I find Jesus in the Kitchen


I work at a hotel. Most days, I’m either working the front desk from 5:45 am until whenever I get off, or I’m working my backside off cleaning up the messes of a small town. Sometimes the mess belonged to a man who left his wedding ring in the room because he wasn’t staying there with his wife, sometimes a group of very messy Mexican workers who cook moldy burritos in the microwave and have idols and candles to worship the goddess of death who will keep them safe. I work for a Hindu woman whose parents were Indian and emigrated from India to South Africa. I learn a lot from her about God, and she inspires me to spend more time with Him. Her ideas of culture and God coincide with mine some days, but other days, they are very different. Other days, I get very frustrated with her lack of patience for people who are doing their very best to help her. Some days my frustration for this place makes it hard to feel like Jesus is present anywhere in or around me, like I’m in any way making a difference in the midst of all the things I see: the drug addicts with “Do Not Disturb” signs on their doors, the men coming in month after month with increasingly younger women, never wanting receipts that would incriminate them, the coworkers who struggle through things I never could have imagined struggling through. Sometimes, Jesus seems a little far in that.

This morning, I was standing at my kitchen counter making breakfast. I was cutting mushrooms and potatoes, I had just thrown a baked oatmeal in the oven, and my eggs were ready to be scrambled, my sink was overflowing with dishes because I haven’t been home very much this week because of work, more dishes still were stacked on the table from Thursday night’s dinner, I have 3 loads of clean laundry from several days ago in my bedroom that need to be folded. My house becomes chaos some weeks. Standing there at my pumpkin colored countertops slicing food for my breakfast with my husband with my worship music playing, I felt Jesus so near and close to me. Since then, the phrase “I find Jesus in the kitchen” has been lodged between my ears. It’s been an anthem of sorts, telling me that even in the midst of chaos, I can find Jesus in these moments that seem so insignificant.

Jesus is in my mountain of dishes that reminds me I didn’t have time to do them because I have a job where I can excel and solve problems and work with my hands, and because we had company over and spending time with our friend is a beautiful blessing. Jesus is in a pile of diced potatoes and Baby Bella mushrooms and the aromatic garlic cooking in coconut oil. Jesus is in that baked oatmeal in the oven baking all warm and cinnamon-y for our friends at church. Jesus is in the small moments reminding me that He’s provided space for me to serve my husband and our friends and the people I work with and to do things, like cooking, that I love doing so much.

My worship music played and I couldn’t do anything but smile, sing a little louder, and bask in the presence of Jesus I could feel swelling through me and around me in my little kitchen telling me again and again, “No matter who you are or who you’ve been, I’m still here filling every little moment of your life with gifts and building you into who you will become. I’m not done with you yet.”

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To know and be known.


One time when I was a child,

I met a man named Broken

He showed me scars, scabs, and holes

He introduced me to scratches and stings

I’d not known these before

They came from far away

A country my mother would have called Foreign

I’d known bunnies, cats, and teddies

Carrots, bread, and chocolate

Pennywhistles, autoharps, and guitars

But Broken told me his name was mine

That I shared a birthday with his brother Shame

And I had the voice of his sisters Destruction and Approval

They moved into my house

Told me they were family

They shared my vision

They were life

So I communed with them

Though I reviled the way they became myself

So I folded myself up tight

I dug deep under my bed

I found an old shoebox and tucked myself in

To be sure no one would see the deepest reaches

And I lined it with sharp edges so it couldn’t be opened

~

We had both met a man named Healing

Healing had been wounded when He was alive

The ones He loves had stripped Him of His skin

Disrobed Him to His bones

And pinned Him up to dry

He gave us meals of bread and grapes

He built us a new house

With tools to evict the dysfunction

To file down things that pierce

To rid ourselves of our boxing walls

And to go and do the same on our walk

~

I met a boy called Descendent

I told him my name was Broken

That I was sister to Shame, Destruction, and Approval

He showed me ducks, cats, and trucks

Toast, chocolate, and almonds

Autoharps, guitars, and shaped notes

He told me to climb out of my box

Peeled back the razor edges

Took my hand and helped me out

Asked for help with his own box

And a bowl of something hearty and warm

Together we knock down walls

Holding hands, we help build houses

Intertwined, we know and we are known

Waking up to humanity.


Today, I woke up tired, and for some reason, acutely aware of my humanity and how much I have that I don’t deserve. I opened my eyes and spent the next several minutes horizontal, kicking myself for keeping my boyfriend up too late last night, feeling stupid because I’m not as “spiritual” as I think I ought to be, and I don’t always know what I think I should. I beat myself up for being so messed up. +I asked God why in the world He would choose me to be an ambassador of His grace and love when I so often fail to trust in it, when I so often believe that my own failures have an effect on the fullness of Himself in me. Why would He choose to use someone as screwed up as me? Why would He spend so much time transforming me, working on me and tearing down the lies I believe about myself? Aren’t there better people to work with? I became angry with myself about the coffee I’d failed to make at church this morning because I couldn’t find my key, and frustrated that I’d decided to go back to sleep instead, even though exhaustion told me I needed it. I grumbled at myself and yelled at God for loving me. I put on some music and showered. “Only by grace can we enter” the speaker on my iPod spat out these words in tinny notes. “Not by our human endeavor, but by the blood of the Lamb.” I felt my spirit begin to thaw and soften. All the crap melted. It wasn’t magical or instantaneous or anything, I could just feel the process beginning: the being reminded to let God love me because His love is bigger than me and I have no control over it; the opening myself up to that which I do not feel I deserve – mercy, joy, hope, purpose – because the One Who created me wants to pour these things into me, and leak them through the cracks humanity has chiseled in me. He wants to fill me so abundantly that it breaks open the reservoirs filled with the murky waters of insecurity and upside down pride.

I am allowed to let myself be loved. I am allowed to let my walls come down and walk out onto that which bridges the gap of the vast expanse ahead of me. The Creator of the freaking universe wants me to experience His beautiful nature, wants me to be drenched in the complete love He created me for, wants me to know how far He’ll go for me when I walk away and forget. He doesn’t keep His love a secret. He holds it out for us to receive. In actively choosing to receive, we are transformed, taught to trust, and made whole.

Cacophony


Photo Jul 25, 8 32 37 PM

He is the helper of my daily unbelief

My hourly falling

The filler of my spirit’s hunger

He fills me with wonder that I couldn’t conjure

He alleviates the poverty of the street rat that is my heart

I wander around and search for answers

I scramble for control

I’m desperate to know I’m right

Desperate to know I’ve walked more correctly

As though I can assemble hope myself

As though I could die for my own sins

I listen to too many voices

They get cacophonous and I can’t sort them

One tells me I’m wrong

Another tells me I’m right

A third tells me it doesn’t know

And still a fourth tells me I’ve got no time

My mind gets stuck and can’t escape

My heart is clouded by the noise

It’s got trouble travelling through the fog to Mt. Zion

It has difficulty feeling home

Lord, speak to my thoughts and heart

Let your heartbeat be my own

Fill me with wonder and love and hope

Speak to me above the noise

Alabaster (continued)


When Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper, a woman came up to him as he was eating dinner and anointed him with a bottle of very expensive perfume. When the disciples saw what was happening, they were furious. “That’s criminal! This could have been sold for a lot and the money handed out to the poor.” When Jesus realized what was going on, he intervened. “Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not me. When she poured this perfume on my body, what she really did was anoint me for burial. You can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired.”

Alabaster jar, 
You aren’t easy to give
Nor does your brokenness 
Your surrenderedness
Your pouring out
Escape ridicule
Hide from the scoffs of others. 
But Jesus is worth it
His mission is worth my reputation
His life lived in me is worth disagreement
His harvest is worth the last of my prized possessions
I’m only alive in pursuit of His life. 
Only purposed walking in His purpose

The world in all its fragility


I wish the world weren’t so fragile

I wish it wasn’t so broken.

I wish we could find a way to glue it

But I know that my wish’ll never come true

We’re too fallen

Too broken

To make sense of the mess

That we’ve all created

I suppose the only thing left

The only thing left to lean on

The only thing we can hold on to

The only thing that might help

The only thing is love.