Sunday, May 24, 2009

International Gospel

I must say I sat speechless for the first minute of this video ! LOL What struck me the most was that I could not understand a word of what they were saying in Korean but I still felt the Spirit, if you know what I mean. Honestly, I am really proud that positive aspects of black culture have such a world wide appeal.

What are your thoughts ?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dating Adventures-Online Edition

I have been actively back on the dating scene via a couple of online dating sites recently. I have only had a few dates despite opening communication via emails and phone calls with several potential suitors. I thought the beauty of this forum is the idea that you get to somewhat "weed out" or screen for the people whom you don't think you would be compatible with. In my opinion, the whole essay about yourself and the questions and answers displayed are an opportunity to present who you really are so that both parties can determine the possibilities of compatibility. See for me, compatibility is what I look at FIRST and foremost in some core areas, then my next expectation relates to chemistry which I don't really think can be determined until you meet in person. One of the guys I met about a month ago, I will call him Mr. Marathon. We chatted a couple of times by phone before meeting at a coffee shop. We spent about 2 hours getting to know one another. He is former military, extremely fit & somewhat handsome. Even though its not the usual type of handsome that I am attracted to, I am trying to break out of my box & broaden my dating pool, so I am trying to consider guys who don't normally look like my "type". We had some things in common like running road races and a love of travel. He seems like a pretty straight laced guy, pretty even-keeled. One thing I noticed was he seems to be pretty self-made & confident in his career and accomplishments and overall place in life. The only thing he feels he is missing is a good wife. He is divorced at 45 with two children in their 20's. His answer to the question of whether he wants more kids on his profile was "not sure". In person during our discussion the answer seemed more like "probably not". The other issue that came up was the fact that he is not an active member of any church despite professing to be a Christian, nor does he attend church other than sporadically. I try to tread lightly in this area when discussing with folks, but I am always interested in why able bodied Christians don't attend worship services. His answer was that 3-4 yrs ago he was a member of a church but that they wanted too much of his time. There was always some event or function that required his service ( time or talent) and it just got to be too much so he quit going to church.
I guess I was wondering why he didn't just find another church and become a "less active" participant and maybe my thoughts were showing on my face, because he then came back with the statement that ".... well, you know, I know some really bad people, living really foul lives that go to church every Sunday...." and " Everybody that goes to church is not a Christian, etc."
***double crickets***
This has to be my all time worst excuse that people give for not going to church ! I mean in all of Houston, you can't find a church to attend that's not full of heathens ? LOL ! Furthermore, how is it that you let the person standing next to you in worship & what they do in their day to day life, dictate whether or not you want to be in the service to receive food for your own spirit ? I guess I was hoping he would just admit to backsliding and indicate that he planned to get back involved but just needed to make the commitment or something along those lines, but to put it on the other people in church ?! I don't get it.

Anyway this was a huge red flag for me for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I expect any man with real potential to be my husband to be in position spiritually to lead our household in this area. I am dating men in their late 30's & early 40's so I expect a certain amount of spiritual maturity at this point in their life, or at least the quest for it. I mean if you call yourself a Christian, what could you be waiting on at this point in life ? Also, I have a really close firsthand example of this issue because I have a very close friend who has been married for about 8 years now. Her husband did not go to church when they met. He was Baptist but hadn't been active since childhood. She is Catholic attends every Sunday, sings in the Choir too. While dating he attended sporadically with her but even then, it was not regular attendance on his part. She has admitted to me that even to this day, it is something that she really resents about him, especially on Sundays when she gets up, cooks breakfast, gets their child ready for church, and they go alone, leaving her husband to sleep in and watch sports, or whatever he has deemed more important than attending church with his family. I know as a Christian, you are supposed to witness and bring others into the body of Christ, but in my friends situation, he claims to be a Christian and to be saved, just makes excuses for not going to church. Every now & then, he will sense her anger about this, go with them for a Sunday or two, until she is not obviously angry about it, but then he just slips back into his normal pattern of not going. In the end, other things just have priority in his mind, in my opinion. That is why I would hope to meet someone who is already committed to their own spiritual position & practicing it in their life. I really don't want someone, specifically a man, to start going to church, just because he is dating me, because then I would think its about me and not his own personal spiritual growth. I really try to live a life of balance, spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally & financially. I have standards and expectations for myself in all of these areas & I look for potential mates that are compatible with ME in these same areas. After being married for 10 years and observing many other marriages, I just don't see how it can last long term when you are not compatible in some key areas.

How important is spirituality to you in dating ? Do you consider attending worship service regularly a part of spiritual growth ?

What are some of your most important areas or of compatibility ?

Have you ever compromised in any of these areas in a relationship ?

How did that work out ?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

European Vacation-Part Two " Time Travelling"

It is really enjoyable to travel somewhere that is truly different than what you normally experience and this is definitely one of those trips. Everything here is smaller, especially the vehicles. The roadways are so narrow, the living spaces are small and quaint. It is really a reminder of how much Americans do in excess and how much more of everything we use and consume. All of the shopping areas, pubs, restaurants, are just on a smaller scale. Nothing here is supersized. Coming from Texas where we do everything big, this place just puts into perspective how differently so many people actually live. It is like I am travelling back in time somewhat to a simpler less complicated era. I have really begun to ponder on some ways that I can simplify my life when I return home. On Sunday, I went to church with my family and we rode the bikes to and from the service ! Picture me in a skirt and some boots on a bike it was fun and kind of surreal. It is a small church primarily for the Expat Community. It is a Protestant Church filled with people of all nationalities from numerous countries. It was a bit different from my normal worship experience but enjoyable just the same. It seemed very similar to Catholic services that I have attended with friends without all of the kneeling ! LOL. After church, I rode seperately to the market with my cousins daughter so that we could pick up some things to prepare dinner for her Mom for Mother's Day. She is only 9 years old, but very precocious and knows her way around this place like nobody's business ! Everything is very close though. You have everything you need in biking distance. Everything in the stores are obviously labeled in Dutch or sometimes French, but occasionally you will encounter people who speak a little English who can help you out. We were making Parmesean Chicken so we needed to locate grated cheese and of course breadcrumbs, now that was an experience, but we finally figured out what we needed after almost buying cornmeal ! LOL We left there and rode to the bakery and picked up a nice dessert and we were on our way. We came home and prepared a wonderful dinner that turned out pretty good. I let her do most of the actual work. I just supervised. Later that afternoon, we all rode the bikes to the beach of the North Sea. The weather was beautiful, there is a lovely boardwalk and then below there are several resturants and small bars on the beach with beach seating so you have an awesome view of the water. It was a little cool with the sea breeze but we warmed up after a few nice cocktails and just enjoyed the people watching. I really feel like I have travelled back in time to a simpler place. It is so relaxing here and things seems to not be as rushed or urgent. Everyone is so nonchalant about everything. The fashion sense is something else that is a bit different. No one seems overly concerned about what they have on or whether or not its coordinated or not. It's like just put on whatever. There is not alot of pretention here. Thats pretty cool for the moment. Every time I think about the fact that I am 7 hours ahead of everyone back in Texas it hits me that I really am in a different time and space.

Do you ever long for a simpler, less complicated life ? Do you believe it can be accomplished despite your surroundings ?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Real Deal- Belgium Waffles

This morning I took a train ride to Brussels and went to the city of Belgium. I thought that it was a lovely city and immediately noticed how neat and clean it appears despite the fact the the buildings are obviously historic and have been around for a long time(since the 10th Century). It was lovely weather today with sun and a slight breeze. We did some shopping and I bought the cutest silk tank top. It's green with other colors mixed into the pattern and will be a lovely addition to my Spring wardrobe. I did lots of walking (miles and miles) which at the end of the day, made me feel much better and less guilty about all of the chocolate and waffles that I consumed. When I think of waffles I think of a sit down experience with plenty of syrup and butter on a plate. However, in Belgium they are served to you wrapped in waxed paper hot off the waffle iron to hold in your hand. You can get them drizzled in jam, caramel, chocolate, white chocolate, with powdered sugar, or strawberries and cream. My personal favorite was sprinkled with cinnamon. They are just right amount of soft, yet chewey, warm and oh so delicious !!!. I think I found my new foodcrack obsession ! The other interesting sights is a tourist draw called the Man.neken Pis which in Dutch means " little man urinating". I actually remember seeing this statute in some past history class I am sure. I was surprised about how small the statue actually is. It is a small bronze fountain sculpture depicting a little naked boy urinating into the fountain. There are several different legends as to the origins of the sculpture which is I guess why it draws so many spectators. There was actually a small 10 person parade including a band that walked the block when we were there. It was a nice day trip to Brussels and we returned at the end of the day again by train. We arrived at the central station in The Hague (Den Haag) and then had to walk approximately a mile to get to the house. I continued to marvel at how quiet, peaceful, laid back and relaxed this place seems to be. As we were approximately 3 blocks away, I noticed a little girl coming in our direction. She looked 3 yrs old, no more than 4 for sure. We approached on the path and she smiled and made eye contact. I was looking for a parent or somebody accompanying her and saw no one. I looked to the corner where she came from and then as she passed, I looked back to where she was headed and again saw no one waiting for her or watching for her. She was all by herself ! I was remarking to my cousin how unbelievable it was to me that children can just walk around on the street freely and safely with no concern of their parents. It was truly an odd sight as I am just not used to seeing small children just aimlessly walking about the neighborhood. The just explained how low crime is here, especially assaults and personal attacks and say the only thing that seems to ever happen here is an occasional bike theft. Wow what a peaceful existence ! I could get used to this.

Have you ever fallen in love with something you ate on a trip?

What are some of the most peaceful and safe travel destinations ?

Friday, May 8, 2009

European Vacation- Part One " First Impressions"

The flight to Amsterdam was a little less than 10 hours. With the time difference I basically flew into the next day which resulted in one long day. On the flight I was so excited the first couple of hours, then after dinner I watched a movie and then fell a sleep for a few hours. I was pretty comfortable, I woke up later and watched a few episodes of "E.ver.body Hates Chris" and "" and read a couple of magazines. The plane was full of alot of Dutch people and I was listening in one some of the conversations (as if I could understand LOL !) The flight was not bad at all & seemed to go quicker than I expected. This was the longest flight I have ever taken and they had this little monitor that you can select to view your travel status. It shows you where you are on the route, the time of day of where you came from and where you are going, the speed of the plane, ect. I have always loved Continental, but I must say I was pretty impressed with them on this trip. For breakfast they served me a nice warm croissant with some fruit & knew this day was going to be great ! I arrived at the airport, got my bags, made it through Customs, went to the bank for some Euros and went to the designated coffee shop to meet my cousin's wife. I had to ask for a few directions here and there but managed to get where I needed to go. I immediately noticed that English is only spoken if absolutely necessary. I made sure to be my standard polite self, but some of the Europeans seem very ....shall I say, not very warm. It's wierd to me to make eye contact with someone, offer a smile and get a blank stare, I mean who does that ? When I mentioned it to my cousin, he described them as being very "glib" which I thought pretty much summed it up. It's not that they are mean, they just come across as unconcerned LOL! The other thing that I noticed almost immediately at the airport and then on the train was how thin or fit everyone seems to be. I mean there are hardly any people here who look overweight at all. I am a" juicy size 10" which means that depending on the cut of the pants due to my thighs and "ba dunk a dunk" I might need a 12 but I am very tall (5"10") so I don't usually feel self conscious about my size but everyone here made me take notice. After my first 24 hours here I think I understand why no one is very heavy. The life style here is very pedestrian and promotes daily movement. Everyone has a bike and rides it everywhere. I mean you see people of all ages riding bikes. The city is set up to encourage it, there are bike paths everywhere, and the drivers have to concede to the bikers. My counsin told me there are stiff fines and penalties against the drivers if there is an accident. The other thing that I have noticed is the simplicity of this place. Everything here is alot smaller and the pace here seems slower. What I am reminded of is how Americans do everything in excess. I had the most lovely pink Tulips in my room and my cousin's wife has fresh flowers throughout the house. She told me that I will be amazed at how inexpensive flowers are here and there is a flower stand everytime you turn a corner. I can say that my first day here has been very enjoyable and peaceful. I really feel like I am far away from home and that is definitely a good thing.

Where did you go on your last vacation ? Have you ever been to Europe ? What kind of cultural differences have you encountered when travelling ? What is the best thing about travelling ?