Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.
One of my favorite lines from a favorite movie — You’ve Got Mail.
I love the pulse of back-to-school season. Here at home, I’ve been reshuffling books, moving last year’s books to lower shelves and replacing them with this year’s stuff. Backpacks have been reorganized. I’ve replenished our stockpile of spiral notebooks and lined paper. And I’ve begun laying out this year’s school schedule.
We are, amazingly, going into our 16th year of homeschooling.
My heart was so heavy last night as my news feed filled with story after story of horror against the most vulnerable. Terrorists surrounding an Iraq village, demanding that families convert or die. Thousands trapped on a barren mountain without food or water, followed by pictures of parents placing limp, already dead children in a dusty pile.
I could hardly fathom the picture of a hardened terrorist sporting a huge grin and an arm slung around his new little 7-year-old bride, whose tear-strewn face showed unmitigated fear as she wrung chubby fingers. Even locally, there was news of the heartless stabbing of a 6-year-old boy at the hands of his grandmother.
My hat is off to you.
I wish we could sit down together over a long cup of coffee and remind each other that it’s going to be okay. That we will be okay and that God is bringing us through.
Some days when I’m bone weary, I think about you — laboring well after everyone’s in bed.
I think about you making hundreds of decisions by yourself.
And facing daily new that you never expected and surely never wanted.
I think about you figuring out a hundred things that he used to do or letting it go because it’s just too hard to figure out.
I think about you anesthetizing lonely evenings with the mindless screen, willing yourself to cheer the anniversaries of friends, the happy-birthday-to-my-best-friend-who-completes-me pictures, the snapshots of boys hunting and father-daughter dances your own will never see again.
That heaviness you carry? You’ve gotten used to it.
You’ve gotten used to knots in your neck and thoughts that can’t be switched off, swirling between the must-do’s of today and the what if’s of tomorrow.
And while you smile to everyone else and put a brave face on mothering, I see the heaviness that’s always with you. God sees it.
The seasons that can sometimes test us most, though, are times of waiting. Waiting on direction from God or an answer to prayer or a new job or that thing that we so desperately need to get off go and continue with life. In my seasons of waiting, it can feel like I’m a boat adrift — not rowing hard in a particular direction or fighting to get through a storm. Just drifting. Marking time. Waiting.
As we heal from the loss of Dan, and the grief has become less intense, I find myself on the edge of a waiting season again. What’s next? What does God have for our family? We aren’t tied to this city by a job, anchored by Dan’s work. I can very much sense that if I’m not careful, I will just drift — looking toward something, hoping or wishing for the next thing, rather than keeping my eyes where God has me. I don’t want these years to aimlessly slip by without purpose while waiting for the next thing.
Thing is, my eyes can get so fixed on what might be, that I fail to live the abundant life right now. The abundant life doesn’t start and stop, depending on my circumstances. God intends us to have life abundant whatever season of life we’re in. I’ve determined to do three things to keep from wasting the wait.
First — I need to do the last thing God told me to do. We may be waiting on a word from God but, in the meantime, we should be doing the last thing God told us to do. So much of our culture pushes us to the next thing. When we finish high school, go to college. After college, it’s time for marriage. Once we’re married, start trying for kids. After a few kids, work on bigger house. And then a better job.
God intends us to serve Him right where we are until He tells us differently. So often, we are looking at the next thing that we completely miss God’s purpose for us where we are. God is sovereign and His timing is impeccable. If I’m waiting on God to answer, I need to be about the business He’s given me until He tells me otherwise. For me, that means intentionally giving new energy to parenting these children and ministering in my local body of believers. I do not want to pine away for what is next and miss what is now. I want to purposefully serve right where God has me.
Second — Get in the Word. Not for an answer but for relationship. Often, when we’re waiting on God, Bible study becomes a search for an answer. Is there a verse for that speaks to my situation? A promise that I can claim? There may be. But in looking for an answer, we may miss much more about the One who answers.
Seasons of waiting are usually less intense than other seasons. Which should mean I’m in the Word consistently. But, unlike hard times where the lessons come clear and fast, we might have to dig a bit harder for lessons in the wait. I want to use this time – whether it’s a few months or a few years – to dive deep into the Word. I want to know Christ and I do not want to miss what He has to teach me now. That means intentionally getting into His Word every morning and, more than that, asking Him to reveal Truth to me that I need.
Third — Open my eyes and perk my ears to all God is doing. If God is sovereign, then nothing happens in my life by coincidence. No one comes into my life by happenstance. In the waiting, I have to purposefully open my eyes to God working around me and open my ears to what He has to teach.
In Mark 8:18, Jesus asked his disciples “Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?” This makes my heart sink, thinking how God is working around me and I’m not even aware. I don’t want to sit around waiting for God to “answer” and miss all that He is doing daily in me and around me. 1 Corinthians 2:9 says:
‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
In the lull and routine of waiting, God is. And He’s way more than any mind has ever imagined.