Sunday, April 26, 2009

Challenge: Keeping In Step with the Spirit

Despite being married 23 years, I’m not a good cook.

Recently I overheard my husband, George, claim that living with me has been a life-long exercise in “faith-based eating.” Oh, that husband of mine, he’s so funny.

But he’s oh so right.

For example, once it was my turn to cook for a group of friends. Playing it safe, I prepared a stew which mainly required opening lots of cans. Imagine my horror when one friend ladled up a deadly-sharp can lid!

Now that you know the extent of my culinary deficits, you might be surprised to learn that I recently entered my church’s chili cook-off to benefit ALS.

Perhaps no one was more surprised than George.

But I did enter, a move not unlike a tone-deaf person auditioning for American Idol.

For weeks I tested several recipes until I finally concocted an original—which won the competition!

As Kelly Clarkson sang, “Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this.” Or at least 23 years.

I’ve been so elated that I’ve been wearing my first-prize apron embroidered, “Grand Champion Chili Chef 2009” to school functions, church services, funerals, gynecology appointments, etc.

Oh, I kid. But I just can’t get over succeeding in a challenge I never dreamed possible.

George and I recently began hosting an Alpha group, where people come to wrestle with the big questions of life pertaining to faith. We were excited to begin, but for the first few weeks, we felt uncomfortable and a little incompetent, like I do in a kitchen.

Soon, we forged true friendships, sharing moments of spiritual growth that we never would have if we hadn’t said yes to the risky opportunity.

And last year, George began meeting weekly with an elementary student as part of the Kids’ Hope USA Program. At first he felt awkward and ineffective, but the student’s enthusiasm for their weekly meetings has affirmed George’s sense of purpose and fulfilled his desire to positively influence a student.

So maybe old dogs can learn new tricks. Because we were willing to feel uncomfortable for a little while, we’re leading a small group; George now has a precious new friend, and the world has a brand new chili recipe that totally rocks!

If we’re willing to find the places where God is at work and step into the game, we can shake off routine and make a difference. A little bit of discomfort can do a body and spirit good.

Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Is God calling you to take a step somewhere out of your comfort zone today? What will you miss if you don’t? What might you gain if you do?


  1. Linda,
    Thank you so much for this post~

    It's 5:19 AM in California and I woke up 3 hours ago and started fretting~you see, my DH and I are going to Spain on Wednesday. His daughter has lived there for 5 years and we are finally visiting her.

    We've NEVER been to Europe or anywhere besides the continental US and Canada (once) and Mexico (a couple of times). All of those travels were years ago. We're stick-in-the-muds, aged 52 and 54. We're nervous. And a little scared. I woke up and started worrying about how my back will do on Jenn's guest bed and what would I do without my special neck pillow??? Fret and worry. Silliness. Ridiculous!

    And you remind me that God has called us to leave our comfort zones and take this trip...finally visiting Jenn and seeing her foreign (to us) life and friends....God will be with us the whole trip. He will comfort and encourage me if I just look to Him.

    Thank you. And please don't want to slap me because we are getting to take this trip! I know I sound ungrateful. I know that I am being silly...I need to leap out of my comfortable rut.

    Bless you!

  2. Linda I love this new column!! God is calling me outside of my comfort zone but it has not been in a quick way. See for years I could not look people in the eye as they scared me. Rejection and Failure were my lifelong friends. Then a friend encouraged me to blog, and I remembered a talent God had given me for writing and coupled it with my passion for politics. Then folks who read my blog encouraged me more. So the girl who was terrified of people, took F's on assignments in highschool and college that required public speaking, organized a huge tea party in Raleigh, spoke at the tea party, coordinated all the ones in NC. While I still feel like you and George at times inadequate and trembling I am trusting that God is carrying me as I move on to run for office.

  3. Boy, Mel has really stepped out...and running for office. May God bless her steps as she travels...for you and Jorge, too! He blesses obedience...especially when it is following his lead, then he grows your talents and increases your fields. Congrats on the new column, love it!

  4. I love this, Linda. I appreciate to much how you are an action person. Someone who doesn't just work on her own faith and relationship with God, but steps out in it, into the world with love. That rocks.

    (I know I didn't really answer the question here, but I just wanted to say that) :)

  5. God never ceases to amazes me in the way He moves and how He confirms His calling on our lives. Your column really hit home as He has been pushing me to grow in certain areas of my life and instead of thinking a thing to death, to just do it in faith and join Him for one wild ride! I've never been so excited about being so scared!!

  6. Ah, Lid, great writing. You are so talented. Thank you for the wonderful message. And congrats on all the wonderful happenings in your life...cookoff winner, study leader, writer!

  7. Wow, this was timely. Once we move to Denver this summer, I will have a chance to start all over again, so to speak. Since I can't commute back to NJ for my old job, I'll have to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Been praying about a couple of possibilities...

  8. I have been stretched in the past year enough to make me wish I was part spandex...and yes...every single stretch has ended up blessing me beyond measure. Thanks for sharing this!

  9. lOVE THE column!! And yes, I need to do something I'm ucomfortable with -- get off my derriere and write, write a book. I keep saying I will. And I will. Thanks for the encouragement!!!

  10. Why am I just now understanding that this is a whole other blog and not just a sample design for a blog makeover?? I have issues, no doubt. I loved this post...and so related.

  11. leaping way out of my comfort zone and planning a major fund campaign for a great cause and throwing together National Prayer Day function at the same time. Did I mention that I have a day job and working on my dissertation, too? If it all works out it will only be because of the grace of God.

  12. Getting out of comfort zones -- been working on a few areas myself! One being to actually send off some of my articles for possible publication. And to finish writing the books I've been thinking about for years!

    So thanks for the encouragement!!

  13. I am living out the "stepping out" in a few areas and I'll be honest and say it is scarey but oh so rewarding in the end! Great column, Linda!


Thanks for the thoughts.

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