Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The beautiful bracelet I gave Ashley for Christmas came with some special committments to fulfill throughout each year. I call them "fun committments". One of those committments involves eating something we've never eaten. You have to understand, I am one of the pickiest eaters alive. So, this was totally for her because she is the adventurer of the relationship.
Being the fun guy that I am, what day do I decide to fulfill this committment? That's right, I choose Valentine's Day. Instead of taking my wife to a traditional romantic meal with white tablecloths and pleasantly lit candles, I make reservations at a slightly less attractive restaurant which actually turns out to be a converted Burger King. Give it up for Cottage Ethiopian restaurant. You have to laugh when the reviews say something to this effect. "Don't let the outside deceive you." Thanks for the comfort Mr. Restaurant Review guy.
Well, I decided not to let the outside deceive me and made the reservation two days prior to Valentine's Day. I'm pretty sure whoever answered the phone that day was not expecting someone to be making reservations to their little Ethiopian dive in Atlanta. But, she was nice and took my reservation or so I thought she did. She could have been pretending to write down my info for all I know. Shortly after we arrived, I realized they must have had a good laugh after my phone call two days prior. I think Ashley and I were 2 of maybe 12 people in the whole restaurant. At that point, I didn't feel the need to tell her we were Yates party of 2 until later. The waitress kind of smurked when I told her that we were the reservation for 6:30 that evening. I thought all restaurants were packed on Valentine's Day. Nope, not Cottage Ethiopian.
Prior to arriving at the Cottage, Ashley had no idea where we were going. She did, however, have a slight stomach ache. Perfect. What better way to soothe an uneasy stomach than put unfamiliar exotic food into it. As I was driving, I was thinking "great going Adam. You really outdid yourself this time." So, to help prepare her stomach for what was about to happen, halfway into the drive I told her where we were headed and apologized for her uneasy stomach and the food adventure we were getting ready to embark on. She had that nervous excitement look. Don't get me wrong, she was incredibly excited because it's something we've talked about doing for quite a while, but obviously a little nervous for good reason.
As the three of us got there (you didn't think we would go to a Valentine's Day dinner without our beautiful daughter, did you?) we sat down (without admitting that we were the dummies who made a reservation for a restaurant that had barely enough people to fill the bathroom) and began to interpret the menu. The waitress was very sweet and guided us through the menu pointing out that the raw meat was the best and most flavorful. I, embarrased by my lack of knowledge of other culture's food habits, asked if you could eat raw meat. She informed me that raw is how they eat it (not offended by the question at all). Okay. I politely told her I don't think I can eat raw meat and since the only other choice was well done, we ordered our meat well done. We decided to go with the sampler plate which included beef, lamb, chicken, and a variety of vegetable mush along with a very odd spongy bread with little flavor of its own. It was really just there as a collection tool used to get the food to your mouth. As we were told, you eat with your hands, so that is what we did.
We took in all that the experience had to offer and loved every minute of it. We were one with Ethiopia that night and I have to say that the meat (cooked, by the way) was delicious. Ashley, Lorelei and I enjoyed each other that night. It was our first family Valentine's Day and what a way to spend it. We laughed, acted silly, looked ridiculous as we took pictures of our food and each other, and most importantly didn't care what anyone else in the world was doing at that moment. It was our night and we were going to make it memorable. And so we did.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
How often we forget the power of our God and the things in which He creates. I wish I had written this post a while back so I could remember the vivid details of the moment. I like to call this a "God moment". You know these moments. The moments where you really feel the presence of God and the times in which you know He exists, not because you've been told He does or it just makes sense, but when you actually know without a doubt. Even myself as a Christian and firm believer can become so involved with the world and my place in it that I become casual in my belief in an almighty and powerful God as designer and ruler of this universe.
A couple of weeks ago Ashley and I and two of our good friends headed up to the lake for a weekend of fun and relaxation. At the time, I was knee deep in the story of Job in the Bible. I can't believe I had never read through the book of Job. It is such a powerful story and so relatable to our lives. It reminds us of the power of our God and even when tough times ensue in our everyday lives, God still exists and we must remain faithful. I wish I could spend hours writing about this book of the Bible which has quickly turned into my favorite book.
Saturday morning I was awoken by the dogs, of course, who both needed to go outside. As I let them outside, the sun was rising and there was little light to fill the sky. I decided to walk down to the dock, have a short conversation with God, and enjoy the beauty of the morning. God decided I needed to stay a while. While looking out upon the water, I was reminded of my recent readings in Job and it all came together. The visualization of what I had been reading was awesome. Two days prior the following verses were the central theme of my Bible reading.
He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight. He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it. He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters for a boundary between light and darkness.
Now, you can imagine how invigorating it felt to be on the dock looking out upon the water at a small layer of fog, the reflection of the treetops on the surface of the water, and the feeling of a sense of presence on this ball of mass we call Earth. Oh the power and awe of God. As Job struggled with his faith, he was still able to write these beautiful verses. It's easy to forget the power of God and the control He has over us and this universe. As the book of Job continues, Job gets frustrated with God and this is where it becomes so relatable. Job was the kind of man that lived to please God and yet he received misfortunes, so like we often do, he turns to God and pleads with Him and tells Him how all he has tried to do is love Him and do as He instructs. Finally, God gets his time for rebuttal.
God proceeds to remind Job and us in Chapter 38 that He is the creator of the universe and the power He has is unmatched. God gains nothing from us. He is perfect. He can not learn anything from us, we can not teach Him anything new, and we can't show or do something He hasn't seen or done with the exception of sin. No verse from the book of Job has stuck with me more than the following verse and standing on the dock in the early morning watching God do His work made this verse come alive.
"Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place." Job 38:12
Let me think, hmmm...thinking...uhhhh...no. Wow! That verse really puts me in my place. How often we forget the power of God. I can't say it enough. When I try and justify my accomplishments and obedience toward God I want to think back to this verse and remember the actions my God is taking each and every second without recognition. He is choosing to order the sun to rise each day and set each night. He allows the rain to fill up the clouds and sit there until it is time to release the water and let it drop down upon the Earth. He continues to allow this great ball of mass to suspend in space at the exact distance from the sun for us to live and breathe. How often we forget...