Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Zaharas Come to Portland!

Last week Robert and I drove to Portland to see our cousins Nick and Julie. They were up from Phoenix to see the city, visit the vineyards and scope out the housing situation. Although it was a little hard for Nick to get around town with his broken foot (what a sport!), we had an absolutely FABULOUS time!!! We tried some really great restaurants: Henry Weinhards (over 100 beers on tap!), South Park (very French - very classy), and even this cute vintage breakfast place called Mother's, which I think poor Nick and Julie ended up going to 3 times in 3 days:)

On Thursday we drove out to the wine country and visited about 5 vineyards. We tasted delicious Pinots and more delicious Pinots, and eventually ended up eating lunch (after drinking lunch) at the Dundee Bistro around 4 pm!

While Nick and Julie slept in style (and comfort, and peace and quiet) at the downtown Marriott, Robert and I opted for an "adventure" - we slept in a little room above McMennamins White Eagle Saloon... let's just say live music and very loud semi's are pretty much all we remember. Oh, and the community bathrooms down the hall and paper-thin walls... you get the picture.

But aside from the lack of sleep... Robert and I had more fun in our three days in Portland than we've had in a long time. The weather was great - well, for me who loves gray days and rain:) I don't think I've ever had such an abundance of great food, great wine, AND great company. Thank you Nick and Julie for coming to Oregon... we had a LOVELY time!!!

Monday, February 5, 2007

American Wealth - Is it right?

I am constantly plagued by this question. Is it right to live like we do as Americans? I have never felt comfortable with the idea of living in so much wealth when there is so much need in the world. Jesus' words in the Book of Matthew haunt me:

"I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I'll say it again - it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!" - Matthew 19:23, 24

A favorite Bible Commentary about this passage reads:

"Commentators and preachers invariably inject here that it is perfectly all right for Christians to be rich. It is strange that they use a passage in which the Lord denounces wealth as a hindrance to man's eternal welfare, to justify the accumulation of earthly treasures! And it is difficult to see how a Christian can cling to riches in view of the appalling need everywhere, the imminence of Christ's Return, and the Lord's clear prohibition against laying up treasures on earth. Hoarded wealth condemns us as not loving our neighbors as ourselves." -William MacDonald

"While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. "I tell you the truth," Jesus said, "this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has." - Luke 21:1-4

Jesus' words say enough. - RB

The Ghosts of Rwanda - A must see!

We watched a powerful documentary about the genocide in Rwanda. In 100 days, 800,000 men, women, and children were brutally slaughtered. This is the type of documentary that will give you nightmares, but it is a must see. There are images of dead bodies lining the streets, decaying corpses filling churches, and even actual footage of people being killed. As horrible as all of that sounds, what I found more disturbing was that America did NOTHING! For 100 days 800,000 people were murdered in their homes, in their yards, and in the streets - and we did NOTHING! It is sickening to me that we are so comfortable in our SUVs, in our 2000 square foot homes, and in our easy chairs that we are unwilling to risk our own comfort and our own lives to do what is right. I challenge everyone, including myself, to sacrifice what we find comfortable so that we may "love our neighbor as ourselves." Whether that neighbor is across the street or across the globe. - RB