It’s our first truly rainy, chilly day in Pennsylvania after a sweltering summer. And it’s glorious. I find myself find in cozy socks with a warm beverage. I dream of a hot bath to fend off the chill. I hear the rain falling and the water gushing from the gutters and drains around the house.
It’s an invitation to write, to think, to pray.
The rain keeps us inside. I’ll make a warm meal, light candles, and nest in the living room as the night settles around us.
This weekend I learned how a friend asks this question: “What’s the greatest thing that has ever happened to you?”
I cannot wait to ask this question! (Of course, this means I can share about knowing Jesus as the Greatest Thing!)
I also learn how much it helps people feel loved to ask how you can pray for them. At a conference at a table with new friends, my husband asked people this: If you had just one prayer request, what’s the most important prayer we could pray for them? I loved the crystalized and deeply focused conversation that followed.
I love taking notes. I’m learning to keep a journal in my purse to write down moments of insight, words of wisdom from others, passages of scripture that the Holy Spirit is using, and any notes for future books.
Take notes. Record truth and beauty. Then, you can reflect later and even pass on wisdom.
Take notes. I think living with flair has everything to do with taking notes.
Today I remember the joy of staying curious about people. My new favorite question: What’s your favorite part of your job?
You can learn so much about a person with this simple question.
I most notice in the book of Numbers the division of labor in building the tabernacle and how Moses gave “carts and oxen” to the Levites “as each man’s work requires” (Numbers 7:4-8). Some people received two carts and four oxen; some four and eight. Whatever God’s assignment, Moses supplied the amount needed to complete the work. I imagine that nobody seethed with jealousy or anger because their neighbor received more from the Lord. Nobody compared resources or tasks. Instead, they got to work.
I love looking at my resources—financial, emotional, relational, physical–and noting God gives me what I need based on the task assigned to me. How freeing! I also love looking at the type of work that mattered to God. Some carried anointing oil. Some spread tablecloths. Some embroidered. Some carried small objects, some large.
And all the work mattered.
It’s absolutely true what they all say:
You cannot force your children to have meaningful conversations with you. But when they want to talk, you must drop everything and listen right then. Not later. Not when it’s more convenient for you. Then.
I arrive home to meet one daughter who also happens to arrive home. She looks at me and then asks: Do you want to go get some frozen yogurt? We can talk.
Half my brain thinks this: Who in the world has time for frozen yogurt and talking right now? Besides, I’m not eating sugar, right? And I just arrived home! I want to kick off my shoes, change into comfy clothes, start laundry, gather ingredients for dinner, do all the million things on my to-do list. . .
The other half of the brain joyfully shouts this: Yes! Nothing else matters but you right now! Nothing else in the world! I’ll take it! I’ll take it!
So I get back in the car. I drive back into the very world I wanted to hide from a minute ago. And I eat the cappuccino frozen yogurt with the white chocolate chips and marshmallows and the chocolate covered almonds. And I talk and talk with my daughter. Everything else can wait.
I always grade the professional packet (resume, cover letter, mission statement, and professional biography) much, much harder than anything else I ever grade. It’s because it’s a high-stakes, real-world submission. It matters, and I want my students to secure their dream job. I want them to have everything they want in life. I want them to win.
So I’m ruthless. It’s rare that a student earns an A on these documents. I’m seeking perfection. I’m seeking memorable, audience-specific writing. I’m seeking varied, precise verbs. I want every resume description to show how they added value. I’m grading in order to make these documents spectacular.
How can I not consider the pruning hand of God who works on me the same way out of love and desire for my best? Love takes many forms, and the harsh pruning towards excellence represents one of God’s best demonstrations in our own hearts.
Last night I hosted a party for my daughter’s Marching Band rank. Well, technically, she hosted the party. I just provided some of the food, only to realize that she already shopped for the treats everyone wanted.
But I did make some food. And I know this about teen parties: You put out the platters of food, and then you retreat.
Sometimes, you engage, but never long enough to embarrass anyone. In this new world, parents are neither seen nor heard. How different from our preschool craft parties and elementary school sleepover parties where I held my audience captive with games and funny stories!
No longer. But the good news is, nobody needed me. And they cleaned up after themselves, so it’s like the whole thing never happened. I’m not exhausted by this party that happened. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t invited. It wasn’t my party.
So today, I’m happy for the party I didn’t host and didn’t attend. I’d even do it again next weekend.