to know one is dreaming is to be no longer perfectly asleep

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

//

It is probably impossible to love any human being simply ‘too much’. We may love him too much in proportion to our love for God; but it is the smallness of our love for God, not the greatness of our love for the man that constitutes the inordinacy.

But the question whether we are loving God or the earthly Beloved ‘more’ is not a question about our the comparative intensity of two feelings. The real question is, which (when the alternative comes) do you serve, or choose, or put first? To which claim does your will, in the last resort, yield?

//

We cannot see light, though by light we can see things. Statements about God are extrapolations from the knowledge of other things which the divine illumination enables us to know.

God is love. In God there is no hunger that needs to be filled, only plenteousness that desires to give. The doctrine that God was under no necessity to create is not a piece of dry scholastic speculation. It is essential. Without it we can hardly avoid the conception of what we can only call a ‘managerial’ God; a Being whose function or nature is to ‘run’ the universe, who stands to it as a headmaster to a school or a hotelier to a hotel.

But to be sovereign of the universe is no great matter to God. In Himself, at home in ‘the land of the Trinity’, he is Sovereign of a far greater realm. We must keep always before our eyes that vision of Lady Julian’s in which God carried in His hand a little object like a nut, and that nut was ‘all that is made’.

God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, all ready foreseeing – or should we say ‘seeing’? there are no tenses in God – the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up.

God is a ‘host’ who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and ‘take advantage of’ Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all love.

//

We find thus by experience that there is no good applying to Heaven for earthly comfort. Heaven can give heavenly comfort; no other kind. And earth cannot give earthly comfort either. There is no earthly in the long run.

For the dream of finding our end, the thing we were made for, in a Heaven of purely human love could not be true unless our whole Faith were wrong. We were made for God. Only by being in some respect like Him, only by being a manifestation of His beauty, loving-kindness, wisdom or goodness, has any earthly Beloved excited our love. It is not that we have loved them too much, but that we did not quite understand what we were loving.

It is not that we shall be asked to turn from them, so dearly familiar, to a Stranger. When we see the face of God we shall know that we have always known it. He has been a party to, has made, sustained and moved moment by moment within, all our earthly experiences of innocent love. All that was true love in them was, even on earth, far more His than ours, and ours only because His.

In Heaven, there will be no anguish and no duty of turning away from our earthly Beloved. First, because we shall have turned already; from the portraits to the Original, from the rivulets to the Fountain, from the creatures He made lovable to Love Himself. But secondly, because we shall find them all in Him. By loving Him more than them we shall love them more than we now do.

But that is all far away in ‘the land of the Trinity’, not here in exile, in the weeping valley. Down here it is all loss and renunciation. The very purpose of the bereavement (so far as it affects ourselves) may have been to force this upon us. We are then compelled to try to believe, what we cannot yet feel, that God is our true Beloved.

//

Perhaps, for many of us, all experience merely defines, so to speak, the shape of that gap where our love of God ought to be. It is not enough. It is something. If we cannot ‘practise the presence of God’, it is something to practise the absence of God, to become increasingly aware of our unawareness till we feel like men who should stand beside a great cataract and hear no noise, or like a man in a story who looks in a mirror and finds no face there, or a man in a dream who stretches out his hand to visible objects and gets no sensation of touch.

To know one is dreaming is to be no longer perfectly asleep.

//

All excerpts from the last few pages of The Four Loves by CS Lewis

all my hope, in the truth of your promise

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No amount of mental preparation could have prepared me for how cold it is here, yet no amount of mental preparation prepared me for the peace I have found here either.

In the last 2 hours before my flight, my heart was beating too quickly, my stomach was in knots, and I couldn’t help but ask myself repeatedly – am I really doing this? Am I really leaving for 4.5 months, when even 5 weeks could make me so homesick? And then I caught a cold in the plane and ended up being sick before I even arrived.

And yet, it has been lovely here. Despite the cold (weather) and the cold (in my nose), it has been so quiet and peaceful and – I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s not a huge, intense emotion, neither extreme excitement nor great fear; just quietness and stillness and peace.

Today, I decided to head out into the snow and look for the Madonna Della Strada Chapel. As my boots crunched through the snow and the wind blew snowflakes into my eyes and my breath blew out in little clouds, I happened upon this beautiful sunset by the lake. It was muted, delicate, ever so gentle and slight – but it summed up how I was feeling so completely. There is great beauty to be found in majestic, intense sunsets where the colours are so rich and deep that you cannot help but stare; but sometimes, there is even greater beauty to be found in what often goes by unnoticed, unless we really look.

When I finally reached the chapel (after staring at the sunset and the lake in awe), it was empty except for an organist. I only knew he must have been there because the chapel was filled with the sound of his playing – how fortunate, that I should step in at just that moment! And the chapel was 100x worth the cold walk there.

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It has been only 2 days (and who knows how I will feel tomorrow?) yet I am overwhelmed with grace, because I know that this gentle (almost invisible) peace could have gone by unnoticed if I’d let myself be busy and go about doing as much as I can. Yet, He has given me eyes to see and a heart to look – as St Ignatius would say, to find God in all things.

Oh, so much grace, I cannot even :’)

god’s love notes

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI haven’t blogged in a year but this post really inspired me. At first, I was going to add it on to my special commitments for Lent, but then I realised – why not just make it a permanent feature of not just my wall, but my life.

The idea is beautiful: If someone were to leave you a trail of sticky notes to find throughout the day, wouldn’t you be delighted and grateful for each one you found? I would probably be posting each one on instagram or facebook to share the joy that it brought me. And the truth is, it’s the same with God. He leaves us little notes throughout each day to tell us He loves us and to remind us that He’s thinking of us – through our conversations, a sudden breath of wind, or a passing moment of peace. But most of the time, we don’t notice or give much thought to the love notes He leaves for us to find – let alone celebrate them as they deserve to be celebrated!

I hope that by the end of this semester, this wall will be filled and that this Lent (and beyond), my eyes will be opened to the love that God wants to shower me with each day. :-)

And if you’d like to join me – send me pictures of your own love note walls or journals or whatever mode of documentation you decide on!!

love,
denise

hello from 台中

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I’m feeling really blessed to be surrounded by so many lovely and kind people and for this opportunity to have such a wonderful adventure for the next seven weeks. I’ve only been here for two and a half days but already so many things have happened and everyone has been super nice.

  • Late night ice-cream run with my roommate for the next two weeks
  • Cooking dinner with my host family
  • Meeting so many cute students in the jr high school I’m attached to
  • Receiving a whole bunch of Taiwanese food and snacks from them (including bubble tea!!!!)
  • 7am walks to school
  • Jamming with my ukulele
  • Meeting a 7 year old artist who gave me his very first drawing
  • Getting a whole bunch of postcards, photos and a roll of washi tape from one of the students
  • Finding out that there’s a catholic church nearby

I also made a video to share my past travels with my students /// posting it here for you guys to watch too:

I’ll be posting regular (ish) updates on adventuresofdenise.tumblr.com and on the hashtag #adventuresofdenise on Instagram! :)

homemade lemonade

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2014-03-09 18.09.09The weather here in Singapore has been way too sunny – we haven’t had rain for almost two months! Here’s how to make some lemonade to beat the heat (or to sip even when it’s cold!).

Ingredients (makes about 4-5 cups)
1/2 cup of brown sugar (you can increase this a little if you like it really sweet)
1/2 cup of boiling water
1/2 cup of lemon juice
3 cups of cold water

Step 1: Completely dissolve the brown sugar in the boiling water. Set aside.

Step 2: Juice your lemons until you have about 1/2 cup of lemon juice. You don’t have to remove the pulp, but you can remove the seeds if you like! I used about 3 small lemons for this.

Step 3: Mix the lemon juice with the sugar solution.

Step 4: Add the cold water. Chill and serve.

Mmmmm, de-lish.

xoxo, denise

 

apple x orange x mango yogurt salad

Every 2 to 3 days, I get a fruit during one of my meals. And I always don’t eat it there and then because I don’t like eating whole fruits (it’s just so… big), so I usually bring the fruit up to my room and save it for when I decide to make something. Like today – presenting to you my delish fruit salad, yay!

Ingredients
1 apple
1 mandarin orange
3 tablespoons of yogurt (I used Meiji’s mango yogurt)

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Step 1: Dice the apple.

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Step 2:  Dice the orange.

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Step 3: Add the yogurt.

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Step 4: Mix.

Spoiler…
The oranges burst into juice splashes in your mouth it is magical (/^//▽//^)/

xoxo, denise

too much

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do you remember the first time you were called annoying? 
how your breath stopped short in your chest
the way the light drained from your eyes, though you knew your cheeks were ablaze 
the way your throat tightened as you tried to form an argument that got lost on your tongue.
your eyes never left the floor that day. 
you were 13.

you’re 20 now, and i still see the light fade from your eyes when you talk about your interests for “too long,”
apologies littering every other sentence,
words trailing off a cliff you haven’t jumped from in 7 years. 
i could listen to you forever, though i know speaking for more than 3 uninterrupted minutes makes you anxious. 
all i want you to know is that you deserve to be heard
for 3 minutes
for 10 minutes
for 2 hours 
forever.

there will be people who cannot handle your grace, your beauty, your wisdom, your heart;
mostly because they can’t handle their own.

but you will never be
and have never been
“too much.”

– Tyler Ford

I don’t think I will ever forget these three words someone said to me 7 years ago.
“You’re kinda annoying.”

I have long forgiven the person. I have long forgotten why it was said.
But… I don’t think I can ever go back to how I felt before that day. At 20, I still cannot let go of my fear of saying the wrong thing, of saying too much.

 

(images do not belong to me)

tiny chocolate sandwiches

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These are really easy and tasty and probably made by fab people all over the world, but I’d just like to share them anyway! In order to satisfy my chocolate cravings without eating an entire bag of chocolate, I decided to make these little chocolate sandwiches instead.

Ingredients (serves 1)
6 plain biscuits (I used 1 packet of meiji crackers)
3 hershey’s kisses

Step 1: Place a hershey’s kiss on half the biscuits, and place the biscuits in an oven until the chocolate is a little melted (~3 min / 200 degrees celcius). You could also use a microwave for 2-3 minutes or less (just observe!)

Step 2: Place the other half of the biscuits on top of the melted chocolate and smoosh it together. Leave them in the oven for about another 30 seconds to a minute and then take them out.

TA-DA! You’re done. Now you can make some hot chocolate and enjoy ;)

xoxo, denise

apple x banana toast

2014-01-21 15.28.23-1As a result of post-Spanish class hunger pangs, I decided to make some afternoon tea for myself today. It was a little savoury, a little sweet, and very yummy! Here’s the recipe (it takes just 10 minutes!)

Ingredients (serves 2-4)
1 banana
1 apple
4 slices of bread
4 teaspoons of brown sugar
a little bit of butter (for spreading)
yogurt (optional)

Step 1: Set the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Spread butter on each slice of bread, and put the slices in the oven for a minute so the butter will melt a little.

Step 2: Meanwhile, slice the apple and banana thinly.

Step 3: Take the bread out of the oven (you could have taken it out earlier too). Place the apple slices on half the bread, and the banana slices on the other two slices of bread. You could mix and match too if you like!

Step 4: Sprinkle a teaspoon of brown sugar over each slice of bread, and then pop them into the oven for about 5 minutes (or until you see the sugar has more or less melted).

And that’s it. You can take them out and add some yogurt on the side like I did, and then voila – tea party yippee! :)

xoxo, denise