Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Courage to Find the You That's Been Hiding

A few weeks ago I spent the evening on my couch watching the ladies final in the World Figure Skating Championships airing live from Boston.

I didn’t even know the competition was on TV until I stumbled across a news story that morning. There was a time when I would have had this date long-circled on my calendar. I might have even traveled to Boston to be there in person. 

But the girl who would have done that was an earlier version of myself and now I’d evolved . . . or transformed or . . . progressed.

{Or had I?}

I’ve loved skating from the time I was five years old and asked my mother to take me to the Ice Capades for my birthday. I’ve taken years of skating lessons and was even brave {or foolish} enough to enter an adult competition.

For three years in a row, I traveled to the US Figure Skating Championships as a spectator, making pilgrimages to Dallas, Atlanta and St. Louis. 

My skating friends and I would buy all-event tickets for the week, arriving at the arena for early morning practice sessions and staying until the competitions wrapped up close to midnight. 

We’d stay at the official hotel, eat breakfast beside skaters and coaches in the dining room, pass them in the lobby, ride with them in elevators, all the while trying not to be dazzled and star-struck.

But a few years ago, I stopped skating. 

My coach moved to another state and I started to think being so devoted to skating was a little frivolous and I should focus on other things. 

Like improving some of my personality quirks and refining some of my rough edges that I thought were getting in the way of the person I should have been becoming.

But that night a few weeks ago when I watched the ladies compete for the gold medal was exciting and beautiful and graceful. 

And I felt a little piece of myself come out of hiding.

Leeana Tankersley has written a striking and profound book called Brazen: The Courage to Find the You That's Been Hiding. 

She writes eloquently and honestly about the journey of becoming who we are in our unique God-created centers with all of our gifts, shortcomings and longings.

This book resonated deeply with my soul. 

Maybe because Leeana renders silent the voices of what she calls the Soul Bullies.

These are the voices out to steal our freedom, question us, instill doubts about what we’re doing and feed our fears. 

She realized that as soon as a creative craving, stirring or a longing wells up, forces are at work to keep her paralyzed, confined and silent.
“Do I believe God put something good inside me on the day of creation that I am to investigate, nurture, return to? Or do I believe the Soul Bullies — that I am a fraud and a fake and a fool for thinking I am entitled to the eternity God set in my heart?”
Leeana noticed that she talked about her desires and longings as if they were dreamy and romantic. 

But instead she discovered that these pursuits needed blood and guts and courage to fight what keeps us from exploring what God plants in our hearts.

Maybe that's why I love skating. It's the part of God-in-me that longs for truth and beauty and love.

I also love art and ballet and writing and history and books and a hundred other things. 

But somewhere along the way I started listening to the voices that told me maybe I shouldn’t like those things so much. 

Maybe if I liked different things, then I’d become somebody new and all the things that weren’t working in my life would fall into place. 

But what didn’t work was trying to hide who I really am.

Four years ago I carved out a little space on the internet and started writing a blog. Although I like stringing together words and creating photos to go with my posts, it's here when I write that I get to know God. 

He reaches down deep into my soul and pulls up words I didn’t even know I had in me. And he shows me who he is.
“Maybe the treasure is knowing who we are and where home is and who is waiting for us there. God looks for us in the quiet of the morning. He sends his love on the wind. 
He calls out to us, ‘Where are you?’ Our whole life is to be the answer, “I’m coming.” - Leanna Tankersley, Brazen

My nephew’s been asking me to watch him play hockey since he started lessons a few months ago. Last weekend I pulled my skate bag out of my closet for the first time in two years and threw it in the car to go to the rink, even though I wasn’t sure I really wanted to skate.

After watching my almost-teenager nephew wield a hockey stick and speed around the ice {for which I’ll take the credit since I introduced him to the skating rink when he was five}, my sister came back to the boards where I was standing. 

“Nate wants to know if his auntie is going to come skate with him,” she asked me.

I rummaged through my skate bag, stuffed my feet in my skates and started lacing them up. Yes, I told her.

“Tell him I’m coming.” 

I'm part of Revell publisher's blogger review tour for Brazen by Leeana Tankersley. I was provided a complimentary copy of the book, but the opinions are completely my own.

I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart and with Bonnie Gray at the Faith Barista.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

I walked right by this food truck in Milan last summer without trying a cannoli!

Have you eaten from a food truck yet?

I just hopped on board this bandwagon for the first time when I hit the road with my colleagues to buy lunch from two food trucks parked beside our office complex.

My coworkers told me the food trucks roll into our plaza every week, but they're never sure which ones will show up. They've sampled the fare from trucks peddling lobster rolls and Jamaican jerk chicken and fish tacos, so I didn't know what to expect.

But as I rounded the corner, I couldn't believe my eyes. It was as if the food trucks had aligned just for me since they must have known I was on the way over for lunch. 

{How lucky could a Francophile-girl get?}

Parked in front of me was Frenchy’s Crepe truck, with a full menu of savory and sweet crepes. 

Ooh la la. 

But even with a sweet crepe filling my mind, I first got in line at the Mediterranean food truck.

I ordered stuffed grape leaves that had a striking resemblance to my aunt’s stuffed cabbage rolls, although not nearly as scrumptious.

But the crepes were waiting. 

I ordered the s’mores crepe since it featured the most ingredients: chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers. 

As I stood at Frenchy’s truck window and watched him make my crepe, it got me thinking.

I admired these food truckers. 

They seemed brave and resourceful to always be on the move, setting up shop in a parking lot, cooking and serving. 

They didn't let their nomadic state, traveling around town without a restaurant home, change what they are called to do: share their culinary skills and talents with those of us who enjoy them. 

Their wandering is actually their recipe for success.

But I wondered how they handled the unknowns.

Do they question where they're headed? Do they pack it in and give up if nobody shows up where they're parked? What if they run out of ingredients or energy? What if their one-man show can’t keep up with the demand?

Maybe the food truckers and I have more in common than I first thought. 

{Maybe with you too?}

We head out on a journey, ready to cook up a life filled with beautiful and delicious adventures. 

Then we discover we’ve bitten off more than we can chew and we have a lot on our plates. 

Maybe we're frazzled and overwhelmed and thinking about changing direction. We don't know if we should keep going or head to the next stop and park ourselves there for awhile.

Or maybe our days have become routine and we wonder how we didn't notice that our supplies are depleted. 

We’ve run dangerously low on faith, used up all of our courage, and now we’re stalled and staring blankly at the future, unsure what to do next. 

We wander but God calls us back to his side. 

We wilt in the heat from what’s cooking in our souls but God’s protective arm sustains us. 

We grow weary but in ways mysterious and awe-filled, God shows us his love. 

We walk onward into the unknown but God leads us forward, showing us the next step. 
When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. - John 10:4

Maybe what they say is true. 

Not all who wander are lost. 

And that includes us.

As we walked back to the office, my colleagues told me I had to come with them again so I could try the seafood truck’s lobster tots, some sort of tater tot crossed with lobster that they said was worth the walk.

But for that lunch hour in my Florida office complex, I might as well have been wandering around Paris, lost in my thoughts enjoying a crepe from one of the carts on the city streets. 

All that was missing was the nutella.

I'm having coffee with friends at Holley Gerth's Coffee for your Heart and with Bonnie Gray at the Faith Barista. Join me there for more posts from my blogger friends!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Port in the Storm

Just the prospect of bread and cheese and coffee was enough to make me pull out the umbrella and set out on a stormy Saturday.

Tucked into an older neighborhood I hadn’t been to in years, East End Market offers an umbrella {pun intended} for food artisans to sell their products, all under one roof. 

Locally roasted coffee, freshly baked bread and hand-crafted cheeses sounded divine.

If only I could get to it.

The parking lots were full since I suppose everyone else had the same idea to explore an indoor marketplace on a rainy day. After dodging puddles in a soggy field from across the street, I made it to the front door.

A line of people snaked single-file from one end of the hall filled with merchant stalls to the other. Tables were full, the one full-service eatery wasn’t open yet, and there weren’t any available chairs at the counters.

After wandering to and fro, I thought about juggling a cup of coffee with a slice of bread and wedge of cheese as I walked, but instead, I took out my umbrella and made my way back across the street to the soggy parking lot.

No bread, no cheese, no coffee. I left with my hands empty.

Sometimes the refuge that seems so promising on your journey is not the port in the storm you thought it would be. 

The rain pours, the wind whips, and you end up with dripping expectations and soggy jeans flapping around your legs. 

{Or maybe that’s just me with the soggy jeans.}

These stormy seasons -- they come as sure as we set off on the road to someplace new, or think we’ve had an epiphany that lights up the night, or feel sure that at last we’ve turned a corner leaving dead ends behind.

Are we sure then, that this is the way?

We wade through puddles, trying to avoid sinking down in the mud, all for the hope of something warm and fresh that fills our desires, that hunger for more that spurs us on.

Along the way we realize that storm was only a spring shower, bringing the rain to water what’s growing down deep inside of us. 

The dark, the clouds, the soaking shower, all of it is necessary for the deeper work God is growing in us.

We forget that this is the way things work. 

For every flower that blooms in the spring, there was a winter it was darkly buried in dirt as a seed, with no sign of life. There were cold spells and days of rainy weather to bring into bloom what we only see in full flower. 

Maybe you’re tempted to dig up those seeds that hold a hidden hope or a daring dream.  

Might you hold onto these tender shoots in prayerful wait for them to bloom in a future season?

Maybe they're not washed out {or washed up}. Maybe they're not caught up in the wind and blown away, never to return. Maybe as sure as the seasons change, a new season is on the way for you.

But in the meantime? Let us hunger to know more of God.
Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.Hos. 6:3
Surprisingly, Saturday's soggy expedition to the market wasn't in vain.

The next day I was perusing their website and noticed they'd just posted a new class in their demonstration kitchen: The Art of Preserving

As in fruit. Now that sounds like my kind of art.

I've never made jam before. {Or even considered it.}

But an artisanal chef that makes gourmet preserves is going to teach us how to make Blueberry Grenache Spoon Fruit (a perfect blend of blueberries and red wine) and Triple Berry Spoon Fruit (a blend of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries). And they said they'll provide the bubbles and nibbles.

Doesn't that sound delicious?

I signed up. 

Stay tuned, I can't wait to share my adventures in fruit preservation!

And this time, maybe I'll even buy a loaf of bread and a round of cheese while I'm there.

I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth at Coffee for your Heart and with Bonnie Gray at the Faith Barista. Join me there!