The Great Calzone Failure of ’01

Nobody thought I could cook, least of all me. For our wedding, a wrapped up warehouse store supply of macaroni and cheese came alongside a copy of “Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen.” There wasn’t much expectation of my providing Josh with anything edible.

Taking it as a challenge, I flipped through my condescending cookbook; placing slips of paper in the pages to mark the recipes I intended on conquering. Calzones, potato soup, fried rice, croque monsieur; I would learn to cook!

Every night I had dinner ready for Josh, and it all came easily for me. All I had to do was follow the directions. Confident in my newfound talent, I suggested we invite the in-laws over for dinner. I would make calzones.

Our local grocery store did not carry pizza dough; a necessity for the meal. Biscuit dough should substitute as a casing, right? I measured out the ingredients for one batch of biscuits…the recipe that is supposed to result in 9 biscuits. Rolling out the dough, I decided that it really was only suitable for one calzone. One giant, behemoth calzone. A calzone to end all calzones. A calzone that could feed a family of 6.

I made four of them.

Guessing at the bake time, since my outer layer was not the one intended in the recipe, we ended up waiting an extra 45 minutes for dinner to be ready. Unprepared for this delay in the meal, I had no appetizers or hors d’oeuvres on hand. Good thing too, I wouldn’t have wanted to ruin their appetite for the main course.

Pulling my calzones out of the oven, I marveled at the golden brown exterior, the smell of the mozzarella and ricotta cheeses, the tang of the tomato sauce. Proudly I placed one mammoth half-moon pie on each plate. Anticipating the exclamations of delight and yumminess that would soon be emanating from my in-law’s mouths, I cut into my savory pastry. The normal result is a slight pop as steam escapes from inside, followed by all sorts of tantalizing smells.

Unfortunately this was not the case. Doughy. Underdone.

Raw.

I had just served my in-laws raw dough wrapped around molten cheese and jarred tomato sauce.

Failure…of epic proportions.

Maybe “they” were right. Maybe we needed to pull out the familiar blue and yellow box with its packaged cheese powder. Maybe I should just quit trying.

Luckily, I did not allow this setback to deter me. That year I had only one other significant inedible meal…Thai food. Other than that, everything I made was not only edible, but good. People wanted me to cook for them. They enjoyed what I served.

As the years have gone by, I’ve spent hours watching cooking shows, researching recipes and reading cookbooks. Never have I taken a class. Not one “How-To” book have  I cracked. But I’m a good cook.

How do I know this? People are happy when they eat my food. My husband encourages me in it. My children tell me I make the “best dinner ever.” I get asked to teach others how to cook.

I enjoy it.

I’m not a professional chef. Never once has James Beard given me an award. Cooking does not contribute to my income. Yet there’s not a doubt in my mind that it is a talent I possess.

Too often we allow our doubts and fears to hold us back. Cooking was one area I conquered those doubts, but there are others in my life that I still struggle with. There’s the expectation that if we’re good at it we’ll become famous for it, we can earn money from it, we’ll be better than others.

What’s the true measure of talent? Isn’t it all subjective? Who is the ultimate judge?

These are questions I keep returning to:

1. Do I enjoy it?

2. Do others gain from it?

Yes, acclaim would be nice; whether local or international stardom. Sure, being able to make a living doing it would be fantastic. But it all comes down to: would you continue to do it if no one ever knew?

For you it could be music, painting, basketball, speaking, writing, photography, knitting, film making, or fly fishing.

Regardless of the skill…keep at it! You might start out with raw dough and jarred sauce, but everyone has to start somewhere.

Have you ever felt like giving up on a hobby or interest because of an epic failure?

Did you? Were you able to overcome your fears and press on?

How do you measure success in those areas?

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Coming in out of the wind

It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

— C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

As I step outside, the door slams open, wrenched out of my hand by the gust of warm wind whipping around the building. Electricity snaps in the air, causing my hair to fly around my face.

It wasn’t until I moved to Southern California, and experienced the Santa Ana winds, that I truly understood the power wind can wield. Tables and chairs skitter across our patio; wind chimes that normally create a fairy song in the breeze are hurriedly taken down before they blow away.

The wind literally takes my breath away with its wildness and ferocity; easily you can become disoriented and isolated.

My words have fallen flat for me these past couple of weeks. And I think that, right there, is the reason why…

M Y     W O R D S

I’ve had trouble hearing “that other larger, stronger, quieter” voice. There has been a myriad of voices, swirling around in my head, electrifying my fears, doubts and insecurities. Recognizing them for what they are, I’ve tried to take every thought captive, but like the wind

they seem overpowering and unrelenting.

Just as I push one away, another comes at me. Even the thought of asking for help, prayer, encouragement brings on a fresh onslaught. The worry that weariness will set in and rejection become the end result causes a pause that isolates.

And so on, all day, I shove back the wind. It slips through the cracks and holes, piling up grime and wreaking havoc. Slowly I tire of the battle, and long to give in, to let it whirl around me and cut me off with its force and roar.

::

Peter was afraid of the wind. He saw his Savior, stepped out in faith, and walked a little way.

Then the wind came.

Fear and doubt overwhelmed him, and he began to sink.

he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him… {Matthew 14:30b-31a}

Therein lies my hope:

Peter walked on water.

Jesus took hold of him.

The wind may be rushing around me, but that means I’m walking the path of obedience.

And, all I need to do is call out, “Lord, save me,” to find His strong hand holding me.

Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD. {Psalm 31:24}

Resting in Him is like coming in out of the wind…

How are you finding your hope in God today?



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who do you think you are?!

Today I’ve been hit with a mighty dose of the “Who-Do-You-Think-You-Are”s. You know what I mean; that familiar spirit that mocks you as you try to do anything outside of yourself…

I’ve actually been waiting for him to show his ugly face.

Last weekend I spent three days in Palm Springs with some of my closest girlfriends. Our time was mostly spent in worshipping together, discussing prophecy, and then prophetically praying over one another.

My heart and mind are still trying to take it all in.

Times like those are life-giving and renewing in our walk with God. I received so much encouragement from them regarding my ministry here. Words of support were offered; words I had a hard time accepting.

Even then, I could feel those familiar fingers wrapping round my heart.

“What do you know?”

“You don’t have it all together.”

“If they only knew…”

And it’s all true.

I know nothing, except Christ Jesus, and Him crucified. My life tends to be in a constant state of disorganized chaos, but Jesus is the author and perfecter of my faith. Most of all, if God, who knows me more intimately than anyone, tells me to share something here, then I have no other choice but to share it.

This blog is not about me. Those of you who come here will find the strivings and musings of a very human girl as she abides in a merciful and gracious God.

My hope, my heart, is that you find Him when you come here, and not me.

So, Who Do I Think I Am?

I am a daughter of the Most High God; a servant of Christ Jesus, who saved me from eternal damnation through His death and resurrection;  a jar of clay filled with the Holy Spirit; and I speak what the Father gives me.

What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. {Matthew 10:27}

What familiar spirit have you been entertaining lately?

What truths do you need to speak over yourself to remind you of who you truly are?

Permission to Speak Freely: Book Review & Giveaway

After reading Mad Church Disease earlier this year I eagerly anticipated Anne Jackson’s latest book, Permission to Speak Freely.

Once again, Jackson is tackling a topic within the church today that’s not getting much coverage. This time instead of showing how the church asks too much, she’s pointing out that it doesn’t ask enough.

In May of 2008, Jackson asked the readers at Flowerdust.net,

“What is one thing you feel you can’t say in the church.”

She then complied some of the hundreds of responses she received into a beautifully broken piece of literature. As you turn the pages of the book you’re met with one confession after another.

The purpose of this book is simple: to share the confessions I’ve received from the website or through the mail, as well as stories from my own life and experience, to show you that you’re not alone in your battle with fear and secrets.

::

Growing up I never thought about the eccentricities that made my family unique. My assumption was that all families pretty much ran the way mine did. It wasn’t until I started dating Josh that I began to see that not every family is the same. There are different ways of doing things.

I grew up in the church. Here too, I never really questioned much. The topics of sex, depression, pornography, divorce, and doubts with God were not appropriate topics for sermons. Maybe once a year one of these topics would come up, but as with the annual tithe sermon the pastor tried to get through it as quickly, and apologetically, as possible.

In the last few years I’ve begun to recognize the importance of getting these struggles out into the open. Paul says in Ephesians 5:11-13, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.”

We need to begin to bring these unfruitful deeds into the light to help people come out of the darkness to realize they’re not alone.

::

Anne Jackson isn’t looking to provide a self-help book that tells you how to start talking about these topics. She’s just talking about them herself…and she’s providing a place for others to start their own discussion.

I loved that she didn’t wrap it up neatly in the end.

She leaves you hanging, she leaves you responsible.

Each time we decide to take a step away from fear, we begin to move forward into a life completely energized and right in the freedom God has for us. And as we take more steps into freedom, our actions have the power to set other on that same course of freedom as well.

Only you can give yourself permission.

Not me. Not this book.

Not the church, whether you go to one or not.

Only you can give yourself the permission to speak freely.

::

This book touched on a topic that is close to my heart and I loved Anne Jackson’s handling of the topic. My copy is all marked up, but I want to give one away.

So, I’m going to buy one for one of my readers.

I’ve never done a giveaway before, but I feel like this book has a lot to say on an important topic.

I’m not doing this to grow readership and I’m not guilting you into it by making you sign up for my blog or follow me on Twitter. You can if you want, but it won’t gain you more entries.

Just leave a comment below by midnight PST Thursday 9/9 stating that you’d like the book and I will randomly pick a winner and announce it on Friday’s blog post.

**Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”