Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Philippians 1:19-30

To Live Is Christ

Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

This passage of scripture is encouraging to me for a lot of reasons.

"My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better."

I know that in reading this that God loves my mom and his plan is for her good- however contrary to her present condition that may seem. It is better for her to be with Jesus, waiting in heaven for the new creation, than to suffer now.

"Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death."

Even though this is the darkest period of my life so far, Jesus will be glorified in the midst of tragedy.

"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ,"

The gospel means that all things, even my mom's imminent death, will be redeemed. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead, so he will one day raise his followers. This beautiful promise allows believers to be faithful until death; it should also motivate me to live a holy, righteous life in the present.

"For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,"

It was through suffering on the cross that Jesus defeated sin and death and purchased our redemption. It is through the church's suffering in the present that this grace is applied and that the gospel spreads. Our faithfulness in suffering speaks to the validity of God's promise.

This passage of scripture doesn't answer all my questions. It doesn't take away the pain I feel in my heart when I call her and hear the life escaping from her frail body. It doesn't take away the loneliness that I feel when I think about my mom being taken from me.

But it is beautiful and it gives me hope.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Today I went to the Mısır Çarşısı with my photographer/guitar teacher friend Numan, where I bought a cezve and some freshly ground Türk kahvesi. Numan asked me to pose on the steps of the famous Yeni Camii (New Mosque), which was pretty cool and scenic until I got attacked by a flock of Hitchcockian pigeons.

Back at the house Numan taught Seth and me how to make Turkish coffee. Pretty pumped to have trans-continental barista abilities now.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Riding the Third Wave

thuis BARISTA koffietour Londen from Coen Remmelts on Vimeo.

This video has been out for a while, but it's new to me. I wish this guy would shoot a video like this for every major urban center, but those going to/living in London should be glad that most of the best spots to get coffee have been featured in one trendy video.

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Material

There's a lot of quality music that has come out recently, but I'm particularly impressed by two releases. If I had to pick a favorite album of the year so far it would be The Wild Hunt by The Tallest Man on Earth. Amazingly, less than six months later Kristian Matsson has already released a follow-up ep . Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird features both the new and familiar for Matsson, whether it is his typical 3-finger cross picking or simple/bluesy strumming. Opening track 'Little River" and the new guitar version of "Like the Wheel" are the standout songs for me.
The second album technically isn't out yet. Readers of this blog are quite familiar with my obsession with Sufjan Stevens. From A Son Came, to The BQE, to even the obscure tracks he's never officially released, I'm in love with everything this guy puts out. But after reading the press release about his new album The Age of Adz, I was more than a little apprehensive about Sufjan abandoning a narrative approach to song writing, because let's face it, even if it's is genius, Enjoy Your Rabbit is barely listenable. Thankfully my fears have been assuaged by the first two preview tracks he has shared from the forthcoming album. Both "I Walked" and "Too Much" are ambrosial, electronic ear candy with all the eclectic eccentricities we've come to to expect from Sufjan. The expanded digital palette is a decidedly new flavor (previously hinted at in parts of The BQE and his cover of Castanets' "You are the Blood"), but it doesn't feel forced or unnatural. Most importantly, they're tracks I want to play over and over again- catchy but intricate enough to invite repeated listens.

Sorry for doubting you Sufjan. By all means, do whatever you want with music.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bike Istanbul

After six months of mentally debating it, I finally caved and bought a bicycle to ride in Istanbul. I bought this bike from the Bike Bazaar in Fatih. It's a mountain bike and it has gears, which makes it the polar opposite of the fixed-gear track bike I rode in the States (in fact, I am a little apprehensive that some of the fixed-gear only bike gangs I've rolled with in America are going to track me down and exact gangland revenge on me for betraying "the cause". I'm banking on the ability to coast down steep hills to evade them... and yes, I completely realize how ironic that statement is.) Anyway, it's a Whistle which is an Italian company but it is manufactured in Turkey which means I was able to dodge the 40% import tax on foreign goods. Plus it feels good to ride a Turkish-made bicycle in Turkey.

Seth (who also bought a bicycle) and I broke them in by riding from the Bazaar in Faith all the way to Bebek (with a detour in Beşiktaş up what is possibly the biggest hill I've ever climbed) then back down to Örtaköy from Bebek. Not counting the detour, it was over 15k. For those of you not familiar with Istanbul geography, it looked something like this (except contra picture we took the Galata Bridge).
Definitely feels great to be back on a bike. Prayers for safety in crazy traffic are appreciated.

Friday, September 10, 2010


My favorite source for English-language news about Turkey is Hurriyet Daily News. Although their editorials often come across as naive and pedantic and their sports coverage is comparable to CBS, they typically have a handle on happenings across Turkey worth promoting.

For example:

I was fortunate enough to see U2 last Monday. Shockingly, Bono had a lot of political things to say, mostly involving complicated names I'd never heard of (and speaking for the Turkish names involved- horribly mispronounced as well- even Prime Minster Erdoğan). Anyway, I was glad that Hürriyet evidently had a reporter on the case who was able to decipher all the obscure references. Bono even wrote the paper a letter after the show.

When I noticed at Istanbul's Forum shopping mall that an H&M was coming soon (much to my pseudo-hipster excitement)- I wasn't surprised when I discovered Hurriyet had already run a feature about the trendy-but-affordable Swedish fashion retailer.

Also, the best Türk Kahvesi I've yet to have drunk is from Mandabatmaz, which is tucked away on a tiny alley off Istiklal Caddesi. How did I discover this gem? The Hürriyet sponsored food blog Istanbul Eats.

So thank you Hürriyet, that I can stay informed about contemporary events in my country of residence with only an elementary understanding of Turkish. That being said, don't be afraid to work on your sports coverage.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Finca Los Andes

From Cartel Coffee Lab:

Finca Los Andes
Juan Jose Ernesto Menendez

1700 Meters
70% Red Bourbon, 25% Orange Bourbon,
5% Kenya and Typica
red wine - cherry - dry
Santa Ana, Apaneca-Ilamatepec
El Salvador

This farm only produced four bags for the entire year, and we have procurred the only two to make it to the US! From the same farmers that have many great coffees like Alaska, La Illusion, and La Suisa, comes one of their new offerings from the same mountain. With this balanced cup in hand, you will notice a red wine dryness, coffee cherry flavor, and a pleasantly dry finish you might expect from a great cabernet. Please enjoy responsibly! (Buzz not included.)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Back in the 'Bul

Istanbul'dayım. Or for my non-Turkish speaking readership, I'm in Istanbul (I love how in Turkish entire sentences can be captured in one word.)

Kissing my mom goodbye was incredibly difficult, but I am very thankful for the week I had with her- especially all the stories we told and the scripture we read. It's incredibly hard to return to a telephone relationship after a week of being able to hold her hand or kiss her forehead.

As much as a blessing as it was to return to Arizona, and as much as I wish I could stay with my mom indefinitely, it is amazing how returning to Turkey feels like a return to normalcy. Over the past six months this city really has become home- that's not a switch you can turn on or off. It happens gradually and when you're not paying attention.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

There and Back Again

Mom and Dad needed me to take care of some important business in Heber/Overgaard a few days ago. Traveling time alone that's a 6 hour round trip, but I was grateful to have some really good company.

Julie and I listened to Brothers by the Black Keys all the way through at least 4 times, an apt soundtrack for one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in the US.


So thankful to have time with my parents. Also, so appreciative of all the friends and family members that have served and sacrificed for us in this time.