I started work when I was 12, in a greenhouse picking roses. One day my boss handed me an envelope with about 130 guilders in it. I could not believe it and my boss was my new favorite human. I still played soccer on the weekend, but I discovered that if you work in the weekend you get more of those envelopes and soon I had a Saturday job at a local butcher.
This post is dedicated to all you bosses out there!
I had to quit my butcher job and I started my cooking career in the kitchen. As you might know, the general people who work in restaurants don’t go to church on Sunday. A friend of mine got fired when she asked if they could please stop cussing all the time. The answer was: if you don’t like the cussing you better go– that’s part of it.
Fortunately, I had better luck and started cooking among the old people with their stories and mushed food. Because this was work and school combined, my mentor Frank took care of me. For some reason he always had bad luck. On Saturday the old people’s home often got rice pudding. Since we cooked for a lot more grannies one could dream of, we made lots of rice pudding. After stirring our arms off, we divided the pudding in big bowls and went for a coffee break. When we came back the rice pudding was covered with black stuff. The ventilation system had back-fired and all the dust and grease had been blown out instead of in. We had to throw it all out and start over. I remember Frank making a funny joke about it but I don’t remember the joke.
School recommended to switch jobs often so I learn different things in different kitchens and after saying goodbye to the old people (some did die when I was there), I started my job at the Dutch bank in Amsterdam. My chef (not his real name) was really creative and I remember him getting complaints from the “Big Shots” at the bank that they didn’t know how to eat his food and preferred bread and cheese.
After the bank I sticked around in the government department and started working for the Parliament. There were lots of people who wanted to teach me stuff, but there was one big (and fat) chef who ruled us all. He was really short tempered and would often yell at his workers. I don’t remember what I did wrong, but he came storming in one day when I was cutting onions. He started yelling at me and a warm salty tear streamed down my face followed by many more. I didn’t know what to do, so I just nodded till he was done. He walked out and I wanted to yell back at him that I was crying because of the onions!! But he was too big for me to take him on in a fight.
My student years were over and now I entered the real world.
Well.. I started cooking with YWAM (missions) on sailing yacht the Next Wave.
This time my boss was a captain. When I did my shopping at Aldi’s, I loaded my cart full and was going towards the dock. Not even two steps out of the store, Aldi’s anti theft policy crept up on me and I was stuck. The cart wouldn’t move. Not to be discouraged, I went to a vegetable store, got 2 tomatoes, and started to load them and all the groceries into my new tiny cart. I told my friend to please do the same thing and get me another cart. When he came back with two pears in his cart, the owner followed him out yelling something in Spanish. We were stuck with one small veggie cart, so we bought a bunch of bags and carried them, two at a time. My friend was pushing the cart and somehow it tripped and fell sideways. The streets ran red with tomato sauce and I quickly ripped open a pack of toilet paper and started cleaning it up.
Finally we arrived at the dock and our captain came and picked us up to get us to the Next Wave, which was on anchor. It was so windy that with all the heavy groceries we didn’t break any world records but we did make it. We were in the dinghy, throwing groceries to the students up on the deck, while the captain was holding onto the rope ladder so we wouldn’t drift. That is how we got food to the galley: a long line of everybody. The last thing was a bag of flour. The captain threw it, but it hit the railing and the bag of flour just exploded into the air creating a cloud of flour descending on the captain. While trying to get most of the flour off himself, he let go of the rope ladder and the captain drifted. His face white with flour, he was fighting the waves and the engine of the dinghy that of course didn’t start. That’s the last I ever saw of him. (just kidding)
I worked for a company called Fles (Bottle) en Mes (Knife). I had two bosses this time and it was funny that one of them was more like a bottle (pudgy and curly hair) and the other more like a knife (straight hair and always looking sharp in a suit). One day we had a very serious meeting about how bad it is to break a cup or a glass, because it will go off the boss’ paycheck. At the end the “bottle” boss tripped over something and a giant potted plant fell on the floor. There goes your point. That kind of stuff was almost a standard for the “bottle” boss. One time he extinguished a fire in his car with orange juice and another time he had to brake so hard that the dessert he was transporting came flying against the front of the van.
The last boss I worked for was a little bit more complicated as far as personal life. On the work floor he was jolly and always friendly. Then one day he got arrested for drug dealing and put behind bars. After a couple of days he came back and said he had a nice little vacation.
It’s fun to work at many different places with many different people. So if you have had the same job for 12 and a half years, maybe it’s time for a change!
When my spiritual life was parched and I was desperate for eternal life, I heard God say “the missing third dimension” to me, repeatedly. I would wake up in the night, my face wet with the deepest desperation I have ever known, and I would have this phrase always stuck in my head: “missing third dimension.” It took awhile to figure it out, but then one day I recognized the third dimension that was missing from my life was the Holy Spirit. As usual, God was both mystery and revelation in the same breath. It was quite a Breath indeed, when I got to know that “missing third dimension”. Not a breath of fresh air, but a rushing Wind that knocked me flat on my face.
This is the part I get excited about: God took a piece of Himself and put it inside of me.
You can read that sentence a hundred times and it’s just a sentence. Or then, that truth can settle into your spirit and it will change you forever. That’s the difference between information or revelation and it’s the difference between life and death. I knew all about the Gospel in my mind (soul) but until I knew Him in my spirit, I was still dead.
My spirit is where God lives and reigns and He is the one who kindly dictates: You are a conqueror, plus. You are not your own; you have been bought with a price. You will take up your cross daily and you will follow truth at all costs. You will worship Me with your mouth, your eyes, your arms and your feet. How about that?
My body may be tortured or diagnosed or just exhausted. My soul may be crushed by deception or betrayal. But this one thing remains in my spirit where no one can touch it: Christ in me.
Not that anyone asked, but I would like to share these thoughts in conclusion.
The reason I have been thinking a lot about this, is because I am just starting to raise kids and I can’t help but look at them in 3D, if you know what I mean. I look at their bodies, their souls and their spirits and I wonder. Who is going to make sure they are strong in spirit, and not just strong in soul? Until they “pass from death unto life” (John 5:24), how will they “keep under their bodies and bring them into subjection” (1 Corinthians 9:27)?
I heard a story about a Christian family in the Middle East who was being harassed by ISIS recently. Soldiers threatened the father, promising to kill his children unless he agreed that there is no God but Allah. He wavered, and then he caved. He couldn’t watch his children die. A few weeks later, the soldiers threatened this man’s children with death, unless they agreed to renounce their love for Jesus. They would not do it, and they died.
After I cried, I asked God to make my children like that.
Every day I am knocking at heaven’s door, asking for answers, wisdom, grace. I bet you are too, if you’re a mom. I don’t know very much yet, but maybe you can help me. I can’t always protect their bodies from GMOs, and I’m not fluent in every love language. What I can do is lay down right here in the dust of everyday life and be a bridge: the bridge that will introduce their spirit to Another.
Our bodies manifest what’s in our souls.
I have listened to dozens of prostitutes’ stories, and they all start the same way. They all started with abuse, rejection, unbearable sadness. Their souls were absolutely smashed to bits, before they had a chance to crawl. And throughout their life, what they suspected was proven true: they were worthless.
When I meet these beautiful girls in the windows, I can’t convince them that their worth is more than the highest bidder. It is written deep, deep in their souls. They end up in the street, begging for 25 euros of worth from any old stranger who passes by their window.
They are the very worst and the very best example of our bodies manifesting what is written on our souls. For some of us, this hits a little close to home. Maybe we didn’t get the money, but our immorality lifted a big, red flag that says, “Something bad is written on my soul.” That is what happened to me.
The thing I notice is that abuse and religion do really similar things to our souls. I got the religion end of it. And I don’t mean someone else’s religion— it was my own self-righteous, religious heart that caught me so off guard when I was 17. There were so many lies written on my soul, and I still wonder where most of them came from. No one told me I was worthless, but I believed I was. No one told me I had to earn my place in the kingdom of God, but I was sure I had to. I had in mind grace was a dangerous thing that made you sin carelessly, so I steered clear of that. I craved affirmation, like we all do, and I grabbed at it by being good enough, right enough, spiritual enough.
But then I was freely offered all this, that I had worked so hard for: worth, belonging, affirmation. The muscles of my soul, if you will, were so weak and sickly that there was no strength to resist. No truth was written there to offer an alternative. My goodness was built on a rickety pile of self effort, all pointing at me, me, me. If you remember the Holy Spirit, the soul of the Trinity, He is all about everyone else, all about manifesting the goodness of others.
What I manifested was a sick, broken soul. And I was as surprised as anyone. I thought I could outwit my soul, but the truth is in there… however you choose to pretend it’s not, it comes out. In fact, it is the kindness of God that leads us down the hard road to the truth. One of the kindest things He has ever done for me was to lay out my ugly soul for everyone to see, including me.
One day in the middle of my brokenness and confusion, a dear friend came and washed my feet. She promised that God would take my ashes and turn them into something beautiful. Through her act of mercy, she wrote this on my soul, and it’s still there today. Much as I tried to run from kindness for awhile, it was impossible. That dangerous grace actually PAID for my sins— not overlooked them! I remember the utter relief of not having to earn, work, and strive for my goodness.
The world tells me to live according to my soul: my mind, my will, my emotions. Religion wants me to think my soul is impossibly bad and needs to be killed. And I am asking God for a healthy, whole soul that is fully alive, filled with His truth. I don’t need to demand love and affirmation to fill up my soul; I can even live “despised and rejected of men” because Jesus loves me, and He wrote it on my soul.
A long time ago, I learned about the trinity of my self: body, soul and spirit.
Then I learned about the Holy Trinity in whose image I was created. I discovered that God the Father is in charge of His trinity, setting an example for our spirit to be in charge of us. I learned that Jesus is the Word made flesh to serve, just like our bodies are designed with arms and feet and smiles, to hug and give stuff away. And I learned that the Spirit is the beauty that never seeks its own, but breathes out life through the others… just like my soul is designed with a mind, will and emotions that are meant to bow and bend and give beauty and life, never clawing for dominance.
I am certainly no expert, but I like to mull these things over deep in the night, with a drowsy husband as my rapt (captive) audience.
Somewhere in Lapland right now, there must be an adolescent with raging hormones whose temptation is to let their body be in charge. Currently I am 38 weeks great with child, and my temptation is also to let my body tell me what’s up. I am a home-birthing hippie mama so believe me, I love listening to my body in its proper place. But I also know how easily my world shrinks down to my two bodies (the one within and the one without), and then the sun needs to revolve around these two bodies, until all I am thinking of is my body, my body, my body…. just like a hormonal teenager. Crazy how we can’t ever quite shake off that adolescence, eh?
I have a big personal space, physically. I’m not that great with hugs, especially after a year in a very cold-cultured European country. Hugs feel invasive to me and I know it is terrible to say that and I want to change tomorrow or the day after. But for today, I just want you to talk to me at a comfortable distance, preferably 4 feet or more, enough that an elephant can pass freely between us if need be (and we all know how they like to frequent a room).
You know, it’s weird to talk about your personal space when you’re married. It’s even weirder to talk about your personal space when you’re pregnant. It doesn’t get more invasive than a womb full of someone else’s limbs and stuff. The miracle of pregnancy and birth will really blow your mind if you think about it long enough, which I have.
Then here comes Jesus, the body of the Trinity, as it were, and do you know what He said? “Here is my body, I break it for you. Here is my blood, I shed it for you.” Could it be that He was setting an example for me, about what my body is for? It is to be broken and poured out. I don’t mean this spiritually, either. I mean this quite literally, it is to be broken and poured out. If you know anything about birth, there is breaking and there is pouring out involved.
I’ve whispered it countless times to my son recently: this is my body, broken for you. I am dying to give you life. I know I’m not suffering as Jesus did, but He is my example, again and again and again. When you know who you are, you can give until it hurts.
When my affectionate toddler pulls my hair and strokes my nose and crawls over my sore belly, I tell her: this is my body, given for you. This body was specially designed to serve you life, to hold you, to feed you, to give you my utmost. Here are my fingers, to stroke your soft cheeks when you are sleeping, to fill up your giant soul. Here is my smile, I would like to waste it on you. Here are my eyes, with special ducts, to weep with you when life is painful. Here is my mouth, I will sing over you and I will reprove you. Even in body, I was masterfully fashioned to be your mother!
Here we are, 8 days in. We are living on the YWAM base, which used to be a hotel. We have 2 rooms to ourselves. The one room has bunkbeds and Ellie sleeps there. The other is our bed/livingroom. It’s not bad at all. My wife just went upstairs with Ellie to fetch the laundry from the machines. We exchanged a 20$ bill for 80 quarters to put in the laundry machines. Soon after my wife left I heard a knock on our door and when I opened, a couple was wondering if our laundry is in the machines. How in the world they discovered it was ours must be a old YWAM trick!
Life on the base is hectic– lots of people, even more kids. We have to walk 3 long hallways to get to the eating area. We eat in what used to be the hotel restaurant. They turned their bar into a coffeeshop and it is open for the public. (They took the coffeeshop concept and they are starting one in Nepal) The kitchen is quite big and they are running two cooking schools right now. I took over for the kitchen manager while he is on vacation, so I am cooking lunch and supper for the students and staff. It is a fun way to get to know people, since three base staff help me to cook everyday.
The most people we ran into are Americans and are either on their way to China, Cambodia, Thailand or some other country far away or they lived in those places. Most people act surprised when I tell them I am from Holland since they think I have such a thick American accent, hah. (no joke)
Last Sunday Joy was still recovering from the long trip, so I took Ellie to church. The googled Mennonite church I visited was something else! The ladies were wearing pants and not even one head covering. I wasn’t sure where I was since they were talking so much about being Mennonite, yet so different as I know the Mennonites. At the end, I asked a lady if they were a liberal Mennonite church and she, being the pastor’s wife, did not have a clue and said they were just plain Mennonites. No beautiful singing, but they did give me a homemade welcome cake which was nice.
It is great living in Colorado Springs. You have everything you ever wanted, included a Dutch bakery which we announced our favorite go-to place for rest.
Thanks for praying!
Just to let you know.