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I haven’t been writing about my thoughts and questions about GOD lately.  I’ve struggled to find the words to use.  I’ve started countless posts only to trash them a few sentences in because the words that I was typing were not really the words in my head.  I felt like all I could do was take a long, deep breath and wonder, “will I ever be able to figure this out?”  For a large part of my life “figuring this out” meant finding the correct doctrine so that I could know the “right” things.  I think that holding this view was really misguiding.  As “correct doctrine” became my focus any understanding of GOD in a relational sense was pushed out of focus.

During my time away from the church I have been trying to relearn about GOD.  This hasn’t been a very easy process.  My understanding of GOD was so intertwined with my understanding of the church and orthodoxy that any negative aspects of the church would be reflected on GOD.  So I’ve stripped away my understanding to a few things in hopes to discover GOD in a relational way.  At this point if you were to ask me what I know or think about GOD my answer would simply be, “I think GOD is selfless, unconditional love.”

Earlier in the week I had a thought that centered around this thought.  If you have spent much time in an evangelical church you may have heard of the book “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman.  If you haven’t heard of the book, let me offer you a quick synopsis: Love, as we express it, can be understood in 5 different ways-Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts, and Acts of Service. We often use one or two of these “Love Languages” as the ways that we express love to each other as well as the way we receive love from others.  Sometimes conflict can occur simply because we don’t understand how the people around us are expressing their love.  As an example, say the way that I offer love is through Quality Time yet my wife receives love through Acts of Service.  I may assume that by offering my time to be with her is a loving thing, but for her, she may not feel love until I vacuum the house. Understanding Love in this way can help us show and receive love.

So when I was taking the puppy for a walk earlier in the week I had this thought that I need some feedback on.  If GOD is love than GOD encompasses all aspects of love and the reason we operate out of only one or two of these five “love languages” is because we are aren’t living in the wholeness we were created to.  (this is using the assumption that Dr. Chapman’s book is true and there are only 5 expressions of love.) After thinking about this thought for a while I started to wonder if we, as humans, assume that GOD loves in only one or two of the five languages?  Some people only think that GOD loves them if they are receiving “gifts from GOD.”  Their view of GOD’s love is limited to whether or not they are being “blessed.”  Other people speak of feeling “GOD’s touch” as an affirmation that they living in communion with GOD.  I wonder if we gravitate towards an understanding of GOD that shows GOD expressing love in the way we tend to receive it most OR we don’t feel GOD is expressing love because we don’t see it in the ways that we receive love.

When I read through “The 5 Love Languages” I learned that the way that I receive love is through Words of Affirmation.  This is what the website has to say about this language: “Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, ‘I love you,’ are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.”  This leads me to wonder if my struggle with understanding GOD comes from is that when I think back on life I don’t remember times in my life when I heard, from GOD, that I was valuable or that I was GOD’s son.  I long to hear these words and no amount of “blessings from above” will make me feel loved by GOD as much as hearing these words will.

What do you think?  Does this line of thought about GOD being the completeness of love make sense?  Do any of you feel like GOD isn’t expressing love to you in the way that you naturally receive it?  I posted a link to the 5 Love Languages website above.  On the site you can take a short quiz if you’d like to understand your own love language.

Peace.

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I posted this over at Field and Table, but I thought that I should post it here for those who don’t make their way over to that blog.  It’s called “Stepping into Private Catering.”

Two weeks I received a phone call to see if I would be interested in catering a businesses open house.  I spent four years cooking in a professional kitchen as an assistant chef.  Two of those years I managed the kitchen operations for the catering requests the restaurant would receive.  I love to have cook for people and teach people how to cook.  But I was surprised to get this phone call because I’ve never done any private catering on my own before.  It’s one thing to prepare a meal for 8-10 people; it’s an entirely different thing to prepare hors-d’oeuvres for 75 people.

I’ve had the opportunity to cook for this business owner before, and I knew that they wouldn’t ask me if I was interested unless they were happy with my ability to cook.  This couple recently purchased a coffee and paper house and are having the open house to welcome back some of the locals that the previous owners scared away.  The new owners wanted to have some festive hors d’oeuvres and cookies to serve during the open house.  I told them that I would think of a few menu options and get back to them.

Two days later we settled on the menu:
-Spanakopita triangles (traditional spinach/feta as well as wild mushroom/blue cheese)
-Cranberry Cheddar meatballs
-Baked Brie
-Hummus and crispy pita chips
-A simple cheese platter
-Cookies (fresh ginger, espresso-chocolate shortbread, chocolate chip, and another variety I have yet to decide on)

I feel really good about the menu.  I wanted to have foods that people will be able to eat easily, without utensils, as they walk through the store and mingle.  I was also trying to offer a few special items- handmade spanakopita, meatballs with a holiday twist, a baked brie, and my favorite shortbread cookies.

This past Tuesday was the open house.  Lauren made up a business card design for me to have available on the tables.  I wasn’t really sure if I could handle doing many catering gigs like this on my own, but we decided that it couldn’t hurt to have my information available if people were interested.

The evening was a success for the new owners of Longs Peak Coffee and Paper House.  My guess is that they had well over 100 people in their shop during their two hour open house.  I received many sincere compliments on the food and in fact, a few people went out of their way to track me down and offer their appreciation.  Cooking for that environment reminded me how much I love to cook for people.  It reminded me of how much I enjoy preparing food for others to enjoy.  Here’s hoping I have another chance at it.

I wrote this in 2006 when I was using a different blogging platform.
[info from worldaidsday.com]
1981 had the first documented case of AIDS (then referred to as GRID). “Around forty million people are living with HIV throughout the world – and that number increases in every region every day. In the UK alone, more than 60,000 people are living with HIV and more than 7,000 more are diagnosed every year. Ignorance and prejudice are fueling the spread of a preventable disease.”

if you’ve spent much time online today i imagine that you’ve seen something or another about (red). it’s something Bono helped get started. you buy things from companies who are (red) companies and part of the money they make from your purchase goes to buying medicine that can help people with AIDS. i think this is a great idea. i like this idea because it plays on the consumerist nature of our culture. it’s like saying, “all you have to do is keep spending money and you can help people.” this is the type of cause that the US can get behind. it takes no commitment, other than having a red phone or t-shirt, and it’s a really easy way to feel good about helping other people. “i really want to help people, so i bought a t-shirt. now whenever i wear it i’ll remind myself how i helped someone else. i’m such a good person.”

i realize that i might come across as annoyed, but that’s cause i am. why is it that we need to receive something in return to help someone else. i often find myself saying that it’s not about what i’m getting in return, it’s about helping a particular person or cause. but when i get stopped by the waist-high cub scout, standing in front of King Soopers nervously asking people to buy popcorn for $15 a box instead of buying the same amount of popcorn for a fifth of the price inside, why don’t i just hand him the money and tell him to keep the popcorn? instead i take my box of popcorn home with me and complain about how the popcorn wasn’t even worth $15.
i get the feeling that (red) is playing off this psychology. for some reason, people wont give money to people in need unless they get something in return. shame on me. me, who believes that all i have is a gift from GOD. me, who says he trusts that GOD will provide all i need. how did i get here?

for the whole of my life AIDS has been a part of the world. i want to be a part of helping AIDS loose the devastating power it has had over the world for the last 25 years. i want to do something. but i want to do more than buy a GAP t-shirt. i want to be with people. i want my life to touch theirs. how do i do this with where i’m at in life right now. is there anything i can do beyond buying stuff? what do you think?