Let It Simmer or What to Do When God Says, “Wait”

SoupI love soup. Especially in the winter, on a cold winter night when it seems like no other food on the planet will do. I love trying new soup recipes, always searching for a new favorite, and I love, love, love, when I get to the end of a recipe and read these three glorious words: Let it simmer.

Let It Simmer. In other words, all the hard work is done, sit back, relax, the only thing you have to do now is wait and enjoy.

I’ve been doing a lot of waiting lately. Last Saturday, the due date of my third baby officially came and went. These are uncharted waters for me. My first baby came right on time. My second was two weeks early. I thought for sure, this one would follow suit, but that hasn’t been the case. Instead, she’s warm and cozy, curled up inside my belly, simmering like the finest soup.

Honestly, I don’t mind it so much. For 40 ½ weeks pregnant, I’m feeling great. My unborn blessing seems perfectly content. Friends and family have been incredibly supportive.

But what I’m finding most of all is that this time of waiting is an excellent reminder to wait, not just on this baby, but ultimately on God. Occasions like these that come along, disrupting our plans…what we thought would happen…are perfect reminders of the scant control we have.

These moments, days, or seasons of waiting are not to be wasted. They aren’t for worry, anxiety, or impatience. They aren’t for striving, frustration, fear, or doubt. Rather they are gifts, precious invitations to come and draw close to God.

My husband and I, we’ve done all we can do. We’ve walked the mall, made angels sing, and indulged in Mexican food. I’ve tried massages, trigger points, and raspberry tea. I’ve nested, packed, and readied anything and everything in sight. The hard work is done, the only thing we have to do now is wait and enjoy.

And what we get to enjoy is nothing short of God and His amazing goodness. When we choose to draw close to Him during seasons of waiting we get to enjoy peace that passes understanding. We get to enjoy the freedom that comes when we surrender our plans and trust the plan He has in mind.

Stonewall Jackson was once asked why he chose to fight with his troops on the front-lines rather than lead his soldiers from the more protected sections of the battlefield. In answer to this question he said,

My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. […]that is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.

I believe the same is true of waiting. Whatever it is we’re waiting for, a baby, a mate, test results from the doctor’s office. A new job, a house to sell, the mending of a relationship, God knows what He has planned for us. He has already fixed the appointed time for that for which we wait. We can neither hasten it nor delay it.

All we can do is faithfully wait. Do the work, put the ingredients together, then relax and enjoy.

Let it simmer. Find the peace, the freedom the goodness of God as He comforts, nourishes, and fills you up.

Like homemade soup in the dead of winter.

Baby BelleOn the morning of February 19th Cabellea Wren was born and, for the record, the wait was totally worth it!

Martha, Martha (Or 70 Reasons Why…)

Mom & MeTwo years ago I wrote a post to honor and celebrate my dad on his 70th birthday. Time has flown by and now I have the joy and privilege of doing the same for my mom. On this, my mother’s 70th Birthday, I can’t think of a better way to show her (and all of you) just how much I love her.

Happy Birthday, Mama. So much of what I have and who I am is because of you. With all my heart, I love you and wish you the happiest of days…

70(ish) Reasons Why I Love You…

  •  The way you look in lavender
  • Your chicken and rice casserole
  • The day you picked me up from school and took me on a spur of the moment date to see Sense and Sensibility at the movie theater
  • Your perfect smile
  • Mom's Bridal PortraitThe way you magically keep getting more and more beautiful each and every year
  • The “Mom” you’ve been to all of my friends
  • Your southern accent and how it gets thicker whenever someone asks you where you’re from
  • Phrases like: “Pushing little ducks in the water” and “Poor little Angeline sucking her cup”
  • How as a kid (and a grown-up) I always felt homesick when you weren’t around
  • Your sweet tea
  • The chocolate cake you make every year for my birthday
  • IMG_0645The way you’ve always made our house so beautiful, comfortable, and warm
  • Everything you did to make my wedding day perfect
  • “It’s fine, but it could be finer.”
  • Decorating together for Christmas
  • Out of all the moms in the world I get to call you mine
  • The way you sound when you sing and how I can still hear your lull-la-byes
  • The fact that Martha Stewart has nothing on you
  • The way the house smells when you’re cooking in the kitchen
  • Countless loads of laundry you’ve done for me and my family
  • IMG_1686The way Tenley looks in your arms when you “rock & sing” or read books together
  • All the fun things you do with Aletheia
  • Your pumpkin-cream cheese muffins
  • The way you can fix anything or in another words…nothing is truly broken until Mom can’t fix it
  • All your down home Mississippi memories
  • The loyalty you have for your sisters
  • The way you love my dad, my sister, me, my children…and yes, even Chris
  • How you’ve taught me to make a house a home
  • Saturday nights watching Dallas when I was a kid
  • How the name Mary Martha suites you so well
  • Your love for books and reading
  • IMG_0748Counting gifts with you
  • All the graces you bring to my life
  • The sound of your laughter
  • Your ugly toes
  • How even when you don’t understand some of the things I do, you love me and support me no matter what
  • The way you’ve always made me feel safe, loved, secure, and happy
  • Your obsession with recipes and the curious way you never end up following them
  • The fact that you think “Rock n’ Roll” music is too “Razz-ma-tazz”
  • Watching you nurse and care for Nana and what that taught me as a young girl
  • IMG_1603The gingerbread houses you made when Melanie and I were children
  • The comfort you bring whenever I’m sick
  • Shopping together
  • How we’ll never agree on Aldi’s, bleach, expired food, and at what point a load of laundry is actually dry
  • Trips to Germany and all the traveling memories we’ve shared
  • The way the blue in my little girls’ eyes is just like the blue in yours
  • IMG_0713The way you drove me and Miranda to school every single morning so I wouldn’t have to ride the bus
  • How I can always count on you for sewing projects (From wedding dresses to curtains and everything in between)
  • How I always think of you when I watch Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music
  • Watching Carolina Basketball together and the way you’ve been known to cuss when the refs make a bad call
  • Your stubborn streak
  • Your southern grace
  • Your soft skin and rosy cheeks
  • IMG_0720Sharing my home with you
  • The way you have ALWAYS been there for me
  • The way you are ALWAYS there for everyone
  • The legacy of faith in God you have given to me, my sister, your grandchildren
  • Your mother’s heart and how you’ve made me the mom I am today
  • The way your perfume lingers in the air, in the car, in the house, and makes me miss you when you’re gone
  • IMG_2760Visits to Charlotte and Virginia and how it was always so fun to spend time with you, scrapbooking, shopping, cooking, decorating…
  • Sharing jewelry, scarves, and purses
  • Your golden touch with all things crafty and/or food related
  • How as a little girl I always, always wanted to be just like you when I grew up
  • Having a stay-at-home mom and the example you’ve set in so many ways
  • IMG_1026The way you used to braid my hair in one long French braid or George Washington curls on Sundays
  • Your likes (traveling, a clean, quiet house, gardening, flowers, time with friends and family, molasses on biscuits, Lizz Curtis Higgs, UNC basketball, the color yellow) and dislikes (swimming, Duke, exercise, loud music, spots on your carpet, pets, your “pug” nose)
  • The way you know the name of almost any flower
  • Watching you relax in the middle of the afternoon or at the end of the day
  • Do I really have to stop at 70??? This list could go on forever…
  • The love and care you have always given my girls and the peace I feel when I know you’re with them
  • The way you make ALL things beautiful

If you know and love my mom please feel free to leave a comment, memory, or birthday wish below and continue the love on her special day!

The “Push Present” I Want Most (And How You Can Help)

BellyIf you’ve been following this blog for the last few months you probably know that my husband and I are expecting our third baby this February. What you may not know is that my due date is just a couple weeks away!

I’m as excited as I can be but I’m also nervous, scared, and wondering what God has in store. There is so much about a new baby and labor and delivery that is impossible to know ahead of time, and it’s the unknown that tends to freak me out.

This whole blog started in the aftermath of my daughter, Tenley’s, birth three years ago. By aftermath, I mean a very unexpected bout with postpartum depression that led me into a dark time of sadness and regret. (Read more about this journey here).

After several months God did a deeply redeeming work in my life by using my delivery experience with Tenley to lead me back to my writing. When He reintroduced me to my paper and pen a whole world opened up before me and I haven’t looked back since.

I am so completely thankful for this experience but as I gear up for “VBAC Delivery Part 2” I can’t help but wonder, What if…

What if history repeats itself?

What if this delivery doesn’t go the way I hope it will?

What if I end up in that dark place again?

For the most part these are just thoughts. They haven’t taken root or left me shaken. I have so many good things in my life right now that were not in existence when Tenley was born:

A passion for writing that keeps me focused, nurtured, and fed.

A circle of friends who love and support me.

A church we call home.

New understandings of God and His love.

These, along with my family, are my safeguards and I’m thankful for each one of them.

So here I am, What If’s aside, preparing my heart and mind for another attempt at a natural birth. I wish I could tell you exactly why this whole birth thing means so much to me, but I can’t…at least not completely.

I do know there is something about birth I believe to be sacred; it’s one of the many ways God shows his redeeming love.

I know I like to test myself, see where my limits are and how far I can push them.

I know my approach to birth is much like my approach to life. When pain comes along I want to feel it, not numb my heart and soul to that which is uncomfortable. I want to rely deeply on God and lean into trials with all of my heart, experiencing joy, pain, and life to the fullest.

This fall I read a line in the book The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente. This line, to me, is exquisite because it captures so perfectly what I feel about life. What I feel about family, friendship, writing, birth, and everything important to me…

“And it’s the wonders I’m after, even if I have to bleed for them.” (pg 36)

This birth thing…I guess more than anything…it’s me chasing wonders.

It isn’t easy for me to share this with you, even though I love you, my readers, so dearly. I have more than a few people in my life who are convinced I’m crazy for wanting to have a natural birth and chances are a few of you most likely agree with them. And that’s okay. We all have our wonders we’re willing to chase…willing to bleed for. You may not get mine. I may not get yours but we can still support each other if we’re willing to be vulnerable, and honest, and true.

And that’s what I’m hoping you’ll do. Enter this journey with me. Help me chase this wonder.

Eight years ago, my wonder chasing looked less like having babies and more like running a marathon. As I labored through all 26.2 miles of the Marine Core Marathon, I was supported by family and friends through phone calls, text messages, and voicemails. Each one kept me going. Each one gave me that extra “umph” to run another mile.

So I thought, wouldn’t it be helpful? Wouldn’t it be nice to run this journey with a similar arsenal, a similar support team to cheer me on?

I think so.

With all my heart I hope and pray this blog in some way big or small helps you chase the wonders that are close to your heart. Will you help me chase one of mine?

Will you give me the “push-present” I want most: Your love, your support, your encouragement? Will you leave a comment here? On Facebook? Via email? Will you keep my family and me in your prayers?

It feels a little desperate, a little shameless to ask, but I think that’s just my pride talking. The heart of me knows it’s okay to ask, it’s okay to be real, honest me. It’s okay to invite you in.

Because, we’re in this life together. Chasing one beautiful, bold, amazing, wonder at a time.

What wonders are you chasing these days? I’d love to hear from you! As always, your comments and posts are precious to me and I read every one!

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Write to me at: jenniferallen@onceuponawriter.com