Hello, Church Family, and Happy Fall!
Thank you for the prayers, presents, gift cards and words of love and encouragement over these last four weeks. Our little Elizabeth Pearl has been a blessing and our home is filled with a lot of snuggles, kisses and lots of joy. I have included a few pictures for you to see how much she has already grown. I can’t wait for you to meet her in person.
I wanted to take a few minutes to share what God has been teaching me on this Maternity Leave and I hope it will speak to your heart and where you find yourself today. Those that know me would not describe me as a person that “slows down” well. I have always been on the go. I run from one thing to the other, I fill our schedules with adventures and fun, I take our “big kids” to the park or a splash pad or the museum whenever possible and I don’t often sit and rest. I like being on the move, I like chasing the next big adventure and I don’t like sitting idle. I have often joked that multitasking is my middle name. I make lists of things to do constantly, and I often allow myself to feel guilty if I haven’t gotten enough done, even if it is a Saturday.
This is how I am wired, but it isn’t always life-giving.
Towards the end of this pregnancy, if you saw me, you could tell I was running out of steam. I was tired, had low energy, lost my patience more with my kids and I felt like there wasn’t enough time to get all of the last-minute things accomplished. I felt a sense of responsibility to finish everything on my plate as to not burden my Teammates.
But then something beautiful happened. I had a baby and was FORCED to slow down. Every one of you that has been in the presence of a newborn in your life knows what I am talking about. Babies run on a different time schedule and in fact, they don’t run at all. They sleep and eat and capture your devotion a whole lot, but they don’t run and they don’t rush. Ellie is no exception. She has been the beautiful reminder of slowing down, sitting, snuggling, eating slowly, staying in yoga pants all day and being present. She also doesn’t talk yet and asks me a million questions as our big kids do, so I spend a lot more time quiet and listening. I listen to her breathing, her little noises, the sound of the baby swing or the washing machine and the sound of my own soul slowing down.
What God is teaching me in this season of Maternity Leave is just to listen. To wait and anticipate how God might show up in the silence. How I might experience God’s love as I watch our older two love on their little sister, or how my husband tenderly holds her, or why she might be smiling while she sleeps and how peace is found when we give ourselves a longer list of gracious moments than a list of To-Dos. I am relearning what I have always known but haven’t always practiced which is that God is just as much in the stillness as in the chaos, but that we are more in touch with the life-giving peace when we quiet our minds and slow our roll.
It comes down to listening, deep listening. In one of the devotions I have been reading during this time, a contributor to this email wrote about a friend from Belarus who answers the phone not with the common greeting that we are used to, “Hello, who is this?” or “Hello, yes this is she.” But the friend from Belarus answers every phone call with the phrase, “I am listening.” And isn’t that refreshing? Prayer or a time of Contemplative Silence that I am engaging in on a much deeper level, is my being present to God by responding, “I am listening.”
I pray that as you walk through your daily routines, as you study Scripture, as you join with other followers of Jesus on this journey, that you are finding more ways to LISTEN. It looks different for everyone, but it is life-giving all the same. I pray that you are opening a space, every day at least once to be present with God in a slowed down and open sort of way. I pray that you sit down at your couch, or drive in your car, or rest in your bed and open that line of communication back to the Almighty with the words, “I am LISTENING” and I pray that you will wait to hear God’s words of grace back to you.
Church, I look forward to being back with you and serving alongside of you again soon. Thank you for the love you have poured out on me and my family these last few months. Know that I pray for you and your families as well. May you find some time this week to turn off the TV, put down your phone, silence the radio and open yourself up to God’s stillness and boldly LISTEN to what God might be teaching you.