Peace for Artsakh!

Preparing and serving food feels so much like a prayer. Please help stop the attacks in Artsakh. If you can, please text PASSAGE to 52886 to send a prepared letter to your state rep. It’s so easy and takes only three seconds.

Even though most of this food is Jerusalem-inspired, I couldn’t help thinking about my Armenian friend who is very upset about the violence in #artsakh so I made and dedicated this food to my friend and the Armenian people suffering tonight. *Armenian string cheese is represented and I ordered an Armenian cookbook today to do this right with my whole family. #artsakhstrong

The book of Ecclesiastes

The absence of God leads to a life of vanity & vexation. This is the main theme of Ecclesiastes. What are we filled with when God is absent from our souls? Ego, pride, vanity—the ‘self’. When we are consumed with ‘self’ all we produce and put into the world is filled with ‘self’ and therefore false. Without God we are empty vessels with no foundation, empty because anything we put in our vessel falls right through the bottom and we spend our lives hastily trying to fill it up again with no success. I have watched people spend their lives this way, and any mention of God makes them laugh. God hasn’t yet touched them, and they have not yet touched God. It is a mutual reaching out. I like to think of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel when I picture this union.

Ecclesiastes is a special book to me because it began my deeper journey with God. It was the moment God reached out for me, woke me up and unlocked the door on which Christ was perpetually knocking my whole life. You see, it all began because I had a dream. A woman came to me and told me to read the Bible, Ecclesiastes specifically. It was a profound dream and it changed my life, because I listened to the woman, I read Ecclesiastes the next morning and the rest of the Bible too. And now I write these posts for the public as evidence of His calling. Christ is always knocking, waiting, calling. It is the person who listens for His voice that gets called. Those who volunteer themselves for His work and pray: ‘I am listening. What is it you’re calling me to do? Use me as you wish for good in the world.’ Then listen carefully with the ears of your soul and watch carefully with the eyes of your soul. Then make use of time to discern what you are hearing & seeing is truth, denies ‘self’ and promotes love. If it does all of these then act on that nagging notion, because God is calling

Seventeen Lost Stories of W. Somerset Maugham

Catching up with my old friend today, Mr. W. Somerset Maugham. His short stories are just as entertaining as his novels. This is a collection of some of his earliest work.

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Today I read The Punctiliousness of Don Sebastian. “The duke and his wife, who was not his duchess, lay side by side on a bed of carved alabaster; at the corners were four twisted pillars, covered with little leaves and flowers, and between them bas-reliefs representing Love, and Youth, and Strength, and Pleasure, as if, even in the midst of death, death must be forgotten.”

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Of Whales and Men by R. B. Robertson

Of Whales and Men by Dr. R. B. Robertson is a creative nonfiction piece written in the 1950s about the whaling industry and the “psychopaths” that work on the factory ship for 8 months out of the year–every year. Dr. Robertson dubbed all the whalers psychopaths because they chose a life away from civilization, to the furthest ends of the southern seas, to the Antarctic and the South Georgia Islands to catch whales—a very smelly occupation. “You won’t get to know us, doctor, in the short time you’ll be with us,” he cautioned me, “and, when you come to write about us, it will be very easy to make us out to be a mob of half-crazy malcontents whose only aim in life is to see the bottom of every whisky bottle. But try to give a fair report on us, even when you come to tell about our boozing. After all, though the kirk and the owners and the folks at home say we drink too much, we bring the wales back to them.” –Old Burnett: Whaler (Of Whales and Men by R. B. Robertson; 1954)

I really enjoyed this, apart from the killing of whales—that was hard to stomach—but the men on the ship were an interesting lot. Thanks Dr. Robertson for giving us such rare glimpse of a (thankfully) deceased era. Below is my review on #goodreads … I don’t understand why the other reviews are just so-so?! Maybe I’m strange? I absolutely loved this creative nonfiction piece! …To the point that I didn’t want to put it down, especially toward the end. I found myself excited to get back to the sea with these whalers as they all became like beloved characters in a classic fiction novel. I would highly recommend. The content is interesting and mysterious since so man on earth, hopefully, will ever experience adventures in legal whaling again.

I found this copy tucked away in a damp, moldy basement during a local estate sale. I love seafaring stories and since this was TRUE, I had to read it. I’m so glad I did!!

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#whales #bookstagram #bookstagramer #bookshelf #library #writersofinstagram #writer #write #read #readersofinstagram #reading #sea #alfredaknopf #ofwhalesandmen #booksandloststories #authorsofinstagram #booklover

The book of First Kings

I have no authority to teach you, these are only my own contemplative thoughts. You might disagree and that’s OK. .

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So they wanted a king, eh? Ok, give them a king.

And so, the Israelites got their wish. They rejected God as their king and asked for a human king. These human kings committed mistake after mistake(because they are not perfect), and it made me want to pull my hair out reading both first kings and second kings, because these guys witnessed some of God’s greatest miracles but then would reject God soon after. How could they do this?

It would be so easy and here’s why, and this is where my philosophy comes in: this ‘world’ is a heavy place—literally we are pulled by its gravity, held captive by it in many ways. We are getting heavy doses of worldly, secular stuff every day which keeps us tangled and confused. God will hand us a miracle today, but tomorrow we forget when someone cuts us off or a neighbor does something irritating. This is why the journey with God, completely and wholly without influence from the world—the place btw that lives and breaths around us and where most of us only see with our human eyes and the place we must move in daily—can be so difficult. We must try to see beyond the cloudy ether of this world. So, I almost sympathize with the terrible kings in these books, I too have been like them. The way with God is a way of constant discipline and much praying in silence to sometimes only receive silence in return. However, I think the key to setting ourselves free from worldly captivity is to establish a routine where we spend some time with God each day. Designating a time for you and God to be together, have coffee, talk, contemplate, just think about Him each day ( but try not to leave him completely behind, let Him remain in the back of your mind, carry Him with you) and watch the miracles unfold. At the very least (which is everything) it will lead you on the path to His gift of inner peace and joy. You’ll see. 🙂

The Book of Acts

“Because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of Jesus.” —Acts 8:16

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Like most babies I was baptized a couple months after I was born. Was this so I didn’t go to purgatory or hell if I were to die? Or was it just for tradition’s sake? I don’t know. I’ve always felt God was close to me since I was little—like a trusted friend I could tell my problems to. But it wasn’t until I worked the soup kitchen at a church in Detroit recently that I really felt baptized in the Spirit. God went from living outside of me to living IN me in one day. I’ve been back to the soup kitchen every month since. Christ lives with the suffering. If you want to see Him, feel His presence, experience the Holy Spirit, go be with and help the suffering. Any living sufferer will do—this could be nature, animals, water, humans—Whatever touches your heart and makes you weep, but try to see God’s face in your work. For me, I found that my soul is drawn to the homeless. Search your heart for your calling. God is calling for your REAL baptism this way. The lay theologian, William Stringfellow, once said, “care enough to weep.” I will take this a tad further and say IF you care enough to weep, maybe you’ve found God’s call for you. And that is the voice of the Holy Spirit which lives in all of us. Awaken it! .

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The book of Hebrews

“As has just been said, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” -Hebrews 3:15

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In the verse above it is referencing Deuteronomy where the Israelites rebelled after they heard the voice of God. Sometimes we do this too. We hear a voice or He guides us—we feel His hand on us but we deny that it is His hand or His voice or that miracles still exist. Then the touch dies away or we get caught up with the things of this world and we forget He is there waiting for us to listen. This verse is telling us to listen this time and not shut the voice out.

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#bibleverse #biblejournaling #christianity #religion #episcopal #episcopalchurch #hebrews #bookstagram #book #bibliophile #bookphotography #writers #writersofinstagram #readersofinstagram

The book of Joshua

I have no authority to teach you about these stories, you might disagree with me and that’s OK! 👇👇👇

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I enjoyed reading Joshua. It’s filled with action, and I especially loved the story about Rehab the prostitute, an unexpected hero in worldly terms.

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In this book, Joshua takes the reins after Moses dies and leads the Israelites on the rest of the journey to conquer the promise land. They are able to do this if they keep God close. He will help them achieve their freedom. Much like what I spoke about last week in freedom from whatever may be oppressive in our lives, but now Joshua must finish the job Moses started. We are called to teach our children (younger generations) well to remain always with a sense of what freedom means and how it can be achieved: with God’s help or living in the Spirit of Love and mercy. We do not need to lean on our “parents” forever as someday we will have to be responsible for our own beliefs and actions and discern whether or not what we’ve been taught is even good or right.

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#bible #biblejournaling #christianity #bookshelf #library #booknerdigans #readersofinstagram #writersofinstagram #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #religion #jesus #catholic #episcopalian #episcopalchurch

The book of Deuteronomy

I have no authority to teach you about the books in the Bible. You might disagree with me and that’s OK. 👇👇👇

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“Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordon to posses.” -Deuteronomy 11:8

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In Deuteronomy we hear from Moses himself about the journey into the promise land. But if we take this from a symbolic viewpoint, we see that he is telling that the journey is hard even for the ‘chosen’. Hardships and sacrifices will surely come when we decide to truly follow a holy path—not perfect, but living in the Holy Spirit, recognizing God’s presence in our own being. People will try to make ‘war’ against you when you live this way, because naturally you will become a more gentle and tender person. They might not think you’re fun anymore. They may try to make you feel like you’re lame or boring because you won’t join in with the gossip or masochistic recreation (whatever that may be; little acts of hate can damage the soul). We might have to kill many relationships that are damaging in order to truly follow a new clean path and live in the Spirit—“the land that we are trying to possess”. We may have to cut ties with relationships that may be unheathly and fight against what we’re trying to obtain in a clean mind, body, and spirit. We may have to cut ties with those who fight against a new ‘us’ even if it means cutting ties with parts of ourselves.

#bookish #bibleverse #biblejournaling #bible #bookphotography #bibliophile #christianity #love #episcopalchurch #episcopal #church #reading #writing #writingcommunity #readersofinstagram #writersofinstagram #bookstagrammer #bookstagram #book #reader #god