She's Here: Friday Morning Coffee #81

As you may have intuited from the sudden silence, our sweet girl arrived a couple weeks ago. We are treasuring these early days with her - and the pockets of sleep she gives us. Our hearts are full and thankful.

Things here will be a bit more quiet as we rest, recuperate, and settle into our new schedule. In the meantime, I’ll be soaking up the newborn snuggles and praying life finds you all well.

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Predictability: Friday Morning Coffee #80

I think it is an innate human desire to know the future. I don’t mean the future in a macro sense, though some would like this as well. Not all of us want to know exactly how the events of the world or our lives will end. But in the micro sense, I have yet to meet someone who isn’t guilty of the itching desire to know what’s coming.

As children, we ache to know how the story ends. Some of us became so consumed by our curiosity that we skipped ahead to the last pages prematurely, just to know what would happen. We shook Christmas packages or sought out their hiding places, eager to know what we would receive Christmas morning. We wanted to know how much longer, how much further. Are we there yet?

Adults are more subtle, with our words like “prediction” and “forecast,” but the same desire is there: what is there, what is coming?

This morning, I sit in the crosshairs of two of the worst culprits of this desire to predict: a major snowstorm and the end of pregnancy.

We scan the forecast obsessively. How much snow? When will it start? What if the storm shifts? Under it all, the same basic desire - tell me what will come, speak the future to my present.

We wonder when she’ll arrive. Friends, family, even strange women at the grocery store make their predictions. “Do you feel anything?” they ask. What about that twinge, that itch? Are they signs? Google provides me with a litany of other people’s aches and pains, cravings, and strange behaviors, all in answer to a chorus in unison: when will it come, how can I know? Are we there yet?

The reality in both of these situations (and many others) is that we can’t predict what will come. The snow will fall - or it won’t - and it will be what it is, in spite of science’s best predictive powers. Our baby will come when she comes, as has happened for countless years. I cannot know. Cannot predict. I can only wait. I must sit with mystery.

Ironically, it was infertility that prepared me for this lesson of pregnancy and parenthood. I am not in control. Concrete future predictions are an illusion. The future, this world, this child, even my own body, are not fully within my grasp. It will be what it is. We will take it as it comes.

So as the winter sky grays and the snow begins to fall, as the box marked “baby day” draws closer on my calendar, I pray this strange and uncharacteristic calm continues to abide in my heart. I will sit with the mystery. I will wait.

In With the New: Friday Morning Coffee #79

Here we are in 2019. Not much has changed, really. The shift from December 31 to January 1 wasn’t actually a definitive one. I woke up the same person. Time will continue to slip by at the same rate. I still have the same responsibilities to complete, the same mail waiting to be opened, the same bills to pay. I also still have the same precious friendships to invest in, the same delights to be shared, holiday baked goods lingering on my counter.

And yet. The new year always feels like a watershed. It’s a time to reflect on the last 365 days of life. It gives a sense of nostalgic fondness for the good moments. It offers a sense of release from the struggles, a sense of hope that the next year may hold something different. It’s a moment when I stand fully aware and awake to the threshold of possibility. In that sense, it does become an important mark of time, a moment to pause, a moment of anticipation.

The year 2018 was mottled with some of my deepest pains and greatest joys. Oh, the range of human emotion one can experience in such a short time. After all the tears we’d cried, my eyes closed on the year with a sense of abundance and hope of all that is to come. I do not take this for granted.

The year 2019 will be a big year for us. We will welcome our first child into the world (in just a few weeks!). I will finish my first book manuscript. So much “birth,” so many new beginnings. And these are only the things we can plan for in advance! Today, I stand on this threshold hopeful and thankful, wanting to steward well and live fully these joys entrusted to me.

In all that is to come, my prayer for you today is that you can see God’s faithful presence with you - in the joy, in the sorrow. That He meets you in unexpected places. That, whether you look out over this year with anticipation or trepidation, you know in the deepest parts of your being the love He has for you.

Happy New Year, friends.

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.

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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?