A Crock-Pot Recipe that Reminds Me to Wait it Out

The whole house smells of seasoned broth from a crock-pot of vegetables, chicken, and spices.

A crock-pot represents that glorious Unseen Hand that takes all the bits and pieces you can hardly stand separately and simmers them together into something nourishing.

I glance at my old crock-pot and think about all my life’s fragments and frayed ends that–by God’s grace and timing–simmer down and build this perfect recipe that makes sense.

Normally, I have no patience for things that take all day.  But crock-pots not only make it a joy to wait, but there’s this strange, cozy comfort in knowing that they sit there on the kitchen counter, working.  

In this crock-pot of the heart, you wait it out and know that, at just the right time, He’ll have made something of it all.  There’s a warmth and a fragrance in this beautiful waiting. 

Crock-Pot Chicken and Pasta Soup
1.  After breakfast, add frozen peas, carrots, and corn to a crock-pot.
2.  Add one chopped onion and one chopped red pepper.
3.  Add 3 frozen chicken breasts and season with salt, pepper, and anything you love. Add 3 cups of water.
4.  Cook on high half of the day.  Then, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Stir the pot and continue cooking all day.
5.  An hour before dinner, add your favorite kind of pasta and cook until tender.  Enjoy as a soup, or add less liquid for a hearty pasta dish. 

Don’t you love that feeling of having dinner made by breakfast?


You’ve Got to See This

My neighbor has a gift.  She’s an artist, but nobody really knows–at least we didn’t–until she began to show us all.

Her drawings make me so happy.  They evoke something in me that the real object doesn’t.  I realize I’m just looking at a drawing of a little girl’s shoes, but something about this artwork delights me. 

Reluctantly, she shows her sketches to the neighborhood children, and they gather around her in wonder.  “You drew that?  You really drew it?  With pencil?  How?”

If you ever get a chance to speak with an artist, I highly recommend it.  I ask Jennifer Kelly to explain to me why I love this drawing so much.  She writes, “There’s just something little-girly about the shoes, kicked off in a rush to go play. Their shape is reminiscent of the body’s long curves; the interior almost calls you to put your foot in, and your skin tingles, remembering the feel of your last pair of flats. Maybe the visceral nature of pencil strokes enhances the touch-feel-experience of the memory.”

Living with flair means you seek out your neighbor’s hidden talents.  And if you are the neighbor with the gift, living with flair means you offer it to the world.  You go public, you open your sketch book, and you let the community be delighted by you and God’s creativity flowing through you.  

Journal:  What gift are you hiding from us?


Arise, Go

This morning in church, I notice the verb God uses when he speaks to reluctant prophets.  He says:  arise. 

I can’t stop thinking about this verb.  Arise!  Arise and go!

It’s such an interesting command.  I learn that arise literally means to come into being, to emerge, to move upward.  

Arise!  Come into the calling I have for you!  Emerge out of whatever darkness you’re in!   


He takes us by the hand and invites us to arise and go.

Journal:  In what ways am I being called to arise and go?


Things That Make Us Humble

I’m learning to give thanks for things that make me humble.  What a blessing in disguise when we experience failure, sickness, less-than-perfect children, a rebuke from a boss or superior, moods we can’t manage, laundry we can never finish, schedules we can’t control, or any host of things that cry out:  You are not capable–in your own strength–of living your life!  You are not as great as you think you are! 

I’m sitting in church, upset about all the hard things happening.  I’m skimming the first chapters of the book of Isaiah, thinking about my own proud heart.  I find the most unusual verb: whistle.  God whistles twice in the book of Isaiah.   The prophet Isaiah says God whistles for us–getting our attention–so we’ll turn to Him.  I start chuckling in my seat.  I picture myself running off into the distance, into all my own plans and in all my own prideful independence. 

Then, I hear that long, sweet whistle calling me home. 

That’s what these disappointments mean.  I need God.  He’s calling me home. 

Journal:  Is God whistling for you through this situation you’re in?


I Wasn’t Supposed to Have Even One

All year, I’ve waited for the raspberries.  Finally, we have a single ripe berry on the bush this morning. 

I complain to my husband about how unproductive the berries have been.  “Look at the neighbor’s berries!  They have so many ripe berries! We have one!” 

“We weren’t supposed to have any this year,” my husband–the gardening expert–reminds me.  “The neighbor’s plants are mature, and ours are young.  Next year, we’ll have our berries.”

I wasn’t supposed to have any.  The truth of it resonates deep in my soul.  I expect and demand so much.  I look at all my worries on this Sunday:  my daughter’s possible gluten allergy, news of a sick friend in the hospital, my deadlines, my students.  I place them all in the great lap of God.  I’m humbled before that lap; I do not demand or complain. 

His great blessing brought into my life the very things I now worry about.  His great blessing–when I did not deserve even one of these things–children, friends, work or whatever it is–means I cleanse my heart and rejoice in the very things about which I want to complain. 

That one bright berry–when I wasn’t supposed to have any–tastes sweeter than you can imagine. 

Journal:  Am I fretting over a blessing? 


The Way You Should Go

On our journey home from Colorado, an older and wiser couple drive one hour ahead of us.  They warn us of traffic or storms.  They select the best hotel option.  They research and find great local restaurants. 

As we arrive behind them, we receive the reconnaissance report.  How easy to travel this way!  They even make dinner reservations for us so we just walk right to our table. 

It feels like we are not alone.  As I thank God for them, I realize they visually represent God’s presence and provision all along. 

I recall the verse in Deuteronomy where the author reports that God “went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.”

I love that God shows us the way we should go.  

Journal: Has it been obvious that God has gone ahead of you to show you the way you should go? 


Just Look Up

Every time I feel lost in this new place, I just look up.

An enormous mountain rises so high that you can see it no matter where you are.  When you observe it, you immediately reorient.  You suddenly know which direction to go. 

I find myself desperate for that mountain.  With every turn in the car, I’m shifting in my seat, craning my neck to find it.  And then I relax.  “This is the right way,” I say.  I don’t even need street names anymore.  I just drive on with that mountain beside me, and I know I’ll make it home.

I’ll remember the simplicity of looking up to find a mountain as I continue in this journey of faith.  
Journal:  What in my life has been a fixed mountain for me?


Give Your Life Away

My arms are sore from turning double-dutch jump ropes. 

From 6:30 PM-7:30 PM, 30 (yes, thirty!) parents and children came out to the parking lot for Monday Night Neighborhood Fitness.  Imagine a swarm of children riding bikes and scooters or playing football and Frisbee.  Imagine a car blaring music from an iPod so a group of children can dance.  Imagine moms and dads walking together and connecting in their own neighborhood. 

Imagine a little boy tugging on my sleeve to announce he rode ten times around the lot which I clocked for him as one mile.  Imagine another little girl finally learning to jump rope. 

I need more kites!  I need more cones for obstacle courses!  I want hula hoops and another set of ropes! 

Why am I so happy when I’m turning jump ropes?  It makes no sense that something like this would so deeply change my life. 

Over the weekend, I hear Larry Crabb (a Christian psychologist) talking about the goal of Christian therapy.  As someone who battled depression all those years and reads everything I can about finding happiness, I drop everything to listen. 

Crabb tells me that, typically, we think about counseling and our own happiness as answering the question, “How much can I get out of my life?”  But therapy in the truest, Biblical sense asks, “How much can I give of my life?”  In practice, I have found my own happiness bloom fully when I’m involved in tasks that serve others and let me forget myself.

I want to give my life away.  Turning jump ropes isn’t glamorous, and it doesn’t generate any revenue.  But something about this task has secured more happiness for me than anything else I’ve done this year. 

Journal:  How is God asking me to give my life away? 


Screaming “Base!”

Today I chase my daughter around the living room to tickle her.  At one point, she defiantly stops in her tracks, places one hand on the couch and screams, “Base!” 

“I’m safe!  I’m safe on base!  You can’t touch me!”  she insists, nodding her head and putting one hand up as a stop sign. 

I wait patiently for her to move from “base” only to find that as soon as she’s nearly in my grip, she just touches the wall and screams, “Base!” again.  

For little ones, the concept of a “moving base” saves them every time.  They just have to touch something–anything–claim it as their safe haven, and stop the attacker (in this case, the Tickle Monster).

She’s onto something.

I imagine enemy attacks against us in various spiritual forms.  I reach out my hand, wherever I am, cling to God and scream “Base!”  You can’t touch us here.  We are safe. 

Living with flair means I realize I’m on base.  

Journal:  What do I need to scream “Base!” to as I claim my safety and protection in God?


Going to the Bottom of the Well

Just this week, a dear friend of mine describes herself as  “holding on to the edge for dear life so she doesn’t fall to the bottom of the well.”

You grip the well’s ledge, keep your chin up, and refuse to fall. 

It’s a haunting image of a life lived in fear of surrender.  My tight grip on the ledge represents a picture of what I cannot face on the road to personal transformation, freedom, and joy.   I’m afraid of what’s down there if I journey deeper into places of brokenness.  Can’t I just stay up here, white knuckled, with my jaw clenched, fighting? 

All day, I consider how I need to let go of my tight grip on my life, trying to hold everything together in that desperate and clenched way that drains out the life and hope. 

A friend looks her straight between the eyes and says, “You need to let go and fall to the bottom of the well.”  That’s the way to begin to heal. 

But what happens when she lets go?  What fearful thing awaits?  She cannot do this alone. 

Another friend says, “I’ll fall to the bottom with you.”

And another, days later, adds:  “God is at the bottom of the well.” 

We release our grip, surrender to the work of healing God wants in our lives, and look around.  We aren’t alone:  Friends journey down into the darkness with us, and God himself embraces us at the moment we let go. 

(Photograph of a well in Argentina, Creative Commons)


Today, I remember a quote from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke:  “Works of art always spring from those who have faced the danger, gone to the very end of an experience, to the point beyond which no human being can go. The further one dares to go, the more decent, the more personal, the more unique a life becomes.”  
What danger do I need to face?