Friday, March 27, 2009

to my roots.







Bach is German. I am German. very logical eh. I took a quick trip to Germany last weekend and was able to explore my roots for a bit. When people checked my ID for the plane, train, etc they started talking to me in German....it took them a second to notice the blank stare on my face and then they transitioned to English. I stayed with a friend and his family from Rotary youth exchange. Another perk of studying abroad: having friends all over the world. It was such a great weekend! I was able to just hang out in a home for the first time in awhile and enjoy the luxuries of a large bed, immediate transportation, TV, movies, and the best morning cappuccinos ever. I actually came home with a new 17Euro froth-er. It makes amazing foam for our morning coffees here. Cate and I are obsessed. We still can't get it perfect though. I'm sure it comes with practice. I would definitely return to Germany.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

judgment.

To judge is to form an opinion or conclusion about.

About 2 months ago, I was in a conversation and labeled as being judgmental at the end. Initially I became defensive and refused such a label. I had a lot of time to think about it though in the following days and, thank God, came to my senses.

Unconsciously, I had become this judgmental sinner. This could be a result of various things; mainly, looking more at my self than into the lives of others. Surface-level relationships offer a breeding ground for "judgmentalism" as well. As an American, I love conclusions and I love to have the right answer. Our culture has a solution and accommodation to every situation. For example: Drive-throughs for those in a time crunch, 24-hour grocery stores for those who need a last minute item, and timed church services, down to the second, for those who have low attention spans. Being so caught up in my own individualistic American life, I hardly took the time to harbor an open mind and be consciously interested in the lives of those around me. Why take the time for understanding? Judging is so much easier.

Who am I to judge? Have I forgotten who I am? Have I forgotten that I am no better than the person to my left and to my right? If I follow a God who is willing to meet me where I am at, in my state of pure un-perfectness, then how can I judge others? If I follow a God who is unconditionally loving me, how can I turn and judge others? If I follow a God who is so caring that he actually gave his son for me, then how can I judge others?

I believe in a God who loves me just the way I am. He created me in His own image and made me perfect in that. The God that I believe in accepts me at any stage in life. He accepts me when I've blatantly disgraced his name. He accepts me when I bluntly sin and screw up day after day, and week after week, and month after month, and year after year. There is no way that I will ever meet perfection, but that doesn't matter to God. In reality, I am not worthy of God's love and acceptance. Whatever I do and whenever I do it, God is always there with open arms calling me back to Him.

If this is the God who I believe in and follow, how in the world could I treat anyone else differently than how He is endlessly treating me? I don't even want to imagine a moment in which God does not exercise His endless love and forgiveness. I would be screwed. It is not my role to judge others or to form conclusions about the lives and actions of others. Judging is extremely easy and fast, but completely not worth it.

As a believer, in a relationship with Christ, I daily deal with the consequences of judgment. I feel like I'm continuously striving to dispel the many stereotypes and beliefs that become baggage to the term of "American Christianity." Many things happen in the Church that have nothing to do with who God is and don't represent God in a rightful way. These things stay in the light and get tagged to the name of Christianity. Therefore, these things are tagged to me as I identify myself as a Christian. I despise being judged. Why judge others?

For the past two months, I have been trying to work on this. Being abroad only adds to the ability to aim for this even more. There is no way that a person's heart, mind, and soul can be apparent enough and transparent enough for anyone to judge them. That is a position that only God has.

I believe the world would change if we would manifest the initial roles that God has created for us in this world and allow God to be the ultimate commander, chief, king, and sovereign judge.

I strive to fight my nasty inclination and sinful nature to judge. Will you join me?

apathetic joy.

One of my roommates wrote this the other day. I enjoyed it.

Apathetic Joy
Have you ever stopped to think about life, about yourself, about God, just to find that you have become disappointingly apathetic towards nearly every idea or ambition that once intrigued you indelibly? Like an almost crushing freedom, a feeling of being confined by your own lack of desire to care about anything- a certain released numbness.

There is a irrefutable ring to the phrase "sweet abandonment" that almost commands compliancy. And yet the fine line between peaceful surrender and utter apathy makes the task of searching for that precious middle ground like that of attempting to heat coffee in a timeworn microwave- realizing you need to go just a little warmer, yet not wanting to end up scalding your mouth.

It is in the middle of this pursuit that I find myself every morning- battling a desire to be perfect, and yet acknowledging that there is an undeniable beauty to be found in brokenness. And it is in this state that I go to bed every night- hoping the next day will bring new opportunities for me to improve myself, and simultaneously praying God will use my weaknesses, my helplessness to display His awesome power and mercy.

It is so easy to become caught up in the "rush and hurry" trying to figure out your life and to reach that next stage where everything will magically right itself and plans will suddenly seem to become attainable. But life is not meant to be lived with both eyes firmly locked on the future. I feel as though I have wasted years of my life trying to grasp this concept, and still the realization of it eludes me. So much of the beauty of life is lost in the planning for the future.

So this is my resolution: that I will consciously and purposefully surrender my desire for perfection and need for an ideal diagram of my life. That I will never forget the joy that comes with the releasing of my dreams to my Savior and always remember the apathy that so quickly follows on the heels of a period of obsessive self-absorption. That I will come as dangerously close as possible to losing my identity only to find it again fully in Christ. That I will focus not on how the world tells me I should be, but on how God created me to be. That I will take each moment that God has given me and enjoy it simply because of the chance it brings to worship God with complete abandonment.

We only have one life- one chance to write a story that displays God's incredible love- and we can't waste it by living for the future. Neither can we waste it looking to find ourselves in other people. No- we should, must, spend it grabbing hold of every moment and refusing to let anything replace the joy of life with a sense of numb apathy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

snow angels.











Last weekend...well actually maybe 2 weekends ago, wow time flys, I went to Piancavallo, which is a city in the alps. I've been dreaming to make a trip to the spectacular mountains that I see outside my window and my dream came true. haha. It was such a great day!!! I went with one of my roommates, Emily, Beth, and a few people from Udine (Argentinian/Italian). It was a great opportunity to practice Italian and get a fair taste of snow considering I missed most of the Chicago snow this year. I loved the trip. Italy has just so much to offer it is nuts. They had 3 meters of snow! Houses were hidden and cars were covered.

saudades.










I really miss them. I found this picture on my ipod today. They are so precious. ahhhhhhhhhh I hope I make it back to Sryia. The visa situation isn't looking good though. I tried to get one in Rome and it didn't work because I don't have documents to be here in Italy. A miracle is needed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

caffe time.

















A normal Saturday consists of waking up at 7:30, going for a nice long run, breakfast at 9:30, and then hopping on the train for a chance to explore Italy. This past week we went to Sacile. It was a beautiful little town and it was such a nice day. I spent half the day in a tank actually.
We got to Sacile and walked through this beautiful downtown with one of the most beautiful produce shops I've ever seen. Each and every orange/apple/plum/pepper, etc. was placed so perfectly. Then we found a river, which always adds beauty in Italy. We played around there for some time and then a few people in my group (of 10) met a little old woman named Emma. Emma is 85 and was out with her little dog, Stella, feeding abandoned chickens and cats. Emma had lived in England for some time so she spoke English very well. Emma took us through an old house from 1819, which was deserted and amazing. I guess the story goes that the man who owns the house..and the chickens and cats...had a heart attack and can't tend to them anymore. The people of Sacile are waiting for him to die so that they can renovate the home and do something with his land. Emma was very concerned for the animals. Every day Emma comes out to the beat down house and feeds the little animals. It is what she looks forward to. Emma invited all of us to her house for coffee, and so all 10 of us went. Her home was beautiful and orderly. Each item had its place and her own artwork literally covered the walls. Emma is quite the painter. She is currently working on a painting of two dogs. As we were all drinking our shots of espresso, Emma shared a lot of history and biographical stories with us. Ultimately, it is just her and Stella. She seemed lonely and really appreciated our willingness to spend time with her. We definitely appreciated her hospitality. If I get to the age of 85, I hope I'm as active as she is. Emma is even an activist....she has been going to the city to get permanent pens for the chickens and cats. What a woman. Nonetheless, we cut it really close to the time we had to leave. Cate and I sprinted to the train station and caught the train...the others missed it. Cate and I got back to Casarsa, walked to San Lorenzo, and then went to San Vito for a night at Sam and Amber's. They live in a great apartment that overlooks the center piazza of San Vito. We went to a cafe and got cappuccinos, of course, went through an art exhibit, and then Sam made pasta figoli (sp?), which was really good, and then we had tea and watched a movie. I love Saturdays. P.S. last saturday was Women's day in Italy. All the women received these little yellow flowers. We should have a women's day in the usa.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

sacile portraits.











Great weather, great location, and great people all led to a portrait session this past Saturday. The pictures really are vibrant...I don't know why they get dull on the blog.?!?!

afternoon o' favorites.








Today, March 10th, was a wonderful day. The sunrise was amazing at like 6:15am. Then, I had the most amazing run with the mountains on one side of me and the sunrise on the other. Jenny showed me a new path through the vineyards today that makes you feel like you are running straight to the mountains. We started Art Renaissance this week. It's pretty interesting.
During roposo today I went on a long long long walk..almost 2 hours. It was God, me, the mountains, the sun, my SLR, and the ipod. Prayer is so good. I met a woman today from Canada too. She passed by me on her bicycle and said "hello." I had my headphones in so I thought I heard wrong. Then, she said, "It's a nice day, eh?" I took of the headphones instantly and was curious to know how in the world there was an English speaker in San Lorenzo! She is living here with her boyfriend and is going to move here permanently. Turns out her boyfriends family used to live on the land where my school is. Her boyfriend's family still owns tons of vineyards around here. Marita, the Canadian, was actually out going to work in the vineyard....she taught me a few things. Marita was a very pleasant and emphasized how much work goes into a bottle of wine. WOW, we need to be appreciative. Marita is also on her way to Chicago next month, what are the chances?!?!? Nonetheless, it is good to get out alone sometimes.

me.

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Bend/Chicago, United States
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