The Immediacy of Hope & Eyes to See (Simeon and Anna): Friday Morning Coffee #78

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation…” - Luke 2:29-30

How many days had Simeon waited to see this moment? How many prayers had he offered up before this one could burst forth in praise? How many hours had he spent in the temple, looking, watching, expectant before the great hope of his life was rewarded?

When I think of Simeon—and Anna, whose story appears immediately after his in Luke 2—I am challenged on two fronts. First, that they persevered in active, expectant hope. Second, that they recognized Jesus when he came.

Centuries had come and gone since the prophecies were made about the coming “consolation of Israel.” Centuries of men and women living and dying without seeing the promised Messiah. After hundreds of years, it would be easy to give up hope. It would be easy to rationalize away the promises, to doubt them, or at the very least to not waste your time standing on tiptoe for them to be fulfilled at any moment.


In my experience, this sort of perseverant, expectant hope is difficult to maintain. As each day passes, with no sign of change, no hint that the following day will hold anything different, hope easily loses its immediacy. It grows quiet and still, and I sit down from weariness instead of standing at attention on the lookout.

But Simeon and Anna kept their posts as watchmen. (To be fair, there were other Jews and Jewish leaders at their time who did as well. Expectations for the Messiah ran high.) They stayed alert.

Alertness was not everything, though. Simeon and Anna had to recognize Jesus when he came. He came quietly—not with the pomp of kings but as a baby in the arms of a poor Hebrew girl. There was no fanfare as he entered the temple, no glory cloud descending in fire and smoke. He came helpless and small, dependent on his parents to offer the faithful sacrifices on his behalf. There was nothing remarkable about his arrival at the temple that day. He could have been anyone’s child. But Simeon and Anna had eyes to see, and they rejoiced at this One who would be the hope of the nations.

Today they are making me wonder—do I stand expectant and watching for God to appear in my life? Is my hope lively and attentive? Do I have eyes to see when He appears quietly in my ordinary, when He comes in ways and places I don’t expect? Do I recognize Him when He comes?

Lord, may it be so.

When I Need to Ignore the To-Do List: Friday Morning Coffee #77

Lately, I’ve been in a season in which time seems to be getting away from me. (I know, I know, it only gets worse the older you get.) The hours, the days, the weeks are slipping by, and I don’t know how we’ve made it to nearly December.

I’m juggling multiple to-do lists. There’s the book to-do list, the blogging to-do list, the baby prep to-do list, the chores-around-the-house to-do list, the upcoming Christmas preparation to-do list, and the never-ending tucked in the back of my mind ‘I should be doing more of this’ to-do list (though this one is the only one that doesn’t make it onto a sheet of paper).

I thrive on to-do lists. They typically reduce my stress levels and help me craft a plan of attack to complete the tasks at hand. They give me a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when all the boxes are checked and I finally drop it into the waste bin. But lately they’re also reminding me of the fleeting passage of time and my daily limitations.

I’ve reached the point in pregnancy in which the end of the day finds me tired. Caring for myself and (around that time of day) our swirling, kicking child means sitting on the couch with my feet propped up, sipping tea, and listening to the crackle of the woodstove. I have to ignore the to-do list.

I’ve been noticing lately that my soul is craving rest and quiet. It’s craving sabbath. The pressures of what I do need to do (and feel like I should do) press into my mind, hunting me down in the stillness. Their nagging voices remind me of all that’s left undone. And sometimes I give in, getting up to do “just one more thing.”

I’m always learning the discipline of resting my body - of physically stopping to have those quiet moments. But at the moment I’m also practicing the discipline of resting my mind. This I find much more difficult.

I can ignore the to-do list hounds by refusing to keeping “doing,” but I need to also learn to silence my mind to their braying. To accept that I can’t do everything. To be at peace when things are left undone. To recognize that rest - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual - are just as important (if not more-so) than washing the upstairs toilet and starting my Christmas cards.

This weekend, I hope to do a little of this. To enjoy the company of dear friends, the comfort of their presence, the joy of shared laughter. To be present in the time left pre-baby with my husband and cherish our simple moments together. To delight in the chill of wandering through a field to pick out our Christmas tree and the warm glow of putting up decorations. To relish moments of being, of holy leisure. This weekend, I want to ignore the to-do list.

Do you need to turn off the to-do list this weekend, my friend? How can you carve out time for the rest your body, mind, and soul need?

Can't Stop Looking At You: Friday Morning Coffee #76

I stared out across the lake. I had to focus to be able to absorb all the beauty. Sandy colored mountains sloped to the deep blue water. They were barren in the autumn chill, cut with the shades of deep crevices. It was as if giant fingers had run down their sides, pinching and pushing the earth into mesmerizing patterns of planes and angles. We’d followed them along the river, along the lake, captivated.

On our drive there the day before, we’d passed through the Cascades. The mountain pass greeted us with the first sight of snow of the season. The flakes swirled through the trees. The frozen branches looked as though they were made of glass.

I was in the kitchen now. My friend was talking about her son. She gestured to the window, to the view that continued to pull my eyes. “It’s crazy. I look at the beauty of creation—the mountains, the lakes, the sunset—but then I think about him, and it’s him I can’t take my eyes off of. I look at all this beauty, and think ‘Yes, but I just can’t stop looking at you.’”

A delicate sliver of moon glowed yellow in the night sky. But she was thinking of a tiny boy with pale hair, now fast asleep.

It came to me then, in a flood. Doesn’t that give us a beautiful picture of our Father’s love for us? I can imagine Him saying, ‘I look at all of the beauty of Creation, at all of the works of my hands, but, my child, I just can’t stop looking at you.’

"A Sliver Is Enough": Friday Morning Coffee #75

Happy Friday, everyone.

A couple months ago, we announced we were expecting our first baby. In that announcement, we shared briefly about our journey through infertility.

While we were in the trenches of it, I didn’t share much publicly. It was too soon, the pain too fresh and too raw. But I now feel ready to begin sharing more of our story with you.

Today, I am over at Elisabeth Klein’s blog in a guest post about the pain of infertility and a bit of what I learned about faith, hope, and joy in the process.

Head over to Elisabeth’s website to read “A Sliver is Enough.”

We were often told to “Just trust God’s timing.” Each time, the same response sprung to mind—and sometimes escaped my lips—What choice did I have? Like Peter, I asked, “Where else would I go?” …

Tiny Island of Home: Friday Morning Coffee #74

I shared this brief story a few weeks ago on Twitter for a project called StoryTweeting. Each week they host brief nonfiction stories based on a prompt. It’s an effort to flood Twitter with the beauty and empathy of stories and take a break from hot takes and news cycle reactions. If you’re on Twitter, you should consider joining!

What story would you share about a “table”? Share in the comments below.

It wasn't much to look at—cheap wood, simple stain. If you leaned on the edge, the top sprang loose, careening toward your chest. It was like everything else in the house—humans and objects alike—worse for wear but still standing.

It was rare to find the chairs around that table empty. Boards and nails kept quiet witness to dreams of bright futures and hopes of new beginnings. They kept secrets of tears and stories of heartbreak. We stared into fancy cups of American tea, with special sugar crystals that dissolved into swirling patterns of golden glitter.

They learned to sew at that table. I would peer over their shoulders as they carefully guided fabric under the needle. Each of them got a dress, and all but the littlest ones helped to make their own. How proud they were to show them off.

They started a little business at that table. The kitchen bustled with entrepreneurial activity. Cookies and cinnamon rolls baked by the dozens, carefully bagged in thin cellophane for selling. How excited they were to see the money trickle in, in profit of their hard work.

Every Saturday, a group of three or four came for dinner. It was an anchor to my week. I’d spend the day cooking and present them with a feast. They would arrive in their best clothes, clean and wet-haired from the shower.

It was a moment of normalcy, a bit of family life, to sit around the dinner table together. For a brief moment, they became my children, and I, their mother, and we talked about school and friends and life goals.

My kitchen was a tiny island of a home. It was a place nearly my own, when I wasn't sharing it with rats or scorpions. It was a place they could find a whiff of freedom in an institution, designed to lock out those who had hurt them, that sometimes became a prison.

The space around that table was my refuge, and I think, at least at times, theirs as well.