about coffee and the flu and a snow day and expectations.


It was a Friday morning a few weeks ago. We slid into the worn booth of a local coffee shop, my friend and I. The air was full of that heavenly, earthy, roasted smell of ground beans and hot water. It’s my favorite smell God ever made. We sat there with an hour to fellowship and a million little things to cover. She asked, “How are you?” And it was not the kind of how-are-you that you can skirt with an oh-you-know-same-old-fine. It was the kind of question that deserved an honest answer. And the honest answer is that I’m doing things but feel like I’m getting nowhere. I am afraid: afraid that I’m not productive enough.


It was a Monday evening last week. I sat with my feet dangling off of the doctor’s exam table, a fevery and mostly delirious mess with a heavy heart. My body ached and I was sure I’d never been hotter than that moment. Tears came easily as the nurse swabbed my nose, pricking my eyes first and flowing freely as she turned to leave the room. All of the sudden the weight was more than just my sick body. The exam room became a sanctuary and the place where I sat–feet dangling–an altar. It was the flu and it came without reason but there was more than just a body sickness. As I waited for the doctor to come in masked up and prescription ready, I went over all the corners of my life and how they have been left untended lately.

My expectations were too heavy for me. My expectations are too heavy for me.

And so I did what I’ve learned to do. One by one I placed all of the things in God’s lap. Is this for me and from you? What about this? And this one, too? That one? That one I want so much. But You can have it if I’ll move forward in You. You can have it if it will unparalyze my heart. You can have it if You want it: the most painful but productive words I’ve learned in my 19 years of walking with Him.


It was last night and the water bubbled over dirty dishes. My husband stacked his oreos up on the counter, crunching through them one by one. The water bubbled and the cucumber soap smell filled the kitchen and I let my heart things flow out. We almost never come at a problem the same way so I tried to make my words the kind that he hears well. He listened and I fumbled my way through, how I’m like my children on a latent snow day: waiting and waiting and waiting for the promised thing and realizing that it’s a not yet. It’s still a not yet.


I took two weeks off from this space. I didn’t mean to, but the flu stole a week and then I just couldn’t make words form. It’s mostly because I need to do some heart work about my expectations. I don’t know how but I want to drag all of my stuffs and things under the umbrella of grace. Surely there is a place where productivity is covered in grace. I’m not sure what that means for this space. I’ve learned to be unafraid of putting precious things on the altar. The truth is that this is a precious thing to me and I have a story I want to tell. It’s a story God is making my very heartbeat. It’s my story but you are there; I see you all around the edges. But. There are other corners of my life and I’m trying to decipher what all of that looks like in tandem.

This isn’t an announcement, just so you know. I have some fears about this space: that I think too much, that I write too many thinky things, that I don’t write enough happy and how to posts, that I’m too small. One thing I’d like to say about 2014 is that I stopped using fear at the foundation, that instead I hoped and planned and dreamed and tried out of God’s great love for me. I’m going to be working on that.

20 thoughts on “about coffee and the flu and a snow day and expectations.

  1. I appreciate your words so much, Ellen, and I’m always glad to have stopped in. I think we are a lot the same. After 5 years, I deactivated my facebook account last week. It was the right thing to do for many reasons, but seems like everything has a cons list. I’m still blogging (more than ever, actually), but my readership declined by about 75% b/c my blogging is no longer in front of everyone, on facebook. (I didn’t have a fan/public page, just a personal one.) This is a hard thing, but I just keep breathing deeply and telling myself things like: it wasn’t supposed to be about the numbers, and if someone wants to find me (s)he can easily, and what’s meant for me will not pass me by.

    I think each person’s central purpose in blogging should help him/her to decide whether to keep going. My central purpose has always been to write myself (and my family) down for my children. I was going off the rails, a bit, so I’ve fixed my eyes back on my purpose, and I don’t intend to stop.

    So much love to you as you juggle.

    • Hi, Brandee! There is nothing that can make your footing shakier than the numbers game, right? I fully support you taking the steps to bring your blogging back to purpose. I’m more allegiant to purpose than any other thing. Thank you for reminding me of that!

  2. trust in the Lord and do good. dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.
    ps 37:3
    and of course the verses following are amazing too. praying the Lord leads you clearly.

    thanks for the lovely words–i love reading :)

    • Oh, Cameron! Thank you, thank you for this Truth. I don’t usually pick a yearly verse but I did this year, and it is John 10:4. To paraphrase: the Shepherd calls out His own and He goes before them. They follow Him because they know His voice.

      The scripture you shared fits hand in hand with my verse! All I need to do is follow Him and He will guide me where I need to go.

      Thank you!

  3. I’m so sorry you were sick. Can I say I think your place here is just what it should be? I know you listen for the Father’s leading. I hope you feel the love and grace He extends as you make decision.

    • Thank you, friend! I love this space and I love all of you. I needed to go back to that and set some dreams and goals based on God’s love for me as evidenced here, not a handful of should bes.

      You are grace to me.

  4. Thank you for sharing yourself Ellen. There will always be some who connect with your post and for others the thoughts won’t be at the right time. But your words will always be the right words at the right time for someone. I always look forward to what you may have to say. God bless…

    • Oh, Beth. I just think you are the dearest thing. And you are so right. Expectations lead to resentment and discontent. I can feel a little drumbeat going in my heart. 2014: Less fear. More love. I’m so thankful you are part of my journey.

  5. “One thing I’d like to say about 2014 is that I stopped using fear at the foundation, that instead I hoped and planned and dreamed and tried out of God’s great love for me. I’m going to be working on that.”

    Love this last sentence, my word for this year is “capacity”. And I have been working through how I challenge the fear too. I can relate so much to the process you are going through. Thanks for sharing, nice to know I’m not the only one.

  6. I agree with Beth and everyone else. I love what you say and how you say it. I go through similar angsty feelings about my blog–daily now, it seems. I think that’s part of the deal when you’re a thinky person.

    • You are so right, Jules. I know that I attach meaning to ev-er-y-thing and I’m working on trying to quiet that some, but not so much that I lose myself :). Thank you for your encouragement about my writing. I respect you so much!

  7. I don’t mind all your thinky things. I don’t. I love that you don’t write all the time, because I wouldn’t be able to keep up and I don’t want to miss a single word.

  8. I love your blog…it is so real and honest! Praying you are feeling better because the Lord is using you – even when you don’t hear about it or see it. Blessings on your week.

  9. We are brain twins. But then, I already knew that. : ) I mean, I could’ve written this…but not as lovely as you did.

    Friend, I am SO sorry you got the flu. I’m glad you are better in that regard. Also, your writing is just beautiful. Really and truly it is.

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