Sunday, January 30, 2011

lost & found

Saturday, I learned about a tradition that - unbeknownst to me - my parents have upheld for nearly 35 years. Knowing my family, it's no big surprise that it revolves around food. Every year, on the last Saturday in January, my parents drive about an hour through rice fields to the tiny community of Deutschburg, where a seafood feast is put on to support the work of this tiny town. I was pretty excited to get insight into this little tradition, so off we went.

We were not disappointed: there was a huge amount of seafood (all fried, of course: shrimp, oysters and trout) served alongside pinto beans (just so we all realize it's in Texas), cheesy rice that's probably grown in the nearby fields, plenty of dessert and sweet iced tea. An auctioneer sold off dozens of cakes and pies and young people from the town paraded these up and down the aisle of the community center. One pie sold for $65! What a great support for that little town. Everyone knew everyone, made apparent by the auctioneer announcing the winners of each auction by name. It was small-town, laid-back, home-cooked goodness.

Feeling terribly stuffed, we decided to stretch our legs by walking through a nearby abandoned old homestead that belongs to family friends. My parents used to come here when they would meet friends for the seafood lunch every year. I adore a bit of adventure, especially among forgotten barns, and realized as my parents explored with me, that they're where this sense of adventure comes from. What fun.

Amazing, huh? Just as I thought that the decay had taken everything, I stumbled upon a real treasure...

It's already starting to look beautiful, and I'll be sure to post a complete "after" picture once I'm done resurrecting this amazing mirror. What a fun tradition my parents have! I'm so glad I was able to be a part of it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

making the most of it all

Today, my Mom and I made a trip to Corpus Christi because my Grandmother was having a little procedure. Grandmother was amazingly resilient, as always, and is doing really well (which is of course the biggest glimpse of grace of all). Regardless of the circumstances, it was a lovely day, and I was so glad to see my Aunt Karen, too.

-Leaving in the wee hours of the morning and being able to watch the sun rise over water as we drove. It gave a peaceful glow to everything.

-Post-procedure, going for a bit of lunch and ending our sandwiches and soup with an amazing (still warm) lemon blueberry scone. It was crumbly, sweet, tangy, delicious.

-Coming over a little hill to see that perfectly blue-green ocean (from Ocean Drive, of course!).

-Going over the big bridge in Corpus that I always loved as a child and feeling that same sense of wonder (and a tiny bit of that same trepidation).

-Stopping at what can only really be described as a "junk store" and discovering amazing things...
...a particular jumbled gathering of old farm equipment, tools, dust and other things that, for a moment, smelled exactly like the barn in my Grandparents' old farm. I even beckoned my Mom over, and she agreed, smells just like the Ol' Magnolia.

-Finding among that "junk" a wine glass that will take the place of one I had and loved and, um, broke. I'm a little sentimental, and so I loved a little teal wine glass I stumbled upon at an antique store, and took that little glass all the way to Belfast and back. And then I broke it in Texas by dropping it while I was washing it. Sad. So, I'm thrilled to have found a similarly-colored, similarly-sized one.

-Clouds on the way home that really look to me like a dove flamboyantly flexing her feathers. Can you see it? The Spirit's on the move. :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

pomegranates and presents

-A refreshing glass of pomegranate juice with fresh lime squeezed in. One of my favorite things.

-My mom's friend Debra came over for coffee and she gave me this bracelet she was wearing with a charming little bird on it. She just said it looked like me. Her only request: that when I see it, I remember to pray for her. How kind.

(Fritz really liked it.)

-Receiving another great gift today: an earthy, bohemian top from Lynn. Thanks, Lynn! I love it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

grace in the kitchen

-The silvery, ethereal sheen on a cabbage. I'm amusing myself that my glimpses of grace seem to be occurring with things more and more mundane: a cauliflower, and now a cabbage?! Who says you can't see God in the produce aisle?

-Wearing one of my favorite aprons while cooking one of my favorite things...

...bubble and squeak! It's something I ate often in Northern Ireland, sort of a shepherd's pie but with bacon (the "squeak"), carrots, onions, mushrooms and that divine cabbage topped with fluffy mashed potatoes and "bubbling" cheese. Total comfort food.

Monday, January 24, 2011

beach bliss

This past Saturday, my parents, grandmother and I went to Rockport to celebrate my dad's birthday and had such a great day. The sky was brilliantly blue, the sea was gorgeous and the fried shrimp were pretty tasty, too! We enjoyed shopping around (and I got a great idea for how to distress/paint furniture in turquoise!). What a low-key, grace-full day.

Is there anything more relaxing than watching the ocean?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

oh happy day

I gave him this lantern for his birthday. Look familiar? :) We had a great little day celebrating at the beach yesterday and today I preached and then we all went for Chinese food (where he received quite the serenade). I'll post pictures from yesterday soon. Have a great rest of your day, Daddy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

there in Spirit

-Several of the young people I used to work with in Belfast met for coffee with Chris today and one of them posted this picture on Facebook of their table before it has been cleared off saying, "Whitney's been here." I do like my coffee.

-Hearing a really great song and instead of letting it be background music, I stopped what I was doing and just listened. And felt very close to God in that moment.

-A really fabulous night's sleep.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

make new friends and keep the old

-A very uplifting, energizing conversation.

-Having lunch with the 'rents and my Grandmother at Fosatti's, the oldest deli in Texas. It was no-fuss delicious. I also had a moment where I looked at the generations represented at the table and realized that I'm going to look pretty good as I get older. My family's so cute.

-Meeting a new friend for coffee and enjoying a cappuccino in what can only be described as a soup bowl with a handle, her adorable 1-year-old bouncing on my lap and lots of laughter. I can already tell we're going to be great friends.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

grace in sunshine and...cauliflower?

-Fiona, one of the amazing young people I worked with in Belfast, sending me this poster for Presbyterian Church in Ireland's Youth Night, their annual gathering of young people from all over Ireland. Fiona was on the committee organizing it (she's a rockstar) and used my lil' ol' blog as an inspiration. What a kind thing to do. Thanks, Fi! :) It's a pretty wonderful design. (Click on it to see it larger.)

-Making one of my favorite things to eat: roasted cauliflower pasta. I know, you're thinking, "Cauliflower...really?" but let me convince you: it's delicious. Roast cauliflower with garlic and onions, then toss it with penne, parmesan, parsley and toasted pecans and it's just the best. Plus, it's alliterative with all those p's. Ha.

-Glorious warm sunshine that beckoned me (and all of my books) to work on my sermon outside in the back yard.

Monday, January 17, 2011

a recurring dream

"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality."

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

are you what you eat?

I've had such a relaxing, rainy weekend. I hope you have too! Feel free to leave me a comment and let me know what you got up to.

-Making delicious Hobbit Bread, the perfect rainy afternoon treat with a wee cup of tea. It's delightful with fresh orange zest and delicate little poppy seeds. It's a little involved to make, but really worth it. And if you want to kick the nerd quotient up a notch, you can eat it while reading The Hobbit like I did. :)

-Running some errands around town in the rain and discovering that, after having lived in Northern Ireland for three years (collectively), I've developed that complete indifference to the rain. As they say in Belfast..."It's not really raining, only spittin'."

-My niece's joyful voice bubbling through the phone, "Hiiiii, Weeezzzaaa!"

Friday, January 14, 2011


I've been invited to attend the World Council of Churches Central Committee Meeting as part of the Stewards Programme! The meeting takes place for two weeks next month in Geneva, Switzerland. I'm so honored and humbled to have been selected, and thrilled for the opportunity to experience and serve the global body of Christ in this way.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

expanded imagination

-Watching President Obama's speech at the memorial service for the victims of the tragic shooting in Arizona. It was exactly what needed to be said. Some of the most poignant parts for me were when he said:

"At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized -– at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do -– it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.
...As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let’s use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together."

-Going on my daily bike ride, all bundled up, and letting the brisk air clarify my thoughts and fill my soul. My Dad's conversation today made it even more enjoyable.

-Commenting on facebook about a church sign I passed today that I was less than enthralled with ("Without the Bread of Life you're toast!") and receiving in response several thoughtful (and one comical) comments on the sign, what would have been more appropriate to say and the theology behind it. A great international conversation was sparked by that silly sign!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

curl up and complement

-The perfect little curl catching my eye on a piece of apple I sliced. Apples and peanut butter are just divine together.

-The soothing sound of a crackling fire.

-Reading two texts from scripture side by side and enjoying how they complement and inform each other (and appreciating the thought with which they were brought together in the lectionary readings).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

international delights

-Drinking coffee out of the glass mug my cousin gave me for Christmas. When I was in South Africa several summers ago, we drank our coffee out of glass mugs. While I recognize that not all coffee in South Africa is sipped out of glass mugs, every time I use this one, I'll think of that dusty, beautiful place.

-Watching a really great movie (Inkheart) that I had last seen with my old roommates in Belfast and enjoying the whimsy and creativity of it (and the memory of watching it with them).

-Skype with Neil and his adorable daughter Ruby who proceeded to "feed" me plastic buns (cupcakes) through the webcam, which I gobbled up delightedly. Hearing that Belfast accent again, especially from an adorable toddler, was wonderful. Ruby blowing me goodbye kisses was pretty cute, too.

Monday, January 10, 2011

back to mac

I went back to Mac County, our family land in South Texas, for a couple of days and reveled in stirring sunrises, surprisingly brilliant sunsets, delicious steak and chicken grilled over an open fire, long lazy spans of time spent reading, catching up with family who also happened to be there and watching a million stars shining like diamonds in a velvety black sky. You can decide for yourself which of these pictures are sunrises and which are sunsets. Any day where you get to experience both in vivid colors is a good day.