My life and my thoughts - on faith, culture, politics, whatever comes to my mind

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sunday school memories

Tonight at our young adults Bible study, we will discuss John 10:11-21. What is Jesus teaching us through the image of Him as our shepherd? I'm exited for the meeting, they're almost always very inspiring. It's a very diverse group with members from Germany, Romania, Sweden, the US, Panama and several African countries.

However, when I prepared the study questions for tonight, it also transported me back in time to the early 1980s. At that time we were living in Norway. One of my favorite things then (I was about 6 years old) was going to Sunday school. It was not the typical Sunday school before or during a service, but a class for children led by a Salvation Army officer on a weekday. I remember singing songs, coloring pictures and especially many, many stories on a felt board. So many Bible stories stuck in my head thanks to this board and the kind, funny female officer who told them. This is where my faith journey began. Sometimes we received little pictures of Bible characters and of Jesus. My favorite always was the Good Shepherd. I still keep four of them in my hymnal. I thought I'd share one of them:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Hiking along the limes

On the last Sunday of 2007 my DH and I decided to go on another of our hikes. As you can gather from the pictures, we don't mind hiking in not-so-perfect weather...
This time my DH picked a hike along the Limes. The limes dates back to the time when the Roman Empire was strong and stretched over huge parts of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The Romans fought hard to occupy the areas of the Germanic tribes living in what is now Northrhine-Westfalia. The Limes was the border between the Roman areas and the Germanic tribes. It consisted of palisades and watchtowers. Here are some impressions from our trip:

The spot of a former watch-tower.

The woodpile of a charcoal burner.

An old border marker.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Focus on the cross

This year I am following a scripture reading plan together with a friend. We will read through the New Testament in a year. I've done Bible in one year before, but now I am looking forward to less verses a day. I hope this will allow me to focus more on what I read than to just trying to get through with the amount for one day. I know though that this is a question of my heart and attitude.
One thing I especially want to focus on while reading. In going through every book of the NT I want to keep my focus on the cross of Christ and His atoning, substitutionary sacrifice. Last year God has really begun to open my heart and my mind more and given me a desire to understand more and more what happened through Christ's death and resurrection, what the meaning is and why it happened the way it happened. This is truly an amazing, heart-wrenching, awe-inspiring journey. I am exited for its continuing this year.

The first four months we read the gospel, not one gospel after the other, but the relating parts of all of them together. And the cross appeared on one of the first days:
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. (John 3:14-15)
Jesus refers to an event during Israel's Exodus out of slavery in Egypt (Numbers 21:4-9). The Israelites were wandering through the desert and soon they forgot what God had done for them. So they started complaining against God thereby showing the rebelliousness of their hearts. So God sent poisenous snakes among them, an instant punishment of their rebellion and sin against Him. But when the people recognized their sin and asked Moses to pray for them, God provided a way out. Following God's instructions Moses made a bronze snake, put it on a pole and liftet it up. God had decreed that anyone suffering from the deadly bites who looked to the bronze snake should be healed and live.
Just like the Israelites we are lost in sin and rebellion against God. Ignoring our just as deadly condition we continue on a path which will lead to judgment and death - unless we look up to God's sign for all the people, God's sign for us: Jesus Christ crucified. Through his death we are safed from the reign of sin and may have eternal life. This, however, needs an action on our part. Just as healing came to the Israelites only if they turned their heads and decided to look upon that snake, salvation through Christ comes only if we look to Him in faith and trust.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

A heavy heart

-- edited in the last paragraph --

From my last posts it can hardly be told that my heart has been heavy lately once in a while. But what is the point of a blog if it only shows happy or cheerful moments and smiles. I am usually joyful and content, but not always and not right now while writing this.
Two years ago a friend was shot twice on a street after leaving the house of his girlfriend, lured out by a fake call that she was injured and in hospital. His murderers are a former aquaintance of the girl who never got over the fact that she dated another and one of his collegues, both former members of the armed forces. My friend died after a week in hospital. We had known each other from early childhood, my father and his father were school exchange friends. Every vacation is France we hung out together and were good friends. One summer 14 years ago it was more than friendship for several months and then we stayed friends. The trial of his murderers started two days ago. I can still hardly understand that he is not there anymore.

I just started thinking about the question if I too have to forgive his murderers. I mean they did not commit a sin which affected me directly. But the implications and the hurt affect me. I think we are called to forgive in situations like this too. But it is easier to think that we are able to forgive people who hurt us badly because we belong to Christ who calls us to forgiveness than to actually forgive a person when it happens. I have to carry this struggle to Christ who understands all our trials.

Things to eat before you die

While browsing through one food blog after another I came across a Guide to the Globe - Things to eat before you die at the Traveler's Lunchbox. This list includes 1665 items (foods and dishes at restaurants) although some items are named several times as the list is made up by many different bloggers. I have always loved to eat and to try new kinds of food, so I thought I'll try and check how many foods on this list I've tried already (can you tell I'm lazy today?):

11. butter and garlic (love them, love them, love them!) 12. Cheese 13. Sushi 15. Foie gras (French goose liver paté, mentioned often in the list) and escargot (snails) 36. Deep-fried alligator (in Baton Rouge) 43. anything with cinnamon or lemon 45. Blueberries picked and eaten directly from the bush (as a child in Norway) 49. Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake (all by myself underneath the Hancock building in Chicago) 78. Muffaletta (mine wasn't from Central groceries but at Napoleon's in New Orleans) 83. venison 85. Fried Okra /squash / eggplant 87. Spanish tapas 88. Fresh porcini 90. Wild salmon 91. Italy 92. France 93. Spain 103. Fresh raspberries straight from the bush, still warm from the sunshine 106. Mussels 124. Freshly made chocolate mousse 126. Bouillabaisse 127. Wild Strawberries 141. Morrocan Couscous 144. Flammkuchen 159. Real bread 177. Beignets from Café de Monde, New Orleans 181. a raw oyster, just opened and slurped from the shell 198. Corn on the cob 199. Artichoke 216. Squeaky Wisconsin Cheese Curds 217. Fresh figs 240. Parmigiano Reggiano 261. Picking the bits off a chicken carcass 265. Any meal with friends 274. Champagne 275. Daim candy from Sweden 281. Seafood Gumbo 295. Apple Cider 311. Brunch 322. Reindeer 323. Prosciutto 324. Crème brulée 329. real French bread 343. Fried zucchini 346. Rösti 348. A slice of "Zopf" covered with butter and honey 349. An apple fresh off the tree 354. Chocolate gelato 356. Tapenade (Black Olive paste) 359. Pesto 360. Pralines (Belgian!!) 371. Trattoria/ristorante-style pizza from Italy 372. German-style roast pork knuckle (of course :)) 379. Belgian Frites from the streets (in Antwerp) 384. Fresh Croissant 386. Blini 398. A good 10+ year old red wine (so good!) 404. lamb chops 405. Lind dark chocolate 408. Italian wood fired oven pizza 409. Pork goulash with dumplings, Pilsner Urquell 410. Beef in stout with dumplings, Guiness extra stout (although I'd give my Guiness to DH) 428. roast rabbit 429. BBQ chicken pizza 433. Impromptu picnic in France after exploring the local market 434. Beef carpaccio 443. salt potatoes 487. Chocolate fondant 522. sausage and mash on a cold day 568. Germknödel 579. Pasta 585. A glass of Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise 588. Heaps of pancakes flooded in maple syrup 624. Stuffed grape leaves 642. Croissant bread pudding 657. Guacamole 738. Good Belgian beer 741. Fried plantain 748. Prosciutto di Parma 750. Nutella (this one made me chuckle, Nutella is a German chocolate nut spread) 759. An American Thangsgiving dinner 779. S'mores 780. Pears and raspberries 799. Profiteroles 813. Extra virgin olive oil 826. A bowl of onion soup, a loaf of bread and a glass of red wine 838. Fruit sorbet 853. Gazpacho 854. Tiramisu 860. Crepes 872. sharing an éclaire au chocolat with your sweetie (though not in Paris but in Southern France) 890. Banana pudding 971. a serious pecorino cheese 988. a roast chicken dinner 1005. Cantaloupe from Provence 1025. a tart, crisp, fresh, bright green Granny Smith apple 1038. Ratatouille 1048. Fresh Norwegian Shrimp caught that morning 1071. Un moelleux au chocolat 1072. Brioche 1078. Italian Antipasti 1086. a juicy apple strudel 1087. golden-brown Wiener Schnitzel 1088. Dampfnudeln with lots of hot vanilla sauce 1134. A really good made-from-scratch cake 1152. Hummus 1153. Avocado 1154. Tea 1158. Beer in Munich 1168. Octopus 1178. Sushi Nigiri 1179. Roasted red bell peppers 1183. Black Forest Gateau anywhere in Germany

- to be continued -

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

How to not minimize computer time...

It's not that I absolutely have to spend less time on the computer. But I know that as soon as I will start my new job (sometime in the next three weeks - pleeease), I will definately have less time for blogging and keeping up with all the blogs I read and researching family history and digital scrapbooking and all those other (computer non-related) activites, if I don't want to spend every evening in front of the screen for hours.
Therefore maybe it is not the best idea to suddenly start exploring the exiting world of --- foodblogs! I love food and I love reading about food and pictures of food and I love to cook and to eat. My cookbook collection is ever growing and my DH is always alarmed when I mention a trip to that awesome cookbook store in Cologne. He warned me that new cookbooks are only allowed with new shelves to house them and we do not have any more shelve space. (But he gave me a cookbook as a Christmas present nevertheless!)

So here a some links to foodblogs I enjoyed and I'll add a food blogroll soon:

101 Cookbooks
Chocolate and Zucchini
Nordljus (beautiful pictures)
La popotte de Manue (in French)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Family history

I have always had an interest in old things: books, diaries, photo albums, furniture. Recently I started compiling information on my maternal ancestors. It has been a long-time plan of mine to put together a family history scrapbook.
We have quite a lot of information about my ancestors on my maternal grandmother's side. Fortunately these birth and marriage certificats dating back to about 1700 - which had to be compiled under the Nazi regime - did not get lost during WWII. Most documents and pictures from my maternal grandfather's family however got left behind when his parents fled Breslau in now Polish Silesia.
Therefore I was really exited yesterday when a recently discovered relative from that part of the family (his grandfather and my great-grandfather were brothers) emailed my the results from his several years of hunting for family information: a family tree dating back to 1703. (I just found out that I have relatives in the Church of Latter Day Saints in Utah.)

I wonder if I still have some distant relatives living in Poland. I know that it is was not easy living in Poland after WWII if you were of German descent. The high school I went to had a boarding school for boys from German Polish and German Russian families who emigrated to Germany. They hardly spoke any German which they told us was due to the fact that for a long time in Poland it was not allowed to speak German openly. They could only speak it in secret in their homes.
On my list of things to do a trip to Poland ranks rather high. Silesia is said to be beautiful and it will be extra special to visit knowing that part of family has lived there for centuries.

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