No Reservations (My Journey to Culinary School)

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No, it is not Thursday, but I thought we might do a little throwback today. So let’s throwback to when Lauren was about 11 years old. (A picture won’t be provided, sorry to disappoint you.) I remember a particular movie that for some reason, struck a pretty big cord in my heart, even at such a young age. My eyes were glued to the screen every time No Reservations was on. The lovely Catherine Zeta Jones played the role of Chef Kate Armstrong at a high profile restaurant in New York. Her standards were unreachable. Her dishes impeccable. The way she orchestrated her way around the kitchen had me absolutely mesmerized.

 

When my school’s career fair came up, I stood proudly in front my 3 fold, cardboard display. I had laid out my information strategically and was ready for every question that someone might have about culinary school. Sure, I didn’t have stuffed animals and foam fingers on my table like the other kids, but I didn’t care, because I wanted to be just like Chef Kate. After the night was over, my parents and I sat down and watched the Food Network, Iron Chef to be exact. We would guess what the secret ingredient would be and pick the chef we would root for all night. Normally, I would fall asleep and my parents would wake me up right before the winner was announced. I was addicted. Come Saturday morning, the last thing I wanted to watch was cartoons. Are you crazy? Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives was on! (I have to admit, I might have a little chef’s crush on Guy Fieri-oops)

 

Needless to say, life happened. Middle school and high school had me convinced that my dream of being a chef was impossible. I heard so many people saying, “It’s too expensive.” “Restaurants are hard to run.” etc. I gave up and pushed my dream into the high rafters of my mind. When I started bible college last year, I became a waitress in a full service kitchen. This was the real deal and it was everything that I had pictured while watching cooking shows growing up. I learned a lot during the year I spent working in that kitchen. I watched the cooks garnish plates like works of art and saute veggies with ease. I wanted to be behind that line so badly. My heart longed to feel the adrenaline and rush of a kitchen but, that dream was once again pushed away years ago.

 

As time went on, I had more and more opportunities to get behind the line. It was crazy how much it felt right.

*corny story alert*

Working in a kitchen isn’t necessarily the most glamorous job. I had quite a few 5 am bakery shifts that were, well, at 5am. As you are snoozing over a mixer full of cookie dough, you ask yourself the same question over and over, “Is this worth my paycheck?”. I remember one morning was particularly cold in the bakery so I slipped on a chef’s coat that was soon to be covered in flour. As I fashioned the long row of buttons, I had a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. I knew, from the very pit of my heart, that this was right. I had this feeling that this wouldn’t be the last time I’d be fashioning those buttons. This is the moment where I dug those dreams out from the back of my mind dust them off, and made them a reality.

 

Silly right? I know, I laugh now too. Around this time, I found this verse in Habakkuk that stopped me in my tracks.

 

“And the Lord answered me:

“Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end-it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come it will not delay.”

Habakkuk 2:2-3

If this is truly what the Lord wanted for me, I had to wait. I knew that He would grant me peace when the time was right.

That peace was granted sooner than I thought and after a serious of events, I found my way back home. Little did I know that the pain that I felt with that departure would be replaced with the joy of the coming of a new day. 

As I write this post, I am a culinary student who desperately needs to finish her homework for class tonight.  (Yes, believe it or not, we have homework.) When I first started my classes, I wanted to slip into the background and learn as much as I could. But alas, that was not the Lord’s plan for my time there. Seeing as I am one of the two people that have ever stepped into a kitchen, I’m often asked by my fellow students what to do, how to do certain tasks. I’m constantly being watched. It can lead to some very stressful moments but I know that He is with me. Pray that during this amazing time, I can be an ~a r o m a~ for Him.

Bon Appetit and Blessings-

Chef Lauren

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A Walk on the Water

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“God is sovereign. He is in control, He is on the throne. He has a plan and He is going to make it abundantly clear to you what that is.”

My pastor spoke these words just this past Sunday and I couldn’t have agreed with him more. You see, the past month of my life as been anchored and dependent on the Lord’s sovereignty. Despite what I wanted, how I felt, or what I thought was best for myself, the Lord stepped in and said,

 

Oh no, my beautiful one. This is not what I have for you. You see there are far greater things in store. Trust me.”

 

I had to. As I was standing on an unsteady boat in the midst of rocky seas, my Savior was on the water asking me to come. I felt like I was Peter and we were reliving that New Testament story all over again.

Let’s get real here. The very moment I knew what the Lord was calling me to do wasn’t a glamorous one. (It never really is, is it?) Physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I was done. I dropped to my knees in a walk-in refrigerator, surrounded by meat and salad dressing and cried out to my Lord.

 

“Father! Please! I have nothing left. I don’t know what to do! I’m giving it all to you because I can’t do this by myself! I can’t do this by myself! I can’t do this by myself!” 

 

I clearly remember crying out that phrase between sobs. I realized that everything I had done and been from my own strength. I also realized that this wasn’t going to work anymore. As tears covered my chef’s coat and mascara had stained my cheek, I received a strange amount of peace. I then prayed a prayer that, little did I know, would become quite a frequent prayer of mine for the next few months.

 

“Father. I have no idea what You are doing….but I trust you.” 

 

It was not soon after this that it seemed abundantly clear that the Lord was calling me to go. After days of begging Him for a clear answer, He dropped one right in front of me. Within days, my car was packed and I was headed home. I say goodbye to friends that were like family, a campus that was my home, and a life that held a huge portion of my heart. It wasn’t easy. While the greeting back home was warm and cheerful, those were the last two emotions I had on my mind. Sad and confused sounds better to me.

As I unpacked my life into my new room, the tears returned. Living with my parents felt great. A year is a long time to be separated from anyone you love. Despite the love and affection they showed me as they welcomed me home, I was coming back to them broken, confused, and lonely. As I was laying in my bed late one night, tears began to stream down my face. I then thought of a story one of my friends told about a difficult time in her life. There would be birds chirping outside her window in the early hours of the morning. She was longing for silence and sleep when she asked the Lord why the birds were chirping. She realized in that moment that, regardless of what time it was, the birds knew that the sun was going to rise. It is not my responsibility to ask -w h y- or to know –w h y-. I simply must believe that He has brought me to this place for a reason and a purpose. Once again, that prayer flashed into my mind.

 

“Father. I have no idea what You are doing…but I trust you.” 

 

Let’s fast forward to the moment where everything started making sense. Chef’s coat, checkered pants, knife set…check, check, and check! My dream that I have had for years is finally coming true. I’m finally going to culinary school. After spending the whole day running around paying tuition, signing papers, and making it all happen, I just had to try on my coat. (I didn’t care if it was 100 degrees outside) The buttons felt familiar and the fabric was strong. I carefully unwrapped my knives and felt their grip in my hand. It was all happening. The pain and sacrifice that I had been experiencing was all worth it for this moment. My very first culinary arts class starts in less than a week and I can’t help but pray…

 

“Father. I have no idea what You are doing…but I trust you.” 

 

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Out of My Mind

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i haven’t been myself lately. 

Do you ever have those times in your life where you can’t even explain yourself? People you thought knew every part of your being can no longer fill that space in your heart. Things that strung up a passion inside of you become boring, meaningless, or an unthinkable action. Every single thing about your life changes and you can’t seem to explain how or when all this happened. You are different. And in these broken moments, you spend some time out of your mind.

I will be completely real with you. For awhile there, I was searching and I was searching hard. What for? I can’t exactly tell you. Maybe it was for acceptance, beauty, self-respect, respect from others, or just plain fulfillment. It could have been any number of these things. I peered into every hallway and down every tunnel. It was almost I was stuck inside my own mouse-trap experiment. I didn’t know where I was, how to get out or how I got there. Eventually I starve from the ignorance of what I became so familiar with.<

During this 3-4 month long season, I spent quite a bit of my time alone. This was painful for me to experience at first. I'm a woman of life, laughter, and friendship. Never did I ever think that I would be actively searching for a familiar face in the midst of people I "loved". I truly began to discover the beauty of silent lips and observant eyes. I saw a side a different side of people when I wasn't busy competing for their attention. Gazing at what was around me opened up my eyes to the bigger picture of what was around me.

While this time by myself stretched me and allowed me to grow, it also showed me how selfish I was. The taste of that word on my lips was bitter and put a distinct memory into my brain. I wasn’t just selfish in my immediate desires but in my time, my interaction with others, and my addiction to my time at work. Every part of my calendar was about making myself feel secure. The set of numbers in my bank account was never my inspiration. For me, if I was busy and clocked in, I was successful.

Being a work-aholic brought sleepless nights and the constant battle of when I could find rest. I didn’t care how long you had stayed up the night before, I was more tired than you. I didn’t care that you spent the whole weekend at the beach with your friends because I was at work. And I didn’t care that the words I was reading in my Bible were forgotten as soon as I was putting it down.

I found myself face first on the floor pleading for Him to give me an answer. Every part of my soul was screaming for relief. I felt as if I was being suffocated in the midst of my search for what I thought was myself.

“when oh when Father will I ever be pleased with myself?”

“Daughter, I have you so perfectly placed. You are exactly where you need to be. Don’t be afraid of those dark corners before you because I will be with you. Keep loving me, hold on and never let go.”

This is where I found solace. This is where I found peace. In the defeat of my hardened, crushed spirit, I myself felt defeated in every possible way. My muscles were sore from clenching so tightly and my flesh was tired of the fight. My eyes were heavy from the weight of the tears I had cried. I gave it up. Everything. Who I thought I was, the people I thought were my friends, all of it. Gone. I looked into the mirror and stared myself in the eyes. I began to memorize what I saw, to make sure I never forgot again.

I don’t think that I have truly ever found the end of this journey. I have turned down many corners and peered down many hallways but, I haven’t found what I’m looking for. And I have had to realize that this is okay. I could wake up every day and wonder where The Lord will “lead me”. Where I will work, how I will get there and even who I will marry. But all this questioning would lead me into just another black whole of uncertainty. For now, I’m spending some time out of my mind because I know that I’m far better off inside of His heart.

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simple saturday…

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i would like to introduce you all to my new favorite place. my town’s saturday morning farmer’s market.

after rolling out of my bed at 7am this morning, a group of friends travelled a few miles down the road to be greeted by nothing but fresh flowers, produce, and perfect weather.

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we have a b e a u t i f u l little downtown area less than 10 minutes from our campus. the architecture of the buildings get me every time. this little town is so photo-shoot worthy.

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those strawberries were gorgeous and so incredibly sweet.

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can you tell what my favorite thing at the market is? flowers of course. i truly wish i could have taken every single long stemmed friend home today.

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speaking of flowers, this is my new florist friend, tom. he is truly a genius. who would ever think a tough looking man like this could create such beautiful bouquets? he created this breath taking one for me this morning for a simple 5 dollar bill. (below) it made every part of me smile and i truly can’t stop looking at these flowers. thanks tom.

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lastly, i just had to take this little guy home. i’ve always loved the look of succulents, here’s to hoping i won’t kill this one.

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so so happy to be surrounded by beautiful green things today. i escaped with some organic spinach and strawberries (organic green shake anyone?) along with my plant friends.

oh, my dear farmer’s market. i am falling so deeply in l o v e with you. see you next saturday.

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write Your story…

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This picture was taken last week as I shared my last post, “Here’s to You”, with my student body.

As I type these words, I have officially been blogging for a little over a year. I truly can’t believe it. A little over a year ago, the Lord placed a desire in my heart. A desire to write. To ignore this call would have seemed disobedient. The journey to where I am today is one I could look back on and be proud. Just this last week, I stood in front of my student body and shared my latest post, “Here’s to You”. I got chills as I looked across the faces and thought of how hard I worked to get to that point. I couldn’t help but shed a few tears as I walked off stage to find a few of my friends crying as well. The girl that struggled to find her identity a year ago was standing up on stage with strong words  to share.The Lord has been so very gracious, giving and loving throughout this whole process.

One of Francesca Battistelli’s newest singles, “Write Your Story” seems to written just for this time in my life. I see that the Lord wants to do amazing things with this blog. I continue to anxiously wait and pray for God to give me the words for my book. I want to be His canvas in which He can display His talent and Glory. I want my voice to fade into silence and for His to ring loud. He is preparing me and setting the stage for the big show. And this is when I tell the Lord…Please Father, write Your story.

~Author of my hope

Maker of the stars

Let me be Your work of art

Won’t You write Your story on my heart~

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here’s to you…

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Here’s to the girl who tucks herself away in the deep corners of neighborhood coffee shops. She travels to bookstores just to sniff the pages when no one is looking. She has a hunger for knowledge that may never be quenched. She’s the girl with the snow-white skin and auburn locks. She’s the girl who is constantly drinking tea while lost in her own mental galaxy. Here’s to you sweet daughter of the King. You have a story. It’s time to start telling it. //Isaiah 55:11//

Here’s to the girl who never thought she had a voice…

Here’s to the woman who finally found it.

Here’s to the girl who looked in the mirror and searched…

Here’s to the woman who peered in and saw it.

Here’s to the girl who fought for the words to say…

Here’s to the woman whose words paved her way.

Here’s to the girl who felt lost amongst the faces…

Here’s to the woman who found love and happiness in all the small places.

Here’s to the girl that thought her worth was found in beauty…

Here to the woman who set her feet firm on her spiritual unity.

Here’s to the girl who craved adventure in every way…

Here’s to the woman who realized, she was apart of one every day.

Here’s to the girl who looked for acceptance in the arms of the man…

Here’s to the woman who let her God romance her only as a Creator can.

Here’s to the girl who camouflaged her sorrow with fake smiles…

Here’s to the woman whose joy illuminates her, even through her trials.

Here’s to the girl whose heart was captured by the dark…

Here’s to the woman who overcame and found her spark.

Here’s to the girl who peered across the room and wondered why…

Here’s to the woman who realized her expectations would always leave her bone dry.

Here’s to the girl who struggled to find what to be…

Here’s to the woman who said, “Greater is He that lives in Me”.

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You Won Me Over

photo (1)We all know what time it is…

As we stroll the aisles of almost every retail store this week, we are bombarded by swarms of pink, candy hearts, and large stuffed creatures. Yes sisters, we have come to the arrival of Valentine’s Day. Everything about our day today will remind us of this holiday. As you scroll various social media websites, you may become intoxicated by the copious amounts of “I Love You” shout-outs and pictures of gorgeous bouquets.  Pretty overwhelming isn’t it? Especially for one who doesn’t have that “special someone”.

 

We all have an idea of what our dream relationship looks like.  The stereotypical relationship of “yes dears” and walks along the sunset. He brings you flowers and wins you that teddy bear at the fair. You share a soda..with two straws of course. He throws pebbles at your window and begs you to come outside. Do you catch my drift? We all wish to be romanced. We all desire to be swept off our feet. But have you ever wondered what it would be like to be romanced by your Heavenly Father?

 

Yes, you read that right. What would it be like to fall in love with Jesus Christ? Not only fall in love with Him and His word, but allow Him to completely shower you with His embrace and love.

 

I can honestly say that it is an indescribable experience. Waking up every single morning to open His word turned into opening a love letter written just for me, written from the One who loved me first. Reading these words in Song Of Solomon truly changed my idea of the love the Father has for us.

“Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely.” Song of Solomon 2:10,14

He is calling for you! He desires for you to spend time with Him! Just as “quality time” is one of the 5 love languages for a solid relationship, it also applies in your relationship with Christ! He wishes to see your face and hear your voice! My dear sister, He is calling for you! Like a suitor throwing pebbles at a window, He is longing for you to simply spend some time with Him. So go and do it. Don’t wait another minute. Ask Him to show you how much He loves you today.

During the beginning stages of any relationships, there is always a time period in which the man is trying to win over the woman. He will dress his best, present her will gifts, compliment her, and everything else he can to romance her. This week, I have been listening to Audrey Assad’s song “Won Me Over” constantly. I love how, like a relationship, it reminds us of that one special time when we first decided to follow Him. We had reached the point of breaking and we had no where else to wander. We ran towards His open arms and situated ourselves in the middle of His amazing embrace. Don’t let it be a one time event. Don’t allow that experience to be sacred to the “once a year” holiday. Run to Him everyday! Cling to everything He is and everything He promises.

“I was full of fear and prone to wander,
lost & lonely till the day You won me over, You won me over
I was halfway gone and going nowhere
Half alive until the day You won me over, You won me over, over.” 

Now, I have not come here today to talk against relationships. If the Lord has placed an amazing man in your life, p r a i s e Him! Pray for that man! Pray that every moment he may love the Lord far more than He could ever love you. Pray that your relationship would reflect the love of Christ. Pray that even in midst of your relationship, the Lord may continue to romance you with His word and promises. And ultimately pray for purity. The enemy will creep into every corner and try to destroy the beautiful innocence.

If the Lord has not placed this man in your life at the moment, p r a i s e Him! Pray for the man the Lord has coming! Embrace this time of stillness and singleness before you. The Lord can teach you so much during this time. This is your time to get lost and wander in His midst.

This Valentine’s Day, I invite you all to think the unique love that the Father has shown all of us. Don’t get caught up in a cheap imitation of what the world thinks love is. It is not a bouquet of flowers, it is not a box of chocolate, or even a sparkly stone on your finger. L O V E is our Savior coming to the world and sacrificing Himself for us.

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