Monday, February 28, 2011


“When God moves us out of our comfort zone, into places that are way bigger than us, places that are difficult, hard, painful, even hurt, this is a gift.  We are being given a gift.  These hard places give us the gift of intimately knowing God in ways that would never be possible in our comfort zones.”
-Ann Voskamp

So often lately,  I have felt ready to tell God "Ok, enough already.  You have pushed my limits for long enough.  Put me back in my comfort zone."  I am a woman who longs for comfort.  I always have, and I think I always will.  I love being home, the places I know, the people I love.  I love seeing new places and meeting new people, but traveling often wears me down.  I just want what I know is safe, predictable, secure.  But God knows better, and pushes those limits.  It feels like God has continuously been pushing me out of my comfort zone for the past four years.  First, the move to college.  I was terribly homesick, even at my small private school not far from home.  I called my mom every day, and cried each morning, dreading the day of new faces and challenges.  And then my mom died.  I was forced to grow up over night.  Grief matured me and challenged every belief I ever thought true.  My mom, my ultimate source of earthly comfort, was gone.  Then a trip to the Middle East.  My comfort zone was completely smashed to pieces.  My worldview and thoughts on God's plan for the world were challenged.  Then I graduated college, and got married, and moved to a new city, and got my first "grown up" job, all in the matter of one month.  Whew...  It feels like since I was 18 years old God has constantly been pushing me forward, nudging me, urging me to take a step into the next unknown.  As soon as I have gotten comfortable in a situation, the next change has been right around the corner.  Most of these changes, I have wrestled with God and fought him tooth and nail along the way.  Some have come more easily than others.  But looking back now, through the struggling, wrestling, tears, frustrations, and fears, I can see how the Lord was shaping me through each experience more into the woman he made me to be.  I don't even feel like the same girl that left home for her first semester of college over four years ago.  Who is that girl who stood grieving at her mother's fresh grave?  Who is that woman who left on a plane, headed for a country that was the epitome of unknown to her?  Yes, I am longing for a period of comfort, of safety, of knowing what is coming next, of predictability.  Yet I also know that it isn't coming, at least not for awhile.  As scared as I am for these upcoming comfort-zone-pushing experiences, I can look back on what God has done in the past, and know that I am going to come out of them refined and matured.  I am beginning to be able to approach the hard places as a gift; a gift of intimacy with God that wouldn't be possible any other way.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why I Cook

This excerpt from "A Homemade Life" by Molly Wizenberg perfectly summed up why I love being in the kitchen:

When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone.  Whether we know it or not, none of us is.  We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten.  Food is never just food.  It's also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be...  When I walk into my kitchen today, I bring all of this with me.  Like most people who love to cook, I like the tangible things.  I like the way the knife claps when it meets the cutting board.  I like the haze of sweet air that hovers over a hot cake as it sits, cooling, on the counter.  I like the way a strip of orange peel looks on an empty plate.  But what I like even more are the intangible things: the familiar voices that fall out of the folds of an old cookbook, or the scenes that replay like a film reel across my kitchen wall.  When we fall in love with a certain dish, I think that's what we're often responding to: that something else behind the fork or spoon, the familiar story that food tells.  

I love being in the kitchen because I love to create, I love to eat what I create, and I love cooking for family and friends.  But more than that, I love where cooking takes me.  It takes me back to my Gram A's kitchen, spreading soft butter on fresh white bread for an afternoon snack.  Back to learning how to slide hot cookies off the pan onto old paper bags to cool.  To hearing my mom tell me the right proportions of butter, milk, and salt to put into the mashed potatoes.  Back to family dinners every Sunday.  Cooking always reminds me of the love I grew up with, and the love I continue to be blessed with.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


In the Bible study I am currently leading for college women (hi girls!), we are studying the book of Luke.  Last night, in between lots of girly giggling and eating of scotcheroo's, we read and discussed prayer, focusing on Luke 11.  In comparison to other aspects of my faith, I often find prayer to be the "easiest".  A lot of the time I struggle to consistently open my Bible and diligently study the Word.  It is hard for me to intellectually connect with the Lord on my own.  But prayer clicks with me, it comes more naturally.  Regardless of the fact that prayer is my favorite way to connect with the Lord, I learned so much last night.  The wise women in my study had such great observations about prayer that really challenged me to deepen my prayer life. 

Luke 11 focuses on the Lord's Prayer, and how Jesus instructs us to pray:

"One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.  When he was finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."  He said to them: "When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive those who have sinned against us.
And lead us not into temptation."
Then Jesus said to them, "Suppose you have a friend and you go to him at midnight and say 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine has come to me on a journey and I have no food to offer him.'  And suppose the one inside answers 'Dont bother me.  The door is already locked, and my children and I are already in bed.  I can't get up and give you anything.'  I tell you even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.  So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."

Why am I so fearful of asking God for things?  Like any father, he longs to give us what we desire, as long as it is in his will.  I think of my own dad, who would give me, out of love, his last penny if the situation arose.  I know my dad loves me and longs to see me happy.  And this is also true, to an even greater extent, of my Heavenly Father.  Yet, I hesitate in prayer.  I stop myself.  Why would God want to hear me ask for such insignificant and unimportant things that relate to my life?  But then I read Luke 11.  Jesus clearly states that If I ask, it will be given.  We are comanded to, acutally.  So today I approached prayer in a fresh way.  I came before God and clearly asked him for the desires of my heart, just as he instructed me to.  

Monday, February 14, 2011

Look what handsome man chose me as their Valentine! I am one lucky lady!

Mike, I feel so blessed to be able to call you husband.  Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My goal for the rest of the week is to be unapologetically myself...  To genuinely be who I was created to be, to live unafraid of being my true self.  Those words are harder to live out than to say, but so worth striving towards.

Monday, February 7, 2011


I am currently reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts, which is opening up my heart and bringing me before the Lord in new and awesome ways.  I am humbled by what I am learning.  I can't help but share with you part of what I learned today.

"The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me."
1 Corinthians 11:23

Jesus, on the night he was betrayed by a dear friend, offers thanksgiving to God.  Jesus, on the night before his Father allows him to be humiliated andhang on a cross to die, offers thanksgiving.  Jesus gives thanksgiving for even the very thing that will break him, crush him, wound him... and ultimately bring joy.

I need to let that sink in for awhile.