Summer mornings are a race to scoop up the dwindling coolness of just before the sun rises. If I scoop it up and stuff it in my pocket, I can hold it like an ice cube melting when the heat rises. In the early, early morning, the bird song is full and loud. I try to count but I get lost. There are few people and few machines and few the world is awake noises and so the bird song walks right up to me and surrounds. It’s beautiful. Soon the air will encompass, simultaneously carrying and pushing against with it’s humid hands. Summer air is musky, heavy with gardenia and jasmine. And the sunrise. The sunrise is pink and yellow and orange. The flowers have faded but the sky puts on her show.
It’s our secret, you know. And I pray for you.
I pray that tomorrow you will force your bright blue, green, brown, grey, caramel eyes open just a few minutes earlier. Do it when the world is still covered in hush. I pray that you will tip toe across your carpeted, hardwood, creaking floors and slip right out your door.
Five minutes. Twenty minutes. An hour.
And I pray that when you step outside, you scoop up the last vapors of night coolness that are wisting away from the ground up. I pray that you will scoop up grace, too. I pray that you rub it into your heart good. That you’ll understand that you never could keep up the redeeming work and that you’ll understand that since the beginning of the beginning, God knew. He knew that you would falter and He knew that you would stumble. I pray that you will know that Jesus wrapped himself up in our skin not so much because God desires perfection but because He desires us. And never any less when we can’t and never any more when we can.
I pray that when you come up short tomorrow, you will understand that the faltering does not condemn you and it doesn’t steal all of the growth away either. I pray that when you come up short, you lean into Him. And. That you hear the balm words of my husband’s coaching heart: You feel like you’ve made a mistake? Don’t beat yourself twice.
I pray that you will find the grace salve still there and that you rub it in deeper. And deeper still.
there is magic in holding a four year old close.
the dead weight of nubbin arms and pudgy belly are soft on my heart. his tears trail down onto my shoulder. his sniffles and warm breath are a balm.
it’s a moment after discipline. it still hurts me every time but we follow through anyway.
bedtime now and as he sinks-still wet with crying- into his downy comforter, i lean in for a kiss.
and he is all uncontrollable giggles. there is no gentle transition. no tickling. no silly joke. it’s like he was standing with his toes curled over the warm cement edge and he just jumped. sniffly tears to belly laughs in one big splash.
i laugh with him and i pray that God will teach me that. how to let laughter rumble up in me even when i’m still holding onto hurt, disappointment, anger. how to let joy sink those soft lines deep around my eyes even when the tears roll out. how to heal.
I met Jessi Connolly on a coolish late April morning over a year ago. We had introduced ourselves through comments on her blog and had decided to try our luck live and in person. She walked up with a black picnic basket, Starbucks in hand, her hair in wispy bun and three little shadows bouncing behind her.
It took five minutes to get to the good stuff. We sat on a park bench and plowed our way through that fumbling, unsure investing of a beginning friendship. It wasn’t a question that we would be friends. And soon.
The next time we met she slid a piece of paper toward me. I had shared a passage I was praying over a specific area of my life and she made it into a beautiful scripture print. And that has been the thing every time. Every time I talk to her-and for the months that we got to be right here in the same city-it’s like she keeps sliding those silky pieces of paper across the table to me: she’s real and she encourages and she always makes much of God.
Here’s the thing. Jessi’s written an ebook and I have read it. It’s good. It’s great, really. Be Quiet and Say Something is like sitting down at Starbucks with Jessi. It’s like a lunch and playdate at Chick Fil A. It’s like sitting on her couch with your knees tucked in and your heart hanging out. Just like it. What she says? Is fresh and authentic and accessible.
If you are a blogger or a writer or both or a reader or a mother or a friend or a daughter, I know you’ll draw wisdom from Jessi’s words. She shares her journey to surrendering her influence-and we all have influence-to make much of God. It’s a journey through intentionality and sharpening to freedom. It’s simultaneously lightly funny and directly heart piercing.
You can purchase and download Be Quiet and Say Something right here. It’s $7.99. If you want to be challenged to surrender your story for God’s glory? I know you’ll be blessed by Jessi’s heart.
This year began in a flurry. I was resolved to be better and brighter and more minimalist.
I bought a book on time management.
I took notes.
I made lists.
There are many treasures I gleaned from that time but my most favorite has become my regular Tuesday morning with this lovely person.
She’s been a part of my life since I graduated from college. Sometimes in my life more than others. But lately, it’s been more.
I looked at my friendships, the types. And I resolved to invest a bit more in a few of them.
Investing in fellowship can be exhausting and fumbling and almost always involves me embarrassing myself. But I do it anyway.
And when Mary Beth mentioned that she wanted to tell her story through writing, I did something.
I sent a sheepish email wondering if she would read a book with me. We would read. We would write. We would meet. We would share.
Every other Tuesday-and sometimes more-I stumble over to her house after school drop off. She writes in a notebook. I like the clickety-clack of the keys so I bring my computer.
And we fellowship.
Here are four things I’ve learned about investing in fellowship:
- It doesn’t require cleaning up. In fact, it feels like home when I come over to her house and there is laundry to be done and paperwork in a just barely nice, neat stack. I show up in my yoga pants. She has coffee in hand. Her little people shuffle in and eat cereal with our smallest person. If she comes to my house it’s the same thing. My sink is full of dishes and my floors need to be swept.There is no pretense about this.
- It’s incredibly inspiring. We sit in her homeschool room, which is the perfect warm shade of flax. She has an old schoolroom chalkboard with a poem written in dusty yellow chalk. Oh, there are books upon books and a lamp that’s clear and industrial and perfect with its burlap shade. Sometimes she makes me try delicious leftovers or some new thing she’s discovered for breakfast.
- It costs something. I could be cleaning, running errands, rambling through to do lists. She could be schooling,getting ready for her day, being quiet, serving others; her list is long and her heart moves out.
- It heals and it sharpens. What we write? We’re just recording the glorious everyday, not thinking about publishing or blogs or any other thing than just processing life. And you know what happens. We cry. We laugh. We minister.
It’s worth every cost. Every one.
Here’s what it took: one sheepish email and a bit of creativity. I do that fumbling, embarrassing investing because this is how we are made. We long to be known. And God is always enough for that. But He dreamed up added blessings for us in His children and His making us a working, flexing, dependent body. And I’ll tell you what. This true, pinch it in your fingers fellowship? It ministers grace to me like you wouldn’t believe.