Thursday, February 20

More than Religion

I was sitting at Starbucks this week during my lunch break and while I was setting up my laptop, I couldn't help but overhear the conversation of the two men behind me. The two men were probably in their late-50s, dressed nicely with salt-and-pepper hair and definite strong Southern accents. There conversation immediately peaked my interest because it was clear that they were talking about God and church and religion. I was trying to untangle my 'tangle-free' headphones and they just kept talking about their church, which happened to be a particular baptist in town. One of the gentlemen said  "..that was a great moment for our neighbors, because they are from all sorts of different churches, but none of them are as good as ours" I was stunned. 

They went on talking for another 45-minutes about how their church was the best church for x,y,z reasons. I half listened to the rest of their conversation as they gossiped about the members of their congregation and it became obvious that these two men were somewhat "high up" in their particular church. It was a perfect example of why people are so turned off by Christianity and church; they see the legalistic rules they have to follow, they witness the gossipy members and hear the judgmental comments by their Christian neighbors, co-workers and friends. 

Being a Christian isn't about the church you attend or the denomination you qualify yourself, it's about your relationship with Jesus Christ. 

These two men had lost the true meaning of being a Christian. They had gotten caught up in the titles and and legalistic thinking of 'the church'. But that is not how God intended for it to be. God loves all and wants all to come to Him for healing, peace, worth, forgiveness and love. It truly does't matter if you're a baptist, lutheran, presbyterian, nondenominational or whatever 'church' you attend; He just wants you to know Him and His full heart and plans for your life. 

Thursday, February 13

Snow Day Adventures

That anticipation. Wondering if the call will come in. Fingers crossed. Finally 6am rolls around and the call comes, work is closed! What a glorious phone call!! I don't think I have been this excited for a snow day since high school. Snowpocolypse was here and the world appeared as it was coming to an end; good luck finding a loaf of bread within a 5 mile radius. 

So what does the Traveling Cupcake do on her snow day?
1) Snuggle with her puppy (after doing an intense flexibility Pilates workout: note the fun rebounder in the background) 
2) Be amazed by God's creation, covered white with snow
3) Bring the puppy out in her cute pink snow coat and watch her explore this new world
4) Help your brother shovel your car out of the garage 
5) My favorite thing: bake bake bake.

I haven't had a chance to create a stock pile of gluten-free, healthy snacks for weeks it seems so I took this opportunity to spend a good 6-hours in the kitchen food prepping for the weeks ahead. Here's just a few highlights from the day: 
Blueberry Bark
Protein Peanut Butter "Cookies"
Rice Krispy Treats...okay these aren't actually that healthy, but they are Gluten Free :) 

Seriously, spending time in the kitchen is one of my favorite things! I also made a GF chicken and asparagus stir-fry, meatloaf for a later date, peanut butter protein cups (healthier version of a Reese), homemade granola and I may or may not have broken down and made chocolate pudding...but I won't say.
Jack had a friend spend the night so I spent the rest of the night hunkered down watching every great movie out there: You've Got Mail, The Holiday, Notting Hill, Father of the Bride I & II, and of course Pride & Prejudice... while enjoying a glass or three of Pinot Grigio, hey it's gluten-free!

I hope you all enjoyed Snowpocalypse 2014 and had just as great of a day as we did!

Saturday, February 1

Adventures of the Traveling Cupcake: Spain & Portugal

Wanderlust: a very strong and irresistible impulse or desire to travel the world. 
"You do not travel if you are afraid of the unknown, you travel for the unknown, that reveals you with yourself" 

And just like that, a whirlwind of a trip has come to an end and here I sit in a squeaky airport chair waiting for the last leg of my journey home. Time can pass so quickly, it's so vital to savor every moment you have and fully experience every morsel of an experience: the taste, the smell, the feel, the electricity. 

Spain was my first stop, Madrid to be exact. With little Spanish under my belt I managed to navigate the tube on my own, figure out where to get off, get to my hotel and check-in all before 10 a.m. - I was rather pleased. The rest of the day was spent exploring historic Plaza Mayor and the surrounding areas. The streets of Madrid were cool and crisp, little old men sat smoking their pipes outside of their spice stores, couples dotted benches and monuments completely enthralled in each others presence; what a scene from a movie. Fountains and statues erected to long-forgotten warriors graced every street. Tiny little shops were stuffed with sangria, spices, fresh meat and wine. For the next four days my friend and I explored the nooks and crannies of Madrid from the Royal Palace to solemn cathedrals to street markets and wine cellars. The heartbeat of Madrid was apparent at night, life began around midnight with endless bottles of sangria and the intoxicating beat of salsa music loomed in the air. I literally danced the night away.

A plane awaited to whisk us off to our next adventure. A quick hour nap and time change brought us to Porto, Portugal. The city had the strangest mix of historical significance and modern day destruction; gorgeous historically significant buildings had been completely abandoned, terrorized by years of taggers and homeless generations. The town felt old and decrepit yet eerily luring. All I wanted to do was get lost in the catacombs of destitute little shacks that people lived in and capture the images of reality. A gorgeous town on the ocean, forgotten and yet completely modern at the same time. Moss clung to the old churches and a dampness clung to you no matter the hour. The lure of Porto drew you in and mesmerized you by it's quiet story. 

The train lurched past the ocean at brilliant pace. The journey to our final destination had begun. As we zipped along the Atlantic Ocean was a feverish pace, I couldn't help but be enthralled that I was sitting on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The waves were huge and crashed on the jagged shoreline. Unlike our smooth and salty shores of North Carolina, Portugal was jagged with rocks and pebbles. Three hours after departure, we arrived in a sunny haven- Lisbon "Lisboa". A complete juxtaposition to Porto, Lisbon was bright, modern and sunny. The city had a level of sophistication and class, our particular street was dotted with every store a girl could dream of: Prada, Burberry, MAC, Longchamp, Kate Spade, oh and the list went on and on. Just a short 5-minute walk out of the bustling modern city brought you into brightly colored neighborhoods of lime green, hot pink and yellow. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it was breezy and sunny and invited you to get lost in the vibrant world of Lisboa.