High tea is a classic in the U.K. and a great way to catch up with friends or to enjoy an afternoon with your mum. Since my mom could not make it over the pond to London to visit, I decided to bring the afternoon tea to the states. High tea is available at most classy hotels in London, but most can be upwards of 20 pounds! So instead you could replicate a high tea at home.
I started by heading to my local Publix where I was delighted to find a whole British food section where I found Yorkshire Tea and PG Tips (not specifically great tea, but a breakfast tea seemingly found in any household in Britain). A good supplement would be a Twinning's English Breakfast, Earl Gray or perhaps some kind of Harney & Sons (my favorite of theirs is Paris) fruity tea if you don't prefer black tea.
In this section, I also found British scones to make (add raisins to make it more authentic). American scones can be found in most baked goods sections, but they aren't as soft or delightful to taste in my opinion.
To go with the scones clotted creme and jam is a must. I would say strawberry or raspberry jam is easily found, but the clotted creme must be homemade. I made it with 1/3 cup sour creme, 1 cup of creme cheese and 1 tablespoon of confection sugar. I also would suggest layering clotted creme under the jam on the scone, but that's my opinion.
For the sandwiches, I made little egg salad (egg yoke, mayonisse) sandwiches and cut off the crust. Salmon and creme cheese is another suggestion, but a bit more difficult.
The desserts are the fun part and it's great to have a variety. Maybe a cupcake, a brownie, two macaroons, a petit four, a tart, chocolate covered strawberries - the options are endless. I would suggest incorporating a mixture of chocolates and fruity desserts. Most of these can be found at the grocery store, but I went to a local pastry shop for better quality.
Make sure everyone has a tea pot or a bowl in which to put their tea bags. Milk and sugar is a must on the table. Set the table with napkins, saucers and a small fork to eat the desserts. Also be ready with extra tea bags and eat slowly with small bites or else it will be over in ten minutes with the small portion size.
And that's it! Flowers make a nice final touch. Enjoy your high tea while discussing light conversations.
I entered Ireland with a bit of a mishap as the immigration officer informed me the language I couldn't read was Irish - I had no idea. Riding into the city center by a bus that closely resembled the double deckers of London, but without the screen that read the stops. So getting off at the right stop was a bit of luck as I happened to notice the hostel's name on the building as the bus was about to pull away. Dublin is an easy weekend venture from London. It's a quirky city full of traditional Irish pubs, an old feel and a taste of nature even in the heart of the city. The river Liffey flows through the center and at night it is lit by an array of colorful lights from the different bridges that cross over it. The city is easily walkable with plenty to explore within a short distance.
The night life of Dublin is wild. Temple Bar is a popular tourist area, but by no means overrated. It is bustling with people and music, but definitely too expensive to stay for longer than a drink. One Irish Coffee alone was 9 euros. At a local pub nearby across the river a Guinness was only 4 euros as opposed to 7 in the Temple Bar area. The Cobblestone was an authentic peek into the pub life of locals with a band that included a fiddle and an accordion.
A simple train ride away can bring you into Howth, the greatest glimpse of what small town countryside of Ireland looks like from inside Dublin. Filled with small fish shops, fields and quiet. The hike overlooking the sea passes an old castle that allows you to see from the Island that vikings once stopped at years ago.
The famous Guinness brown bread and fish chowder from King Sitric hit the spot. They even gave you a cute meringue with your coffee and gave you blankets to warm up while you ate by the fire place. A short five minute walk down the road brings you to a trail along the gorgeous cliffs (nothing like the Cliff's of Moher, but a great view nonetheless).
The history and notoriety of the figures who've graced Dublin's streets are truly incredible. I was able to see where Oscar Wilde house was or the halls that Jonathan Swift and Bram Stoker walked. Trinity College's campus is free to visit and most notably the Old Library and the book of Kells (the gospel's in Latin).
Walking through Dublin without any agenda, I happened upon gorgeous old churches and plenty of buildings with this rustic vine covered feel that felt timeless. The museums in Dublin were also free. The National Galley of Dublin had a little bit of everything and it was held in a lovely space. Modern art, sculptures, classics, Irish art and European all filled it's bright rooms.
Near St. Patrick's Cathedral, the park called St. Stephen's Green held gorgeous swan's and was frozen over so the ducks and seagulls would walk around. It was a great size for a stroll with the National Gallery being a five minutes walk away.
The Kilkenny Cafe is also close distance. It's on the second floor with a lovely antique flair and string lights. I enjoyed a quiche, but there was a dessert, salad and hot bar to chose from. It would be a great spot to enjoy cream tea in the afternoon, but we had already stopped to have coffee at Caffe Noto after walking in the beautiful chapel of John's Lane on Thomas St. The churches are brilliant and many of them are free to walk into and appreciate.
Overall, I think Dublin is a great place for a weekend retreat before heading into the rest of Ireland or to escape the bustle of the megacity across the channel. The character of the cobbled streets and colorful lights fill the entire city with a warm presence even in the chilly temperatures. I definitely want to make it back to Ireland again.
The cry of the father of the demon possessed child echoes in my head, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Almost every day I encounter doubts and delusions that make me question who God is and how he thinks about me.
The unbelief in our lives can be a failure to trust with your mind that he has a perfect plan or that he can work things out for good, even when there’s a bedrock of belief in your heart that he is the Savior.
In only a couple months overseas I’ve lost my grandma, a friend from high school and my bag with everything in it was stolen (laptop, license, journal, keys). The weight of darkness sometimes presses in on me from every angle - my own circumstances, my friends rejection of Jesus, my rationality about his love in the midst of global suffering and homelessness I pass everyday.
Sometimes I try to shove my questions down my throat by consuming the fresh fruits of his promises to me. That he desires all people (1 Timothy 2:4), that he listens to me (1 John 5:14), that he's given up everything for me (Romans 8:32), that he loves me (Isaiah 43:3). These nuggets of truth feed my heart, but my mind still boggles in unrest. How can I believe he loves everyone if there are many who will never be able to know or accept this love?
I know that I follow a God who's ways are higher than mine and love deeper than I can fathom. It boils down to two principle questions for me. What does it mean when the bible says believe and be saved (Romans 10:9)? How can I combat any disbelief that the enemy throws at me?
It's hard to remember that we’re in a constant spiritual war. It's easy to see daily mishaps as misfortunes (sometimes they are, the enemy doesn’t deserve even all the credit), but often there is no coincidence that when God is using us in extraordinary ways there is a push back in other areas of our life.
Doubt is not inherently bad in itself.
Doubt can push believers to seek answers and strive to know God more. But doubt can also be a tool of darkness when used to question the Father’s character and whether he really promised these things. Back in Genesis, Eve doubted (Genesis 3:1) and from then on there has been an enmity between the children of God and those of the serpent. Whether we like it or not we are on one side or the other.
So can belief trump doubt? Now the way I grew up defining belief in God could not triumph over my fear of him. Yes I believed there had to be a God and I’d been taught that Jesus died for me, but that “belief” did not penetrate every area of my life. I feared that I would break the “rules” of the bible as in getting drunk or sexual immorality. I also feared that he was going to cause loss and suffering and that he did what was best for himself regardless of how it hurt me. I spent time serving, went to youth and bible studies and on the weekends I bent the rules in my favor so that others would approve of me if God did not. So did I actually believe in God or was I just believing lies about who he really is?
The dictionary talks about belief in three ways. 1. Accepting something exists without proof. This seems to be an easy one for most people. Everyone wants to believe this earth isn't all there is and that there is a god somewhere doing something. There are many social and cultural incentives to believing in God in America. 2. Something one accepts as true. Based on history we can justify that Jesus truly was real, but whether he is the Truth that brings salvation is another story. Maybe we know we are sinful and so this concept of him cleansing our sin sounds like something we want to accept as true. 3. Trust, faith or confidence in. This last definition of belief is the place where I think many people who grow up in the church, but don't seem to care much for God, may not have reached in their belief. This definition requires surrender of everything as if I put all my confidence in one thing it cannot be in anything else.
If I put this last definition into action that means that my whole life must radically change because the object of my belief now commands my complete trust. If I held my belief to be absolutely true then I must let it have absolutely all of me. For example, if I believed kale absolutely prevents cancer then I would eat it every day in everything and try to feed it to all my friends. I wouldn't just eat it once a week or casually mention it prevents it. Even if I doubted the science behind it or that it was really doing anything based on my inability to see the prevention in my life, I wouldn't stop eating it if it was proven to be true.
The proof in our faith comes from the resurrection of Christ and the belief is that he accomplished this so we may have a relationship with him for the rest of eternity.
So belief is not based upon my current feelings toward God, but a resting in what I know to be true.
Therefore, we can combat the spiritual darkness the enemy throws at us in doubt by letting the Father first know how we feel and telling him what we don’t understand in prayer. We can ask him to give us discernment of what may be lies and then confess to our siblings in Christ who will remind us of his love and truth.
Doubting is okay because your decision to believe cannot change. Once we are sealed with our salvation (Ephesians 1:13) he doesn't expect us to be perfect or have it all together, he just expects us to come to him with our brokenness and questions knowing that he can restore us and will continue mending us until we are complete in heaven.
Sometimes people throw scripture as if it’s the bandage to cover up bleeding. But for the truth that “all things are working together for good” to saturate I must begin with saturating in the truth that the Father himself is good. We must go to the root of our doubts. God doesn't always look so good when a mother loses her baby or a friend struggles with worth or the news reports another attack. Where is his goodness in these things? And thus, we must surely all grapple with some form of doubt in his goodness and compassion upon us at some time or we must not be aware of suffering.
After we present our frustrations of the evil that rules this world then we can cling to the only hope we have - that we are children of God through Christ and there will be a day when we will no longer suffer or cry even though we may not be able to visually see or imagine that in our present circumstances (Hebrews 11:1). He uses all suffering to further his purposes for our good (in becoming more Christ-like) and for his glory.
Our faith is not a blind trust alone, it is based on the rational promises of God revealed in him sending the real Jesus and proving he loved us by sending the wrath of our evil onto him instead of us and Jesus raising again in victory. Not only is this faith rational, but it’s emotional in how much joy he gives us if we believe it to be true and it will physically change our response to opposition.
Belief is a decision that when chosen changes everything.
So seeking answering in suffering, seeking comfort from friends, seeking purpose when feeling confused are all okay, but ultimately we have to cry out immediately first to the Creator. If we believe holds everything together then we need him to be our help. No matter what our heads may argue, that can't change the way he’s radically changes lives and shown his love to be true.
Stand in empty hands and water trickles down. He chuckles as he manages to get a rouse.
Though a blanket of sovereignty's always been on scene, all that's explicit is the pains of robbery.
Silent and transposed he triumphantly walks away. Confused and frustrated she is told to stay.
Later on she questions why would you let it go? Quietly answered you may never know.
Wrestling with why's only point away from plan. Knowing that all goodness comes from one man.
She can rely on him when things don't figure out. He will use this to destroy darkness in the doubt.
Tracing back to power and his authority.
There is nothing rugged opposition could ever do to me.
Naples isn't exactly the first place on the list when people decide to travel to Italy. It's often foretold to be filled with pickpockets and unsafe to visit. But my first impression of Naples was the Italy I had always fantasized about in my head. Pink and yellow buildings with cobblestone streets. Flower vendors, aqua blue scooters, espresso bars, the smells of fresh pizza dough, balconies covered in flowers with old ladies gazing upon the streets, deep blue waters striking the shore, intricately designed churches.
What I didn't expect was all the history that Naples taught me. It used to be the capital of the southern region of Italy and apparently has always had a lifestyle different that many of the northern cities. There is a whole city underneath the one that currently exists and you can travel under the ground and see things like a theater. Many of the buildings now used for private living are hundreds of years old.
There are squares and palaces that mark city centers and I was able to follow a map to see many of the major sites, but just strolling through I noticed that ever corner held a tiny surprise. Sometimes vine covered walls, or a view of the mountain across the water or a giant castle.
Naples is famous for their delicate pizza and boy oh boy did Gino Sorbillo give us a treat. The wait was about an hour at least, but the dough was so soft and thin in the center and fluffy on the outside - so good that I took my leftovers home in a pizza box in my carry on the next day and ate it on the train.
They also are known for sharp espresso, the locals would chat at the bar down their espresso then head their separate ways. It was bitter, but strongly nuanced with traces of nuts.
The food was a crazy good price with one three course meal being 12 euros for wine, sparkling water, pasta, meat, bread, fruit and and appetizer of some kind of cheese. We even were serenaded by classic Italian tune.
One day we took the ferry over to Capri and I thought I discovered a secluded dream island that reminded me of the white walls and blue roofs of Santorini.
The classic colorful houses scattered on the mountainside with a port of sailboats and little shops painted by the dark pebble beach and aqua sea defined my first look. We took a tram to the top where we could walk 30 minutes through the roads designed for people and occasional miniature cars.
The houses were gated and filled with a garden of vibrant flowers that added to the luxury escape of the island. Fresh waffle cones with homemade gelato floated through the air along the twist and turns to the Arch.
The Arch was so massive that the trees that green on top of it looked doll sized. Through the center a deep royal blue ocean met the sea foam green. The cliffs fell straight down in the water that added to the drama of the scenery.
Our next stop on the island we got lost and ended up at a private beach where we could see the faraglioni with white tour boats dwelling in the center.
Naples provided a place that I not only met locals that were eager to teach me about the city they loved, but also a place to tour without being overwhelmed by tourists. If the vibrant colors and delicious Italian food don't capture your heart, the Italian culture surely will.
I want to be a wild bird that wanders with spread wing.I want to be held closely and hear gentle whispers sing.
Feet thumping loudly the stairs creak beneath.
My heart aches for adventure, but my mind seeks comfort still. My lungs crave the mountain tops, but my bones never will.
Her lip sticks out proudly in an act of defiance.
Dancing under stars. Dreams with too high of bars.
Eyes flutter wildly seeking a distraction.
Tell me yes or tell me no. Give me the answers that I want to know.
She hears her name tenderly echo in the hall.
I'm a restless child seeking out her place. Cautiously proceeding to maintain a happy face.
Legs wiggle impatiently for her momma to arrive.
I test out murky waters wondering what's true. Understanding Knowledge is never who will woo.
Her lungs deeply exhale as the door begins to crack.
The fact I have breath is a gift in itself. The world trying to decieve my picture of wealth.
Posture caves inwardly, she ignores a shifted room.
A walking contradiction I feel what I don't desire. Trying to remind myself Emotion can be a liar.
Grumbling passively her voice says go away.
To write I can explain. To speak my stomach wanes.
Nose smells cautiously the aroma of a cake.
Under the cover I attempted to hide - An invisible lump to myself I lied.
Her tongue independently making her arise.
You stripped off the security a blanket provides. But before I could form a single chill your refuge abides.
Arms embrace tenderly reunited mom and child.
Relentless intercession knocks me out at night. Dark circles show I put a fight.
Her hair gently brushed from her puffed up, leaking face.
As a child I would whine that it's not fair. He had to watch his Son whipped bare.
Kissed softly on the forehead, affection exchanged for baseless rage.
Unmerited grace I found by staring at what's true. Inside the silent valley, a shadow of Glory I already knew.
Cake forgotten quickly, she yearns to simply be with mom.
A naughty babe I once was, but now I hold his hand. A covenant so memorable that it doesn't need a band.
I run away, but there's no where to run. Everywhere I go - he is there.
I have a joy, though I'm not content. I have peace, but lingering resent.
I can't rid myself of the truth that strips away my grief. My mind programmed into a state of automatic stability.
I want to go home, but home is no where to be found. It seems a disarray of blackness is all that will surround.
The white noise, the small breaths, the rain that spits on the back of my neck. The busy pace, the intellectual race.
This isn't it.
The overcast skies, abandoned people lie. Seemingly forgotten with no where to hide.
They are alone. I am not, but I hear my heart still groan.
Where do I go?
I can't escape. No beach with white sands, no mountains that feels grand. No luxury mall, no historic wall. Nothing makes me want to stay.
My ten year old voice shrieks, "I want to go home" as I cry on my bed.
A home I had for ten years or so, but the emptiness still there. Innately my soul knowing it was bare.
That voice echoes in me now.
Outside a stone face, inside displaced. Am I a mesh of atoms and flickering lights? A chaos DNA that tells me wrong from right.
What else is there?
Do I have any choices or am I subject to the wills of the world?
He is sovereign, he is real. He says I matter, he says he cares.
I have to go back to the truth - that perfect love is given to me. That statement proven on that cursed tree.
Undeserving, but doesn't understand.
Why am I free?
I can't shake my sense of removal. The world I see, so empty to me.
If only I could disappear from existence, but that's not a choice. I'm made as I am, I'm given a perfect plan.
Help me Daddy, I'm an infant. Weak, fearful, fully dependent.
Home I want, but here I stay. His will I trust until my last day.
To be honest, I didn't even know Wales was its own country until moving to London. It doesn't get the publicity like Scotland and Ireland. I'd say it's a good blend between the two filled with history of super mighty Welsh people that I would never want to cross. A bus to Welshpool was about 30 pounds and 6 hours, the journey to our cottage from the awesome cottage.com took another 40 minute journey into the middle of no where. The one lane road cuts through bush covered stones that used to divide people's territories. I've never seen so bright green rolling hills filled with sheep.
Sheep over here and sheep over there, sheep on the cliffs, sheep everywhere!
Our cottage was gated with its own little garden out back and a little pasture. The windows were frosted on the edges. The kitchen was from decades ago with a fire lit oven, a radio the played symphonies for us at breakfast, a small fire in the den and a piano in the next room. Beyond cozy would describe it well.
It's close to a lake that's beautiful to walk around and a waterfall about 30 minutes away. The waterfall is truly enchanting surrounded by stones covered in moss and a little arch that divides it in half. The leaves had all fallen so the ground was blanketed with reds and oranges. When the wind would blow yellow leaves would dance in the sky all around us. There's a trail up the side with slippery rock stairs that overlooks the brushed red hills and evergreens. The hills were alive as ever with music between the light showers and gusting winds. It was great to warm milk up on the stove top fire and mix in powdered chocolate.
A couple hours away the coast sings as well, but of simplicity and pastels. The houses lined up in different colors with a pebble beach out front. The best local fish and chips place around the corner - except that ketchup cost 40 pence for one baby packet. Conwy Castle is in the town right over. It's original walls from 1258 still line the city and can be walked all the way around as cars come in the original gates to meet the center. The castle itself is in beautiful condition with vibrant grass growing in the floors. The top gives a view of the gothic style houses trimmed with dark wood and red roofs as well as the bridge and the harbor filled with sailboats. For 4 pounds you can get a tea with a scone, a mini jar of jam and clotted creme at the Tea Cafe across the street that sits booth by the window in an inward for as they reused part of the old city.
Another cute town not too far is called Betws y. Coed. Conservation is important to Alpine Coffee Shop. They don't even give take away cups, but they do have wonderful chai. The honey taste so fresh. The gorilla portraits and sculptures design the cafes interior. There are two bridges in the city that both lead to fun things. More sheep and a rushing river colored by fallen leaves. There's even a baby railroad behind the cafe where you can eat in an old train cart!
A wonderful haven away from the busyness of the city I could have stayed there wrapped next to the fire forever.
All I heard about Norway before I visited was that it's expensive, cold and somewhat hostile to foreigners. While the cold and expensive bit are definitely true, I discovered that in the middle of a wind so crisp it cracks your lips is a country full of warm hearts. Our first stop in Oslo - a surprisingly tiny major city. Right away I was blown away that to get into the city by public transport cost more than my plane ticket there (of course I did get a bargain on my plane ticket - $30 round trip). It's a true mixture of modern architecture and beautiful landscape. The central area can feel like a future world that transitions in a few blocks back in time to 90's style advertisements and golden trees lining the streets. I watched roller-skiiers skate up the big hills in their training gear. There's a museum where people can see the actual slopes from the Olympics.
It was 6 o'clock on a Saturday night, but it felt like a ghost town. There was barely a person to be found. The restaurants were empty, cafes closed. We wandered down to the opera house where a collection of people gathers to climb onto the roof and watch the sunset over the harbor. Back at our hostel we had heated floors and large white duvets to cuddle underneath.
We then flew to Bergen the next morning. Bergen feels like a small town, but it's definitely not small. The people we met have been living their with their families for centuries. They were eager to share the history of the town and it's people. The atmosphere of the area is full of smiles regardless of the daily sprinkles and harsh winds.
Bergen used to be the capital of Norway and a major trading port. The houses maintain their perfect white rectangular style under a red tin roof. The houses scale the mountains and the citizens will trek up to their homes without a second thought. There is a park every prescribed set of meters, but it's hard to miss the nature sitting in the middle of mountains. At the top of Fløyen we could gaze upon the whole city in its fullness and the billion dollar light rail that cut up the center to the airport.
In Bergen we were transported back in time again, but now to the 18th century with houses preserved by the government to maintain their original form. Some are still insulated with newspapers from the 1920's! The city is known for the Byrggen colorful trading houses, but a little deeper in we found an entire old town that was taken and rebuilt board by board in order to keep the buildings from fire or damage. We even found a replica of Edward Grieg's little house that he would bundle up in seven layers and compose. The streets are mainly cobblestone to prevent the city from flooding because the stones separate the direction of the water.
The character of the colorful roofs, fish markets, traditional dress that is still worn today as women push their strollers by the small lakes lined with maples, and splendid gaping mountains builds the city to be something special. That's without even getting into the fjord boat tour we experienced with the water that seemed to slice the mountain in half and reflect the rest perfectly in the stillness. We passed towns with only 500 residents and houses without any access to the outside world without boating - even to the school house. We drank from the waterfall and it tasted like pure crystal perfection.
We ended our night with five courses between us at Anne Madams. A starter of homemade fish soup that's cream warmed my throat. Reindeer meatballs that tasted lively, and rich with game flavor. Whale steak that apparently must be cooked very specifically in a short period of time. It was brown to my surprise considering it's a mammal I suppose it makes sense. It was a mixture of liver, beef and an aftertaste that was a little raw. Next, a 100-year-old fish cake recipe in the shape of a heart. We wrapped up with the classic fish and chips, minus the fresh cod that's known in England. For dessert - waffles with creme, jam and brown cheese. The brown cheese had sweet tones, but a dairy after math.
I'd recommend Norway and all its glory to anyone looking for a full breath of fresh (and chilly) air and to rest somewhere quaint, but unique. I'd love to go again and see the Northern Lights from Tromsø or hike to the top of Trolltunga, but I feel energized and giddy from all the things I was able to see. I mean who can top the three story Christmas shop in a little red house or hot coco and Friea chocolate (aka a Norwegian Kit-Kat) overlooking the white tree houses (as they call them - three generations would live together in a connected house not so long ago). The only thing I would say was there isn't a night life, most the people are in their houses by 7, but then again I was in bed by 10 myself and perfectly content.
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I took myself on a date to the British Museum. After being blown away by the famous paintings in the National Gallery I wanted a twist toward archeological excellence. Before I left, I search for my lost sock in the laundry room. Two days gone. After the 10 pounds it took to do laundry, I lost a sock.
While walking, I am in a cloud of sweet smelling smoke originating from an Ecig, which I much prefer to the stench of a cigarette. Europe’s lungs match the dress code - black and black.
Yesterday, I glanced down at a man’s Camel pack on the table outside the cafe. The picture on the front was of a baby face. I couldn’t understand the connection, why does Camel want the user to think of babies when they smoke?
I grab a free magazine and paper from the bin, pardon the American, rack. I ride a lift down to my train. Occasionally, it’s just me on the platform. My station’s rather small. I’m not sure I’ve ever spent such a long period constantly alone.
The security guard outside the museum asked me if my bag held any knives. I said, "I don’t know" without understanding the questions. He repeats the question with a mix of snicker and concern. I made it through security.
The building seems disorganized. When I think I circle one direction, I end up a dozen rooms to the left. Everyone seems fascinated with the mummies, the room roars with noise. I prefer to read anything I can about ancient Israelites and their oppressors (Assyria, Rome, Babylonians, Greeks, Canaanites, etc.). There's a tomb from Jericho. Ancient idols made of clay. Augustus’ marble head that was buried to shame him.
Hours pass. I’m lost finding the exit, but stumble upon a room glowing white. I want a sweetie from a bakery, but restrain without proper occasion. I walk about 15k steps a day, but fail to exercise. Tonight, I wrote zucchini pasta on the menu to be healthy, but it suddenly comes to me that I bought a cucumber at Borough Market the other day thinking it was zucchini. (Update: I later found out I could not find the zucchini because it is called a "courgette" and I sliced my finger that night trying to peel it. Some ideas are better to not fully find completion.)
I’m herded like cattle through the tube. Pushed, shoved and stepped on through the small staircases during rush hour. Outside, a calm 60 degrees with a white sky. Underground, a 80 degree mosh pit. I imagine myself in Katy Perry’s music video, “Hot N Cold.” The warmth leaves me in a haze of slumber. I wonder how people who fall asleep on the tube know to wake up at their stop.
I climb to the air and reach Leather Street. A contrast of silence to the hectic bustle of the tube. I can hear a nail drop, the hum of a delivery truck on the curb and a whistler echoing from another alley. I pass Santa sifting through heaps of trash to find treasures. The air turns moist and it’s drizzling, but not enough to pull out my umbrella.
I contrast Leather Street with Charing Cross, my previous favorite street. They both harbor bookstores down their alleys, but Leather’s contained chic photo filled magazines while Charing's held antiques. Leather had street food of all kinds. Charing was closer to the Monet paintings. Charing wins. (Update: I found out that Charing Cross was part of the street used in Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. So I am placing more emphasis on it's winning the imaginary cool street contest.)
I reach my destination, Good and Proper Tea. The wifi password is tea and crumpets. I’m not sure what a crumpet is. I try a Rooibos Latte with oat milk, which I now prefer, while I stare at cacti and try to form thoughts. Silence. Where is my tirelessly dripping shower head to give me some white noise? The water always lingers on my toilet from the shower as they are practically on top of one another. London’s space efficient.
I reached home without Citymapper. I’m almost fluent on the tube now. Some people I notice wear heavy coats, some wear skirts and some short sleeves. I’m glad to realize I’m not the only one who can’t comprehend the weather.
I absolutely love to dream about the future (this statement is no surprise to anyone who has talked to me for longer than 30 minutes). My mind often strays from my exams and meditates on how I can save up for a trip when I graduate or a new camera lens or the career that I desire. When I think about a couple years from now I picture myself living international, possibly with a family, taking photos and writing for a magazine. I like to think about all the things I need to do in order to make this dream a reality.
Suddenly, the other day my laptop crashes and the small trivial moment of thousands of dollars going toward a new one snaps me back into this present moment. This day is now consumed with finals, packing to wrap up the school year, work and other many daily tasks. I’m now incapable of handling the momentary circumstance because I was so flustered with how this situation was going to ruin the future. In this scenario, I am so out of control. I then balance wondering how God could possibly care about such a first world problem in comparison to the size of his glory of his kingdom. But trying to push my feeling deeper inside myself, only allows other anxieties to surface.
Thus the start of me relearning a valuable lesson about my relationship with God, that I must be extremely dependent on him.
A normal day consists of me doing a lot of activities that don’t require me to consult God. I pray often, but obviously not the daily face-to-the-ground-full-surrender type of prayer because I often feel sufficient. I have deceived myself into believing that I while I need God’s guidance for the bigger picture, I have the means to get myself through the day to day.
My perspective is rather arrogant for who am I to say I have the ability to handle this day when I do not know what tomorrow brings or even can confidently say that I will have tomorrow (James 4:13-15). If it’s impossible for our finite minds to predict the future, how can we possibly rely on our own strength to get through today?
I personally hate the idea of being needy and letting others do things for me. People often prove unreliable (myself included). While I think it’s great to trust everyone has the best intentions, we must acknowledge how forgettable humans are. We often overstuff our schedules until we are bound to forget to do something for someone. Being constantly surrounded by the undependable nature of humans, it's hard to remember that our God is fully dependable. God’s dependability is especially difficult to grasp when it seems easier to quickly handle a situation yourself instead of taking the time to consult God.
Often I think of 1 Thessalonians 4:12, “so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” to back up my reasoning that I should be independent. The mentality of this verse for me translates to “I’ll do what’s best for me and you do you.” But this is not what Paul means by this verse.
The church was made to function as a body, together.
He calls the Thessalonians to work hard at what they’re best at and not to exploit the wealthy. Paul certainly does not mean work independently and do whatever floats your own boat. We are not superhumans with the capability to thrive alone, but we were made to work collectively while depending on God instead of trying to provide for ourselves or by contrast lazily waiting for other believers to provide the means for us.
American’s thrive on this concept of individualism. Our schools push us towards this individualistic attitude. If students want to succeed then they must put in the effort to make good grades on their own merit. The business world pushes individualism. To have a successful career may require outperforming coworkers who are up for the same position.
Independence can teach us that we are fit to run the world in a way that fits the ideal in our head. Independence means organizing everything to flow according to how we like it and while we may care for others, the ultimate goal is to fulfill whatever plans we designed for ourselves whenever our brains developed enough to create these plans. With hearts that are so fickle, how could we expect the plans we designed to be constant. Our desires change daily and yet we still will choose our own way of life over the path of following Christ.
Dependence can teach us that while we aren't fit to run the world, we have a God who is. Dependence means recognizing who designed our very brains before the beginning of time, a God who has all knowledge, all power and who's plans never change.
John 15 talks about abiding in Jesus, that we are unable to bear fruit alone. Abiding is not something we chose to do, but what we have to do. Dependence directly correlates with abiding. When we are with Jesus daily, we are able to remember he’s the first one we need to go to in order to be able to handle every daily circumstance. We have to depend on him or else our achievements will delude us into self-sufficiency and when the storm begins to blow we won’t have a firm foundation to get us through.
The vine that connects us to Jesus is not imprisoning either, it is beautifully dressed and abundant with the fruit of life. By desiring independence from God, we become the little grape that jumps off the tree to be “free” and ends up rotting away in the ground. We were designed to be a part of the tree and to follow in His purpose (Proverbs 19:21).
Dependence reminds us what this relationship with Jesus is all about. If we don’t depend on God, who do we depend on? Our own talents, performance, abilities, and grades or perhaps friends and family.
If we don’t depend on God, where does our trust lie? Do we believe he is incapable of providing everything we could ever want or need?
If we don’t depend on God, have we ever given our lives to him to begin with? The ultimate sin in the bible is idolizing other things instead of relying that the one true God is enough.
Dependence reveals hearts that seek his help first in prayer when problems arise and his opinion last before making a big decision. We seek him because he is a beautiful and wonderful Father that we desire to follow.
Ultimately when we are depending on God, we will be given a spirit that delights daily. When you look at Father of the entire universe and see how he cares so intimately for EVERY single thing that happens to you, you recognize that you can trust him to deliver you every time. Resting in the truth about dependence will bring peace beyond doubt.
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