For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth. Colossians 1:16

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

After a fantastic birthday weekend, I had the great joy of meeting up with two of my good friends up in Paris.  They were backpacking through France for a week before heading to Italy, so I took a week of vacation to travel with them.  Before heading to the train station, I saw on facebook that Josh Groban was heading there that day, and that Joshua Radin was already there.  Naturally, the whole time I was there, I kept thinking I saw Josh Groban EVERYWHERE.  But of course, it never was him. 

My train pulled in to Gare de Lyon and I made my way to Costa Coffee where Robin and Amy were waiting.  After hugs, laughter, and chai tea, we dropped my things off at the hotel and we started off for the Eiffel Tower.  We picked up some mini quiches, a huge bottle of water, and the most beautiful basket of cherries for a picnic on the lawn by the Eiffel.  So Parisian, I know.

After lunch, we headed over to l'Arc de Triomphe.  For all the times I've been to Paris, I had never actually gone up to the top of l'Arc.  The view was lovely, and all of the history of that place was incredible. 

Sacre Coeur all the way to la Tour Eiffel

No monsters in this metro

Who wouldn't want wedding pictures with the Arc in the background?

Love these girls
By the time we finished, and realized we forgot the water bottle at the top of the Arc, we were ready for a little break and it was about time for goĆ»ter, so we headed to Starbucks.  While Amy and Robin instagrammed, I wrote a couple postcards, we talked, enjoyed our coffee, and then headed for my two favorite places in Paris.

This tree is the oldest in Paris.

Our hotel was on Rue Cler, pretty close to where I stayed the first time I went to Paris!

This morning held one of those serendipitous occasions that leave me feeling unbelievably happy for no real reason.  I have been a little on the surly side lately, not for any specific reason, just feeling exhausted even though I usually get plenty of sleep, and so what joy came from a morning such as this.  I awoke earlier this morning (thanks, Chino) than I had intended and still felt rushed to get to the bus in time to catch my next bus going out to my friends' house to help them with work around the garden and house. I made it to the bus stop with just enough time to get a coffee and a pastry: serendipity moment number 1.  The road out to my friends' house goes through the country, and I always love watching the scenery go by.  Green pastures, a blue sky today, clouds that remind me of Toy Story, a regular painting from Psalm 23: serendipity (though not really an accident) moment number 2.  While en route, I got a call from my friend and found out that I had written the date wrong on my calendar and they wouldn't be around today.  At this point, I had been on the bus for a while and I was in the downtown area of a town outside of my own; every time I pass this town, I always think "This is so lovely.  Sometime I'll have to explore over here."  Well, why not today?  Serendipity moment number 3.  Apparently, it's the time of year when every store has sales galore and I thought to take a gander at a few stores before heading back into town (I don't really need any reason to buy anything else, but it's always fun to look through).  As I was walking to the bus stop, I passed a flower shop and saw a glimpse of my favorite flower.  I haven't been able to find many of them in the shops here, perhaps just because of the season, but it made me so happy to see them!  Serendipity moment number 4.  On the bus back into town, we made a stop and a few older women came on.  One of the women, as she stepped on the bus, called out a joyful greeting to the driver, and then to everyone on the bus.  She sat across from me, and exclaimed, "Oh what a lovely flower!  Just look at those colors!  Oh, there's so many flowers on just the one stem!"  It is so pleasant to meet a friendly stranger on the bus!  Serendipity moment number 5.  When I finally got off the bus to walk back to my house, the weather had changed to my favorite kind: low 60s with a wonderful breeze that makes it just right to wear a hoodie and Chacos.  I know it's summer and it would be wonderful to have really warm weather, but that's just so much better when you have a lake to jump in.  No, this day is pretty perfect.  Serendipity moment number 6.
Due to my own lapse of organization, I suddenly found my day open, my favorite flowers in hands, and a smile on my face.  Ah, Serendipity.

Monday, June 24, 2013

As promised, here are some videos from the birthday/Fun. weekend.

Opening song, One Foot

All The Pretty Girls

 We Are Young

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Some Nights- unfortunately my camera died right when the drums were about to come in.  You can definitely see the rain coming down on us there though.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A number of months ago, I saw that one of my favorite bands, Fun., would be playing a concert in June in Paris. I immediately texted my brother and said, "Dude! Fun. is playing in France!" To which he naturally responded, "Dude! You have to go!" It was already sold out, but as I was looking at the website, I also saw a familiar date on their tour schedule: my birthday. Not only were they playing a concert on my birthday, but they were playing it in Geneva, Switzerland. When I told my brother, he pestered me (as most brothers do) to get tickets and go.  He then proceeded to tell my parents when he saw them that a wonderful birthday gift would be tickets to this show. My mom texted me and asked if I wanted tickets, to which I exclaimed, "Are you kidding me?!" I told two of my friends about the concert, and they were interested, so on my birthday, we packed up the car and drove to Geneva!

The ticket said the festival started at 7, therefore we arrived around 5 to get a good parking spot (or at least within walking distance of the festival).  When received booklets upon entering with all of the information for the day's festivities only to find that Fun. wasn't playing until 10. Alas, alack, we'd wait.  After a fabulous dinner of different bruschetta, we waited for the first group (which was not my particular cup of tea) to start on the secondary stage and it started raining. Thank goodness we had thought to bring umbrellas! One benefit of festivals like this is that there are always people handing out free things, including backpacks with earplugs and ponchos.  Decked out in white plastic, still hiding under our umbrellas, the first group finished, the clouds parted, and a jazz-ish singer came out.  She was pretty good, and my French friend was loving actually knowing the words to the music. I paid no attention to the third group as they sounded a bit like this, and I was getting too antsy for Fun.  We were pretty close to the stage, surrounded by junior highers and teeny boppers (do people still use that term?) and my friends asked to move back a bit so we wouldn't be surrounded by jumping screaming fans.  I agreed that it was dreadful, and so we moved back, still close to the stage though, and little did we all know that I would be one of those screamer-jumper fans. Whoops.

Nate Ruess is one of the most ridiculously energetic performers I have ever seen, and every moment of the concert was worth it. About halfway through, the rain started POURING again, so everyone just put on their ponchos and hoods and kept on jumping singing along.  At one point, Nate came down form the stage (covered, by the way) to see how hard it was raining, got soaked, and kept on singing. They were all so fantastic.

The next day, we went to downtown Geneva and walked along the lake and in the parks and stopped off for some Starbucks, naturally.  When I get my pictures uploaded, I'll post a few.  We got back home in the afternoon, leaving me enough time to make a cake to go along with dinner with my British family and my other American family.  They brought KFC and we started watching Singin' in the Rain, one of my favorite movies, and had a lovely time.  We took a break part way through the film for cake and that was interrupted by the doorbell.  I was worried for a minute that the neighbors were coming to say that we were making too much noise, but no, it was actually a group of friends from church! I opened the door and I was surrounded by lovely people singing Happy Birthday.  They had also brought a few cakes themselves! We never did finish the movie, but it turned out better anyway!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

In the past year, I have discovered that I really enjoy biographies.  Well, auto-biographies to be more specific; sometimes the authors of biographies don't seem to know what on earth they're talking about.  It's so much fun to hear people's stories- that also could be why I enjoy the relational aspect of ministry so much- and every person has an interesting story.  They may not think so, but people's lives are fascinating.

I love the show The West Wing.  If I had watched it when it was actually on air and not in reruns, maybe I would have scored higher than a 2 on my AP Government test.  While perusing my town's library one day, I saw Stories I Only Tell My Friends by the actor Rob Lowe, who played Sam Seaborne on The West Wing.  I knew that there had been some tabloid turmoil over him when he was in his teens, but aside from that, I knew nothing about him other than his character on The West Wing.  I've always been interested in writings and the behind the scenes component of films and series and, as I was at that point engrossed in the show, I thought maybe he'd write on how the it was made. 

When I finished the book, I had a conversation with a friend about the book.  He had briefly touched upon the incident from his younger days, much like Dick Van Dyke touched on his alcoholism in My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business, and I asked her, "Do you think that he wrote this to defend his mistakes or because he has a story and every person deserves to have their story heard?"  It's true, every person does deserve to have their story heard.  I don't mean that every person in the world should be aware of the inner-workings of each person's mind or every past mistake and triumph; think of what chaos that would cause!  What I mean is, every person is important and we can learn from each other.

My sister and I used to play a game at baseball games where we would pick one person sitting near us and a. count how many beers they had and b. try to come up with their story.  For instance, there was a younger guy, probably in his upper 20s sitting in front of us at one Cubs-Brewers game.  We decided that his name was Erik Carlisle (Erik with a k, mind you), he was there with his brother-in-law and possibly an uncle or his brother-in-law's father, he worked in an enterprise of some sort (he had the haircut for it), drove a little zippy black car, and had had a few long relationships, but nothing that really stuck.  Oh, and he had had five beers during the course of the game.  In the span of nine innings, we wrote the outline of this guy's life.  Stories are interesting, and we want to know about one another.

Recently, I met a man from my organization who has done so many things in his life.  He came to know Christ on a trip to Africa, he went to an Ivy League university, flew airplanes, lived all over the world, and that was all before his 30s.  It was absolutely fascinating to talk to him.  Another friend told me about how God had saved her from a shipwreck.  How often do you hear about five passenger shipwrecks these days?  It could actually be common, and I just don't pay attention to the news, but regardless, her story was amazing. 

Knowing others' stories can move us and profoundly change us.  As Glinda the Good Witch of the North sings in Stephen Schwartz's Wicked, "Who can say if I've been changed for the better, but because I knew you, I have been changed for good."  Learning from other people's experiences, as well as sharing our own, can change how we think and how we act.  Maybe it will make us think twice about how we use the phrase "You only live once" so we will not waste our lives, or maybe it will inspire us to make foolish decisions because other people did, but hopefully, it is the former.  What a great blessing it is to learn from each other.