through the lens

You guys know how much I love writing about finding God through beauty! I mean, it’s the basis for my blog after all! But what I just keep coming back to over the years, is how present and close I feel to God in the natural world.

I can’t get enough of the sights, smells, and wonders that come with the passing seasons, diverse landscapes, plentiful plant and animal species, weather patterns, sun rises and sun sets.

It’s in these moments that I feel close to God. How can I forget his love when it’s literally painted across the sky, the sea, the fields, the stars?! God doesn’t waste a moment trying to win our hearts and remind us of his steadfast love.

So today I wanted to share a few photos that reflect those times where I felt the immense power and beauty of God, the divine Artist.

Lemon tree in the Angelicum garden in Rome, Italy. Perfect moment.
Prairie sky after a little evening rain. Even a little rainbow if you look closely!
Exploring the city of Heidelberg, Germany brought us to this incredible path leading us to a gorgeous look out point!
Dreamy sunset with colours that melt my heart!

All these photos and more can be found on my instagram account theauthorofbeauty! God bless and keep delighting in all that is truly beautiful…

Sweet Scotland ūüŹīů†Āßů†ĀĘů†Ā≥ů†Ā£ů†Āīů†ĀŅ

Hello Again!

Today is a different “style” of blog post, because I’m not writing about any specific topic, but rather letting you in on a few moments and photos of my time in Scotland!

During the trip, I really felt my spirit being lifted as I soaked in the magical feeling, historic beauty, and stunning architecture of Edinburgh. I couldn’t stop saying “this is soooo pretty” or ” I need to take a photo of this”.  I was like a little girl again, enjoying all the sights, smells and moments, no matter how small or insignificant they were!

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Following the river through the city was one stunning view after the other!

Then today, I heard a podcast all about how we ought to marvel and wonder at the beauty of creation! We are lifted and filled with joy when we see the world around us like children again. Children aren’t over serious and bound by their schedules. They are free to enjoy, laugh, jump, sing and shout as they truly live, wonder and delight in each new day.

One of the women on the podcast shared a quote by G.K Chesterton and I think it’s incredibly profound, especially for our time when we’ve become “too busy” to rest, to watch and to wonder:

“We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders”

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Oh just a castle in the middle of the city.. no big deal!

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The gorgeous view from our apartment.

I must say, I will definitely be going back to Scotland (hopefully again soon) and I  recommend traveling to Edinburgh for anyone who is looking for a holiday destination!

Even though I’m back to rainy Berlin, I’m going to try and keep this attitude of child-like wonder in my heart. I think it’s such a great way to see the world and people around me. How do you wonder and marvel at the world around you?! Have you experienced something beautiful today that made you stop and stare, something that spoke to your heart, or something that gave you joy?! Please share below : )

 

sunshine for the soul

It’s amazing what a few weeks with family and beautiful scenery can do for one’s spirit! Visiting the Rocky Mountains was definitely a highlight, as I had never been before. Driving in, I could hardly focus on the road because the view was so breathtaking! I had to actively remind myself to keep my eyes on the road!

After crawling over a few rocks, we worked our way to the “front seats” and soaked in every minute of this view:

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Although the million and one tourists behind us were snapping photos, taming wild children, taking wedding photos (complete with dog) renting canoes, and jumping in the ice cold lake, I was captivated. I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off of this masterpiece. Here, God’s beauty and gifts to us were so tangible. I wanted to stay there forever. It was so apparent that God had his hand in this creation. Who would want to leave a place like that?

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Our Father in heaven has crafted this place, simply to bless us. It’s not just in the mountains we find his beauty. It’s in our families, our friends, the woods, the flowers that bloom, the song that speaks to our heart, the campfire that dances, the gentle gesture of a stranger, the authentic laughter of a child.

Getting away over the holidays was a much needed reminder that God is truly present in his creation. He wants to encounter and speak to us there. We don’t have to be in the Rocky Mountains to receive this gift. I think it’s about an openness to beauty. How can we see the beautiful creation that is already near to us? And how can we create spaces and places that are beautiful?

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” Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who have pleasure in them. Full of¬†honour and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures for ever. He has caused his wonderful works to be¬†remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful” – Psalm 111:2-4

Timeless Masterpiece or Masterpiece of the Times?

 

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                            Leuven, Belgium

Reasons for Travel & Exploration:

Adventure (entering the unknown)

Diverse cultures, religions, foods

Meeting new people & communities

Developing broader world views

Seeing beautiful landscapes & architecture 

 

Let’s open up that last point for a moment.¬†When in Europe, I was often shocked by the amount of breathtaking architecture, churches, pantings, mosaics, cobblestone streets, statues, fountains and stonework. The amount of¬†manual labour required to create¬†these masterpieces, is hard to imagine. These men and women would spend their entire lives perfecting their trade. Some would spend decades on a single piece. What dedication to their work. What a vision for beauty.

In North America, we have a instant, one time, throw away mentality. We design, create and produce for efficiency and short term use. This is extremely evident in the way we mass produce clothes, cars, appliances, houses even. We want to get the best price, so we compromise for quality. We compromise for beauty.

I would go so far to say that our culture, especially the North American culture, has really robbed itself of beauty. In our hopes to make financial gains and the latest findings in technology, we lack vision for the future, for what is breathtaking. A church is better to be white, plain and simple then to waste money. A shirt is mass produced to be sold at low prices. A car is made to last for 15 years not 50.

I think it’s worth while to consider the way we ¬†view material goods, creation and beauty. Pope Francis has written the Encyclical, “Laudato Si” about the environment and the current status of our world. He really urges us to care for the globe, to care for one another. Not to become a die hard tree-hugger, but to really ask ourselves if we care for the generations ahead? Are we only able to see what in front of us, or do we have a vision for whats to come? Do we spend time investing in the masterpieces of the times? Has the latest technologies, the cheapest investments, the fastest means for growth and gains consumed us? Or, are we striving to create and foster a culture of¬† timeless masterpieces? Do we invest in people, in the ancient trades and traditions, in the practices that are humane and community oriented?

Generations have gone before us, modelling this culture of beauty. When we look at the cobblestone streets, the museums filled with historic artwork, the churches filled of marble and gold, we get a glimpse. Perhaps this is what draws us to travel. We are drawn, like a magnet to these places of beauty. We desire a culture founded upon human connection, authentic dedication, genuine efforts and a vision of beauty.

“Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years. Yet we are called to be instruments of God our Father, so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness” ( Pope Francis, Laudato Si # 53)

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                         Czestechowa, Poland

Even If Just For One

It’s been a long day at the office…well, actually I don’t have an office because I travel for work. In fact, my trusty Toyota Yaris is pretty much the closest thing I have to an office right now. I spend a significant amount of time in there, driving to different communities and schools. It also serves as a closet and sometimes a fridge…in fact, I have three pairs of shoes in there¬†at the moment. This, I blame on the winter because I’m forced to have comfy driving boots, dressy boots for teaching and then a couple other pairs for good measure… however, ¬†for the empty coffee cup and granola bar wrapper: no excuses can be made there.

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                      The Road Ahead

This year I took a position with a local organization that presents on chastity education for students in grade 6-12. I travel all over the province giving presentations on how to respect and honour our bodies, how to have healthy and positive relationships, understanding who we are and the purpose of sex and marriage. The list could go on and on. I am so blessed to have this opportunity to speak with hundreds of young students and open the doors for this conversation.

There are many responses to this kind of job:

  1. ” Do they actually buy into that stuff?” (which is a comment I received this afternoon in the staff room.. so when I said it was a tough day in the office, I wasn’t totally kidding!)
  2. ” Is this sex-ed?” (often what students ask me when I enter in the classroom. I explain that¬†our presentation has a¬†different perspective. So kind of yes, but kind of no)
  3. ” That’s wonderful, it’s a message that kids need to hear” (a really refreshing and positive approach)

To the lady in the staffroom this afternoon, I explained to her that:

  • The program is well received by most students!
  • I don’t pretend that chastity is easy, or even the popular message BUT I definitely tell them that I wouldn’t be talking about it, if I didn’t believe in it
  • Students deserve to hear this! Often times, they only hear the “safe-sex” approach, when they are free to choose another lifestyle such as chastity. High school students¬†are not destined to be sexually active.¬†It’s possible that no one told them about this before

Now, I was inspired to write this post, because as I said it was a difficult day in “the office”. I had a lot of students skip the class when they heard what it was about. In the end, I had 7 students remaining. I won’t deny that I felt an surge of disappointment as I saw the empty seats in the room. However, I continued to speak with the students who were present. After the presentation was done, while they were filling out their evaluation forms, I remembered I had some starbursts (candies) in my bag. I knew there were a few left, but checked to see how many. As they wrote, I went around the room and passed out a candy to each student. Turns out, I had exactly enough for each student. No less. No more. I even had one for myself.

On the drive home, I found myself asking ” What am I doing wrong? Why are the students not attending? Are we missing something here? I was getting close to despairing, when I realized something. Even if I drove out all this way, through the snow and the fog (literally) ¬†to reach one student, it would be worth it.¬†I was so struck by this thought. Take for instance the candies. It’s not just luck that I had the exact number of candies, it was providence.¬†The seven students attending today, were supposed to be there. It didn’t matter that 3/4 of the class bailed! ¬†It was still a huge¬†success that I had 7 students in the room. Seven more hearts who could hear this message and hopefully be touched by it. Honestly, even if I had one kid stay for the presentation, it’s worth sharing.

Turns out after reading those student evaluations, a few of the responses were incredibly positive and touching. There was an openness to this message of chastity and renewed chastity. I think today was so beautiful, for it helped me re-evaluate my criteria for “success”. Of course, I want the students to stay, hear and participate in the presentations.¬†However, if I speak to 1, 7 or 700 students,¬†I will give the presentations with hope. Hope that this message¬†may speak to them. Hope that they grow in respect and love for who they are.

 

Fly Birdie Fly

imageRecently, I took a trip to British Columbia over the Christmas Holidays. With a new adventure on the horizon, I was ready to take on the day. Mid morning¬†I strolled into the airport, breezed through security and found a spacious and comfortable seat at my gate. While waiting, I noticed¬†my senses were overloaded¬†with the airport buzz. Watching travellers board and exit the plane,¬†hearing the suitcases zip zipping, smelling the Tim Hortons beside me, holding and sipping my black coffee… it was bliss. Or so I thought.

Flight 163 Saskatoon-Calgary: DELAYED

As an avid traveller (or so I like to think), these are some of the worst words to stumble across in the airport. What’s more, is hearing the airport employee come on the intercom and deliver this sort of message, “ Your plane has not yet left Calgary due to a snow storm. They are currently sitting on the tarmac in Calgary waiting for takeoff. We will let you know when we receive any further information”. ¬†The click of the intercom rings through the silent terminal. I glanced around the room. Face are grim, children are crying, lights are flickering, and the storm rolls in… well, not exactly. The fact is, people aren’t happy with the news, but there is nothing to be done about it. Although we line up to speak to the employees, double check on our connecting flights, and ask questions we know are unanswerable¬†at this point… we try to control the situation.

This scenario above (I ended up missing my connecting flight… but that’s a story for another day) taught me an interesting lesson. I really had to reflect on what had just transpired. I found myself faced with two choices; 1. Get angry about the situation & sulk 2. embrace the extra airport time. Now in all honesty, I chose option number 1 for a few minutes.. but once I realized that was going to ruin my day, I transitioned to choice number 2.

What struck me was this; so often do we try to control everything in our lives. We want to plan everything. Know the outcome of our choices, our decisions, our relationships, our futures. We wan’t to take control of simple everyday tasks because we think we know the best way. We often refuse help, or deny others the chance to get involved, simply because¬†of our fixed visions.

Sitting at the gate, amidst my fellow passengers, it was evident that there was no way around this. We were stuck in the Saskatoon airport with no departure time in sight. Not only were we at the complete mercy of the Calgary storm, but we had to wait until the pilot was given clearance to take off, the flight time, the landing, the cleaning and the boarding of our passengers.

This moment was an incredible reality check for me. To remember that there are so many aspects of our lives that we can’t predict.¬†A lot of our life is about letting go, making sacrifices and being open to different paths! Things could change in an instant and we truly need to be thankful for the moments we are given. They are a gift. In this frame of mind, things don’t have to be so upsetting either.¬†Life is a beautiful adventure. As I have heard it said many times before, we need to ” let go & let God” (insert Disney Frozen song here…). It’s about learning how to surrender to the lack of control, the chaos, the adjustments and the surprises. I honestly think life can be a whole lot more joyful, stress free and authentic when we can actually do this!

So here’s to a crazy airport disaster (if I had a glass of wine I’d raise my glass) turned into a beautiful moment of gratitude and appreciation for the moments I have been given.

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Here’s a great photo I captured from Instagram.. super difficult to do, but definitely possible with some divine Help!