Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Conversation Worth Having

I have been having an ongoing conversation with multiple friends of mine lately and I know I am not the only one having it. It is a conversation worth having in my opinion. So bear with me here as I begin to blog through an incomplete and unformed thought. The topic is broad and varies but ultimately comes down to two things: relationships and sex. In a society that is all consumed with all of the above how does a twenty something live a life without either?

"Don't have sex. Just don't do it!"
I come from the "true love waits" culture. A culture that I believe has skewed mine and many others idea of relationships. By listening to sermons, reading books and having conversations about not having sex and guarding your heart we have done just that and more. We have guarded our hearts all right. We have built a wall so wide, so tall and so strong and we did not stop there. We then placed guards all around it so that no one could get in! Why? Well because we were told that we must guard our heart because if we don't we will probably have sex because all men want one thing right? SEX! Well I am beginning to think that might be a lie. I don't discount that men are sexual beings but I would argue that men want more than just sex. Our society has made women think that men just want sex and I would go as far as saying we have even made men think that all they want is sex! We are all human beings and we all want relationship. We were created for relationship with each other. We want to be loved, cared for, touched, heard, protected. And now we have twenty somethings (women in particular) yearning to be married and complaining that they are not but too afraid to let their wall come down and I am one of them! Don't hear me saying that we should teach our teens to have sex and not to guard their heart because that is not what I am getting at. I believe that those are good messages to preach but I do think that we need to teach women what it means to guard your heart while being open. Open to all sorts of possibilities-not just to love. Which brings me to my next thought....

"What are we waiting for?"
True love waits. Lady in waiting. While I'm waiting...Our church culture has a lot of us thinking that we should spend out life waiting for something. The only thing I remember reading in scripture that we should be waiting on is Jesus' return. I don't even remember God telling me to wait on my true love or to wait on a husband. I understand the concept behind these thoughts and phrases. The problem I have begun to have with them is that we have ourselves convinced that our life will begin, we will be happier, life will be easier (whatever it may be) once whatever we are waiting on arrives. This could be a husband, a wife, a new home, kids, weight loss, a new job, etc. Why are we waiting to live our lives? Again, I am preaching to myself. For the longest time I was trapped in this cycle. I was waiting for a man to come along to marry me. My life would begin then but I was not open to any men because I was "guarding my heart" which really just translated to "back off buddy" which placed me right back at square one of waiting.

I don't have all the answers. All I know is that I am done waiting and I am going to work on dismissing my guards and bringing someone in (Jesus) to tear down the wall blocking--I mean guarding my heart from feeling anything because I just don't believe that is how God intended us to live.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Finals Days

Well I went an entire three weeks blogging in Italy except for the last two nights. The last two nights we did not have internet in our rooms and well, honestly I was a little too tired to even think about blogging anyways.

The end of our trip was wonderful, much like the entire thing. We got up early on Thursday morning to get ready. The owner of the bed and breakfast we were staying in brought us our breakfast to our rooms. Mom and I sat at our little table next to our window that over looked Potenza  and enjoyed our crossiants and coffee cake. Shortly after we made our way into the historical downtown to do some more sight seeing and browsing of the shops. Potenza is where my great grandma's family is from. Since this is my Grandma's mom we let her decide how she would like to spend our time. We took a lot of pictures and people watched most of the morning. The town was so cute and there were many older couples walking the streets. The men were all dressed up in their suits and ties, walking with their hands clasped behind their back; they would stop and chat with one another along their walk. Mom and I did our best to snap shots of them without being ovbious but I am pretty sure we stuck out like three sore thumbs. We stumbled upon an old book store that had a book that contained history of Potenza. My mom bought it and then the owner of the store gifted her with a free cook book. After that we found ourselves in a jewelry shop. The jewelry was beautiful and all original. After much looking and much debate we all three bought a cross to put on a chain. I feel so blessed to have a cross that came from my great grandma's town. I will remember her and this trip every time I wear it. The ladies that owned the shop were so friendly, much like the bookstore owner. After we bought our crosses one of the ladies showed us upstairs. In the rooms upstairs were all their jewelry and original products in glass cases. We viewed them, wishing we could buy everything we saw. Once we made our way back down to the front the lady had three little gift bags for us! Later we found out inside was a bracelet for each of us!! This same lady walked us over to the county building to talk about records and to get more information on Potenza. We were running out of time so we did have time to look through any records but we were able to get some books and pamphlets on Potenza. All in all we enjoyed our short visit to Potenza. I would have liked more time there but that's okay, it just means I might just have to make another visit there one day.

Ceilco (Calabria)
On the road again. The drive from Potenza to the Calabria area was only a few hours. Calabria is a large area. My great grandpa's family was from a small town called Ceilco. We were unable to find a place to stay when planning our trip so we were staying in a town called Cosenza which was about 15 minutes away from Ceilco. While the GPS was an amazing tool that we could have never gotten around without, it also took us on some wild and crazy routes. Our drive to Cosenza was one of them. The owner of our B&B in Potenza told us which way to go on the highway but then the GPS (that we named Gilda by the way) told us to go another way. We felt like we should listen to her since we did not have any other directions to follow after getting on the highway. It ended up being such a beautiful drive. It was out in the country through the hillsides. However, it also meant curvy, high roads and bridges that hung over the mountains (my mom's favorite). It's too bad she was driving because she did get to enjoy the scenery as much as my grandma and I did. It ended up only being about 20 minutes out of our way and in my opinion it was worth it. We arrived in Cosenza and right away missed the country. Cosenza was busy and brought more crazy Italian drivers. I owe my mom for driving because it is not an easy task. There are one ways all over the place, four way intersections without any stop signs and did I mention crazy Italian drivers who LOVE to honk their horn? We were a little skeptical of the area that our hotel was in but once we got settled in we saw that it was not bad. We talked with the man at the front desk about Ceilco. We wanted to find out exactly how far it was and if it was easy to get to. He told us it was not too far and that he lived there! I love the way God works because this man helped us so much! He called his friend, Alfredo who works in city building to have him look up documents on our family for us and then he set up a meeting with him and us for the following morning! Once we got our plans in place for the next day we made our way to the main strip for some shopping (what else could we possibly want or need right? oh, you would be suprised with this trio of women). We mostly browsed and killed time until the Italian dinner time of 7:30pm and then like most nights, we were the first people to be seated in our restaurant. Dinner was fabulous. I had spaghetti pasta with tomato. It has to be the easiest thing to make. I can't wait to try it when I get home. It is just olive oil, garlic, sweet basil and roasted cherry or grape tomatos over a plate of spaghetti. DELICIOUS! Like every meal, I ate the entire thing and enjoyed the house wine with my mama and grandma. It was a perfect evening. 

Our last day in Italy.
We started our day early. We wanted to make sure we had plenty of time in Ceilco before we had to make the 5 1/2 hour trek back to Rome. I will say that I am looking forward to something else for breakfast than pastries, croissants and cappuccino (crazy I know). Once we got into town we met Alfredo. He was such a kind man. He had already pulled all the documents on my family, including the marriage license for my grandma's grandparents! He made copies of it all for us. We met the Mayor and he suggested we go to the streets of my great great grandma and grandpa's old residence. Alfredo took us on a small journey through Ceilco. Trust me, itt is small! It only took us about 15 minutes to see it all but it had character to it. It was of the most special moments of the trip, seeing the streets of my relatives. Their homes are no longer there. They have been torn down and unfortunatly it seemed that most of the original town was not preserved. My great great grandpa lived on a street that now houses some apartments for the residence. The Mayor's mom lives in one of them. We took some photos and met the people that live around the area and then made our way to the street where my great great grandma lived. Her area is now a small narrow alley with buildings (probably homes as well) on either side. It was emotional and a special time to try to imagine them running around as kids on those very streets before they married and moved to the States. Alfredo then took us to his place to see his bed and breakfast (we told him we would have stayed with him if we would have known!) and to see his art. He is an artist and has his art displayed in his B&B. He gave us some resources such as a book on the history of Ceilco and a free copy of his book of art as well. We also purchased a copy of a panoramic photograph take of Ceilco in 1950. My family would have been long gone by then but it was still a nice thing to own for my mom and my grandma. After our trip with Alfredo we did our own exploring because it was still early and we wanted to have lunch in the town before we left. There was a little market selling some clothes and fresh food but other than that not much else to see. We walked by the one and only restaurant a few different times to see if it was open. There was a group of old men sitting outside chatting the entire morning. The one man asked in his broken English if I like to eat! I rubbed my belly and said, "I LOVE TO EAT!" He laughed and said he likes to sleep. They were cute; I was so intrigued at all these older men sitting around or walking around lazily on a Friday morning without a care in the world. Ceilco is much different than the other places we visited AND much different than back home!! We sat in a near by caffe while we waited for lunch. The cafe was run by a young couple. They were so cute! They made us our drinks and gave us a free plate of cookies. We began to talk to them and they said they were getting married next year and that after that they wanted to open a Italian cafe in the States. We told them about our family heritage in Ceilco and found out that they guy had Cardamone's in his family which is my great great grandma's maiden name!!! We were probably related in some way. Maybe he is a distant cousin of my grandma. We exchanged names for facebook and told them to look us up if they ever moved to Colorado! We walked over to the restaurant to have lunch finally (again, the first to get there). I had a delicious pasta with mushroom, olive oil, garlic and fresh sweet basil. I know it was fresh because I watched the chef walk out of the restaurant to the market across the street and come back with the sweet basil! I doubt that happens much in the States. It was a wonderful last home cooked meal and a wonderful time before we headed back to Rome.

The drive to Rome was long. It took up about 6 - 6 1/2 to get there and once we did we were all exhausted. Thankfully my mom thought ahead and had booked us at the Hilton airport location. The hotel is connected by a walkway to the airport so it makes it easy to get to. Also, connected is Hertz so dropping off our rental car was easy as well! You can probably guess what we did first in Rome. We took a taxi to the mall!! We wanted to make it back for a day to see the Collesium but it just was not possible with all that we wanted to do so I guess we figured the mall was the next best thing....? Mom and grandma had an item or two they were in search for plus we wanted to walk around after being in the car for so long. We ate dinner late in our hotel. They had a restaurant open until midnight so we enjoyed our last meal and our last wine in Italy late that night before heading up to our room to shower and pack up. 

We did not get to bed until about 2am and our alarms went off this morning at 6am but we all got up and got going. We did not have much choice I guess. Overall, the airport experience was not too bad (thus far-we still have two airports to visit before making our way back to Denver). We arrived a little over two hours before our flight took off with little to no time to spare. We did however have enough time to enjoy one last gelato outside our gate and then it was Arrivederci Roma!

We had a two hour flight to Germany. That airport was a bit crazy. We only had 15 minutes to get to our connecting flight and we had to get our passports stamped. I went into a different line from mom and grandma thinking if mine moved faster they could jump in with me but they both moved at about the same pace. I saw mom getting her passport stamped a couple people before me and so when I finally got mine stamped and crossed over to the terminals I thought she may have already made her way with Grandma to the gate. I looked for them and did not see them so I took off. Once I got to our gate they were loading and my mom and grandma were nowhere to be seen. I began to panic. I thought they must still be waiting for me so I ran back but could not find them anywhere. I made my way back to the gate and started to see if I could have them paged when I felt a hand on my arm. It was them. My poor mom and grandma got up to the counter to have their passports stamped and were told they were in the wrong line! They had to go all the way to the end of another line. I know they must have been freaking out (as was I!). But alas, we were all together again and boarding on time for our 7 1/2 hour flight to Canada. 

This is where I leave you readers. I am on the flight now. We stop in Canada where we have to get our luggage and catch a connecting flight to Chicago and then finally home sweet home-Denver, Colorado.

Until then-Arrivederci!