Saturday morning I woke up at 8am to blue skies and gorgeous sunshine and very uncharacteristically decided to get straight out of bed…

I spent the morning baking. There is no better time, in my humble opinion, to bake the early on a sunny morning, with some good music playing (this time a mix of Alela Diane, the Weepies, Coldplay and Kate Rusby).

First I made these…

Red Velvet Cupcakes from Kerry’s recipe. I had the wonderful pleasure of trying her cupcakes waaaaay back when I first came to Brussels at the end of 2007 so when she posted this recipe on her blog I bookmarked it straight away, and what better time to try out RED food than on Valentine’s day?

Then I made these…

My mum’s very own Shortbread recipe (no time to dip them in chocolate like last year) and Brownie Roll-out Cookies from Deb’s recipe over at Smitten Kitchen, which, incidentally, were much much more successful than her toasted coconut shortbread that Marissa and I tried to make on Wednesday. I think we might accidentally have doubled the butter quantity or something…

I can already hear you voicing your concern for my waistline but I promise you I did not eat all of these. In fact I had one of the brownie things, one of the shortbread and that’s it!

The rest went into tupperware and got carried over to a Salvation Army refugee centre here in Brussels called Foyer Selah, where Serve the City had organised a Valentine’s Day party.

I assist an English class that happens here every Monday evening so I knew quite a few of the residents who came along, and got to meet some wonderful new people, including a lovely young Iranian couple, who are expecting a baby girl in three weeks.

These are amazing people. I am the first to admit I know nothing about asylum law in Belgium and who should receive asylum, but some of these people’s stories are truly unforgettable.

And there is such loneliness too. They come from all corners of the world, sometimes with family but very often on their own, and although so strong and resilient, sometimes the struggle surfaces for a brief moment and it always leaves me speechless.

At church we are studying the book of Job and last night was my turn to teach and lead the discussion in our expression. We asked the ‘simple’ question “Is God just?” Somehow having five asylum seekers sitting on one side of the room puts the concept of suffering into a whole new light. Sometimes there are really no words of advice to give. You just have to sit in the ashes with them and pray…

These words of Job (19:25-27) are encouraging me today:

25 I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;

27 I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!

(thanks Jodi for letting me use your photos here and for organising such a great party!)
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