On Eggs & Waiting

On Eggs & Waiting

I used to hate scrambled eggs–the smell, the rubbery taste and the way they always seemed lukewarm at best. This is probably too much information to share, so forgive me, but during my pregnancy with Lydia I had my routine glucose tolerance test. The doctor had prepared me to eat a light breakfast with few carbs. She recommended eggs. I hated eggs, but I wanted to pass the test so I took her advice. I ate the eggs, drove to the doctor’s office, drank my orange sugary drink and sat down in the waiting room. Not five minutes later, I wanted a trash can. I managed to keep it all down until I got home. I walked through the back door. Matt asked me how it went, and I covered my mouth and ran to the toilet. Then, I really, really hated scrambled eggs.

Last year when Bread and Wine came out, I got an advance copy and read the whole thing in one night. The author Shauna Niequist shared in one of her stories that the secret to amazing scrambled eggs is low and slow. Low heat, cold pan and slow cooking. Since my prior method was to crank that little dial to “7” or “8” and scramble the eggs in about three seconds flat, I was wondering if my hating eggs had something to do with my method. So, I tried hers out. And now I love scrambled eggs. I make them almost every morning, and Charlotte starts clapping her hands as soon as she sees me crack them into the pan. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I had a proud-mom moment when she got all excited about the scrambled eggs at Corner Bakery last week but after one taste put them back on her plate and said, “No.”

Low and slow. That’s a lot of waiting on little eggs to curdle. It seems like everyone around me is waiting too. Waiting on a diagnosis. Waiting on a test. Waiting on a pregnancy. Waiting on a husband. Waiting on a job. Waiting to feel normal again. Waiting to hear, “I love you.” Waiting to feel accepted. My dear friend Kimmie has only a few more weeks to wait to hold her baby boy. We’ve been waiting for him for a very, very, very long time–far beyond the eight months he’s been inside her tummy.

On the first day of Lent, I began the #LentChallenge in Matthew and found a little something in chapter 2 I had not noticed before. In verse 13 an angel tells Joseph to take Jesus and Mary and go to Egypt for Herod is trying to find and kill Jesus. Verses 14 starts, “So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod.” I know it seems a strange detail to get stuck on, but I was reminded again that God never wastes the wait.  He didn’t waste Abraham and Sarah’s wait for a son. He didn’t waste Hannah’s. He didn’t waste Esther’s wait before she approached the king. He didn’t waste Mary and Martha’s wait for Jesus to revive their brother Lazarus. He didn’t waste the Israelites’ wait for deliverance. It seems certain they were tired of waiting. Sarah started making her own plan. Hannah’s desperate pleas started to sound intoxicated. Esther started fasting and walking through worst-case-scenarios. Martha met Jesus on the road to give Him an earful about how this was His fault. And the Israelites whined and complained the whole time. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who really struggles with waiting.

But in every situation God wasn’t missing. He wasn’t absent, and He wasn’t ignoring. Because God never wastes the wait, He was working the whole time. Working in their hearts, working in their cultures and governments and cities, working to piece together every detail according to His perfect plan. It isn’t known exactly how long Joseph, Mary and Jesus had to stay in Egypt, but whether it was days or years God didn’t waste the wait. The Bible doesn’t expound everything Joseph and Mary learned during that season, be it brief or extended, but it seems to indicate one thing–Joseph learned that obeying God, even when it means waiting, leads to blessing.

If you feel stuck in the wait today–maybe like the eggs, a little scrambled and confused–hold on, sweet friend, because God never wastes the wait. He is working. Behold.

Quietness

Quietness

I didn’t grow up observing Lent. I remember the first time I saw a friend with ashes across her forehead, and I remember a few people who opted for the cheese rectangular pizza when they went through the cafeteria line instead of the kind with little cubed pepperonis. But I never really knew what Lent was about. The thought of giving up something didn’t sound appealing, so I never thought much about it. But a couple years ago when I was on staff at our church, my pastor encouraged the staff to fast from something during the forty days leading up to Easter. Those weeks were hard for me, but as we celebrated Holy Week that year my heart felt less encumbered, my soul more free. Last week when I realized the start of Lent was only days away, I began to pray that God would show me what I needed to surrender this year during Lent.

I don’t know about you, but those are always scary prayers to pray because I’m afraid of His answer. Yesterday, while studying another passage I wound up coming across this passage.

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling, and you said, “No! We will flee upon horses”; therefore you shall flee away; and “We will ride upon swift steeds”; therefore your pursuers shall be swift. A thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill. Isaiah 30:15-16

Snow was falling hard outside and ice was glazing the sidewalks and trees. In a literal way God was painting a picture of rest and quietness, and I wanted to flee. I’ve shared with you before that I struggle with wanting to please people. But over the last few weeks it has become paralyzing. The voices of public opinion scream within my head. I find myself caring more about likes and shares and comments than I do obeying the One who gave me a message to write. Last week I wrote a blog, and I almost didn’t publish it because I was afraid of what people would think. And suddenly the reality of how dependent I had become on everyone else’s opinion of me was alarmingly clear.

I don’t like to just be. I want to fill every moment with a picture, every silence with a word, every hunger with a forkful, every goal with a list. I want anything to fill the quietness. For the last month or so, I’ve been taking a Sabbath from social media every Sunday. That quietness has been hard but liberating. There’s nothing wrong with social media. For an extrovert like me, it’s a social playground. People, people everywhere. One never ending conversation that winds and weaves its way throughout my life. But the reality I’m facing is that I’ve let those voices mute the voice of the One I most desire.

The forty days of Lent comes from the forty days Jesus spent in the desert when Satan was tempting Him. With every temptation, Jesus responded with the truth of God’s Word. For me, the voices of everyone I want to please are drowning out the voice of my Savior. Pride and insecurity are running like swift steeds. During these six weeks of Lent, I will put down the status updates, let go of the 140 characters and surrender my instant images to the message my Creator is writing on my heart. A message of rest. An invitation to return to quietness.

I’m also taking up a challenge from Margaret Feinberg to read through the New Testament during Lent. The Lent Challenge has a reading plan where you cover about seven chapters a day in roughly thirty minutes. Giving up FB, Twitter and IG for the next forty days should leave me with some extra time for this challenge. This weekend at the Downline Women’s Summit I noticed a common theme among all the women who taught. They were filled with God’s Word and in love with the Story He wrote for us. It was special and beautiful and inspiring.

I will still be here writing–hopefully with more honesty and courage–the messages God impresses on my heart. WordPress automatically links posts to my Twitter and Facebook accounts so you’ll still see notifications there when I publish a blog. But instead of my heart chasing likes or comments or shares, my heart will be choosing quietness. The Message translates Isaiah 30:15 this way, “Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me–the very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.”

I anticipate it will be painful–confronting my pride and insecurity always is–but I’m willing. Willing to rest instead of rush. Willing to return instead of flee. Willing to enter the quietness and hear from the only Voice who truly matters.

The Question Changing Me

The Question Changing Me

Yesterday afternoon while the girls and I were on a walk I spotted the first tiny buds peeking out on a branch. I’m sure we have a few more cold days, but I can feel it. Spring is inching her blossom-gilt self closer and closer. This week we’ve been soaking up sunshine at the park, around the block and at Sonic where the girls and I gleefully split an M&M Blast. I can feel myself thawing–literally, certainly, but much deeper than that. I’m learning to rest–slowly, stubbornly, surely.

A few days ago, my mentor and I were talking. Somewhere in our conversation she shared a profound question, and I can already feel it reshaping me.

“What’s your motive?”

In my flesh, I am a people-pleaser, a performer, a controller, so I love to say yes. Asking myself, “What’s your motive?” immediately reveals my why. Am I trying to please someone? Am I trying to prove myself? Am I trying to control? If so, I’m saying yes for the wrong motive. And all those yeses with the wrong motive take their toll. They leave me running and spinning and chasing and doing. But all that labor isn’t about God and His glory. It’s about me and my performing.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Jesus tells us in Matthew. Rest looks very unproductive, but it is doing the hardest work of all–surrendering. Come to Me. Surrender your agenda, your reputation, your facade, your craving for control. Come, be still. Come, rest.

The world says, “Perform.” Jesus says, “Rest.” ~ Tim Keller

Why I Stopped Asking for Faith

Why I Stopped Asking for Faith

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetCharlotte’s favorite word right now is “No!” She says it with a deep southern drawl and a vehement shaking of the head. Between her and her big sister, we talk about what it means to obey often. Sometimes when I tell Lydia to clean her room, she will head to her bedroom only to come find me a few minutes later. When I ask her if she has cleaned, she smiles and says, “No, but look at what I brought you.” Then she hands me a crown or a seashell she found stashed in her closet or under the bed. While the gift is sweet–albeit manipulative–it’s not what I asked her to do.

I have a little paint chip book full of memory verses from last year. One of those is 1 Samuel 15:22…

And Samuel said, ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.’

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice. Just like my daughters, I’ve got a list of reasons I don’t want to obey. Fear. Pride. Comfort. Worry. Reputation. Selfishness. I feel the Holy Spirit nudging me. I know what I need to do, but instead of obeying I reluctantly agree to one more serve role. I heap on one more responsibility and mutter complaints under my breath. I scribble one more commitment on my inked-up calendar. I give away one more night of the week and claim it’s for a good cause. Over and over I feel Him nudging, asking, inviting and I respond, “But God, I can’t do that. Look at everything else I’m doing for you.” I throw my good things back at him, all the while, ignoring the thing He told me to do. Instead of doing what He asked me to do, I assemble a pile of sacrifices as my justification for disobeying.

Most of the time I know exactly what I need to do to obey God, but sometimes it’s a little more obscure. One of the ladies I mentor was facing a situation several months ago and she felt stuck. There were several directions before her and there wasn’t a clear “right” or “wrong” path. As we were talking, I remembered something I had learned as a teenager. Go back to the last thing you know God told you to do and obey it. It might be big or it might be small. It might be related to the decision or it might seem wholly disparate. But, usually, as soon as I think of that advice, something pops in my head and I know what my next step is. My experience has been that every time I obey that first step, God illuminates my next step. I usually beg Him to send down a search light and flood the whole path, but He has yet to do that for me. But every time I obey, He gives me the next direction.

Every morning while the girls and I are eating our scrambled eggs and toast smeared in coconut oil and honey, I read a page from the devotional Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing. This morning’s devotional came from Luke 17:6 and read…

When Jesus’s friends asked, ‘Give us more faith!’, Jesus told them they already had enough.

Even faith as small as a mustard seed is enough. How small is a mustard seed? About as small as the period at the end of this sentence. Jesus said that’s enough faith to uproot a huge tree and plant it into the sea!

Even the tiniest speck of faith–the little bit you have–so-small-it’s-hardly-even-there faith–is enough. Enough for you to do whatever Jesus has asked you to do.

Because it’s not about us and how much faith we have.

It’s about him and how faithful he is!

Even the tiniest speck of faith is enough to do what Jesus has asked me to do. All those sacrifices I’ve stressed over mean nothing if I don’t obey. And maybe if I obeyed I wouldn’t guiltily say yes to a thousand things He never asked me to do. Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.

White Space

White Space

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetI’m learning about white space this year. Margin you might call it. Or rest. But I’m still learning to love that word. I’ve said, “No” to four things already this year. Four. I’m pretty sure that’s more than I said, “No” to all 365 days of 2013. For a people-pleasing, over-achieving, extrovert this is no small accomplishment. I like to say, “Yes” because I want you to like me. Because this might be the opportunity that changes everything. Because I don’t want to miss the inside joke.

I learned an important lesson during my marathon training. Rest days are just as important as running days. You can’t have all rest with no running, but you also can’t have all running with no rest. Ironically, it was on a run that I realized how much “running” I had been doing in the rest of my life. The calendar was jam-packed. I was dragging the girls from one place to another. We ate pizza for dinner more nights than I would like to admit. As I ran that morning, I realized I had to slow down. We were coming upon Advent and I wanted Christmas to be different this year. At the end of my run, I texted my three girlfriends and told them I had to bail out of something I had told them I could do. They were incredibly understanding and before our conversation was over we decided to remove another thing off our calendars too. Margin. White Space. Rest.

During all this, I started thinking about my word for 2014. One word beckoned me, like a quilt that’s just been pulled from the dryer… Behold. To truly see all that God is doing in my midst. To learn to be still and hold on. To treasure the fleeting gifts all around me. I had let life become a blur, and I couldn’t even see the gifts around me because I was so exhausted and emotional from the frenetic pace I had us running. I realized one of my most significant roles as wife and mom is to set the pace for our family, and it was time for me to dial it down. I went back to my What Matters Most List and started using it to say, “No” to good things so I could say, “Yes” to the best things. This will be a journey, a bumpy one I imagine. But it is one I must take.

Living mindfully is the art of living awake and ready to embrace the gift of the present moment. Macrina Wiederkehr

A couple months ago, Matt and I were hanging a picture in our bathroom. The piece was a set of photographs Matt had taken in high school for an art class. Matt took dozens of photographs in high school for his art and photography classes, and they’re all framed the exact same way, simple black frame and a thick white mat. When you add a mat around a picture, the blank space draws the viewer’s attention to the art it holds. The white space creates a pause, a rest for the eye, so you can truly see and appreciate the art. So you can behold.