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!

Surprised By the Goodness of God

A few weeks ago a group of teenage boys went through our neighborhood, opened people’s mailboxes and ransacked their mail.

Apparently, they had extra fun with our mail. When Chris searched the neighborhood for each piece of our mail we soon realized this was more than a stupid prank. An opened envelope and a missing check made it obvious their intent was to steal.

We could tell by the envelope and postage exactly what had been stolen: A check from my dad, written to me, a reimbursement for $200.00.

I called my dad and told him what happened. He said he would call the bank and look into canceling the check. Neither of us had any expectation, whatsoever, to see that check again.

A few days later I received a call from my dad’s bank. The conversation between the teller and me went something like this:

“Hi, is Wendell there?”

“No but I’m his daughter, may I help you?”

“Are you Jennifer Allen?”

“Yes.”

“Have you recently lost a check?”

“No, but I did have one stolen.”

“Well, I’m happy to tell you we have your check at the bank. An older gentleman found it at the mall and returned it to us this morning.”

By this point in the conversation I stood with the phone in my hand, dumbfounded by what I was hearing. The check had been found? At the mall? And returned to the bank?

Our conversation continued. “Would it be okay for me to come get it,” I asked.

“Absolutely,” she said. “Just bring your ID.”

I hung up the phone and called my mom to tell her what had happened. As it turns out my dad had not cancelled the check. I could still pick up the check and have it cashed or deposited. Together my mom and I marveled at the turn of events. “Only God,” we said.

Later that day I drove home from the bank with $200.00 tucked into my purse, still amazed by what God had done to work on my behalf. I wasn’t just amazed, I was surprised.

I was surprised by His goodness for me.

All in all, this matter over the check wasn’t a huge deal. Was it frustrating? Yes. Did it make me feel violated? Of course. But it wasn’t the end of the world.

But what about the big things? The huge deals? Do I find myself feeling just as surprised by God’s goodness when He comes through in the big as well as the small? To be honest, my answer is, “Yes.” What does this say about my faith, about my trust, about my expectation of what God can, will, and longs to do?

What does this say about my heart and the way I respond to life’s disappointments?

In the Foreword to the book Sons and Daughters, by Brady Boyd, John Eldredge writes,

“Pushing a bit deeper into the truth of it, my basic reaction to disappointment was this: I knew it. A flat tire, a bounced check, a vacation we couldn’t take after all—I met every disappointment with a posture in my soul that essentially said, I knew it. If I don’t make it happen, it isn’t going to happen. I can’t say that I was expecting blessing; I expected hassles, frustration, distress.”

Eldredge goes on to explain that it wasn’t until he began to truly see himself as a son of God that he began to expect God’s love and blessing as a theme in his life.

So what do you expect?

How subtle, how easy it is to approach life with all its ups and downs, with all its victories and disappointments with a cynical heart. With a heart that says, “I knew it. I knew this would happen.”

But this is not what God has for us, is it? We are sons and daughters of God. We are His children. And He loves us. Whatever He plans, purposes, and desires for us, His goodness and our good are at the heart of it.

We can trust this. We must trust this. Otherwise we’ll never trust Him. I mean really, deeply trust Him.

The next time disappointment comes take a moment and notice the way your heart responds. Is this what you expected? Did you know this would happen?

Or how about the times when God clearly comes through? Are you surprised by His goodness?

In both circumstances beware the cynical heart and remember whose you are. You are a son or daughter of God! Expect His goodness, expect His love.

He is for you…Let your surprise be found in all the ways He shows it.

What I Gained When I Gave Up

The EndFor the past three weeks I have taken a break from my regular schedule of writing and posting my blog. Before I go on let me just say, I missed it! I missed you! And it feels so good to be back.

As the new year approached, I sensed God prompting me, asking me, to take a break, to give up, for a time, this writing I love.

At first I thought the idea was crazy. Taking a break from my blog writing seemed the opposite of what I should do. But the prompting continued, and I soon realized the choice to take a break was not just a matter of obedience and trust but a declaration of love.

I love this blog. I love to write. But I love Him even more. And this was my chance to show Him.

So I laid my Isaac down. My promise. My passion. My love. And do you know what happened? I am the one who was blessed.

With my writing schedule cleared for the first three weeks of January I took the time I usually spend writing this blog and spent it on finishing the first draft of a book I started in November of 2013.

As I started to write I knew God was with me. He was all in and so was I. One week, three chapters, twenty pages, and 5,692 words later I typed the words: The End.

So what’s the point of all this? Why do I feel compelled to share? Well for one, I’m excited…as if you couldn’t tell. But more than that I want to share what I learned through this experience. What I feel God has taught me. What I can’t keep inside when it comes to His abundant goodness.

Lesson #1: Milestones are worth celebrating

Don’t get me wrong my work on this book is FAR from over. My first draft is finished but I still have a lot of revision to do. Still, this part of the journey, this part of the process, is over and I’m excited to start phase two. Every phase gets me closer to God’s ultimate purpose for this work, this creation. And every phase is worth celebrating.

Lesson #2: Invite others in

Whether it’s you, my faithful readers, my writing group, my church community or my circle of family and friends, the joy of this milestone should be shared. From the beginning my journey into a writer’s life has been a testimony of God’s love and care for me, for my heart. It’s a testimony of His purpose for my life and for each life He creates. I can’t help but share this phase of the journey, this victory with others.

Lesson #3: Dream big

On the night I finished my book, after everyone in my house went to bed, I stayed up to celebrate with God. This may sound silly but I knew what He wanted me to do. I loaded our DVD player with the movie Becoming Jane and watched as the famous writer, Jane Austen, went from an obscure, female writer to one of the most well-known and bestselling authors of all time.

God has always used Jane Austen, her story, her books, and this movie to inspire me, to nurture my heart for writing, and while I don’t know the plans He has for me in terms of fame and bestselling novels I do know His plans for me are good, and perfect, and safe to trust. I know His dreams for me are far bigger than what I can dream or imagine. And it is glory to think, and contemplate, and dwell on these things. To let my heart and my mind run wild, run free, into the promise of His wild love.

In his book, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes, “What God takes away with His left hand He gives back with His right.”

God may have taken away my freedom, so to say, to work on this blog for a span of three weeks, and while it was hard to relinquish this part of me, what He gave me in return far outweighs the sacrifice I made.

This is always His way.

I gave up my blog for three weeks, six posts in total.

I gained a chance to show the lover of my heart that I’m a lover of his.

I gained a finished first draft and the first step toward a dream I have grown in my heart since I was a little girl with a pen and some paper.

I gained three invaluable lessons that will make this journey, this writing life, richer and much more sweet.

And once again, the words of C.S. Lewis abound in my heart:

“When He [God] talks of their losing their selves, He means only abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever.” (From The Screwtape Letters)

Feeling more myself than ever, I return to you. I return to this blog. And I can’t wait to see what God has in store.