Saturday night is our weekly date night and most of the time, we don't have a plan. We just set out to a different part of the city that we haven't been too very much and just pick a restaurant that looks good. Well, last night, we hit the jackpot! Todd and I stumbled upon THE BEST restaurant in NYC that we have come across since we moved here in December. The Kitchen Club is a quaint little restaurant on Prince Street in the East Village owned and operated by Chef Marja Samson. Sake and Dumplings are her specialty. The restaurant has a French-Asian decor and is accented by her French bulldog, Chibi, who looks like he owns the place! I had spinach and shrimp dumplings and then Mahi-Mahi for dinner. Todd had a steak salad that was out of this world! We will definitely visit again.
Last night, I facilitated Gallery Church's first creative team meeting with staff and attenders of Gallery Church. I would dare say that most people in the room had never been a part of something like this. WOW! I thought it would take a little while for people to open up and brainstorm - I was wrong! It was amazing to see all of these people who really didn't know each other 6 months ago seriously brainstorming together how they could create an environment in our weekly Gathering that would enhance the experience for everyone attending. I have led creative team meetings for years, but this was truly THE most exciting one for me ever. Not only did everyone participate, they had great ideas. Never underestimate the power of an open and creative environment. It gives ownership to those who sometimes would never even dream of being a part of something greater than themselves.
"Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun." Mary Lou Cook
"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties. Conditions for creativity are to be puzzled; to concentrate; to accept conflict and tension; to be born everyday; to feel a sense of self." Erich Fromm
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to lead worship for a women's retreat in Port Jervis, NY for ages 14-25. What an incredible group of women! These women represented about 40 different Indian churches in the Tri-State area. Here I am with my new friend, Celin, who was an organizer for the retreat. In the afternoon, I had some free time so I drove around and took some great shots of the Delaware River that runs right next to Port Jervis. It was a beautiful day. I was so grateful to God for the beauty that He gives us in mountains, water, and in meeting new people who love Him.
We have been discussing Flannery O'Connor's short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" the last 2 weeks at our Artist Breakfast Fellowship. This was my first experience with this story. I have attached it for you so that you can get the essence of what we are discussing. Our Christian worldview begins with us believing that people are by nature sinful. It is only by God's grace and Him working through us that any good can result from our actions. But those without a Christian world view would feel very differently about good and bad. How do those without this world view explain why some people are good and some are bad? We talked about common grace and the ability for beauty and good things to happen in our world without people having the knowledge of God or a relationship with Christ. One interesting thought was why do so many good things happen at all in this world if we truly recognize our own depravity? That is the real question, someone said. These questions are never resolved in an hour over a muffin, but the discussion brought to me a sense of really feeling humbled about how big our God truly is. Left to myself, I don't think I would add up to much good. You may think that I am being self-deprecating, but honestly, if there is not a Divine One and a Creator of all, why doesn't this world just spin out of control? Why don't more people murder, steal, abuse others? I don't think our justice system is scary enough to ward off all the evil...
One of the special places in our neighborhood is right across the street from our house. The Boat Basin is a great little cafe with cheap, but good food. It is located right on the Hudson along the Hudson River Park that runs all the way down to Battery Park. We ate dinner and then took Syd out for a "ride" on her new tricylce - I felt like I was on the West Cost! It was about 70 something degrees and just pleasant. Anyway if you are in NYC during the spring and summer, you have to check out this place - you will love it!
I am taking a watercolor class for 4 weeks this summer specifically on landscape. When the teacher walked by the other night and looked at my first painting, she said,"Maybe you should try my abstract class as well." I think it was a complement... Anyway, she is a GREAT teacher and the class is so much fun - I couldn't have asked for a better first experience to the world of painting. Maybe I will share a creation with you...if I get brave enough.
Today was my birthday - yes, I am officially 21...(yeah) anyway, it was filled with e-mail cards from friends (today I was thankful for e-mail!) and phone calls and a couple of good meals with friends. So I am contemplating another year of my life now and I have to say..what a ride! The places I have visited, the people that I have met, the beauty around me that I have experienced - I am overwhelmed. I feel very blessed to have the husband, daughter, parents, sisters, and friends that God above has given me the privilege to do life with everyday. I feel younger and more alive in some ways than I did 10 years ago - I attribute that partially to just growing up in some areas and discovering the joy of contentment as you age. Not that I have arrived or that I am not in process, but I am choosing today to celebrate in all areas of my life. So, have a piece of cake for me today and count your blessings...It is the greatest gift I have given myself this year...
Todd and I have been on vacation the last week (i.e. - no blogs on cruise ships paying their fee for internet!). We toured NASA and spent time in the Bahamas - we had fabulous weather and the cruise was terrific. We highly recommend Norweigan! This video clip is at NASA. We did the closeup tour which was a little pricey, but very worth it. They just rolled Discovery out to the launching pad and they took us as close as any civilians get to the shuttle before a launch.