Thursday, April 24, 2014

Everyday Life: Shots from the Window

It's amazing how many interesting things I can see just from my apartment windows...
 
 
I have no idea what this was.  Warming up for a race? a soccer game?
 
 
 
This is a reflection on one of the windows.
 
 
I don't know exactly what this was - one Sunday (all day), there were all these people under canopies.  There was lovely music, very different from the style you normally hear around the neighborhood. 
 
 
 
 
 
I don't know what's in her bucket, but she often walks down the street, calling out something...which I don't understand.
 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Me and My Rights

I'm not sure if it's a Western thing or more just an American thing, but we talk about "rights" a lot.

Our right to vote.

Our right to own property.

Our right to justice.

Our right to voice our opinions freely.

And so on.

Lately I've been reflecting on some of the rights I hold so dear.  Not necessarily ones like voting, or owning, or even the "right" to a comfortable life.

Things like being understood, being thought of well, being treated well.

Actually, I might not have thought of them as "rights" at all until I realized how I reacted when I didn't get those things.  My friend doesn't understand me?   That's so not fair!  She ought to!  Someone questions a decision I make?  But I didn't make it carelessly.  I prayed about it.  I can explain it all.  It was a perfectly respectable and legitimate decision.  People laugh at me because I can't speak very well?  That's unkind.  They shouldn't be that way.

I hold onto those things (and others), as if I deserve them, as if they are my security.

But in this tight holding…I'm actually harming instead of protecting myself.  In this insistent demanding of things God never actually promised as mine, I miss true freedom.  I miss my real refuge, my real safe place.

The greatest things God gives me don't come packaged as rights – something I deserve.

They come as grace – something I never have been and never will be able to deserve.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

This...

 
These are weapons.  I always keep one next to my pillow, in case a burglar breaks in. 
 
Just kidding.  I don't use them as weapons.  But they would make effective ones, should the need ever arise.
 
 
This is a picture that had potential but was spoiled by my camera angle.
 
 
This is a typical scene...sheep crossing the road.
 
 
This is the beach.
 
 
This is one of the Sunday School classes at my church back home.
 
 
This is bag of goodies folks from home sent with Uncle Dan and Auntie Tina.
 
 
These are cards from my Sunday School kids.  So sweet.
 
 
This is a hand-painted box made by Auntie Betty (from my church back home).  It makes a very handy place to store my jewelry. :)
 
 
This was Friday night.  Five girls, pizza, a movie, and caramel popcorn.  Fun!
 
 
This is the current jelly in my fridge: cashew apple butter.  It reminds me of a peach-apricot combination.
 
 
This is pesto fettuccine, courtesy of my friend Abigail.  (She sent the ingredients.)
 
 
This is laundry day.
 
 
This was Sunday...which really deserves its own post, but I'm being lazy efficient.  Everyone was taking pictures of everyone, which was kind of nice.  "Hurray, I can take pictures without being 'that weird one'!"
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This is a sign that, as everyone here keeps saying, La chaleur arrive (the heat is coming).  The fan is back in operation.
 
 
This is how I unwound after a longer-than-usual Sunday: a 2 1/2 hour trek through the snowy Austrian mountains, chains rattling all the way.
 
 
This was Monday morning's breakfast.
 
 
This was part of a weekend project: reorganizing my apartment.  It felt so good!
 
 
This is how I mark milestones.  (Have I really been here eight months?  Crazy.)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hello, Africa...

Uncle Dan and Auntie Tina were here for a short (but full!) visit.  It was their first time in Africa.  Most of the pictures are from those four days, although I threw a few other ones in there that hadn't gotten posted yet.
 
 
It's been a while since I've shopped for more than one person.  I had to bleach my produce in batches. :)
 
 
No, this isn't a comet or shooting star.  It's just what happened when I tried to take a zoomed-in picture of a starry night.
 
 
 
 
No weird camera effects or editing here, just a slightly shaky hand!  Cool, huh?
 
- - -
 
 
We visited the island - third time for me, and it still hasn't lost its charm.
 
 
 
Big and little, modern and traditional.  All side by side (or at least within the same general vicinity).
 
 
- - -
 
Is it weird to sing O Come, Emmanuel when Easter is just around the corner?  'Cause I can't seem to help myself.
 
Just like I can't help myself when I start reading Evangelists.  I gotta read the whole thing.  In one sitting.
 
 
I've lost track of how many times I've read that book, but trust me, it's a lot.  (And by "a lot" I don't mean six or seven times.  Waaay more than that.)  I know the story so well that reading it is like visiting a gloriously familiar place with old friends.
 
 
Did I hear the word "obsessive"?  No, I'm not obsessive.  It just happens to be the best story I've ever read. :)
 
But of course, it isn't the only book I enjoy.
 
 
- - -
 
 
The day started out a bit overcast, so I didn't think much about sunscreen.  Plus, I'd spent most of the day at the island before, and I didn't get burned.
 
No such luck this time.
 
My nose got the worst of it, and nearly a week later, I'm peeling off bits every time I look in the mirror.
 
 
 
 
 
- - -
 
 
Potted plants are my one weakness.
 
(Although I still haven't gotten any for my place...)
 
 
 
 
 
This time I was trying to take pictures other than just doors and windows, which is hard, 'cause there are so many cool ones on the island.
 
 
 
 
 
 
I can hardly see a clay pot without thinking of 2 Corinthians 4:7.  Some days I'm super thankful that clay pots are exactly what God likes to use.
 
Some days I'd rather be something a little more impressive and a lot less fragile than a clay pot.
 
- - -
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
- - -
 
 
 
 
I was unable to refrain entirely from doors and windows.  Especially with colors like this.  Gorgeous!
 
 
Did I mention this island has a lot of color? :)
 
 
 
One of my especially artsy shots...
 
 
- - -
 
 
That fish was grilled with the teeth still in.  If you look closely, you can see them.
 
 
We're so American - taking pictures of food and taking pictures of people taking pictures.
 
- - -
 
 
Eeek!  The aliens landed and left their brains on the beach!
 
 
Rather an unfortunate name for a boat.  Beer.
 
 
 
Guess who this made us think of?!
 
- - -
 
 
We went for a drive after church on Sunday.  Tablecloths, anyone?
 
 
 
 
 
It was funny to see one of these here - I think it was a first for me.
 
 
We couldn't believe how many shells were on the beach.  So different from back home.
 
 
 
Note to self: Don't cross arms next time.  Doesn't look so good in pictures.
 
 
 
 
There.  That ought to be enough pictures for a while. ;)