Insomnia Chef

I like to be aware... of everything.

Evidently that's not recommended.

A while back I was told in no uncertain terms that my life needed an overhaul.  Pronto.

My first assignment?

To learn to be in the moment and not worried.

Easy enough. Well... you see there was this bomb squad with helicopters chasing a man with a knife. And a few days later I'm passing through more chaos. Yeah a bomb had just gone off. I go to a show with acrobats... one guy tries to catch his partner... he misses. Retreating to the safety of my home I drift off to sleep and a car lands outside my window... upside down. And there's lots of glass and lights and people. And I'm not sure I'm going to make it past the first assignment. Assignment 1 becomes assignment 1b. Find something that I like and makes me comfortable.

Steamers.  I love steamers.  I was introduced to them by a small coffee shop in the midwest.  They're warm and comforting and delicious.  My "recipe" is below.

Step 1.  Froth Milk aka make it double in size.  I use an immersion blender and a really large glass that is a quarter full.  Learned that the hard way.  I've heard people use blenders, french presses, whisks, and even just shake it.

Step 2.  Heat Milk.  I cook mine on the stove stirring until its almost boiling.

Step 3. FLAVOR.   The options are endless... Put the flavoring at the bottom of a mug.  Add the hot milk and stir (with a chopstick if you're me).

A few of my favorites:
- maple syrup
- honey and almond extract (yesssssss!)
- vanilla
- honey and cinnamon
- honey and ginger

Step 4. Savor on the couch in front of the window while it rains.

Abusive God

“God’s abusive.”  I confidently stated.  Using some of the most depraved people of the world I laid out my case.  Highlighting the similarities between their character and the effect they had on others.  I was done with giving the “right” answer.  “It’s like they’re exactly the same.”

She looked at me thoughtfully.  “It sounds like one is counterfeit…”  

“Maybe” I shrugged.  “I had a job once where they trained us on counterfeit money.  We had to look for little differences.  A line out of place or an extra letter, but God and these people look identical.  I can’t tell the difference.”

“How do experts recognize a counterfeit?”

“They know what to look for.  They know all the little differences.”

“That’s how you tell the difference.  How do the experts know?”

They know the real one…
They know the real one…
They know the real one…

Quitting Church

When I returned to the states I was so excited to join a church.  Hungry for authentic messy community.  Unfortunately things didn't quite turn out as I had hoped.  (Probably mostly due to my inherent dysfunction).  Tumultuous is the word I would choose to describe the journey.  After one weird trip followed by a season of multiple transitions I reached a point where I couldn't cope any more.  For two years I had been fighting to do the "right" thing.  Showing up because that is what you're suppose to do.  Trying (albeit not so skillfully) to work my way into community.  I was exhausted and drained.  There was minimal life-giving margin in my life.  I did the "wrong" thing and I stopped going to church.

My batteries began to charge.  Not fully and not so well, but enough for this season.  And then people appeared.  People who don't believe.  People who are temporary.  People who care.  I'm thankful for them.  So thankful.  Our season together is short.  It's not a go deep community but its genuine and life-giving.  They're the bridge I so desperately needed.  And I'm not so sure what to make of it.  Because I believe in the church.  And I know it's not perfect.  Nothing is.  But running without oxygen only lasts for so long.  More transition looms on the horizon.  And there's a lot of muck to muck because I'm content for all the wrong reasons.

Prayer: Reigning in the Rabbit

When I pray out loud or in my head it takes a grand total of .02 seconds before I am off down a rabbit trail (often called the trail of Pinterest) looking up ideas such as how to keep ants out of my basement apartment.  Anyhow, at one time I prayed out of obligation all the while telling myself I was not cut out to be a prayer warrior.  Let me tell you outright that is a lie.  I believe every single person is a prayer warrior.  The issue is that we think prayer has to look a certain way.  When I started thinking outside the box, so to speak, my prayer life changed.  Today I am going to share 3 of my favorite strategies (remember what works for me may not work for you!)

Habit Prayers:  During college I was part of  a summer discipleship program that changed my life.  The program provided me with a job at a local hotel.  One of my goals for the summer was to pray consistently for my campus pastors and their family.  Knowing that I am easily distracted I made the decision to try praying for them every time I made the coffee for the breakfast bar.  It worked so well I began assigning people to each of my responsibilities.  The paint crew was prayed for as I cleaned the bathrooms.  The  two "Dairy Queens" were prayed for as I mopped the hallways.  Would you know that even now 5 years later the smell of coffee immediately reminds me to pray for that family? When I scrub a toilet the paint crew is prayed for and wet floors remind me to pray for the DQs.  It's not a habit anymore... it's a reflex.  The reason I think this strategy worked so well for me is that I used already established habits to create new habits.  So much easier than starting a new habit from scratch! Also, my brain is just naturally more focused when my body is busy!

Bookmarked Prayers: This is a new strategy I started about a month ago.  I noticed I had acquired a handful of prayer cards, but rarely prayed for the people.  I decided to start using the prayer cards as book marks.  Now every time I open up a book to read I take a minute to pray for that person or family. (Send me your prayer cards I have plenty of books!)

Written Prayers: Being prone to rabbit trails I noticed that writing helps me to organize my thoughts.  Now it helps me to focus my prayers as well!  I also love having the written record of the prayers.  Not only can I see how my prayers evolve I can also see more clearly how God responds.

These are just a few of my favorite strategies.  One day I will share a few more.  

For now I would love to know what's your favorite prayer strategy? Or is there a strategy you've thought of but never tried before?

Ragamuffin Reflections after Brussels

Tuesday morning I woke from a strange dream.  In an attempt to distract myself I opened my phone only to see news of the explosions in Brussels that morning.  For the rest of the day I wrestled with the fear and sadness that typically accompanies such news.  However, there was something about it that made it more unsettling to me then other recent events.  Finally, I realized that the reason it was all so unsettling to me was because of my personal experiences in Brussels.

Brussels is an emotional location for me.  The first time I visited the wonderful city I had a frightening choking incident that thanks to the Heimlich maneuver was short lived.  Several years later I was unexpectedly flown into the airport to wait for a connecting flight after an overseas trip went horribly wrong.  I spent hours curled up on the floor of the terminal convinced that I would never recover.  It was one of the worst days of a years long dark night of the soul.

As I reflected on my own experiences and read through the experiences of those in Brussels I realized how ill prepared I am for the troubles of this world.  I kept asking myself how can I help people and what can I do?  The answer was not what I was expecting.

If you have ever flown you have heard the instructions to “secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.”  There’s a reason for this.  A lack of oxygen will cause you to pass out and if you pass out you will not be in a position to help anyone.  We need to be in a place physically, emotionally, and spiritually where we are not going to “pass out” when we face the troubles of this world.  Many people view passing out as a sign of a job well done.  I disagree.  And I believe the best model for this is Jesus.  Both Luke and Mark write about how Jesus would go out alone.  He would engage and then retreat engage and then retreat.

What would Jesus do when he retreated?  He would pray.  Prayer: powerful, transformative, and mysterious.  I have this new theory that prayer is less about getting things done and more about bringing us into the love of Jesus. In his book Ragamuffin Gospel Brennan Manning writes:

“…that we be men and women of prayer…people for who God is everything and for whom God is enough.  That is the root of peace.  We have that peace when the gracious God is all we seek.  When we start seeking something besides Him, we lose it.” 

When we come to a place of peace we can enter into a place of being. 

A place where we can love others securely. 
A place where our identity is steadfast. 
A place where we can serve honestly.

A place where we know to:

“Turn [our] eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face”
and then
“…go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!”

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus feat. Lauren Chandler 

Jesus, Tantrums, and the Socratic Method

A few weeks ago I drove home from an event where one of the speakers used an example that triggered a painful reminder of my body’s brokenness.  I was furious.  Problem was I had no space left to cram my anger.  All that anger began bubbling over until I finally let loose an angry tirade viciously attacking God.  It was not pretty. 

As soon as I finished an internal battle began.  On one hand I instantly regretted what I had said, but on the other hand I didn’t.  I had said exactly what I was feeling.  Back and forth I argued with myself until I came to the conclusion that it didn’t matter because I had already gone too far.  But then a quiet question:

“Do you love Jack?”

“Umm… Of course!  What does that have to do with anything?”

“What about when he screams at you and hits and kicks the floor?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I still love him.”


“Because I am doing something good for him…because I love him. He just doesn’t understand yet.”

“I see… And it’s okay for him to scream at you and hit and kick the floor?” 

“Not exactly.  It okay for him to have those feelings.  He needs to process what he is feeling but I would like him to express those feelings more appropriately… Ohhhhh”

I drove the rest of the way home in silence.  Trying to grasp this idea that Jesus loves me as much as (and more than) I love the little ones in my life. 

Is there someone in your life who not matter what they do you love them? Maybe a pet? Or maybe there is someone in your life who no matter what you do they love you… 

God loves us infinitely more.

The Cell Phone Generation

This was my first Christmas in the city.  My family came up to join me.  Saturday we decided to go see the Statue of Liberty.  We and the huddled masses boarded the ferry.  As we pulled out of the dock everyone jumped up turned around and started furiously snapping photos and videos.  My stomach sank and I immediately thought "oh no what's happening in the city?"  I turned around, but didn't see anything unusual.  I scanned the city and the crowd a few times before realizing that nothing horrible was happening people just wanted a shot of the skyline.  Chuckling I turned back around and fix my eyes on where we are going.  

We soon arrived at the the Statue Liberty (which I maintain, contrary to the opinion of every other person I have spoken to, to be small in real life).  We and the huddled masses departed the ferry and began walking around the island.  As we walked I began to notice that no one and I mean no one was looking at Lady Liberty, at least not directly.  They were either viewing her through their cell phone screen or furiously attempting to fit her and themselves into a selfie.  It was at that moment I realized no one was being present in the moment.  Everyone was so focused on capturing the moment that they were missing the moment.  The art of being present, of being intentional is being lost.       

We live in a time where we have the ability to record everything and courtesy of the internet the ability to access information about almost everything, but are we aware of what is going on around us?  Are we aware of the feelings and behavior of those around us? When things get uncomfortable do we press in or use our phones to escape? When we have hard thoughts do we wrestle with them or do we use media to distract ourselves?

I know for me my first response is typically to escape or distract.  I need to be more intentional about the way I interact with technology.  Now I feel the need to add that I am not anti the internet or technology.  In fact I used an app to help me become more intentional about my use of technology.  It was eye opening.  The amount of time I spent using my phone was less then I expected, but the number of times I picked up my phone a day just to look shocked me!  What a waste of time!  It has helped me to be more mindful about when and how I use my phone.  

This year I want to be someone who is aware... someone who presses in... someone who wrestles.

Who do you want to be?

One Word 2016

At the beginning of 2015 I was beginning to come out of a 4 year "dark night of the soul."  My desire was to be more functional.  I choose healing as my word of 2015.  Little did I know how appropriate that word would be.  I started seeing a counselor (Ah-mazing! Everyone should go!) in February.  And we met and talked and life seemed the same.  Then in June the floodgates opened and my life turned upside down... well actually it turned rightside up!  I'm still reeling in the shock of what happened!

And even though so much has changed there is still this dissatisfaction with my life.  I realized that this dark night of the soul which brought exponential growth also resulted in haphazard unproductive habits.  So this year I am choosing to be intentional.  

I want to be intentional... my relationships...
...with my thoughts... my decisions... what I eat...
...with my time...
...about the media I consume...
...regardless of circumstances...

Two days into 2016 and so far I have been a hermit, binge watched a ridiculous amount of television,  eaten meals of popcorn and chocolate chip cookies, and sulked over my singleness, but I am not discouraged.  There is grace, opportunity for reconciliation, and room for growth in every bad decision.  In fact I am excited for I have a learned that my word of the year has far less to do with me and far more to do with seeking God.  On my own I will fall over and over again, but through him I can do all things.  So above all else this year I am choosing to be intentional in my relationship with God and I know all other things will be added.

PS Speaking of intentional this new post by Lindsey Nobles is speaking to me tonight! I love that she says "A husband may or may not be on the books for me — this year or ever — but that will not limit the places I go, the things I do, or the person I am becoming."