Monthly Archives: April 2015

Pistachio Perspectives

Pistachio-ShellsOver the past several months, Gabby has decided to start a rock collection. She declared it one day when we were out on a walk through the city and she picked up a dirty old rock from the sidewalk. I made her keep it outside on the window ledge of our front porch because I didn’t want her to bring the gross, germ-infested, God-only-knows-where-this-has-been object inside her room.

In the months since, Gabby has maintained a collection of about 20 “pebbles” that she keeps on the window ledge. I use that word loosely because some of her rocks are actually halves of pistachio shells that she found on the ground and picked up because she thought they looked really unique. Excuse me while I gag just thinking about that. She’ll find rocks as we walk to and from school or go to the park and she’ll carefully put them in her pocket until we can get home and she can display them appropriately on our front porch.

Keep in mind that we live in the middle of the city. We’re not talking about rare minerals, or even stones bigger than the size of a quarter. Most carry the same, gray hue and none have a shiny luster. What makes Gabby bend down and pick one up and just walk by others is beyond me. To me, they just look like, well, rocks. To her, however, these are precious . . . special . . . they are her gems, and as soon as they get the chance to become a part of her rock collection, their value increases exponentially. Even if they were once, say, a pistachio.

Several years ago, I remember reading a story from the Washington Post about world-renown violinist, Joshua Bell, playing for nearly 45 minutes while dressed undercover in the busy L’Enfant Metro station during rush hour. He played some of the most difficult and beautiful pieces ever written on a $3.5 million Stradivarius violin. During the public concert, Bell, who easily makes $1,000/minute at his concerts, made $32.17. Only a handful of people stopped to listen to him for more than a minute. The article pointed out how people’s busyness, pre-occupied mindsets, and iPod headphones limited their ability to recognize beauty and genius even when it was right in front of their eyes.

I have the opportunity this week to have a few days away from my kids. Brad and I are attending the ARC Conference together and enjoying the time to reconnect with each other, our church leadership team, and most importantly, Jesus. My favorite part of opportunities like this, besides the hotel room that we can darken like a cave and sleep past 5:45 AM, is the perspective that it can bring.

In the last 13+ years of working in ministry, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with lots of kids, teenagers, parents, and grandparents. I’ve watched and gleaned principles that I wanted to incorporate into my family one day, and have seen those that I did not want to adopt into my lifestyle as a mom. I remember thinking as an idealistic, single twenty-something, “I want to be a fun mom. One that always has time to play games and encourage learning and answer questions. A mom who exemplifies a love and passion for Jesus in the every-day moments of life and who is patient.   Kind. Funny. Safe. Joy-filled. A Frankenstein collection of all the best parts of parents I’d seen that would create a new breed of mom that would change the world.”

Dear Twenty-Something Leah,

Newsbreak. Having small children is exhausting. Very exhausting. You thought you were exhausted in college, but that was some mere fatigue. And little kids can be whiny. Very whiny. Like good material for new torture techniques kind of whiny. It’s difficult to be World-Changing Mama when you’re up to your elbows in Diaper-Changing Mama. Being a mom is hard.  Really hard.  Sometimes, you will skip the learning opportunity and put on a video. You will be that mom that you condemned in your grad paper about media use and children. And you will not always look like Jesus letting the little children come unto Him. Maybe more like Jesus running out the merchants in the Temple. You will bear a strong resemblance to Him at times.

Love,

Thirty-Something Leah

One thing I’ve been reminded of this week, however, is a very important reminder to Thirty-Something Leah.

Don’t miss the magnificence of the rocks in the midst of the gray hues and lack-luster days of fatigue.

Don’t miss the genius of musical masterpieces in the midst of the rush-hour demands of life.

Getting some space (and yes, sleep) from the monotony and pace of life’s schedule allows you to appreciate the beauty in sticky hugs, bedtime prayers, and even the pistachio shell moments of the day that are pretty ugly on the surface, but when seen in the right light, can be an exquisite, unique pebble in the grace of God’s collection in your life. I’m pretty sure forty-something Leah has a thing or two to write to me about teenagers, and the charm that is found in the simplicity and innocence of toddlers. Slow down, Leah. Leave space to let Jesus point out the jewels hidden in the cracks of the day that are just dying to be a part of His seemingly haphazard collection.   And listen to the music that’s in the belly-laughs and light-hearted giggles of your kids each day.   It’s magnificent.

I’m living a dream and I’m so grateful. Thank you, Jesus for this incredible opportunity and the grace-filled moments to recognize it as such.

Oh, Waiter!

2438-12276The other night, Brad and I went out to dinner for a date night. We were starving so we opted to go somewhere easy, close and quick, albeit not nearly as exciting as some other options that make up the extraordinary cuisine of Philadelphia.

When we arrived at our restaurant, we were shocked and disappointed to discover that our quick fall-back was everyone else’s fall-back that night and there was a forty minute wait for our little party of two. We left, knowing it wasn’t worth it and fearing we might start to eat our elbows in the interim. We found a new fall-back that surpassed our expectations and most importantly, had no wait, and enjoyed a great night together.

A few weeks before that, we had an out-of-town friend visiting us for a weekend and we wanted him to experience one of the magnificent brunch locales that are available in the city. We took him to one of our favorites, even though we knew it was going to be close to an hour wait with all three of our small children. We found ways to entertain them and make it work because we were confident that it would be worth it. And it was. Three words: Cannoli French Toast.

When we’re facing any kind of waiting season, there are two primary questions that must be answered:

  1. How long is it going to be?
  2. Is it going to be worth it?

While it may be a fairly straight-forward decision when you’re choosing a restaurant, it rarely is as clear when you’re in the midst of a waiting season in life.

When am I going to have that baby?

When am I going to find that job?

When am I going to meet my Someone and get married?

In these sorts of scenarios, we seldom know the answer to the first question. Wouldn’t it be great if we did? “Welcome to your life, Leah. You will be seated at your dream job in approximately three months.”

Although a defined answer to the first question is rare, if you’re waiting on a God-given dream, you can be confident of the second. It will be worth it.

When we’re being obedient to God, following His directives, making choices that honor Him, and pursuing Him with all our hearts, and we still find that we’re in the middle of a waiting season, it can feel so frustrating. There’s this compulsion to figure out what we’re doing “wrong” just so we can fix it and move on.

There might not be anything wrong, per se. Things are just not ready yet. Cannoli French Toast takes some time.

And yet, even if my brain understands that, my heart still hates waiting seasons. They feel so long and so difficult and well, so boring. It feels as if I’ve been put in some cosmic time-out, forced to sit still and think about what I’ve done or what I’m going to do until some magical time, when God decides I’ve learned my lesson and I can move on with the happy dream He’s given me.

In the middle of one such season, God gave me a picture that has revolutionized my perspective on waiting. I looked up the word “wait” in my Bible dictionary, and the definition expressed a sense of anticipation, or as dictionary.com puts it, “to continue as one is in expectation of.”

My mind went to yet another restaurant analogy (because apparently I’m obsessed with food) and I thought of the people who serve our food, or as we commonly refer to them . . . waiters.

I laughed. Their job is literally waiting all the time.

Except anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant business knows that being a waiter is anything but boring: the fast-paced demands of a busy kitchen, a constant flow of customers, remembering each unique order. A waiter can make or break your eating experience.

I was inspired. If I’m going to be in a waiting season, well, dagnabbit, I’m going to be the best waitress I can be. Instead of spending my time with Jesus sulking in a chair, twiddling my thumbs, waiting for something to happen, I would approach it as if He were my customer for the day, and wait on Him accordingly.

“Good morning, Jesus. What can I do for you today? Where should I go? Who do I need to call or help or meet? What’s on the menu today?”

Sometimes He would direct me towards something or someone.  Often, however, He would just encourage me to sit down at the table with Him. Talk. Listen.

And when He would finally call my name and tell me that my new season was ready, I realized that I wasn’t waiting for my Cannoli-French-Toast-Dream to be ready at all. My Dream was waiting for me.

I was not the same person that I was when I started my waitressing job the weeks, months, or years prior. In the process of waiting for God, He had changed me. Refined me.

Was the job difficult? Yes.

Painful? At times.

But worth it? Most definitely worth it.

Remind me of that when I’m in the middle of my next waiting season.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Ps. 27.14)