AMSTERDAM RLD: BELOVED ONE

Hey, you, up there.

Yes, you.

I see you. I hear you knocking on the glass. I see your barely-dressed body. I feel your desire to be wanted, to be loved.

Oh, beloved one, why can’t I get you out of my mind?

There you are up there, knocking on the glass that separates us. Your desperate attempts to catch the attention of the men below are failing. And my attempts to lock eyes with you are failing, too, because you won’t look at me. None of you will. No matter where I go or what red light district I’m running through, it’s full of people. Men shopping, women seducing, but your eyes won’t meet mine.

Beloved one, please know I’m not looking into your eyes to judge. Rather, I’m looking into your eyes to love. I want you to know that I see you. I acknowledge you for the beautiful, created being you are. I know you’re full of potential and have the right to live a life of dignity, a life that’s built on respect.

You are loved by me. You are loved by the Creator. You’re worth loving and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

I want you to know that you matter to me. I want you to know you’re not a “prostitute.” Oh no, beloved one, that is not who you are. You have been beautifully created in the image of a faithful, loving God. You have intrinsic worth within you no matter what others say or do to you.

Oh yes, you, up there.

I don’t know what you did to get such an inconvenient spot, but you’ve captured my attention and my heart. I can see the smudges and hear the knocking now.

Run to Him, beloved one. Run and knock on His door. He will surely answer you and embrace you with loving arms. Arms that are safe and will not bring harm. Arms that protect and will not exploit. Arms that are unfailing and will never let you go. Arms that will hold you so tight you’ll forget what the loose embrace of the world feels like. He’s a safe place for you unlike the glass that’s shielding you from the street below.

Run to Him, beloved one, and knock on His door. You will not regret it - I can promise you that. You won’t regret it because you’ll experience life in its fullness the moment you run through His door and He embraces you in those loving arms of His.

Run, beloved one, run.

 

 

AMSTERDAM RLD

She was on the second floor, not one of the lucky ones on the street-level. I could see smudges on the window left behind from her attempts to capture the attention of men below. I could hear her knocking on the glass. I could see her dancing in the window. But I couldn’t see her eyes because she wouldn’t make eye contact with me. I stood and watched this particular woman for quite some time. I think there was something about the fact she wasn’t down with the others. She was a little more isolated and the men didn’t seem to respond to her attempts to lure them upstairs. She intrigued me because she had to work harder than the rest.

She was like hundreds of other women we saw. They were provocatively posed behind glass doors. Some looking more interested in this whole gig than others, but all working hard to get a client.

Thousands of men were carelessly “window shopping” for a woman to pleasure them. There were men of all ages, shapes, sizes, and races. You could tell the majority were nervous, slightly unsure, but ready to give it a whirl as soon as they found the perfect woman.

Live porn shows, sex shops, “coffee shops” (aka weed cafes), bars, and strip clubs - everything imaginable lined these streets. Everything one would need to fill a desire or to make he or she brave enough to act on it was in sight.

And then there were the churches.

Nestled in the heart of the red light district, closed. Now a tourist attraction or some sort of business, but the beautiful, old buildings were in sight and a reminder of what once was. These beautiful, old buildings are in the women’s direct line of sight. It’s what they see when they look out their glass doors – a closed church. A beautiful, old building representing what once was.

I want to know where the people went? Where did the church go? Why did they abandon an area like this?

As we walked through the narrow streets, I could only utter “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” for the longest time. These women looked like my friends and people I know, which was a little shocking. As we walked by and time passed, I began to find the words to speak to God. I also took my hand and ran it across their doors because even if they wouldn’t look at me, I wanted them to know I saw them.

They were so beautiful and I wanted nothing more than to cup their face in my hands and tell them how much they’re worth. I wanted to speak life and value over their hearts and their souls. I knew I couldn’t so I asked God to do that as we walked by. I don’t know their stories. I’m not sure if they are there by force or by choice, but I know one thing: they were created for more.  

These women of the night were created to be women of The Light.

I’d love to go back to this quaint little city where beauty abounds and the darkness overshadows. I know Jesus is there. He’s working. He’s moving. He’s redeeming. He’s restoring. I want to partner with Him in it all.  

I can’t get this city off my heart. I can’t get these beautiful women out of my mind - especially the one on the second floor who was working harder than the rest. So, I’m praying and waiting with a longing heart and curious mind, asking God to give me direction and open doors to be involved. 

They need to know how valuable they are. They have to know. 

EATING (GF/DF) IN AMSTERDAM

Ricky and I just spent a few days in Amsterdam before attending a wedding in Norway and fell in love with it! It was a quaint little city with lots of character. And a huge plus for me was the fact that it was really easy to eat gluten free! I wanted to share the restaurants we ate at so if you or someone you know is going soon, you can use this as a guide!

PIQNIQ

PIQNIQ is located in the Jordaan neighborhood and serves lunch picnic style. You get to choose 2-4 items and create your own personalized plate. The menu includes sandwiches, soups, and daily specials as well as coffee, tea, fresh juices and smoothies. Their breakfeast menu also provided great gluten and dairy free options and they even gave me a GF/DF treat to go with my coffee. To top it off, it was very affordable with menu items starting at about 6 euros. 

piqniq_revivelifestyleblog

We ate here twice - once for breakfast and once for lunch. It was around the corner from our apartment and the food was really good! I'd like to point out the quality of the bread for just a second.. No offense USA, but you should really learn a thing or two about taking care of your customers. I was so impressed at the quality of the bread on these sandwiches (it was the same at every restaurant). In the US when you order gluten free bread, you get charged extra for average bread that came from the freezer section of the grocery store. Definitely not the case here! End of rant. :)

SLA

SLA is also located in the Jordaan and was recommended by our Airbnb host. This salad and juice bar was superb! Again, it was very affordable, the ingredients were fresh, and staff was knowledgable about food allergies. I built my own salad and Ricky got a smoothie. The interior is light and airy, filled with plants, and very relaxing. All-in-all, it was a great experience. I would highly recommend eating here if you're in the mood for fresh, healthy food. And good news, they have several locations around the city!

Spinach salad w/ roasted carrots & cauliflower, radishes, chicken, hemp seeds, and more - and they do not skimp on the portions, this salad was huge!

Spinach salad w/ roasted carrots & cauliflower, radishes, chicken, hemp seeds, and more - and they do not skimp on the portions, this salad was huge!

PANCAKES! AMSTERDAM

We decided to grab Dutch pancakes one day for lunch and this Pancakes did not disappoint. You had the option to build your own or to choose from one of their combinations. While they serve several styles of pancakes, we opted for Dutch style which is thin and large, almost like a crepe. Their gluten free pancakes come dairy free as well so it was an easy, no fuss situation. I opted for the bacon/banana/chili pepper combo. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was a great balance of savory & sweet. This is a place where everyone can find something to enjoy!

Photo via 10best.com

Photo via 10best.com

BELGISCH RESTAURANT LIEVE

We went to Belgisch Restaurant Lieve for our anniversary dinner. Within this restaurant, there are three different dining ambiances you can choose from. Moms Kitchentable provides a warm atmosphere with family style dining that includes 3 courses. Belgian Baroque is a tapas-style, shared dining experience that also includes 3 courses. Lastly, and the option we chose, is Mrs. Bubbles. It is a 4 course meal located in a sophisticated dining room. They had separate gluten and dairy free menus which allowed us to dine with ease and enjoy a wonderful anniversary dinner together. The food and service was great as well! 

Image via restaurantlieve.nl 

Image via restaurantlieve.nl 

I hope this is helpful to my fellow gluten and dairy free travelers! I should add that many of these restaurants also served organic, fair trade items as well. It was obvious that people in Amsterdam were well-informed about food allergies and ethical issues surrounding different industries which made our trip even better. I would highly recommend visiting this city if you get the chance!