Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kitchen Moments

I love my kitchen. It isn't a great wealth of yummy gastronomic successes. Quite the contrary. I usually don't cook anything that takes more than 30 minutes and more than a handful of ingredients. In fact, I am a big fan of the one pot meal, even if husband calls it "bachelor" cooking... But I digress.

The layout is open and fresh, lending itself to easy cleaning and flat surfaces. It's colors are muted grey-greens and taupe, camouflaging the grime that often accompanies living in the country and the fact that I am a horrendous housekeeper.

I love my kitchen not for the cooking aspects of it, but because it is in my kitchen that I often find my friends. It never ceases to amaze me that during the annual parties we throw everyone always seems to congregate in the kitchen. It's natural, I suppose. I am usually still in there preparing food, cleaning things up, or mixing up a yummy beverage and I don't mind if you come along. In fact, I love the company!

Like the openness of the layout, I believe this room above all others reflects my friendships in ways I don't often think about. In my kitchen you can find sustenance for your heart. It may not be fancy cooking with loads of eloquent advice and parables in flowery verse, but it will sustain you. The counters may need a quick wipe down, but those are remnants of the fact that we actually live here - amidst people we cherish.

The countertops are cluttered with all manner of things, some decorative, some useful, some none of the above. I admire those kitchens that have clear counters with nothing on them and everything put away in the cupboards. I, however, know that in my life "cleared off and put away" simply isn't me. I am more of a "all out in the open" kind of gal.

That is definitely another reason I love my kitchen. When my friends and I gather around the table or perch at the breakfast bar, we get real. We have a beverage or two, maybe a bowl of chips or some veggies and dip, and we get down to the business of being real. We talk about our week, our families and we listen as each one of us opens up to the other.

Isn't that what being a Christian woman is all about? We are called by God to hospitality. It actually comes naturally to most of us.

In Titus 2 we are directed to mentor each other as women in order to be good at those things that God finds pleasing. In those relationships we become so much more to each other than just mentors though. We become partners. We realize that we are not alone and ultimately, we are not special.

"What?" you ask. How can I say such a thing when we are always told how special we are right from the very start? Of course we are all individuals, created as one of a kind creatures. What I mean to say is that no ailment, no plight, no situation we are going through is special. It has all been done before and we are not the first or the last to experience it. You see, Satan is limited in his imagination. He only has so many tricks up his sleeve. He is simply the master at using them to his best ability. He can make us feel as if we are the only people that have struggled - just ask Adam and Eve.

The Enemy thrives on our ability to isolate ourselves when we feel persecuted by our circumstances. He isolates us from our families, our friends, and when he is particularly successful, he isolates us from God.

It is at that time that we need our kitchen moments and our friends the most. Only then can we understand that we are not alone in our struggle. Only then can we truly begin to help each other realize that we are not special. It is then that I understand how very much I love my kitchen.

Have you opened your kitchen to a friend in need lately? It only takes a moment to wipe down the table and pour a glass of water. It may be what makes all the difference in her world - knowing she's not alone.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Got Joy?

It's not an easy concept, joy.  In fact it is often confusing and leaves us feeling less than deserving of the love we so desperately need from our Lord.  We rail at ourselves because we think we should be able to approach all aspects of our lives with Joy as James says in James 1:2.

I believe that we can be joyful in all of our lives, but the snag lies in your definition of the word.  To most American folk, joy is lumped in there with happiness, giddiness, and all manner of other responses.  Much like our misinterpretation of love (a whole other post, obviously), we miss the mark by simplifying our definition.  Joy is a complex concept.  It is confusing at times and it can be misunderstood by outsiders, but most of all, joy is not happiness.

Ah!  Now I have your attention! 

Joy is not an emotional response but a conscious choice.  Happiness is an elusive and fleeting emotion that comes and goes many times during the day.  Joy is a state of being and a choice we make when things aren't always making us happy.  Joy is choosing to believe that God is in control.  Joy is the response we most often don't choose first because it is hard.  Joy is what Jesus had in his heart when he limped, broken and battered, to Golgotha.  Joy is not happiness.

Joy doesn't always look like elation, although it can.  Joy is a deep seated state of our soul.  Joy looks like peace, if I have to give it a definition to wrap my head around.  It is that peace that covers you in the most dire of circumstances, when all hope seems lost.  Joy is the response you have when instead of running off with your hair on fire, you kneel and pray and ask your Lord to guide you into His will. Joy connects you to something deeper than your emotions.  Where your emotions are shaky and unreliable, joy is steady and unswerving.  Joy is a deep contentment with one's circumstances, despite what our emotions are telling us.

Joy lives in us when we accept that Christ is the new author of our story.  Joy is our response when we trust Him to have our back, no matter what the circumstances and frankly, no matter what we don't understand about our plight.  Joy is what keeps us from hitting eject and walking away.  Joy is at our root of our faith and joy is absolutely essential to our love of our Saviour.  Joy is a choice.

"How do you get this joy," you ask...  Simple concept, but not an easy appropriation.  Not easy because it is a constant battle with ourselves to choose rightly.  Joy is obtained by asking God, continuously to help you see it as a choice.  Joy can become a habit that soothes you, uplifts you, and emanates from you.

Got joy?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What does she look like?

I don't have a picture of myself on this blog...  Yet.  To be quite honest and frank about it, I am not sure I ever will.  Not because I am overtly shy or have three ears. No, I am not sure I will have a picture because I don't want this blog to be about me.

Seems antithetical, doesn't it?  I mean, most bloggers blog because it is about them.  I have one of those kinds of blogs as well...  This blog isn't about me, per se - It is about our inner Bag Ladies or Bag-Persons, as it were.  That part of us that we are not sure we want any one to know about or look upon, but that definitely lurks beneath the surface of who we are.  The parts of our personalities that don't match up with who we are on the outside, the parts that don't look very "Christian" to the naked, untrained eye.

Maybe it is shame that drives the hiding, or maybe it is pride - Frankly, it doesn't matter.  We know it is there and more importantly God knows it is there, there simply isn't any hiding from Him.

The most amazing part?   Although He knows it is there, He doesn't see it.  He sees his children as the bright and shining image of his son, Jesus Christ.

God recognizes we are flawed in our sin, but He never holds that against us like we hold it against ourselves.  God doesn't flog us in our self-hatred like we do to ourselves.  Don't get me wrong - He will and does discipline us.  But His discipline is just, while ours is just ineffective flailing, not accomplishing anything but more shame, more self hatred and more hiding.  His discipline creates in us a haven and a rightness that breeds light, not darkness.  It is still discipline and sometimes incredibly painful consequences arise from it, but it is what God is referring to when He tells us He will work all things together for good to those who love Him (Rom 8:28).  With His discipline comes a peace where we would place self-loathing, joy where we would produce shame, and reconciliation where we would still be mired in conflict.

It is our inner Bag Lady that I want to examine here.  The person who so desperately needs to wheel her cart into the Throne Room and have it emptied of its filthy contents that seem to drag at her and keep her tethered to this earthly image of herself.  It is at the feet of her saviour that she can lay her burdens down and exchange them for the true gifts of fellowship and acceptance with the one true God.  It is in the Throne Room that she can become the "most favored of God", "the one whom God loves".

We are that special to our Lord, you know...  He considers each and everyone of us His favorite.  It is in that status that I can truly understand why John always referred to himself as "the one whom Jesus loves".  He wasn't being arrogant, as it might appear.  He simply understood that in that very special and hard to comprehend relationship with the Almighty, he had Jesus' undivided attention and unconditional love.  He knew at his core Jesus would never be too busy to answer his call or look at John with contempt as our human counterparts often do.  He understood his relationship with the Lord was built on more than that and he didn't have to understand it all to feel incredibly grateful for it.

When you open yourself to a relationship with Jesus Christ you become a favored child, just as if you were the only child of God.  He waits anxiously, as any parent would, to have you sit at His feet to learn, to share and to unburden your soul.  God is the Creator of all things and He alone is worthy of handling all you can throw at Him.  Won't you come and lay down your burdens today?  He is waiting.

Friday, August 6, 2010


That's the reaction I get when I start talking about my inner Bag Lady...  "Huh?  What do you mean?"

The deal is, I think we all have her... She's stinky, dirty, not worthy of much and no one really wants to keep her lonely old soul company.  She is that homeless woman wandering from street to street pushing a squealing cart full of garbage that she treasures as her only possessions.  She was once someone's daughter at the very least, not to mention someone's mother, sister, auntie or grandmother, but somehow she has gotten lost.

Lost in the trappings of today's on-demand lifestyle.  She has been burdened by the filth of poor choices, bad attitudes and misunderstandings, pushing a cart full of garbage that she finds so onerous and yet cannot seem to let go of.  She is that woman that we pass by and shake our heads, "But for the grace of God..."

Well, folks... It is absolutely the grace of the Almighty I am talking about!  We all have made our bad choices, chosen ill fitting attitudes and opinions and we all can use a good scrubbing by God himself to unburden our tired, worn out, ragged hearts.

The biggest blessing of all?   God WANTS us to come before his immaculate Throne Room to bask in His loving glory and unburden our hearts while He comforts and instructs us on to better things.  He is waiting for us to march our tired feet into His presence, no matter how dirty or unworthy we may feel at the time.  God's desire is to see us kneeling before Him, refreshed by his purpose and love, ready to bring glory to Him.

I am ready to  begin my journey into that glorious presence, and I hope you will come along with me...