A Perfect Love Story

So this is the first time I’ve written a blog post from up in the air in an airplane… But this post has been a long-time coming. For a week now I’ve been meaning to start writing this post, but as life would have it, things have delayed its creation until now. I have been wanting to write about this topic since several weeks ago when my church in Barcelona, ICB, started the series: “Redeemed – A Journey Through the Book of Ruth.” While I had always known there was a book in the Bible called Ruth, I wasn’t familiar with the story at all really. I’m happy to say I now feel well-versed in the small, yet mighty book of Ruth and wanted to share some awesome stuff with yall.

So the book of Ruth starts with Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, and their family as they move from Bethlehem to Moab. For those of you who are also lacking in extensive Bible knowledge like myself, here’s the Spark-notes version: Naomi followed her husband and two sons from their home in Bethlehem, where there was famine, to Moab in hopes of a new start and more prosperous life. This is significant because they were leaving behind God’s land and trying to go it on their own essentially. Also noteworthy, the people of Bethlehem generally held Moab and Moabites in a negative light due to the history of their lineage.

After some time in Moab, all we know is that Naomi’s two sons married Moabite women, and both of her sons and her husband end up dying there. So Naomi is left with her two daughters-in-law and that’s about it. Especially back in this time, this would have been a pretty destitute situation. Hence, Naomi urges the two women to go back to their families in Moab and there they can attempt to re-marry and have a good life still. One of the daughters obliges Naomi’s request and bids them farewell before leaving to return to her family in Moab. Ruth, on the other hand, says no. Despite all of Naomi’s prodding, Ruth is resolute in her loyalty and commitment to sticking with her mother-in-law. It is here that Ruth uttered the well-known verse of “where you go, I will go; where you live, I will live.” As Naomi explains to her that she is planning on returning to Bethlehem, Ruth goes even further by saying “your land will be my land, your God my God.”

And so as the two women make the journey from Moab to Bethlehem, we learn about how Naomi wants to change her name to something that means, literally, bitter. As our Lead Pastor, John Carrano, said during service, “This was big. That’s like going through a rough patch in your life and deciding to change your name to Failure.” Moreover, both women were dealing with their own unearned disgrace. Naomi came back to Bethlehem basically like a dog with her tail between her legs. She felt ashamed of what had become of her life, though what happened was not her fault in the least. Hello unearned disgrace. Then we have Ruth, who has to deal with the unearned disgrace of being a Moabite, a foreigner.

I bet a lot of people can relate to these women who were working through shouldering this unearned disgrace, right? With all of the labels and quick-judgments of today’s world, most of us have experienced some unearned disgrace by this point. For example, the fact that I didn’t end up going to an Ivy-League university caused unearned disgrace to fester within myself for a good amount of time. That disgrace was certainly unearned, but man it was heavy. But let’s get back to the good stuff…

Ruth and Naomi are settling into a new life in Bethlehem. Ruth goes to the fields to try and gather the leftover scraps of barley. She soon finds herself in the field of a distant relative of Naomi’s, Boaz. Boaz had heard of Ruth before he met her in person, for the story of her unfailing loyalty to Naomi was hot news. Upon their meeting, Boaz shows favor on Ruth for these reasons, and invites her to continue finding food in his fields and to work with the other women there. Suffice it to say, Ruth was shocked at his favor and kindness.

So as the time passes and barley harvest goes to wheat harvest, Naomi eventually prompts Ruth to approach Boaz… (The women were hoping to be redeemed by a male relative of Naomi’s husband. This was the only way they would possibly have a prosperous future, restore the legacy of Naomi’s family, and ensure land for future generations). In Chapter 3, Ruth presents herself to Boaz with the utmost humility, and in response Boaz promises her their redemption.

Then in Chapter 4, Boaz follows through with his promises and goes through the ritual of asking the man who was first in line to redeem them (technically). This man declines on hearing that Ruth is part of the deal, and so Boaz and him finalize the arrangement with Boaz promising to redeem Ruth and Naomi (aka he’ll marry Ruth, restore their family’s land to their late husband’s last name, have a family, etc.). Towards the end of Chapter 4, we learn that Ruth and Boaz have a son, and in the end their family’s lineage leads to King David, the greatest King Israel ever knew.

My favorite thing I learned from the Book of Ruth is what ICB’s other Lead Pastor, Brandi Carrano, introduced as “HESED” – this Hebrew word does not have an exact English translation, but means compassionate love, loving-kindness, and love in action. Hesed is also said to be a vertical action, as in God shows Hesed to people, and then from one person to another person – as Hesed is also a reciprocal action. Hesed is mentioned 248 times in the Old Testament; it is through Hesed that people are redeemed and legacies are rebuilt.

I like the idea of Hesed because it goes in stark contrast with lots of modern ideals, such as self-interest, self-pity, greed, and so much more. I can’t recall now if it was Brandi or John who said this, but this really spoke to me: “If we can’t take our eyes off of ourselves, than we cannot be agents of redemption.” Showing love, compassion, and interest in others isn’t always easy, but it’s what we were created to do. God redeeming us is the most beautiful love story of all time. And even better, it’s a love story that has no end. Today, tomorrow, or the next day if you posture yourself towards God and humble yourself at his feet, God will show you Hesed. I guess overall, being familiar with the Book of Ruth has made me feel quite lucky and reaffirmed by belief that our God is for us.

In other news, I miss Barcelona and all of my friends there! But I am very happy to get to spend some time at home with my family and friends here. This last weekend was a whirlwind of activity but I loved it! Although I am currently suffering from serious allergy problems here, it has been so great to spend time with the people I care about most. More on my time in Lincoln to come…

 

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Enjoy the Ride.

The last few weeks have flown by! In between Valentine’s Day and now, I have observed Lent, gotten more into my ICB Community Group, and had my last week nannying for Ferran’s girls, Mar and Clara. All last week the new nanny, Mateja, shadowed me as we got the girls all ready and off to school and then the PM routine as well. She’s from Slovenia, and seems sweet and capable; it’s definitely bittersweet, though, to see that chapter close.

Whether flying solo, with our gal’s small group, or simply meeting a friend (Hannah) for coffee, I’ve also continued trying new places and continue to fall in love with most. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m relatively easy to please, or if it’s that there are innumerable cute spots with great food and drink. Whichever the case, I am now a big fan of Oma Bistró and Caravelle.

Oma Bistró (c/ Consell de Cent, 227) is a bright, open, trendy spot as of late that’s located in Eixample. While I’ve only personally tried their original coffee (the “Stumpy” – a twist on a flat white), I’m looking forward to tasting their cheesecake, craft beers, and myriad brunch offerings. Sadly, the name does not have anything to do with Omaha, I asked; rather, Oma happens to mean “grandma” in German.

Caravelle (c/ Pintor Fortuny, 31) is an Australian owned homey café in Raval. I finally crossed this place off my to-try list when I met Hannah there last week to catch up over coffee and talk social media stuff. Our waitress was super nice and friendly (turned out she was from Miami), and I ordered a chai latte while Hannah opted for the standard café con leche. Not after too long, though, they brought out freshly baked strawberry and ricotta cheese muffins. Needless to say, we had to share one. It was heavenly… arguably the best muffin I’ve ever had. Lovely spot in general –definitely recommend!

Juicy Jones (c/ Hospital, 74) is also located in the heart of Raval. Juicy Jones, in terms of the physical space, is covered in bright, attractive murals from floor to ceiling. A juice bar and vegan restaurant with reasonable prices, Juicy Jones is sure to please the masses. I am not entirely sure what I ended up ordering but it was green and bubbling and delicious.

I already posted about my calçotada experience, which was delightful and I would love to do that every weekend. Staying with my Lent intentions has been good, though some days quite challenging. The hardest one by far has been to work on my blog daily, which if you’re unfamiliar with blogging, actually requires a substantial amount of effort and work. Especially when I got a cold/flu thing last week so that has been extra fun!

Preview for this week: an upcoming post on my take on the chapter of Ruth, Mexican send-off dinner with my awesome community group, meeting Hannah’s best friend who’s in town for the week, watching Dylan and baby Ryan a few last times, gift shopping, and packing!

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A Beautiful (Creative) Mind

Recently I read a wonderful article on Canva’s blog, called “10 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently.” Written by Andrew Tate, the article outlined ten examples of how creative people function to the beat of their own drum in order to foster the success of their artistically inclined work habits. I identified to the entirety of the post and wanted to add my two cents to Tate’s take on the matter…

  1. “They create a custom work routine and stick with it” — True. Personally, I am a night owl and function well later in the day. Just being awake before 8am is still a struggle, let alone high-level thinking, creating, or decision-making. Since living in Barcelona and not having a 9-5 work schedule, I have definitely realized that I am more productive and can focus better on the task at hand if I follow the flow of my work process, as opposed to saying “okay from 9-12 I’m going to write and that is final.” You just have to figure out what works for you and do it!
  2. “They can recognize their worst work, not just their best” — As Tate detailed, “highly creative people are often easily bored” and can “often be the world’s most willful procrastinators.” Amen to that brother.  Hence why we create specific routines to make sure we stay on task and ensure focus.
  3. “They have a healthy appetite for new experiences” — Citing Einstein as a prime example of someone who sought out various ways to satiate their creative diet, we’re reminded of the importance to seek new avenues for artistic and imaginative expression. There are innumerable ways in which one can express their creative side, whether it be fashion, art, performing, the written word, design, cooking, wood-working, etc.
  4. “They know what they don’t like” — Tate spells this one out for us: “…they don’t like to follow pointless rules and will often try to circumvent rules they don’t think they need to follow.” Definitely guilty there. There are few things that eek me more than an utterly pointless rule that us regular folk must follow. Give me a break.
  5. “They take risks, and they fail” — In general, we know that successful people (across the board) see obstacles as challenges to overcome and opportunities to push themselves forward. That goes along with the idea that failure is inevitably part of the journey, or in this case, creative process, and you simply must continue onward, as Elizabeth Gilbert would say.
  6. “They aren’t afraid to daydream” — I totally related to this one… I mean how can you see the potential of something or imagine what something could be without some good daydreaming? Tate explains by saying: “Daydreaming is just allowing your imagination free rein within your brain.” I often find that my best moments of inspiration arrive whilst letting my mind wander. I also related to this one in the sense that I am very much so a person who thinks for fun; I love an intense game of Boggle or Banana Grams.
  7. “They take in the world around them” — This one just spoke to my soul… “Curiosity is paramount for a highly creative person… Personal experience is important as well.” New experiences = new/ more inspiration. Writer’s block is a slow, grueling death. At the end of the day, people want to read a good story and what better way to do that then to get out there and experience something new, then relay it back. This blog would not be possible if I didn’t new things and therefore have new things to share.
  8. “They have confidence” — Here Tate makes the point that most people have a substantial creative capacity, it’s just that they’re held back by a lack of confidence.  Moreover, it boils down to having the ability to trust yourself, believing you’re on the right track, and being determined. The other side of this coin, is that highly creative people know that they are sometimes their own worst enemies. Aka when you shoot yourself in the foot  by waiting to do something to the last minute or letting your anxieties run wild and cloud your mind. Personally, I have found that I work (and more specifically, write) better as a deadline approaches because I trust my ideas and just let it flow out in hyper-speed.
  9. “They aren’t afraid to ask questions” — Again – curiosity is key! Asking questions and being open to constructive criticism is a non-negotiable in the creative process. Let others help you if you’re struggling getting those stagnant creative juices flowing. Often times just utilizing a different perspective or hearing a new angle can solve any problem you’re facing.
  10. “They follow their dreams” — Duh, of course they do! Follow your passion and make your creative pursuits happen. That’s the beauty of living a creative life – though perhaps difficult, it’s guaranteed to be fulfilling. I feel at my personal best when I’m actively creating.

 *Original article by Andrew Tate via Canva’s blog

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Flax & What?

Calling all health nuts… in Barcelona that is… You guys if you haven’t tried Flax & Kale yet, don’t walk – run! Located in a sunny corner spot on Carrer de Tallers, Flax & Kale has quickly become a healthy restaurant staple in Barcelona’s Raval area, and the city at large for that matter. They’re proud to be a “Healthy Flexitarian Restaurant” and they boast the impressive stat of having an 80 percent plant-based menu.

Yesterday at mid-day, Hannah, Susan, and I stopped into Flax & Kale to quench our thirsts after perusing Raval for future outreach opportunities with ICB. Hannah ordered a cappuccino, while Susan opted for one of their cold-pressed juices – the “Virus Killer” (see their drink menu here). I gave into my sweet tooth with a “Healthy Frappemocha” – yes that is the actual name – which consisted of almond milk from Teresa’s Juicery, house-made cold-brewed coffee, coconut, ice, dates, and raw cacao. It was delicious and is pictured above on the right. To top us off, Susan treated us to the “Sandía a la parrilla” aka delicious grilled watermelon with goat cheese and sweet mint sauce; ’twas all together delectable and entirely fresh!

Next on my list to try there would include the Açai Healthy Bowl, Roasted Carrots & Avocado Salad, and any and all of the cold-pressed juices. So next time you’re in Raval, stop in and experience the good-for-you tastiness that is #flaxandkale.

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But first, café(s)

Although I didn’t even like the smell of coffee until college, I have since come quite a long way; nowadays I almost always have at least one cup in the morning and then often times another after lunch (and/or siesta). Now don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not a coffee snob nor addict, I just really enjoy a steaming cup of joe in the winter and an iced coffee in the summer.

So, I wanted to share a list of my favorite cafés in Barcelona – some are more noteworthy for their artisanal coffee, others for their seriously scrumptious baked goods. Also, just so we’re all on the same page, in Spain the norm is a café con leche (coffee with milk)…

Cup & Cake –> You guys. Cupcakes… need I say more? In my humble opinion, Cup & Cake has the best cupcakes in Barcelona. Tucked neatly into Enric Granados Street near Diagonal, Cup & Cake serves up over a dozen different flavors of fresh cupcakes daily, plus some delicious lattes to boot! Especially recommend the crema catalana, Kinder, Oreo, and Nutella cupcake flavors.

Lukumás –> Greek-owned bakery that makes amazingly yummy Greek donuts in a wide variety of flavors, shapes, and sizes. Originally, their lone location was in Gracia, though now they recently opened a second shop in Raval. Some highlights: blueberry glazed donuts, huge cinnamon rolls, hot bagel sandwiches, and to go coffee + free Wi-Fi.

Molika Café –> Such a good underrated spot near the Plaza de Tetuan, Molika Café offers the ambiance of a neighborhood café plus an impressive selection of fresh juices, cakes, quiches, coffees, sandwiches, and your more standard bakery items. Personal favorites include the fresh pressed apple, orange, carrot, and ginger juice and their Americanos.

Fav juice + media bocata
Fav juice + media bocata

Granja Petitbo –> A short distance from the Verdaguer metro stop, this high-ceilinged space fills up during peak hours of the day and whatever you order here is sure to please the senses. Add free wi-fi, trendy décor, affordable prices, and delicious locally sourced food and drink and you can see why Granja Petitbo is a BCN gem!

#tbt to your classic café con leche
#tbt to your classic café con leche

Satan’s Coffee Corner –> What once was a stall inside a bike shop has since moved to the heart of the Gothic Quarter in a light and airy space of its own. Despite the name, Satan’s is a very hip(ster) café that’s proud of their lack of Wi-Fi, chia seed puddings, and high quality coffees. Menu changes daily. Personal favorite: chai latte (2 euros).  

Chai Latte + an orange scone (if I remember correctly?)
Chai Latte + an orange scone (if I remember correctly?)

Federal Café –> Located in the cute area of Sant Antoni, this Australian-owned café offers a full menu of tasty treats served in a modern yet cozy two-story corner space. Federal highlights – comfy window seats, free Wi-Fi, friendly service, coffee made with fresh milk and delicious avocado toast!

Mendieta –> This Argentine bakery /café is an underrated gem of a spot for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and of course coffee and traditional mate. Usually busy, Mendieta offers a daily spread of Argentine baked goods like media lunas, facturas, bizcochos, alfajores, and cakes. Located near the Encants metro stop, they also make amazing sandwiches de miga, empanadas, and a mean dessert coffee. Don’t forget mate to go!

Media ulnas with dulce de leche !!!
Media lunas with dulce de leche !!!

Honorable Mentions:




Related articles that might interest you…

10 lugares para leer y tomar un café en Barcelona

LUKUMAS, DOUGHNUT SHOP, GRÀCIA

TARANNÀ, CAFE & BAR, SANT ANTONI

BRUNCH & CAKE, AMERICAN, EIXAMPLE

SATAN’S COFFEE, 3RD WAVE COFFEE, EL BARRI GÒTIC

From Seed to Cup: The Third Wave of Coffee Culture in Barcelona

TOP 5 CAFÉS – LetsBITEBCN