Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Advent Again, Advent Always

Advent is a season before Christmas where we prepare and remember the incarnation of Jesus and all that it means. (for more info, here is my post from 2010 all about Advent)

Last year I was so blessed by the focus and the introspection that the Advent readings brought, and will be embarking on the journey again. This year, my Advent guide is from the Village Church, and can be linked HERE. It is a weekly reading along with some personal questions to think through and answer. There is also a family devotional section. It is a great resource for anyone, and would be a great tool to do with a roommate, spouse, or friend.

This year, my heart is battling restlessness and unsettled yearning. As I expectantly enter into this Christmas season, this quote from an article by Sally Breedlove really resonates with me:

I need the reminder that for the rest of this life I have a choice: try to make this world enough, or receive the unsettledness of my heart as a gift. If I don’t yearn for more, I will miss the One who both entered time and lives beyond it. It is hard to learn patience. But good waiting clears the air; it helps me find out what I really, really desire. When I learn to wait for the truest things, endurance moves past a grit-my-teeth trial to hope and strength. Year by year I have the opportunity to live into Advent. If I listen, I will hear the truth: I’m part of the exile, a woman heading home. Advent coaches me to wish for, to long, and finally to expect and even glimpse what lies ahead.  (Advent: Putting the Brakes on Christmas Insanity)

What is Advent? by Noel Piper
A Season to Look Back and Look Ahead by Noel Piper

An Advent Guide from The Village Church

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Day in the Hudson Valley

Last week my friend Hannah and I took a day trip to the beautiful Hudson Valley in New York. She had done an internship there last year and wanted to revisit some of the sights. Of course I obliged as a partner in adventure!

Having never been to the Hudson Valley area (made up of (but not limited to) Poughkeepsie, Hyde Park, and New Paltz), I had no idea what to expect, but was delightfully surprised.

Our first stop was the Hawthorne Valley Farm Store. This is a 400 acre biodynamic farm, market, and school all in one, located in Ghent, NY. This basically means that they are super organic and all natural. It was a cool little market, and this is where Hannah did her baking internship for JWU.

Our next stop was the Culinary Institute of America, a world renowned culinary college and competitor with Johnson & Wales. Located in Hyde Park, NY, their campus is along the Hudson River and has restaurants and bakeries open to the public. We had a delicious lunch at the Apple Pie Bakery. My turkey sandwich and roasted cauliflower soup was exceptional, as expected. If you are ever in the area, it would be a worth while stop for JUST the book store and cafe. Some culinary students were sitting behind us during lunch and they were passionately discussing the ingredients of the lunch special. It was perfect.

We didn't really have exact plans for the day, and just kind of flew by the seat of our pants.
We decided to check out FDR's Home and Library. While a tour cost money, we gave ourselves a mini tour, FREE of charge. The property was beautiful, and it was really neat to see some history. There were enough plaques to guide us around and tell us what was what. I can imagine the tour inside the house and library would be well worth it though.

Our next stop was the Walkway Over the Hudson, a pedestrian bridge from Poughkeepsie to Highland, salvaged from an old railway bridge and turned into a beautiful pedestrian area. Holy WOW. You could see for so miles, and I just cant get over how amazing this was.

After walking across that amazing bridge, which was just breathtaking, we headed into the artsy downtown New Paltz area. SUNY New Paltz is definitely known for being a little left of center artsy, creative type of school, and I think it carries over into the town. Many of the shops are full of cool and unusual things. We had coffee at a little cafe called the Cafeteria that was full of fun furniture and strange art. It was 9 times hipster.

Heading back through Poughkeepsie, Hannah INSISTED that we stop at Rossi's Deli, and wow, I am glad. They have the BEST paninis in all the land. I had the proscuitto, olive paste, spinach sandwich, and it was the most glorious, giant thing I have ever had. The home made focaccia bread was filled to the brim with the most savory Italian ingredients my mouth has ever been privy to.

The last stop of the day was the Millbrook Winery and Vineyard in Millbrook, NY, an award winning winery, also called the "flagship winery of the Hudson Valley." They offer wine tastings, and if you get there in time, tours of the facility.  The vineyard was a beautiful sight, and the shop had all sorts of wines available for purchase. I wish I had bought some to bring home!

Our trip to the Hudson Valley proved to be quite the ideal little trip. It took about three and a half hours to drive from Rhode Island, taking the Taconic Parkway from the Mass Pike. It would make a great day trip, even a weekend trip for a family, or couple, of any age or interest!

If there was more time, I would have loved to explore more of the Hudson Valley Wine Trail, Wing's Castle, The Catskill Mountains, and all the history the area has to offer! I recommend  Travel Hudson Valley for more information about any of these sites.

Have you ever been to this area? Any other hidden sites you want to share?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Humble Pie and Thanksgiving Feast

Interesting thoughts on Thanksgiving:

"Being thankful is not telling God you appreciate the fact that your life is not in shambles. If that is the basis of your gratitude, you are on slippery ground. Every day of your life you face the possibility that a blessing in your life may be taken away. But blessings are only signs of God's love. The real blessing, of course, is the love itself. Whenever we get too attached to the sign, we lose our grasp on the God who gave it to us. Churches are filled with widows who can explain this to you. We are not ultimately grateful that we are still holding our blessings. We are grateful that we are held by God even when the blessings are slipping through our fingers."-Rev Craig Barnes

From, "Stop Turning Thanksgiving into a Facebook Like"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shooting the Wounded

I was reading this Boundless article when I came across this quote that really impacted me.

One of the lessons I have learned in six and half decades of life is that very few dreams should go on hold while you improve the shortcomings of your life.... To be sure, there are times when you need to stop what you are doing and focus on conquering a flaw. But if you wait till all your shortcomings are remedied, your dreams will die. All our advances are with a limp. 
If you wait till you are beyond criticism to pursue your dream, you will never do it. You won't marry or stay married. You won't decide to have children or raise them. You won't take your first job or keep it. You won't go into missions or stay there.... Few things paralyze people more than their own imperfections. And there are always people around to remind you of your flaws and suggest you can't move forward until you're better. -John Piper, Bloodlines

Hmm. How many times do I think I need to be nearly perfect before I can accomplish a goal. I think this way about marriage, having kids, jobs, writing, friendships. The list goes on.

What kind of things are you holding back on because you don't think you are perfect enough?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Community and the Truth

"You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you.." (Deut  15:15)

I have heard it said that every time we sin, we are forgetting our identity as a son in the house of the Lord and running back to the slave master of judgement and shackles. This rings true in my life. When I sin, I often forget that I am a liberated daughter of the most high king, and revert to a cowering little dog chained to a fence.

One of the awesome things about being deeply involved in a local church is the biblical duty to one another to constantly be reminding each other of truth. Much of this truth we are to remind each other of is the fact that we are no longer slaves to sin, but alive in Christ.

Colossians 3:9 Tells us to stop lying to one another, as we have put off the "old self"
Colossians 3:11 tells us to bear with one another and forgive each other, because that is how God has treated us
Hebrews 3:13 Tells us to daily point each other to christ so that we are not caught in the hardness of sin
Hebrews 10:24 Reminds us to encourage each other in love, as we have been loved
1 Peter 4:8  Tells us to love each other earnestly
1 Peter 4:9 Tells us to show hospitality to one another without complaining, as that is what God offered us

How many times do we see other brothers and sisters stumbling (stumbling or struggling) and only respond self righteously, judgmentally, or without concern. What an anti-gospel attitude (that I am not proud to admit having at times).  

But when we show each other love, exhort one another to pursue the truth, and encourage one another gently and tenderly, we are essentially preaching to one another: "Listen brother, Christ has set me free from my own sin! I am now free to serve Christ and not my own desires. Let me love him by loving you! Remember!You do not have to be a slave to yourself either! Put off your old ways! Follow Christ!" 

I am so thankful for a church family that often responds to me in grace, truth, and love. When I forget my identity and act sinfully which causes hurt, friction, or pain- they preach to me, through words and actions: "Sister, God has forgiven and loved me, and I forgive and love you. God forgives and loves you, turn from your sin and follow Christ. Remember the Lord your God has redeemed you."

Next time someone hurts you or is acting sinfully, remember that this is a time to lovingly point that person to the gospel, through word, actions, and your response to them. Help them remember their identity as a ransomed sinner who can find freedom, rest, and hope in the Christ who has saved them.

"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:35

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What is One Word?

You may have seen the past few "one word" posts. Since my writing time and abilities are lagging lately, you will probably see more "one words" in the future, as they are an easy way to get out some of my creative writing urges.

Here is the premise: OneWord.com has a new word every 24 hours that you have 60 seconds to write about, and these are my entries.

If you are interested in the project, I'd love to be your friend on it. You can find my profile under travelingAlissa. Otherwise, stay tuned for some more off the cuff one word writing here and there.

Thanks for hanging out my friends!

Monday, November 7, 2011

One Word: Autumn

Autumn reminds us that seasons change. The crisp air reminds us that some things must die in order to gain new life in the spring. Dying leaves are beautiful, remember.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

One Word: Automatic

This kind of “love” was not automatic. A year of pondering and too much pressure, I caved into the realization that while it is not pervasive and euphoric, it is right, and it is what I actually want.