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Chinese. If you hang around me enough, you will hear me talk about my constant search for good Chinese dumplings in the US. I will eat Chinese food for lunch AND dinner.

Pick your dropped jaw off the floor, because I will prove it…if you buy.

Mexican. I cannot get enough of the white cheese. Seriously, it’s addicting. And don’t even get me started on guacamole! Oh. My. Gosh. I could eat a bushel of avocados, but when you add the rest…step away from the bowl. I’m not kidding.

In the US we take our food very seriously…but the seriousness is not in whether or not there is food on our tables, it’s found in the fact that we have CHOICES of food. There are so many that go hungry in this world that it completely blows my mind that we have so much that we get choices.

Not every country has choices, it’s just been in the last few years that you hear of something other than Russian food outside of Moscow. And it’s definitely not a question of which Mexican restaurant you want to eat at…there’s only one.

I eat a lot that is bad for me, and I eat too much of all of it. I have a group of friends that is known for their amazing small group snack choices. The yet another that we stuff ourselves into oblivion when we get a night out together.

Relationships are made stronger over breaking bread together, and God created us to be in community…but…we have a tendency of over doing it. I know…pot…kettle…kettle…pot.

But the same is true for my relationship with God. I consume things that are not good for me and my relationship with him. It’s downright damaging to what we have.

Here’s the poster couple for actions that damage relationship with God:

For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.  When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. [Genesis 3:5-6]

Talk about ruining it for all…their (yes, Eve AND Adam, they BOTH ate it) hunger for things that God said they didn’t need made it rough for all of us.

Put your brain in that moment…when was the last time you KNEW something wasn’t good for you, and that it would drive a wedge between you and God. A raise of hands? Ok. All of us.

But we do it anyway. Adam and Eve ate that damn apple, folks…but when are we going to take responsibility for holding up our end of our relationship with God? When will we stop partaking in things that are bad for us?

We can blame the first couple for the sin in the world all we want, but they are not still eating the same apple. It has passed down through the generations and we’ve willingly snarfed it down.

I ate it. You ate it. They ate it. Now is the time to stop letting it come between us and God, because something even tastier came…bread and wine, anyone? Let’s eat some Jesus instead…

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transported

Incredible are the moments that everything stands still and a memory fights its’ way to the surface of your mind…and instantly you are transported to that exact moment in time as if it was just yesterday.

Some moments can be painful. The never ending cycle of memories after a loved one passes away is particularly brutal in my experience. Or even the pain of something someone has said that plays over and over like my version of a self-inflicted horror film.  It is so true that you cannot take back words once they are out…and people live with that pain for a very long time.

But then there are the warm fuzzy moments that fight their way through. Filling you with that beautiful feeling of being loved, and at peace…content…I also have a fondness for the humorous memories. I’ve been known to make myself laugh just thinking about them!

Then there are the moments that are in seasons of your life that define you. Those are my God-memories. The moments that are linked to times in my life that God was sculpting me into the woman he needed me to be in this world. That’s where I was transported last week in a split second during lunch with a friend.

We’d been talking about everything under the moon at a new Chinese restaurant we’d wanted to try for over a year. I’m always on the search for Chinese traditional dumplings that actually taste like Chinese dumplings. And this new place was a delicious symphony of flavor and styles of dumpling…literally, I was in heaven.

I was holding my chicken dumpling in my chopsticks, raising it to my mouth…when Mandarin floated to my ears. In my brain, time stood still as I was instantly transported back into the kitchen of my Chinese roommate…

It was the first weekend of 3 ‘home’ visits with our roommates, and honestly…I was apprehensive. For an entire weekend I would have no Americans around me, meet an endless stream of relatives, and the only person able to speak English would be my roommate.

Outside of my comfort zone? I was so far outside my comfort zone that I felt like God had picked me up like a cat toy and was tossing me around for fun.

But in that kitchen, with an incredibly hospitable family…cultures merged, barriers were demolished and I caught a glimpse of myself that I’d never seen before. Last week the smells filled my nose, and the memory of Yan Ruting’s mom walking around the tiny kitchen making sure everything was perfect filled my vision. Her dad was standing by the stove with the steam pouring out of the pot the dumplings they were in…her parents were a well-organized dumpling machine. I’d never had steamed dumplings before I was in China, and homemade is the way to go!

One of the best things about this seemingly beautiful memory is…it marks a time when God started teaching me that loving God with everything you have means living it out being exactly who God created you to be. Over the 3 weekends I was in their home I couldn’t ‘preach’ to her or her family. I couldn’t even talk to them…but I could be an excellent guest, smile a lot and love them with ever fiber of my being. Being a part of God’s kingdom is knowing that you are participating in it wherever you are…international missionaries are no different from stay-at-home moms pouring into their kids. It’s about the simplest things you can do, and throwing expectations out the window. It’s about loving God enough to love others well. It’s about letting God be your comfort zone, and the freedom that comes with surrendering control. It’s about being a part of someone’s life…not because you have to, but because you want to be in their life.

Several months after our summer team left, Yan Ruting started really reading the Bible…and while God had been moving in her while we were there…she started truly believing what the Bible said. Many times while we were there, she would comment about there was something different about us…joy, love and community. She was right, we had a common thread of belief in Jesus and believing that he is still alive and active around us.

I haven’t heard from her in years, but for 7 years afterwards we wrote back and forth. In those years, she got married…had a baby…her mom got sick, then healthy. And every time I think about her I remember her family who welcomed a complete stranger into their home, and showed her what being a part of a Chinese family felt like.

And imagine…all that in 10 seconds while holding a dumpling and hearing Mandarin chatter in a restaurant. God moments are beautiful, and when he transports you back to that memory…it’s a perfect reminder that he still calls us his own.