday*, I drive home from work. I cross the Key Bridge and turn right on M street, quickly get into the left-lane, and take a left on 33rd Street NW -- the street where we live and the street that we love.

And everyday, there is a horde, a buzzing swarm, a listless mass, a humming host, a grand MULTITUDE of........ people!

Standing all in a line. Waiting for a taste of maple, or maybe honey banana, or PB Fudge, or perhaps salted caramel, or strawberry, or how 'bout chocolate coconut. These flavors and more, all baked into little cupcakes and packaged in a pink box.

Alas, I share my street with none other than Georgetown Cupcake (aka DC Cupcakes if you are familiar with the show... I am not.)

To set the record straight once and for all, Georgetown Cupcake is good. But it is nothing compared to what you could make for yourself at home. It is nothing compared to my friend Leighton's mom's carrot cake with cream cheese icing (one word: DECADENT) that could easily be made into cupcakes. It nothing compared to Sprinkles which is a mere two blocks down M street, and it doesn't even come close to touching my friend Jennifer's Coca-Cola cake cupcakes. And don't even (don't even) get me started on Baked and Wired. For the love of all the best coffee shops in the world, don't get me started on Baked and Wired. Just go there. Just go! Only don't go. Because I don't want to see you there. It's my tucked-away haven.

But hey, if cupcakes are your thing, and you like waiting in line, than Georgetown Cupcake seems to be the place to be. I actually have never set foot inside the shop, but I can attest to the friendly faces who direct the lines and talk about the daily flavors to the bukoos of people waiting for their sweet treat.

And I can also speak about the cop.

There is a cop.
The cupcake cop.
The cupcake cop who watches over the cupcake shop.
His name is Bop.
He owns a mop.

Na, I'm kidding about those last two lines.

Anyway, this cupcake cop. He keeps the peace, let me tell you what.

Let's zoom in.

I'm shaking in my boots!

But the cop is always there. I mean always. Well like almost always. Is what I mean. But he is there! And I think he is paid to just... you know... make sure Americans don't eat too much? Nope. Catch the wayward cupcake thief? Surely not. Make sure determined cupcake consumers don't get hit by cars? Probably so. But I really don't know...

I think he gets paid in cupcakes.

This line, this endless line of people. Even if I do think they are crazy for waiting so long for baked sugar and flour, it sure has become something I look forward to seeing everyday. Why? Well, because I love my neighborhood! I try to avoid the crowds, but I love my hood.

So TILAG (mmmmm?) #1 -- Georgetown Cupcake and the Cupcake Cop. Sure signs that I am nearly home.

(*everyday is a loose term. I don't go to work everyday since I sometimes work from home. Glory, glory halleluia!)