The Glories of Grey

Have you ever wondered grey or gray? I just discovered the spelling grey is more popular with our British friends, while gray is the more common American spelling. Fascinating.

So, I love color. And as thankful as I am for our beautiful home, it did not have much color when we moved in a year ago. Boy has that changed.

There is scarce a wall that has not felt my paintbrush. The latest to fall was our dining room, which I painted the most beautiful, most pure, delicious grey. I am so in love, I had to share.

This is the before (blah, brown):

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This is the after (velvety grey):

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Stunning, right?

And get this, Cody and I painted the whole room (except for right behind the china cabinet, which will take a miraculous feat of man to accomplish) in about an hour and a half. It was that easy and painless!

In case you’re wondering, the accent wall is Benjamin Moore’s Coventry Gray and the three other walls are Stonington Gray (one shade lighter on the paint chip).

The moral of the story is that painting a room makes a drastic difference, and it’s really relatively painless. Grab a friend and go try it out.

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My Little Lime Tree

I bought a lime tree!

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Those of you who know my history with gardening know this was a huge leap of faith for me. But you also know I really love limes (and all they can produce– limeade, Key Lime Pie, Cilantro-Lime Shrimp and a new favorite discovered in India called “sweet lime drink,” among others).

There is a little intersection in Florida, called Tangerine, located near my parents’ home in Mt. Dora. Tangerine is apparently the citrus capital of the state–they grow all things citrus. Oh, and avocado trees too.

One day we were driving by, and I knew I had to adopt a tree. The sweet man who sold it to me knew I was a newbie. Did I get Persian or a Mexican Lime? Persian is what you find in the grocery store, he told me. Mexican is a key lime. Interesting.

“I’ll take a Persian, please.”

“Produces from September to December.”

Ahhh! So far away! I wanted instant gratification, but in the end, I was willing to wait so that I could have my own stash of those beautiful little green gems.

Nurturing this little tree feels like nurturing my own soul.

I want instant results. I want to read a book and suddenly experience joy. I want to understand parts of how God has made me and immediately feel fulfilled.

I want to see my little tree thrive. I want to see it be all it was made to be and bear fruit abundantly. Just as I want the very same thing for me.

But I have to wait. Only until September for my limes (hopefully!), but how long will I have to wait to experience fruit in my life?

To be honest, I can see the sprouts. I see the new little blooms beginning to show their faces. . . but they are so delicate. I feel they could wash away at any moment.

On my tree, the new leaves smell gloriously like lime, but they have to be watched carefully. There is a worm that likes to plant itself of those new leaves and suck away their life. I have to care for them every day and prune away any leaves a worm takes over.

Kind of like my heart. It needs to be nurtured every day. Every day I have to sit with the One who can really care for me. And I have to be vigilant against the tiny worms that can often work themselves in and cause destruction. I desperately want to see my little lime tree flourish. I am longing for its fruit. Just as I am desperate for the fruit in my life that shows I am again flourishing.

Insalata con Pasta e Pollo

Well, after all that talk of India last week, I thought I’d shift continents and offer you another Italian recipe. We have fully embraced summer here in Orlando, and this is a great summer salad. 

 

1/2 C. toasted pine nuts
1 pd. (500g) of a short pasta (think farfalle or penne)
4 C. shredded chicken–sometimes I boil some on the stove, sometimes I just use the meat from a rotisserie-cooked chicken
1/2 C. diced red bell pepper
1/2 C. diced yellow bell pepper
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
2 T. drained capers (we like the smaller ones for this salad)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

Dressing:
1/2 C. olive oil
1/4 C. red wine vinegar
1/4 C. honey
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

Whisk dressing together and set aside.  Cook pasta in heavily salted water.  When al dente, drain and place in large bowl.  Immediately coat with the dressing mixture.

Add the remaining ingredients and toss well.  Can be served slightly warm, room temperature or chilled.

Buon Appetito!

India, Part Three

This is the last in a series of posts about our recent trip to India.

Once again, my life has been changed. I have listened to, prayed for, taught, hugged and laughed with dear brothers and sisters whose sacrificial lives could not help but humble this wounded soul, who feels I am trusting God for so, so little.

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India is a beautiful country in its collective longing for hope. Into every set of eyes I looked, I saw a longing to make life work. In most cases that hope came from karma or beads or industry. But in my brothers, the hope shines from the Light of the One who has called them. Their stories are just beautiful.

What is India like? It is the sound of dogs barking all day and all night. It is the piles of road that, having crumbled beneath the weight of the onslaught of new cars, are swept to the sidewalk and wait a lifetime to be cleared. It is cows, holy cows, walking down the street or feeding on the garbage on the side of the road. It is the sound of the Muslim Call to Prayer five times a day and the corner we pass populated with sheep and goats for sacrifice. It is the sight of temple after temple stacked between the fish monger and the hardware shop. It is people with beautiful brown skin, dark eyes and a longing for hope demonstrated in a thousand different ways.

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Could I offer what they most desire? Does genuine hope exist in my heart?

Joy suddenly fills me all the way to my toes. Yes! Hope exists in this heart! It’s been such a long season of trusting in faith that life will work out. I believed because I was suppose to, not because my heart was moved.  But now the trickle of joy is filling me. It is out of hope that joy springs. Both are bubbling in this heart that has felt numb for so long. . .

I will never forget the humility I felt in hearing our courageous brothers share their thanksgiving for the sacrifice we made to come and teach them. What sacrifice?  I would do it again tomorrow. Our friend Siju traveled for 42 hours–one-way–on train to be with us. Our friend Simon took a 17-hour bus ride from Bangladesh into India, where he took his very first plane ride to attend the training. For nine days, his wife and young son prayed for him, in his absence, and he made the same trek back home.

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Who I am that I get to serve God’s Body in this way? Who I am that I get to help our staff in India to have more resources to tell their countrymen about Jesus?

One day, we were out looking for a few trinkets to bring back for our kiddos. On a sheet laid on the sidewalk, a woman sold beaded necklaces and bangles for 25-50 cents. As we began talking with her, her daughter came to check us out. She wore what I am sure are the only clothes she owns–a dirt-covered sleeveless shirt and skirt two-sizes to be for her. Her hair was cut short, like that of a boy, no doubt a result of lice. Dirt covered her face, but her eyes lit up. She was perhaps six or seven, and she was filled with all the curiosity of any other little girl her age.

Her mom continues to work a deal with us, when a very unsavory man enters the picture. He sits down next to her and listens to every word of her challenge to talk four Americans into buying her bracelets made by hand. Is her her husband? Her owner? We talk about the injustice of human trafficking in the States, and we are rightly appalled. The emotion is that much greater when you witness the fear it brings a woman’s eyes when she knows she has no choice. It made me want to throw up. It made me want to grab this woman and her child and run. But I couldn’t.

I think that little girl will haunt my heart for years to come. I wanted to take a picture of her so badly. . . To honor her simple child-like beauty. To let her know someone cares about her life.

In the end, we had to walk away and return to the safety of the sparse little apartment provided for us. Injustice, gratitude, humility and mercy ripped through me.

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What is India like? It is beauty and rubble. It is worship and idolatry, riches and poverty. It is the wrestling between hope and despair.

That wrestling has left it’s permanent mark. I will walk differently with a heart that has looked into the eyes of both and longed for Jesus.

India, Part Two

As I shared before, I had never been to India. In fact, I had never been east of Europe.

On our way there, the most fascinating thing happened. We flew over Iran.

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Flying over Iran

I don’t know why I was so gripped for this country I was flying over at 35,000 feet, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the people below me. I gazed out the window as long as light remained. The land was filled with brown. Sand and hills were all I could see. Every so often, I would see the spots of buildings of some kind and wonder who lived there. Were Iranians having dinner? What were they talking about around the dinner table? What was their day filled with? What do their homes look like?

Iran would never allow me step foot in its country, yet I was flying over it, wondering what life was like for these people that appear so mysterious on the Nightly News. I wanted to understand, to picture, to empathize, to be weighed down with compassion.

Last year I took a developmental test called Strength Finders. My top strength was called connectedness. The StrengthFinders book says, “People who are especially talented in Connectedness have faith in the links between all things.  They believe there are few coincidences and almost every event has a reason. They are also inherently bridge builders between cultures and belief systems, segments of society, departments, business units, and cliques.”

At first, I could not see that. Heck, I didn’t even understand it. But now I do. My heart is burdened by the stories I know, and the stories I can only speculate on. It’s why I could not let go of wondering about the people in Iran I was so close to and yet so impossibly distanced from. They were made by the same Creator God who breathed life into me. He cares for them so deeply, and yet, there are so many barriers keeping them from Him.

I want them to know Jesus. I want them to know joy despite circumstances. I want each and every one of them to feel treasured by the God of the Universe.

35,000 feet might be the closest I ever get. Yet, as I stare at the land, the actual land Iranians walk on, pray on, become embittered on, I am again drawn to pray. I can not touch it, but as we fly over this hostile land, I pray God’s compassion over it. I pray that one day Iranians, in their own country, will proclaim the name of Jesus Christ as Savior.

India, Part One

* This is the first of a series of posts about our trip to India. It was life-changing. I hope you enjoy reading about some of what God did!

 

I am sitting in the Frankfort, Germany airport. There is a cacophony of languages around me, and I am fascinated.

I am on my way to India. It is not a country I have dreamed of visiting, but I get to go and help Indians to increase their skills in telling their countrymen about Jesus. I am 15 hours into our 25 hour trip.

My eyes are blurred with sleep deprivation. Words are not coming easily. My heart aches.

The first time I went to Italy, we spent seven hours in the Frankfort airport. I sit at a McDonald’s McCafe, maybe even in the same booth I sat in seven years before, and I think of how different I am from the young mom who took two kids overseas for five weeks and couldn’t look back.

There are five Phipps now. I have a few more grey hairs and a few more pounds. There are also places on my heart that have felt a pain I didn’t know existed. I feel more deeply now than I ever dreamed possible. I have learned that I want my life to be about nothing other than proclaiming the gospel–to non-believers, to believers, to myself. I have also learned that as much as I think I know the gospel, Jesus has more to teach me.

Seven years ago, I longed for a country’s salvation like I have longed for few things. I dreamed and pictured a life filled with a language I learned at 34. I believed I could do whatever I put my mind to and tenacity would win out. My life was simple, as was my faith.

Seven years later, I have grown up. I understand now the complexity of life and decisions and missions and relationships. My faith is deeper. I have trusted the Lord for so much more than I dreamed possible.

As I let all of these thoughts wonder through my head, I wish the result was a lessening of fascination. I only continue to dream of my life in Italy, however, and all I wish we would have seen happen in the name of Jesus. It drives me to prayer. What started seven years ago still grips me. It is evidence of the Holy Spirit, and so I participate in what He is doing. I do my part. I sit surrounded by countless nationalities, my eyes struggling to stay open, and I pray.

Off to India

I know we just got started here, but A Crazy Beautiful Life is going to be on hiatus for a week. I’m off to India.

I’m headed over to help some dear souls understand better how to get others to partner with them in telling their countrymen about Jesus. I’ve never been to India before, but if it’s like every other country I’ve visited, I will fall in love with it and the people.

The kiddo are having a staycation with Grandma and Papa, so you can pray for all five! I’ll see you back here on June 17.