Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn’t Give You What You Want

Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn’t Give You What You Want

Waiting is hard. No matter who you are or what you’re waiting for, it’s hard. Just ask any kid on a road trip how they feel about not being there yet. Or, if we’re honest, ask any adult how they feel about waiting in the grocery line, waiting for the weekend, waiting for vacation, waiting for a promotion, or waiting for retirement—waiting is hard.

No matter our circumstances, we are all waiting for something. I’ve been waiting since I became a mom for my kids to go to school. Don’t judge me—I know it sounds horrible, but it’s an honest confession.

Yet, I also remember back to pregnancy and how excruciating the waiting felt as I longed to meet each of my children, both entering the world comfortably past their due dates. And now as I parent two preschoolers, depending on God’s grace most days to enjoy the beautiful gift of this exhausting season, the approaching fall beckons me with new hope as my kids (and I) joyfully anticipate preschool and kindergarten.

We are all waiting.

Regardless of what we are waiting for, there is always something ahead that promises greater fulfillment. We somehow believe that when the next thing comes, then we will finally be content. But the truth is, even when we finally receive the thing we await, waiting begins again for a new “next thing.” Whatever season of waiting we are in, our lack of control will either drive us to despair or invite us into dependence on God’s grace.

During the past several years I’ve spent as a stay at home mom, I’ve discovered the joy of pouring my heart onto a page through writing. I don’t know if I would have ever discovered the gift of purposeful reflection writing affords if I hadn’t been thrust headfirst into this slower-paced life with babies. Needing a place to use my brain and process what was happening within my heart, writing has become a creative outlet that both keeps me sane and fills my soul.

As I searched for ways to improve my craft, another writer suggested an online course called Writing with Grace with Ann Swindell. My entire approach to writing has been transformed by her powerful teaching, which has given my words new purpose and freedom. (Unsolicited advice: Anyone who wants to grow in their ability to use writing to bring life to others should check out this incredible class!)

Because of my deep respect for Ann’s teaching, I jumped at the invitation to participate on the launch team for her new book, Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn’t Give You What You Want, releasing on April 4th. This book is for anyone who has waited, is waiting, or will wait—in short, this book is for everyone.

Ann artfully weaves together my very favorite story in the whole Bible—the story of an unidentified woman who suffered from bleeding for twelve years despite giving all she had to doctors who couldn’t heal her—with her own story of waiting to be healed. Ann’s writing is vulnerable and courageous, revealing the raw places in her own heart where waiting has cost her dearly. This book reminds us all that hope is real, hope can’t be taken away, and hope is worth waiting for.

Ann invites others to experience the fullness of God’s grace in the midst of their waiting. She honestly explains, “Waiting is hard because it thwacks against our hope and makes us wonder if the promises of Christ are real. It makes us wonder if Jesus is really good…In all of those places, waiting asks us if God is still good and if he really sees and loves us.”[i]

But there is hope for those who are willing to bring their desires and struggles to the One who made us and knows us and loves us more than we could ever dream. Because “hope is the antidote to despair, and it’s the only way to live through prolonged seasons of waiting without losing our faith or our sanity.”[ii] As someone who has felt a bit crazy during periods of extended hopelessness, I can testify with assurance that hope is indeed worth fighting for.

Nothing thrills my heart more than helping others find a place to experience the grace of God for themselves. This book is one of those places. Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn’t Give You What You Want is a story for all of us, because each one of us is waiting for something.

And the best part? If you order a copy (or two or three) by April 3rd, you can get some amazing pre-order goodies for free! So go ahead, give a copy to the ones you know who need it most. You don’t have to wait to share hope today.

PRE-ORDERFREEBIESAVAILABLE-NOW

[i] Ann Swindell, Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn’t Give You What You Want, 212.

[ii] Swindell, Still Waiting, 212.

When Life Bursts Through

When Life Bursts Through

The snow finally just melted in our town for the first time since the end of November. To say it’s been a long winter is a bit of an understatement. My kids squealed with delight to discover grass on the lawns in our neighborhood, exposing its sad condition after many months of bearing a frozen topcoat. Sometimes it feels like endless winter is about to bury me too.

Over the weekend, the sun peeked out for a couple hours and we braved the chilly air so the kids could ride bikes in front of our house. I was sitting on the porch step when my son brought me something he had found in the dirt. “What this, Mommy?” he asked in his sweet little three-year-old voice.

I looked closely at the odd-shaped green thing he showed me, rounded on one end and flat on the other. Then it hit me—he was holding a bulb in his tiny hand. After months without any signs of hope, new life was sprouting through the dirt! After what feels like a never-ending season of dormancy, I’m spotting the first signs of new life in my heart, too. Hope bursts through just when it seems like the waiting will never end.

Seven years ago, I was in the middle of one of the hardest seasons of my life. Anxiety had reached an all-time high, to the point where my body and mind were so overloaded I had to take time off of work to learn how to function normally again. Those two months of sick leave ushered in a season of rest that lasted longer than I’d ever anticipated; I haven’t worked full-time since.

Moving to a new town and learning (ever so slowly) to embrace my life as a stay at home mom forced me to stop spinning all the former plates of achievement, professional competence, and busyness that had produced such anxiety in the first place. These past seven years have been my training ground for the pace of life I actually want to live.

Instead of accepting stress and busyness as a normal rhythm of life, my babies have given me the gift of unproductivity. They’ve forced me to slow down, teaching me through their constant neediness that growing deep roots cannot be rushed. Growth is supposed to happen slowly—there is no shortcut for time.

Never has the picture of the vine and the branches meant more. As Jesus instructs those who want to know him, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” If I want to grow, I must hold still.

I must remain. Remain in the place where I believe God’s love is real. Remain quiet enough to hear his voice whispering to my heart. Remain in the words he spoke for his friends to write down. Remain in the truth that I am loved. Remain in acceptance, whether I feel like I deserve it or not.

As I remain quiet and still, the vine nourishes me with its life. Hope floods my soul, just as nutrients flow from the vine to it’s branches, causing them to grow. I don’t produce the growth myself, I just hold still long enough to let love grow in me. Quit resisting, quit striving, quit squirming under the discomfort of being loved just as I am, not as I should be. A life filled with love can’t help but bear fruit.

I’m different today than I was seven years ago, and I only have one explanation for the change: Love changes everything. The work of holding still and learning to remain in God’s love has changed me from the inside out.

I’m not afraid of failure anymore, because I know I am loved. 

I don’t have to strive to prove my competence or worthiness anymore, because I know I am loved. 

I don’t have to worry about what others are thinking or saying about me, because I know I am loved. 

I don’t have to say yes when I don’t have the capacity, because I know I am loved.

While I was getting my haircut, my hairdresser and I were talking about how different we are than we used to be, especially before we both had kids. She told me something that has stuck with me: as new follicles grow over time, they replace what has fallen out so that every seven(ish) years we have a whole new head of hair. My hair is different than it was seven years ago. I am a different woman than I was seven years ago. Love has changed me, from my head down to my toes.

Life is starting to burst through. Just when the winter felt like it would never end, a new shoot of hope pokes its way through the ground. Love is growing–a new season begins today.

If God Is Real, Then What?

If God Is Real, Then What?

What happens when women gather together to love one another face to face? God shows up.

Last weekend, 75 women smashed into one room to ask the question: IF God is real, then what does it mean for our lives? We gathered from different backgrounds, different churches, different stages of life with one goal: to know God and make him known.

As part of the planning team, I watched from behind the scenes as God answered prayer after prayer to make IF:Ellensburg everything he wanted it to be. It felt like sheer grace to watch firsthand as he invited women to experience deeper love from him and through one another, love so overflowing it can’t help but spill out everywhere.

Our team was stretched beyond our capacity, to the point where our only choice was full dependence on God’s power and provision. As Jennie Allen, the founder of IF:Gathering, reminded us all, “God moves through those who happen to realize they’re not qualified.” Yup. It’s true.

Here are seven lessons I don’t want to forget from the process of planning our IF:Local:

  1. Giving leadership away makes it grow.

If you want to control the outcome of an event, it doesn’t make any sense to release it to the hands of thousands of women across the globe. Unless your goal is for those women to come alive and depend on God to make himself real to them—then you must simply trust those women to lead in their places. That’s how Jennie Allen and the IF:Gathering team lead—they give leadership away.

As a leader, my temptation to micromanage comes from a desire to control every aspect of how things turn out. But maybe leading isn’t really about creating a successful event or product—maybe leading is more about giving others the freedom to struggle and grow and learn how to fly.

  1. Doing hard things makes us stronger.

The more I exercise, the stronger my muscles grow. Similarly, the more I stretch my capacity for stress, the more I choose love when I would rather have my way, the more I walk forward into unfamiliar and uncomfortable places, the stronger my faith grows.

Our journey as a team was never easy, but we are stronger because of it. As we prayed together, made time to connect with one another, submitted to one another, and worked hard side by side, we grew in our capacity for love together. Our muscles are stronger because we persevered together toward our goal, and the satisfaction of crossing the finish line was deeper because of how much sweat was required along the way.

  1. Choosing to live as your truest self is costly—but worth it.

I feel most alive—most like the truest version of myself—when I’m using all my gifts, my time, my energy to love God and love others well. But love requires action, and loving with everything I have will cost me all I have to give.

Love is sacrificial, it builds others up and submits for the sake of oneness. True love requires death—death to self, death to being right, death to control, death to getting my way. Loving others like this allows me to draw nearer to Jesus, because it’s how he lived, how he loves us even now. Love like this proves God is real as he gives us the power to flesh out the kind of love that could only come from heaven.

  1. God multiplies whatever we give him.

Whether it was wondering if we would have enough journals and pens or enough food or even enough space for the women who just kept signing up the week before the event, I panicked every time I tried to figure out how we were going to make it all work. But over and over again, God showed us how he takes what little we have and makes it more than enough.

He multiplied our limited time. Our lacking energy. Our insufficient sleep. Our miniscule courage. Our hopelessly inadequate resources are more than enough for the One who made it all. He fed five thousand men and their families from five loaves and two fish, for Pete’s sake! And he multiplied what we gave for IF:Ellensburg with abundant generosity—we even had journals to spare.

  1. We all have something to teach and something to learn.

One person on our team taught me how to use my iPhone to remind me to complete certain tasks–I could never have kept my head on straight without her practical wisdom. Another gal taught me that the best leaders are the most humble servants. Another showed me the value of thank you notes and gifts of appreciation.

Our team was truly a picture of the body of Christ as it was meant to be. Each part was necessary, and each one had a unique and crucial role to play for the good of the whole. We need each and every person to function at our full potential. (Yes, even that one.) Learning from the gifts of others helps us see the pieces of God he has placed in each person.

  1. Producing more fruit requires more pruning.

Pruning doesn’t make sense if you think about it—why would cutting the branches off our fruit tree lead to the growth of more apples? It’s counterintuitive, but pruning removes branches that aren’t useful to the tree so energy can be spent growing fruit instead of holding on to dead wood.

God works the same way. He prunes those he loves to make us more fruitful, cutting off habits and attitudes and whatever in us might suck life away from our true purpose—loving God and loving people. More than a few of my dead branches were chopped off during this planning process, and despite the discomfort, I am freer and more productive as a result.

  1. I would rather have deep friendships than a big platform any day.

The reason IF:Ellensburg even happened was because a handful of women loved one another really well. Our commitment to cheer one another on, stand by each other’s side, and name the ways we see God at work in each others’ lives naturally resulted in inviting other women to do the same.

I used to think I had to write a book or have a huge blog following or do something big and seen and important to make an impact that matters. But I know Jesus because of friends who love me in real life and who prove to me over and over again that God is real and his love is free for the taking.

In the words of Jill Briscoe, may we all have the courage to “Go where you’re sent, stay where you’re put, and give what you’ve got…all the way home.”

 

All photos taken by Jacqueline Olivia Griffin (Facebook.com/jacquelineoliviaphotography)

Waiting on an Unknown Future

Waiting on an Unknown Future

Have you ever said no to something when you really wanted to say yes?

I said a hard no this month. There was a new opportunity I really wanted to pursue, and I desperately wanted to say yes. It was something I love doing, something I could justify spending time on, something that would benefit me and others. It had the potential to build my confidence, putting me in a role where my gifts and personality would thrive.

But there was a cost—a high cost to be paid with my time. Doing this new thing would fill up my schedule and my mental space, requiring lots of attention and energy, especially as I learned the role. It would leave no room for the other things I want to pursue, the things that make me my truest self.

Saying yes to that thing would mean saying no to anything else that comes along. I knew I had to choose between something good now or the possibility of something better down the road. As appealing as the opportunity was, I’m just not ready to say no to what may be waiting right around the corner.

Holding space for the unknown may be one of the hardest things for me to do.

My husband and I are planning a much-anticipated vacation together this summer to celebrate our ten-year anniversary. Spending multiple nights in a tropical location without kids? Yes, please. It feels easy for me to keep that week free from appointments and commitments, because time alone with my husband is a rare and precious gift. Why would I say yes to anything else when a romantic getaway awaits?

When I’m deciding between doing something good now and waiting for something better later, holding out for the better thing is a clear choice. But the choice doesn’t seem as clear when the future is unknown.

My soul feels restless. I don’t think it’s the snow, although being stuck inside with my kids for multiple consecutive weeks because it’s too cold to get fresh air is enough to make a person batty. It’s more than just cabin fever—something is stirring deeper inside me. There is this longing, an ache to reach beyond my current reality and fulfill my purpose in the world.

My mind spins most days, dreaming about this cause or that purpose, a new organization I want to support, another need in the world or my community that stirs my heart. I’ve learned not to move forward with every passion-filled impulse that crosses my heart—I would exhaust myself in a second and be unable to sustain enough commitment to make any difference if I said yes to every opportunity.

I’ve said my fair share of yesses born out of impatience and paid the price. This time I’m mustering every morsel of self-control to wait for the opportunity that makes my heart come alive, where the cost is absorbed by the joy of knowing the timing and opportunity are right.

“What purpose does restlessness serve?” someone asked me, as I shared my struggle. I paused, pondering the implications of the question.

“I guess it could go two ways,” I answered. “Sometimes feeling restless motivates me toward action, nudging me toward change.” I paused. “But sometimes it just steals my peace and contentment with my present life.” I considered my words, filtering through examples of how this has played out in recent days.

“Yes,” he agreed. “Restlessness can facilitate change on the inside or the outside.” Hmm. And I had assumed it was a sign something was wrong. Could my desire for change be the catalyst I need to do the hard work growth requires? Could restlessness be my motivation to get myself ready for the next opportunity that comes?

As much as I love to dream about the future, maybe my restless heart just needs to be rooted today in the place where I’m currently planted. Maybe the process of growing deep roots really serves to protect me from blowing away in the winds of change when they come. Maybe I need to spend less time longing for something different and more energy investing where I know I’m called today.

Can I confess that the thing I so desperately wanted to say yes to involved teaching an exercise class? As closing this door forced me to find another way to strengthen my body, I’m already discovering the beauty of choosing what’s best over what’s good. Saying no has birthed greater motivation and joy in exercising alone at home than I’ve ever experienced. It’s also given me more time to pray and prepare and dream about what’s next—all because I chose to hold space for a better yes.

Hard as it is, I choose to wait on my unknown future. I don’t simply want to fill my time, which is the surest way to an empty soul—I want to fill my heart to overflowing. As St. Augustine wisely observed, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”  May God give me the grace to hold still long enough to let His love pour in.

 

Photo credit for featured image: Caroline Knott

 

 

On Growing Deep Roots

On Growing Deep Roots

I was having a bad day, when a friend showed up on my front porch with bright pink gerbera daisies, a pop of color that brought beauty into my anxiety-ridden heart. The same day, my husband came home with burnt orange tulips, bidding me with their gentle presence on my table to believe I am loved. (Trust me, I know—my people are the best.)

I didn’t even consider the time it had taken those flowers to grow before I was able to enjoy them. All I noticed were the blossoms.

Beautiful as they are, I know I will only get a few more days out of these bouquets. Blooms just don’t last very long, even for the most proficient gardeners (ahem…not me).

Most growth happens unseen and unnoticed.

Early each spring at our house, green shoots start to poke through the dirt along our front porch. Stalks grow quickly and soon our walkway is lined with beautiful yellow, pink and orange tulips, with a few daffodils thrown in for good measure.

For about two glorious weeks as winter melts into spring, exquisite colors greet me each time I step outside. Then all too soon, the wind blows without mercy, and all that remains are empty stems and a few lonely petals hanging on for dear life. The leaves die and we cut the tulips back until the next year, when their beauty will emerge again in all its splendor.

The rest of the year, though, the bulbs lay dormant underground. Alive, but dormant. With no visible signs of growth. We can’t see that below the surface, life is preparing to burst through.

To fill in the gaps in our landscaping after the tulips finish blooming, we planted a few small rosebushes in our front yard. We carefully placed each root ball into the holes we’d dug, gently protecting the plants’ delicate roots to help them transition from their pots to our soil.

It turns out a plant can’t live without healthy roots. We can’t live without healthy roots either.

Growing deep roots is slow, tedious work. It doesn’t happen overnight, nor is the growth noticeable as it takes place. Root growing occurs slowly, imperceptibly, through the consistent watering and nourishment of our souls.

I often find myself longing for the beauty of life in full bloom but struggling to do the unseen work of tending to what lies below the surface. I want flowers without gardening. I want beauty without discipline. I want security without stillness. I want growth without waiting. I want fulfillment without making space for what brings life.

So what does it look like to grow deep roots?

It looks like noticing what’s going on inside me, underneath the visible realm of activity and knee-jerk reactions and the tyranny of the urgent.

Paying attention to the voice within, the one whispering about what my heart needs, waiting for me to pause long enough to listen.

Allowing my character to be formed in the hidden moments while no one else is watching, valuing faithfulness over recognition.

Root care often feels unproductive, wasteful, and even indulgent. But investing in what is unseen is not optional; we either grow or shrivel. Healthy roots are necessary for hearts to burst into full bloom–and there is nothing more breathtaking than a woman fully alive.

In a moment of quiet during my kids’ nap time, I left dishes in the sink and sat down with Jesus’ words about what it takes to grow. “I am the vine; you are the branches,” he said. “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Nothing. I can do nothing apart from the vine. No wonder it feels like I’m running on empty when I fill up my schedule without filling my heart. 

It’s so easy to get caught up in doing work that is seen, productive, affirmed by others, comparing myself and hustling for recognition and admiration. But no amount of approval can give me the life I crave. Growth happens in the unseen work of holding still long enough to receive the approval I’ve already been given.

Life flows into roots that hold still. Striving isn’t the key to growth–stillness is. No amount of self-effort will cause my life to yield the beauty I desire, but only resting in the slow, steady, mostly invisible growth that comes from believing I am loved today.

So instead of exhausting myself this year in an attempt to make flowers grow, I am giving myself permission to be still and grow deep roots.

I’m going to keep my days more simple and slow than full and frantic.

I’m going to write when I feel inspired, not when I feel pressure to perform.

I’m going to spend time alone with the Gardener of my soul.

I’m going to read books that inspire my heart and mind.

I’m going to ask God questions and listen for his answers.

I’m going to play with my kids while they still ask.

I’m going to run with gratitude for a body that can.

I’m going to be honest about my needs and limits.

I’m going to celebrate others’ gifts without comparing myself to them.

I’m going to stop striving to feel beautiful and rest in the loveliness of being myself.

And I’m pretty sure that blooms will come eventually. But I hope I will be too busy growing deep roots to notice.

What does root-care look like for you? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!

 

To the Friend I’m Disappointing Right Now

To the Friend I’m Disappointing Right Now

Dear friend,

Let’s just get this out of the way: I need you to know up front that I’m going to let you down. I want to give you fair warning so you won’t be caught off guard when you realize I’m not everything you hoped I would be.

Really, I’m writing to give myself permission to be imperfect. Can we be friends anyway?

This pains me to admit—I really don’t want to let you down. I’ll do about anything to keep you from feeling disappointed in me, even if it means creating undue stress for myself. Just imagining any negative feelings I might cause makes my chest tighten with anxiety. Your happiness means so much to me, and my heart aches to do whatever is possible to make you feel loved.

But I have to be honest—I just can’t keep up. And it probably isn’t healthy for me to try.

Sometimes I carry responsibility for our friendship around like a backpack, filling it with rocks of unrealistic expectations that are too heavy for me to lift. I’m afraid you won’t want me around if I ask you to share the load. Or if I take out some of the rocks. But I know you’re actually stronger than I give you credit for—and carrying the weight together lightens it for both of us.

I want you to know you’re on my mind often. When my brain is filled up with other things—like packing snacks and teaching class and ordering birthday presents and planning an event and listening to kids talk about their day and figuring out what to make for dinner—returning your text message sometimes gets buried in my mental pile. It’s not that I don’t love you and think about you when I’m doing other things, it’s just that my spare moment to reach out usually comes in the middle of the night.

I’d love more than anything to invite you over for chai tea and meaningful conversation. I really would. I want to hear about your life and ask about your heart and be unproductive and present together. I’m just out of chai tea. And my kids are crying right now. And I forgot about my dentist appointment today. So maybe we could take a rain check?

Please don’t give up on me. I’m doing the best I can—and some days my best is better than others. Know that I’m learning to accept myself even when I’m not who I want to be, and I will do the same for you. Thanks for taking the pressure off by loving me even when I let you down.

I have a feeling this isn’t a surprise to you. I don’t think you actually need me as much as I think you do. Maybe I’m a little arrogant to think I can be a better friend than I ever expect anyone else to be, but I really wanted to try.

Admitting I can’t be all things to all people is one of the hardest pills for me to swallow. I know it’s not my job to keep you happy, but it feels like you’ll want me around if I do. Will you still love me if I disappoint you?

I know the answer to the question. My head tells me my worth is not found in the approval of others, but in being chosen by the One who gives me His worth. Yet my heart struggles to believe you can love me when I have nothing to give.

I’m so thankful to have you in my life. I don’t want anything I do to ever communicate anything but how important you are. The problem is, I am a real human. As much as I thought a little commitment and a lot of hard work would be enough to make me the most reliable friend ever, I’m still just a work in progress. I’m learning to be okay with that.

We’re in it together, friend. I promise to do my best, but please don’t expect me to be perfect. I won’t expect you to be either.

Love,

Me

 

Photo credit for featured image: Kandice Halferty Photography

Living a Faithful Life

Living a Faithful Life

Our day started with a tantrum paramount to the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. The sun hadn’t even risen, and already our house was filled with stomping and tears and spankings, followed by prayers and tender repentance—then  yet another round of tantrums, time outs and more tears. We were exhausted from the battle before anyone had gotten dressed. All because my daughter didn’t want oatmeal for breakfast.

Parenting is hard. Yes, there are many moments full of sweet cuddles and belly laughter and uncontainable joy, but the work that is required in the day to day training of little humans often leaves me discouraged, frustrated, and wondering if I’m doing anything right.

This year is the last time I’ll have both of my kiddos at home together before my oldest starts kindergarten next fall. I’ve felt a sense of urgency to make the most of this short season, because the cliché seems to be truer than I want to admit in the midst of the longest days of my life: time goes by too fast. More than anything, I’ve felt the weight of responsibility to use this year to pour as much of Jesus into my kids as their little bodies can contain.

My heart longs to dive fully into the work God has given me to do as a mom, but hard days often make me wish I could do anything else.

Don’t get me wrong, I begged God for my children. I longed to be pregnant, crying out desperately for God to give me the desires of my heart, then waiting impatiently through the longest months of my life to see their little faces. I wanted my babies more than anything. Brooklynn awakened my heart to depths of emotion I’d never experienced, and a couple years later, Connley expanded my capacity to love more than I’d even thought was possible.

After months of aching for my longings to be fulfilled, for God to give me kids, life turned upside down when each child was born. Suddenly, my world revolved around the little people God had entrusted to my care.

I threw myself fully into the work of mothering, reading books on sleep training and following all the rules about tummy time and talking to my baby and making myself a bit crazy in the process. I knew I was investing my time exactly where I needed to be—mothering is the most important job in the world, after all—but I felt so…well, so unsatisfied by how I was spending my days.

It was clear from the beginning that God was using my mothering journey to mold my heart into a new shape. It would take me a few years to recognize how He was also forming my children into a protective boundary around my life. Never again would I have the option to pursue a lifestyle of achieving, performing, and striving for my worth—my kids need me too much to spend so much time seeking the approval of others. (Not that I don’t still try, to my own detriment.) They guard me from my natural inclination to seek recognition for myself.

Sometimes their neediness feels suffocating, like I am drowning in the inescapable sea of their demands. Sometimes their neediness feels validating, like I have an important role that no one else can fulfill. Always, their neediness strips away my selfishness (or brings it to the surface for examination), as I’m forced to again and again lay down my own desires for the sake of meeting theirs.

I often catch myself dreaming about “someday” when I can do something else with my time, something that fulfills that inner craving for significance. Those moments are clues that I have much still to learn from this season.

My significance isn’t found in being recognized by others, but in being seen by the One who appointed me to this role. The more I look for satisfaction in what I do, the more I’m going to have to do to feel satisfied. And the harder I work to gain the approval of others, the more I will be held captive by a goal that does not exist.

For Connley’s third birthday this month, he suggested that we go on a date to Starbucks while sissy was at preschool. “Yes, son. I will absolutely take you to coffee,” I told him.  As we sat by the window watching cars drive by, Connley eating his cake pop and I drinking my caramel macchiato, I was overcome by the gift of this season. That endearing smile, those twinkling eyes, that precious little boy voice, those soft little hands on mine—there was nowhere else I would rather be, nothing in the world that could bring me such deep satisfaction.

I don’t know what next year will look like. I have dreams of pursuing writing more seriously while the kids are at school, but for now I’m holding them loosely. No matter what tomorrow holds, I’m certain of this: God is calling me to be faithful with the life He’s given me today.

As much as I long to use my gifts and passion in places that are exciting and sexy and fulfilling, God knows my temptation will still always be striving for recognition that will never satisfy. No matter how important is the work that He calls me to do, nothing will ever be as worthwhile as my pursuit of Jesus.

He is using my babies to teach me dependence on Him for all things.

He is using this season to show me how to rest in His approval over anyone else’s.

He is using motherhood to train me to die to myself daily.

He is using my struggle to remind me that He is refining me moment by moment.

He is using my joy to teach me that surrender is the path to abundant life.

God doesn’t ask us to go out and change the world. He simply calls us to live a faithful life, one day at a time. Where is God asking you to be faithful today?