When Question Get Answered!

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Grain fields in Poland!

What’s Outside Your Windows?

We have a joke in our family.  It starts with these words: “Grain Elevators….”.   Here’s the story.  Our daughter-in-law asked Brent and I one day, how we felt about having video players in the car for vacations.  Me…I said, “YES!   There are times on long trips, that putting on a movie to have the kids stop fighting and bugging each other, is needed for them and for the parents”.  Brent, on the other hand, said…“NO, you should sit and look out at the window and count grain elevators.”  Since none of us knew what he was talking about, we thought it was pretty funny.  Then he explained.   You see, when he grew up in Canada, he remembers gazing out of the car window looking at all the grain elevators – a fond childhood memory.  Yes, we don’t let him forget this, but not to mock him…cause we love him!

When you sit in a car and stare out the window…what comes to your mind….where do your thoughts go?  Because of my infatuation with graffiti (I’m talking about street art more than just markings and tags that seem aimless and without thought), this is what I focus on every time I’m able to soak in my surroundings (I mean…not while I’m driving, of course!).  It catches my eye and draws me to the colors and expression of voice.  Yet I constantly have the same question:   “How do they do this on busy highways, and train stations and bridges and buildings – without anyone seeing them and stopping them?”  I imagine them sneaking around in the dark and having looks outs, etc.   It’s a simple question and not very deep or one that the answer would change my life, but it’s a  reoccuring question every time these images pass me by.

Graffiti wall at the Schlingen Bahnhof, near where we live.

Graffiti wall at the Schlingen Bahnhof, near where we live.

Finally…I’ve been given an answer to my whimsical questioning!   While exploring the off beaten streets of Freiburg one weekend…we came across this:

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and this:

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An Unexpected Treat!   

Can anyone out there feel my excitement?   As we came around the corner and saw this…it’s as if my breath skipped a beat!  I know you’re saying….it sure doesn’t take much to please or entertain Amy….but seriously….it’s as if my question has been answered and I’m at peace.   No one cared, no one stopped these folks.  It just happens!   I think city life has just accepted this as part of the culture and has learned to turn a blind eye.  I loved it!  Having not lived in a big city, I know, it sounds crazy that I’ve never seen anyone doing this.  But I loved just sitting there and watching these young people creating – expressing – communicating through their own way.

It makes me think about all those questions in my life, those ones that I think – if only I could have the answer – once I have the answer…will there be peace….will I move on….will life move on to what’s ahead?

What Questions are stuck in your head and will it make a difference in how you live your life – if the answers were there?

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Facing my own…….(fill in the blank)!

We just returned from visiting Istanbul, Turkey.  Great time with friends, lot’s of walking, lot’s of great food, and lot’s of history lessons.  This was our first time in Turkey and to be honest we didn’t know what to expect, yet we were excited to see  this new and different culture.

The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque

Puppeteer Street Performers

Puppeteer Street Performers

Beauty in the Details:  I loved the sounds of the city and the colors.  We stayed in the older part of the city, so were definitely among a multitude of tourists, but even so, the movement of people was welcoming and invigorating.  One thing I love to do anywhere we go….take photo’s.  Istanbul is a photographers paradise.  So many opportunities to capture culture and beautiful details.

Pottery in the Grand Bazaar

Pottery in the Grand Bazaar

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Beautiful embroidery….would loved to have bought these!

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The Green Mosque in Iznik, Turkey. For those of the Christian faith, Iznik is where the Nicene Creed was adopted by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325. Iznik is also a sweet little town famous for its pottery / tiles.

Beauty through Faces:  Beautiful architecture, mosaics, and colorful pottery are more than enough to captures one’s eye.  Yet, my favorite is people.  I love taking pictures of people to tell the story of a culture.  They are the ones’ that capture my eye and my heart….they are the shot’s I remember the most.

As women, our heads needed to be covered to enter an active Mosque.  If we didn't have a scarf, they provided on - as well as something to cover our exposed legs.

As women, our heads needed to be covered to enter an active Mosque. If we didn’t have a scarf, they provided one – as well as something to cover our exposed legs.

A woman selling seed to feed the pigeons

A woman selling seed to feed the pigeons

Shoe Shine Man

Shoe Shine Man

Our new best friend that worked so hard to sell us some scarfs.

Our new best friend that worked so hard to sell us some scarfs.

A woman making flat bread at the restaurant we ate at while sitting on pillows on the floor.

As we sat on pillows eating dinner one night, this woman was making flat bread. I’m sure it’s for tourist…but it was fun to watch none the less.

Kebabs or Donner's.

kebab or Dönner’s.

A sweet young girl playing her accordian for money.

A sweet young girl playing her accordion for money.

A day of fishing on the bridge.

A day of fishing on the bridge.

Elivs is in the house!  I could have taken photo's of him all day...but he kept looking at me

Elvis is in the house! I could have taken photo’s of him all day…but he kept looking at me

A restaurant owner and his employee that became favorites of ours.  They definitly went out of their way to serve us...even giving us apple tea - on the house - just for passing by them every day.

A restaurant owner and his employee that became favorites of ours. They definitely went out of their way to serve us…even giving us apple tea – on the house – just for passing by them every day.

There are so many things that I come away with from our 1st visit to Istanbul.  Just thinking about how Istanbul was the center of the Roman Empire under Constantine who made Christianity the religion of the empire.  And now it is where Islam meets the west.  And how these Mosques that were once Christian churches, are now places of worship for the Islamic religion – it is a lot to process being a person of the Christian faith.

Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum.

Signs of where the Christian cross is bleeding through the Islamic covering

Signs of where the Christian cross is bleeding through the Islamic covering

Beautiful details.

Beautiful details.

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Beautiful mosaics uncovered and displayed throughout the Hagia Sophia museum. This one depicts Jesus enthroned – 11th century.

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A door that once had a cross was changed to fit a house of worship for Islam.

So I started this blog posting off with the title…”Facing my own….(fill in the blank)”.  Why?  You see, the things that hit me the most in going to Turkey, is how, again….being in another culture I am faced with my own.

#1: Facing my own Fears:   I realize I am a product of my own American culture.  I will admit that going to an Islamic culture brought out some fear. I think…in my opinion…we are a fearful culture due to past events in American.  Being in Istanbul, helped me work through this – I’m always thankful for having an opportunity to see things with new eyes.

Women coming out of a mosque after afternoon prayers

Women coming out of a mosque after afternoon prayers

#2:  Facing my own Judgements:  Even though I have seen women in their burka before…my thoughts kept focusing on these women.  As I watched one woman – in her full burka, sitting among tourists and among many other women with just their heads covered….I wondered what she was thinking.  Does she look out on other women, with condemnation or is she looking on with a desire to be more “free”?   Just this comment alone shows my own judgement and conception of what being “free” means.  To me, I see a form of oppression – my eyes can only look on the outside and  form an opinion.  I admit, I know so little of this religion and it’s people.  As I walk away from our visit to Istanbul, it has reminded me again how important our stories are.  How important it is to be in relationship with others, to learn from each other.  I may never fully understand these women’s lives and I may never even agree with it.  Yet to have an opportunity to sit with them and learn from them would be a true gift.

I have so much to still learn and experience.  Today I am thankful for the opportunity to be exposed to so many different cultures!

Learning something new every day!

I love everything about this photo! I’m excited about the color, the shadowing, and especially Liz – doesn’t she remind you of Shrek’s Fiona? Beautiful young woman! Most of all I love that I didn’t need to go to Photo Shop and fix it. I love it just the way it is!

Who ever came up with the idea of manuals?  I’m not a book learner and never have been. To sit down with a manual frustrates me. I’m an “on-the-job” learner and I’m ok with that. I’m a visual learner, I want someone to walk me through something, or a video or a class. Well this weekend…that has changed!

You see, a few years back, Brent bought me a new camera. A Nikon D80. It really was too much camera for me at the time, but I loved the feel of it. It felt like a real camera and I loved taking pictures with it. Yet I never have really been able to take it off the auto settings. Oh, a few friends have tried to teach me a thing or two, but mostly I really didn’t even know what they were talking about – like they were speaking a language I didn’t understand. As I continued to complain about my photo’s, Brent’s comments have always been….”You just need to read the manual”. This has never been a motivating comment for me.   In fact, I pretty much just want to scream back at him…”YOU READ THE MANUAL!”  I know…not a very loving thing to think, but it tells you how I really feel about reading manuals!  So, I continued to live with the frustration and knowledge, that my camera was built for something bigger and better than I was allowing.

So what does motivate me?  This weekend, I was asked by two families to take their family photo’s. I’ve done this before, even though I know I’m not a professional photographer – I’ve enjoyed the opportunities. Yet, I really wanted to improve on what I had done before.  So….I sat down and went on-line to a site where someone was able to walk me through every aspect of my camera. Well…to make a long story short….I LOVE MY CAMERA!  I can’t stop showing people all the little tricks I’ve learned.  How fun is this?  I still have a way to go, but I’m encouraged.

Wow…love the feeling of learning something and seeing the results of that knowledge.  Now if I can just put this into my language learning…..but that’s for another day!

An Empty Nest: A Fresh Beginning

Today I’ve decided to start a blog.  Why?  I don’t know..Perhaps because everyone is doing it.  Maybe it’s because I love to hear my own voice or I think my thoughts and perceptions are pretty darn awesome.  I realize I’m not a writer.  I have never considered expressing my thoughts through the written word a gift of  mine.  Yet, I love to process life and thoughts and questions through typing.

I decided to start today, because today starts a new beginning for me.  I am officially an empty nester.  What a weird word….most nests I see are empty.  Most have fallen and are broken apart, laying on the ground. Many I have seen have pieces of egg shells or feathers in them.  Some have pieces of paper, twigs, and hair holding them together.  They were a home…there was life in them at some time.  Yet I think most nests  are never meant to be long-term.

My baby has finally moved out of our home and is stepping out to make a life of her own.  This shouldn’t be hard for me…I have two other kids who have long gone.  Both are married and establishing their own homes  and families.  But there’s something very painful about the last.  If I am honest with myself…it probably has more to do with me than with her. She’s excited about moving on.  I’m excited for her….this is what we have worked so hard for the past 18 yrs to have happen.  We have given her, along with the help and prayers from so many others, the grounding to go out there and live life and live it well!  She was never meant to stay in our “nest” forever.   But this day has come.  After having almost 28 years with at least one, if not all three of our children in our home…it’s just Brent and me.

I sit here in Anna’s old room…cleaning it up, washing the sheets, moving furniture, etc.  From time to time its  gloomy outside and it’s quiet.  Today is a German holiday…Unification Day.  The day where East and West came together – no more wall to separate!   No business is open, no schools are in session.  Not many cars are driving through town.  It’s just me and the sounds of my washing machine.  I’m alone today.  Anna left two days ago. My parents had been visiting for a couple of weeks and they left this morning.  Brent is away for meetings in the Czech Republic.  I feel like this day, is the true beginning of this new season of life for me.  I wonder what it will look like?  I wonder if I will grab each day with excitement and childlike eyes?  I wonder if I will welcome this new time in my life with open arms?  I wonder if I will let fear and old patterns keep me from experiencing all that could be and should be?  You see, I’m not a very disciplined person.  I’m a dreamer…a visionary…a person of great intentions.  But I don’t always follow through, which makes me sad at times.  I don’t know what tomorrow will look like to be honest…..

It’s the end of the day now and I’ve  changed Anna’s room all around.  I wondered if  it was a good thing to do so early.  But it’s not her room any more.  There’s nothing of Her in here.  That sounds like she’s died…it’s not meant to, it’s just the reality.  It’s just a room. There’s no life in it.  There’s no pictures of friends and siblings.  There’s no poems on the walls, no maps of the world, and no elephants on the shelves. There’s no sketch books and leaves and notes from friends on her desk.   It’s hard.  I cry from time to time.  I will miss her here in this house.  Again, I’m excited for her…I’m just sad for me right now!

So like I said…it’s a new season in my life.  Cleaning a room and allowing something new to take place in this space is a picture of my life right now.  I celebrate the past.  I celebrate and remember what has brought me to this place.  I’m thankful for the years of “growing” my children.  They are a part of my flesh and bones.  They each reflect a little bit of me and of  Brent.  But even more so…they are now and will continue to grow into amazing men and women –  reflections  of God.

So at the end of  Day One of my blog….my thoughts….my heart….I await with open arms, dried eyes and a little bit of wonder for what’s ahead.  Tomorrow’s another day!