Rising Above Sheldon’s Routine

 

Dr. Sheldon Lee Cooper is a fictional character in the American sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. He is characterized as extremely intelligent, socially awkward and rigidly logical. (wikipedia, 2012) One of his eccentricities include strict adherence to routine like compelling himself to do designated activities on each day of the week and sitting on the same cushion of his couch at all times.

 

 

 

 

Sheldon: (Smelling the french toast) “That does smell good! (throwing away the toast) Too bad, it’s Monday.”

 

 

 

 

I also adhere to a daily routine. Uncertainty is something I don’t want to wake up on every morning. But of course, I don’t have Monday pyjamas!

I always aimed to live life in a secure box where I’ll feel safe or at ease and without stress. But the reality is, at some point in my life, “adversity” will arrive knocking at my doorstep.

Ashton Kutcher once said, “I’m continually trying to make choices that put me against my own comfort zone. As long as you’re uncomfortable, it means you’re growing.“

As a part-time medical assistant, I follow a designated schedule in a week.  Aberrations seldom happen unless a staff cannot report to work. Until recently, there were major changes made in the staffing which significantly reduced my number of work days. Caught unprepared, this turn of events left me distraught and unsettled. Along the process, I learned, emotions are unreliable allies.

In his book, Think on These Things, John Maxwell encourages, “Some of life’s greatest virtues — such as faith, patience, perseverance and hope—come by way of disappointments. By God’s grace, I was able to accept my unfortunate situation. I began to realize, I got so satisfied with my present position than my future growth. I resumed applying for other jobs and started being prudent in my expenses. Although it took a toll on my monthly budget, I still continued offering my tithes to God. I strongly believe, the Lord deserves honour with everything I have. He promises,”Your store-houses will be filled with many good things and your barrels will flow over with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9-10)

Last 28th of June, I was asked to fill in someone’s absence in another branch. It is something new and it broke my daily routine. I had to learn a new route going there, work in a new environment and rub elbows with new people. Even if it’s just temporary, God gave me the conviction to do my best. Working for ten hours that day left me bushed when I got home. However, I can’t contain my joy for I got rewarded to regularly work there for two days.

In her article, Out of Your Comfort Zone, Lee Anne Bartlett explains, “In life, things never stay the same — you are either moving forward stretching for bigger better goals or you are slowly moving backwards.”

I began to learn that embracing change is not an end in itself , but only through change can there be true growth. (Maxwell, 2010)

These changes opened the door for me to build new relationships and learn from them.

 

 

It also allowed me to serve others and lay aside my own comfort.

 

 

Definitely, it’s always easier to stay in the same rut. But why only settle with our comfortable nests? Each day, we can reach another undiscovered height and give God the glory He deserves.

 

 

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In his article, What’s courage got, David Gouthro defines courage as an inner quality that becomes evident when you take action on an uncertain or unpredictable outcome. He further expounds,” You have a sense of what you hope to achieve — but there’s no guarantee you’ll do so.”

Last June 15, 2012, 1500 ft above raging waters, aerialist Nik Wallenda walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope battling brisk winds and thick mists. And he tells people,in pursuing their dreams, the most important legacy his great-grandfather passed on to him is not to give up.

The following day, I also experienced demonstrating courage 250 feet above turbulent waters — not on a tightrope — but being pulleyed across on a spanish aero car.

After a breathtaking view of the Niagara Falls, we decided to visit the Niagara Whirlpool. We took out our maps and studied how to get there (‘almost like huddling together in a football game).

 

 

The cable car is suspended by six sturdy cables and it offers a wonderful view of the Niagara Whirlpool . It can carry 35 standing passengers. A round trip is about one kilometer and takes about 10 minutes to navigate.(nyfalls.com)

 

Have you tried riding those aero cars?”, one of our friends asked.

Oh, I haven’t…uhmm…it really looks spectacular riding one, don’t you think?” (Honestly, I never considered doing so for I’m afraid of heights and I don’t know how to swim in case something bad happens)

You should try it now. Go with Cyrus.”

After clearing my throat, I answered, “ Sure! Why not?”

Walking with Cyrus, I candidly told him, “I’m sure you know how to swim. I’ll just cling on to you, just in case.”

 

 

Unfortunately, I’m not a good swimmer myself”, he replied.

 

 

 

Great, that makes two of us!” (There goes my security blanket)

Armed with a bag of cookies plus the support of our friends, we sauntered towards the embarking area.

 

A whirlpool is a swirling body of water produced by the meeting of opposing currents. The sharp and sudden change in direction of water flow, coupled with the rapid flow of water exiting the Niagara Gorge results in turbulent swirling of the river.(wikipedia, 2011)

Problems coming from all directions can be perceived as whirlpools too. And many times, people become enslaved to their situation because they see nothing but problems. But a proper perspective shrivels a bad situation. (Maxwell, 1999)

What really caught my attention is that the river looks majestic despite the turbulence.

The oxygen and minerals it contains create an excellent environment for the growth of algae. When sunlight hits it at the right angle and intensity, the algae acts like prisms reflecting back an aquamarine hue.(nyfalls.com)

We can eventually see clear waters in the whirlpool of our trials.

According to John Maxwell, success is never instantaneous. It is continuous. It takes growth and development. The true measure of success is not what position we have reached in life, but what obstacles we have overcome to reach our desired goal. Persistence overcomes obstacles.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “ A man is a hero not because he is braver than anyone else, but because he’s brave for ten minutes longer.” I rediscovered I can be one but not by my own strength.

Exit Ramp

I am beginning to experience the creative joy of cooking. One day, I came across a recipe on preparing Vegetable au gratin.

Every cook, being human, errs, bungles, botches, and screws up in the kitchen once in a while. But for a novice cook like me, a recipe can become a dangerous minefield.

 

 

The cream sauce turned out lumpy. The vegetables were both bland and soggy. And the potatoes tasted raw.

 

 

My brother tried to hide his distaste, unfortunately, he almost choked on it. Even so, he lauded me for my ingenuity.

In her article, Cooking Blunders: Whatever do you mean?,Marjorie Dorfman emphasizes, “It is important, however, to re-trace your steps and understand the error of your ways so that you do not repeat the mistake.”

Mustering up courage, I decided to do it again.

 

Ingredients:

2 large potatoes, diced
a handful of frozen corn
1 tsp butter
1 cup mixed frozen vegetables
1 cup shredded four cheese
salt and pepper to taste

For the white sauce:
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1.5 cup Natrel coffee cream ( or milk)
1 tsp butter
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

I discovered that baking potatoes requires more time. I went on doing it first.

 

Apply a tsp of butter at the bottom of the baking pan and then layer the potatoes and corn on it. Add a dash of salt and pepper. Grill this in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350°F until the potatoes are slightly browned.

 

 

Next, add all the diced vegetables and spread them evenly on all sides of the pan.

 

In preparing the white sauce, you need to warm the butter in a non-stick skillet. Make sure that the butter is melted and not burned. Mix the flour with the cold cream until you reach a smooth consistency. Next, pour this mixture in the sauce pan and keep stirring constantly. Season it with salt, pepper and add a teaspoon of sugar. To avoid formation of lumps, I kept on stirring it over low heat until my potatoes are baked nicely. ( a simple test of patience and endurance!)

 

The next step is to evenly pour the white sauce on the vegetables. Then top it with a layer of four cheese.

Bake this at 350°F for 15-20mins.

It is a good thing that the highway of imperfection has exit ramps.There is always a way getting back on the right direction whenever we make the wrong choice.

God is always in the process of developing our character.

Troubles help us learn not to give up. And when we have learned not to give up, it shows we have stood the test. When we have stood the test, it gives us hope. (Romans 5:3-4, NLV)

Our shortcomings in life may cause us to fall apart. But in the pain, we can find healing. In Jesus’ name, we can always find meaning.

 

 

 

 

 

I intended doing a taste test. Instead, I ended up eating a big slice.

Stepping Back

 

Me….cook?”, I readily dismissed the likelihood of doing so.

 

 

 

I firmly believe that passion is essential in any endeavour I would be engaging in. Honestly, cooking is not on my list. I resigned myself on the alternative that food can always be outsourced.

As a child, I relish on smelling the aroma of my mom’s cooking every morning.

I do know how to use a skillet and any food that goes with it. ( as long as I won’t end up burning something along the process.)

Living independently is quite challenging especially when I’m just beginning my career and I only have modest resources. My first few months in Canada taught me to keep everything within a budget. Buying a burger meal from McDonald’s everyday is considered a form of luxury.

However, I am learning there is a big difference between responding and reacting to my present circumstances.

In the Book of Romans,God promises, “He makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him.”(Romans 8:28, NIV)

God is developing a new skill in me in the midst of my present situation.

I encountered the following recipe in which I took the liberty of modifying to tailor-fit it with my available ingredients.

 

Pesto Potato with Bacon and Cheese

 

Ingredients:

One potato cut into bite-size chunks

2 evenly sliced tomatoes

2 tbsp pre-made pesto sauce

shredded cheese

5-8 bacon strips, cut into bite sizes

salt and pepper

¼ tsp Magic ginisa mix

¼ tsp chopped garlic

 

 

Carefully lay the bacon strips in a non-stick frying pan and fry for 5-6 minutes over medium heat, or until crisp and golden-brown.

 

 

Remove it from the pan then cut the bacon strips to bite-size pieces. (it is really tempting to just eat them and forget about the entire recipe.)

 

Add chopped garlic at the bacon drippings. Then lay the potatoes on it undisturbed for 3-4 minutes until golden and crisp; turn and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden all over, about 2 minutes. Season it with salt, pepper and magic ginisa mix to taste. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the bacon and stir in the pesto. Then top it with a layer of cheese.

 

Hmmmm….tomatoes, pesto, and cheese really go great together. And I am just discovering it.

Passion is subjective. It is shaped by our interests. Our interests broaden when we step back and see the bigger picture. It leads us to develop a stronger conviction. Our interests change eventually.

Nick Vujicic, a motivational speaker, inspires us, “The challenges in our lives are there to strengthen our convictions. They are not there to run us over.”

For God promises in Jeremiah 29:11,“I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.”

Life always has something more than what we already thought it contains.

 

 

What or Why?

In applying for a job, what we do is important.

Being rectified for our mistakes, what we did is important.

Sadly, the world’s standard for respect considers what we do as important.

Does God judge us using the same standard?

 

RBC ministries came out with a very inspiring website, discovertheword.org, which features online a Radio Bible Class. This endeavor is designed to stimulate and involve netizens to insightful conversations about biblically based subjects that amazingly relate to our daily living. Instantly, I got drawn and immersed to it.

 

Last March 15th, the discussants, led by Haddon Robinson, pondered on the relationship between faith and works.

By an act of faith, Israel walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. The Egyptians tried it and drowned. (Hebrews 11:29, MSG)

Israelites. Egyptians. They both moved forward but with different motives. The Israelites acted on because they trust God. Haddon Robinson elaborates, ”God judges us not on the basis of what we do but why we do it. The Israelites moved in faith because they have a Word from God.” He further adds, “Two people may do the same thing, but it is not the same thing. Some deeds reflect faith and others reflect self-sufficiency. The motive makes the difference.”

I asked myself these two questions: “Have I done things because God wanted me to do it?”; andHave I responded to a situation because I believe it is the right thing to do?”

A wise king wrote, “We may think we are doing the right thing, but the LORD always knows what is in our hearts.” (Proverbs 21:2, CEV)

 

I once wondered,”How am I supposed to win over my endless trials?” I wouldn’t know. Only God knows and I am learning I need to trust and obey Him. It is a journey filled with potholes, nonetheless, this broken road prepares His will for me.

 

 

Broken But Healed

Seven thousand miles away from home, I miss the security I used to have. In all fairness to myself, I was starting to embrace the challenge of independent living—until, recently, my left arm got injured after a bad fall.

Unable to work, I persevered like a one-armed soldier. At home, I still pursued making myself useful. ‘Have you ever heard of a one-armed cook?( Fortunately, I haven’t burned anything yet). I even managed to wash the dishes single-handedly(literally).

 

My growing concern over being temporarily out of work did not diminish. Reality unpleasantly reminded me that I’m still in the process of establishing my career. In his popular devotional, Oswald Chambers wrote,”The agony we suffer is only the result of the deliberate shallowness of our own heart. We won’t believe; we won’t let go by severing the line that secures the boat to the shore— we prefer to worry.”

 

Most frequently, God does His deepest work in our lives in the midst of our struggles. I only have to open the lock of security.

 

And turn over the key to Him.

“With all your heart, you must trust the LORD and not your own judgment. Always let Him lead you, and He will clear the road for you to follow. Don’t ever think that you are wise enough, but respect the LORD and stay away from evil. This will make you healthy, and you will feel strong.” (Proverbs 3:5-8, NCV)

Unnecessary worry will only make me feel discouraged and lose the willingness to move on.

 

God made me realize, He never left my side and He has always been faithful in protecting and comforting me. Instead of having a concussion, I only had a broken arm. He made it easier for me to bear the pain while waiting for my turn in the emergency room. He anointed people who lovingly took care of me. He also blessed me the wisdom on how to be creative in utilizing only one functional arm.

 

Each day offers another mountain, another uphill battle. God is teaching me, in going through each climb , trusting Him weighs more than my personal judgment. And then unexplainable peace happens. The climb goes on.

 

 

His Turn

 

 

I also had an experience concerning patience but I responded differently.

 

 

 

It was the fourth time I looked at my watch. Then the secretary approached me, “The doctor will see you after he finishes three more patients. “ Oh…I understand. I’ll just wait for my name to be called.”, I answered smilingly(sigh). Then my stomach churned.

 

 

An hour elapsed. The long wait is finally over. I had my turn.

 

 

 

I closed the door behind me. “Brrrrr…”, the cold breeze made me shiver. I sprinted towards the nearest bus stop. ‘Can’t wait to get home. I still have a long list of tasks ahead. ”I hope the bus arrives soon”, I briefly closed my eyes and prayed.

 

 

 

15 minutes.

 

 

 

I kept myself entertained. I started singing a Demi Lovato song, “…I will be rising from the ground, like a skyscraper , like a SKYSCRAPER!” (by the way, the weather remained calm)

 

 

 

No bus came.

 

 

 

 

*#@&**#&#^**?!!

 

 

 

 

 

I should have prayed patience to be patient.

After reading one of her devotionals, Julie Ackerman Link reminded me,”Not receiving an immediate answer to prayer is no reason to give up faith.” Patience is a sign of spiritual maturity. And it requires time. I should wait on the Lord, more than those on night watch waiting for dawn to come.(Psalm 130:6, emphasis mine)

 

 

 

But waiting often makes me grumble—particularly if it involves my future and my security. A few days ago, I went through a period of testing. And in my spiritual frailness, I failed to recognize God’s sovereignty.

 

 

In his book, God is closer than you think, John Ortberg wrote, “Even when we failed, the flow of the Spirit can be restored in our lives at any moment. And all we have to do is ask.”

God is a faithful listener. He is also an excellent teacher. He allows trials in my life to bring me down on my knees and let Him take over.

God promises, “Those who trust in Me will find new strength and soar like eagles.” (Isaiah 40:31, emphasis mine)