Saturday, February 16, 2013


Do you watch the TV show Chopped? For a while there, I was obsessed. I would catch every episode, every new show... I loved it when they brought the best of the best back and had them face each other. I loved the creativity, the intensity, and the beautiful results... My absolute favorite part, however, was the unveiling of the ingredients. You never knew what they were going to get. I can recall one of the shows having these delicious, interesting choices...and then a package of orange cheese powder from mac and cheese. You should have heard the chefs! They were not pleased - not one bit!

I have been prompted in my heart to draw parallels from that show to my life at this very moment. If you know me well enough to be in the 'inner circle,' you know that I am trying to figure out a solution to a problem that has plagued me for far too long. In trying to seek out answers, I have been spending more time in my devotionals and in prayer...I know that God will reveal it all to me in His perfect timing. "The Lord will fight for me, all I have to do is be still" Exodus 14:14.

Because I am trying to figure things out (even though I shouldn't be), I have had to really think about the changes that have happened over the past few years. Everyone changes, yes, but for me there have been some significant ones. For comic relief, I have been envisioning myself in a Chopped scenario. Here is what I see:

I picture myself as a contestant (remember: I was obsessed for a while!) and I have my wooden mystery box. I am anxious, excited, already planning what baseline to use regardless of my ingredients... I have my hands on the box top and I'm waiting for Ted to tell me to open it. But instead, God has asked me to open it. I open the box and stand in awe at my own reflection. In this moment, I realize that God has given me ingredients to work with. As I stare at the ingredients, I realize I have no idea what to make with this. I know time is ticking, I know that I probably should be sauteing or frying or steaming or infusing or whatever... but I am basically stuck to the ground, wondering what to do.

I try not to be a boastful person - it annoys me. But I also think that a healthy dose of self confidence is important. I am going to acknowledge that God has given me a few ingredients to work with in my Chopped box. If you know me, you may disagree. If you know me, you may think that the ingredients I see are not the best ones that you see... but regardless of that, I want to put the disclaimer out there that I am NOT being boastful, but rather telling you a few ingredients that God has put in my Chopped box.

Ingredient number 1: Psalm 96 - Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth. I have always loved music - that is no secret. I grew up in a musically diverse household - everything from Little River Band to Linda Ronstadt to Frank Sinatra to Carly Simon...I was able to play an instrument in band and sing for chorus. It brought me joy - and I was actually OK at it. However, something shifted in my heart a few years ago and I began to want to use that love of music to share the love of the Lord. Since God is good and He is faithful, He placed the right people in my life who encouraged me and gave me chances even when maybe I didn't deserve them. He has given me a new song to sing. Just recently He gave me the opportunity to learn the piano - and while I am FAR from being good, I will say that being proficient is good enough for me. My whole life I have wanted to play the piano... and in just 4 short months, He has given me the ability to connect what is in my heart with what comes out of my fingertips. He is good.

Ingredient number 2: Viewing most things through a wide view lens. I most likely couldn't tell you what is going to happen tomorrow, but if you need to know what is going to happen months from now because of a decision you are making today, I probably could do it. For some reason, small details escape me - but long term effects are clear as day. The problem I encounter with this is that not many people are 'projectors' and so it is hard to line up my vision with most other people's vision because there usually isn't too much overlap.

Ingredient number 3: Writing. Habakkuk 2:2 "Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may carry the message to others." Like music, I have always loved to write. I remember writing a poem in 2nd grade and can still recite it. I wrote this incredible story in 6th grade once, I wish I still had it. Clearly, I love to blog ... but I also like to write in my own journal just for me. I can't share everything here. You can often find me writing out looooong emails that replace phone conversations, but that means more to me because writing helps me to process emotion. On my bucket list (and the bucket list of countless others) is to write a book. I have no idea what this book will be about, but I know it will glorify Him and I know that I will just "know" the right time to write it.

Ingredient number 4: No idea. This mystery box on my Chopped challenge has this one last ingredient..this one thing that I don't know how to work with, or what to do with, or even what it is called...but its SOMETHING. I have a feeling it is my "umi" ingredient.. the one that caters to the 6th sense of 'food.' I am trusting in the Lord to click the ligh bulb on at ANY moment about what this is...because I have to get cooking...

I truly still don't know what to do with all of this. My prayers always includes a sense of urgency and wonder at why I have been given these ingredients to work with. It always feels best to be using them, but there really isn't a way to blend them into being used all at the same time...and there is certainly not enough time to use them all independently to their full capacity.

The point of this post is to get you thinking. What did God put in your Chopped box? What are the ingredients that he has asked you to compose the perfect dish with? While I certainly don't have answers, I do know that unlike Chopped, we all do not have the same ingredients. And even if, by chance, we did... we would never use them the same. The TV show is proof of that.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Casting a Long Shadow

In a rare moment of stillness, I looked out my upstairs window. It was late afternoon, the sky was brilliant blue - almost too bright to look at without squinting or a pair of sunglasses. The clouds were scarce but refused to be completely hidden. While I noticed the sky, I also noticed the shadows. The tree branches, bare of leaves, left broken shadows across our neighbor's lawn. The cars parked along the street offered a a sideways slanted, narrow version of themselves on the street beside them. The one that struck me the most, however, was the one our house was casting.

The shadow our house casted on this day, in this minute, reached far. It went past our neighbors house and further on to their neighbor's back yard. Let me assure your our house is not large - its an average sized 1930's colonial on a small lot in a semi-suburb of the capital city. My  house had no right to cast a shadow this big. It was clear that the reflection it gave was one of great reach - it longed to break the boundaries drawn by its walls to spread further, fly higher...

Clearly, science tells us that the size of the original object is skewed because of the play of the light. Because of the angle of the sun, and the openness of the barren trees, our house obstructed the streams of light from the sun. Our house blocked the light. The light persisted. The light, this bright light from the sun, persisted over the house and pushed on. It persevered and was able to over shine what was in its way. In the process of this, what is seen is a false perception of what the house truly looks like. It is not a reflection, but rather a projection of what the light wanted it to be. It gave us two pictures - what is true (the house) and what is not true (the shadow).

I thought of the word shadow - and its meaning. Some would say that a shadow is like a reflection - mocking whatever the light is playing upon. Others would say that a shadow is like a covering - something that gives comfort and rest (think: a little baby who has her Mom affectionately nickname her 'my shadow,' or spending time in the shadow of a tree).

I thought about this image in terms of myself. Do I cast a long shadow? Do you? In my perfect (clearly made up) world, the shadow that I would cast would be one of truth; meaning, the shadow itself would be equal in measure to me in that moment. The prophet Isaiah talks about the 'shadow of a great rock in a weary land.' Would I want to be like that? Would I want to be the place where people found refuge when they are weary? Is it my job to cast a long shadow? Job says "As a servant earnestly desires the shadow," meaning, my job as a servant to my King IS to cast a long shadow so I am able to offer a place of rest.... not sure I'm cut out for that one, but if it is what we are called to do, to be????....then I guess we'll have to work on that one.

At the end of my thoughts on this, I realized that I truly desire to be both the shadow caster and the one to rest in a shadow. I want the Son to radiate so brightly that the overflow casts a long, far reaching shadow where people can find a safe, shady place to rest. I want to constantly find myself IN His shadow restoring and recharging and reflecting on how far my own shadow goes. Will you join me there?