I’ve had to call the Technology Help Desk for the English Department twice because of networked printer problems. Each time, the support person says in a calm voice over the phone, “May I take control of your computer now?”
I have no idea where the person actually is and what’s about to happen (and how do they do it!?), but I say, “Yes,” and then watch my computer do things I had no idea it could do. The kind professional has infiltrated and paralyzed me; I can’t do anything to my computer while she’s working. She is diagnosing problems, opening files, and doing all sorts of bizarre operations that I watch from my desk chair. It’s fun to see my computer doing things like this in response to an unseen hand.
I can’t do anything but sit back and watch, so I decide to eat lunch and organize some papers.
Of course I’m still present to answer questions and move some cables around when asked, but mostly, I’m letting someone else have all the control.
I think about how simple and easy the whole thing is and how, if I only let Him, God might have this kind of control over me. Infiltrate! Take over! Tell me what to do! Diagnose all my problems and connect everything that’s broken.
That’s what it’s like if I just let God have control. I learn from the technician that both users can’t have control at the same time. So I surrender more completely than ever.
Yes, take control! I’ll sit back and watch your power and wisdom at work.
Today I did things I normally don’t do. I tried to read piano music alongside one daughter. I tried to harmonize alongside my other daughter in church. I tried to knit a winter hat on an easy knitting loom with both my daughters who sat there, knitting away, while they sang along to Frank Sinatra’s “You Make Me Feel So Young” with perfect harmonies.
I can’t read music! I’m probably tone deaf! And I cannot knit at all. And I don’t like Frank Sinatra, really. OK, maybe I do.
This is a strange life I’m living. The Good Lord gave me crafting, singing, piano playing children who like Frank Sinatra. And I’m failing in all categories, here: my music reading isn’t happening; my singing is still horrific; my hat has fallen apart.
But my oldest smiles with glee and says, “Mom, I’m so glad you’re being crafty with us!”
I’m here. I’m with you. I’m listening to Frank Sinatra right here with you. And I’ll try to cast on again even though I have no idea what that even means. And I’ll nod while you play and clap to the music when I cannot sing one note.
And that’s what motherhood means right now. I’m with you.
My daughter tells me that hot water freezes faster than cold water. This cannot be! I’ve heard the idea before, but I’ve never researched it. Why would I? It doesn’t make any sense, so therefore, I used to refute the claim that hot water freezes faster than cold water.
But it does. Hot water freezes faster than cold water. It’s true!
Scientists disagree about why, but the most respected opinion (according to my non-scientific and novice kind of research) is because of convection. There’s more movement. In other words, in hotter water, convection currents spread the ice crystals around faster and therefore allow for faster freezing.
I no longer look at my daughter like she’s crazy when she tells me to spread a tarp in the backyard and pour hot water on it to make her an ice skating rink faster.
Today I lug myself to my campus office with my arms full of books, papers, my purse, my lunch, and a bag dangling from my exhausted arms. Every object sits carefully balanced so one wrong move would collapse my tower of work items into a heap on the floor. I’m also wrapped up in an enormous coat, gloves, and a hat that’s slipping down my forehead. I’m also stomping down the hall in huge snow boots.
How will I ever find my office keys? How will I set even one of these things down?
I approach the office discouraged and then elated! I find my office mate has arrived before me. The door, wide open and cheerful, beckons me in with warmth and light and clear, easy access.
Such a simple thing, an open door when you weren’t expecting it and didn’t even know to hope for it! Such a small pleasure to have someone there before you, making a way for your own wild, disorganized self!
I do nothing but waltz right in.
I remember the Open Door and the Someone There Ahead of Me. I enter and drop every burden. I’m welcomed to light and warmth and ease here.
I remember today how fragile my physical life actually is in the face of blizzards. I’m outside of the two foot prediction for Virginia, but I think about all the people in that area.
Nothing we do can prevent it. We can’t negotiate with weather. We can’t assert our own importance or human rights. We can’t throw money or power at it to change its course.
Weather has power we can do nothing about.
It’s a reminder that my soul takes refuge in the Lord, and I entrust my life to Him. It’s a reminder that I am small, weak, and subject to even the environment. But I’m hidden in Christ as the storm brews.
Today I urge a student to realize she wants to use the verb “pioneered” on her résumé instead of the bland phrase, “help start something new.”
Pioneered feels so memorable, so beautiful.
I think of someone enduring hardship in uncharted territory to explore and to attempt something that no one else had the courage to try. I think of bravery. I think of new ideas, new research, and new development.
The pioneering spirit! I want it! I love it!
I begin to consider unknown regions of my own life and future. What would it take to move into uncharted regions and bring new, fresh thinking and development? Could I have a pioneering spirit as a wife, mother, writer, and teacher?
I feel a new excitement and a rising courage today.
I love reading the oldest psalm written by Moses, Psalm 90. My favorite verse lately is 14 where Moses writes, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
In the morning? Oh, but I immensely dislike the morning! I’m not a morning person at all!
I focus on the little verb “satisfy” because it seems so hard to grasp for a person like me who does not like the morning. How can someone wake up and feel satisfied so quickly with God’s unfailing love? What does one need to call to mind to know this, to feel this, to put her toes on the cold floor and realize the truth of it?
I pause in the bed and let the words sink in like I’m a dry sponge absorbing water.
I think of the default state of my heart that complains instead of sings, that sulks instead of rejoices. I wonder what Moses taught his own heart each morning and how he escaped his own despair. I find the secret in his very first sentence: “Lord, you have been our dwelling place. . .”
I’ve wondered for years what it meant that we have our “dwelling place” in God and that He’s also dwelling in us. If I remember, like Moses did, that my soul rests in this beautiful refuge and fortress, I begin to think that what satisfies is this being with God and enjoying His presence here in my soul. It seems no accident that the next psalm tells us “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust'” (Psalm 91:1). I can wake up here, in this truth, instead of in my own moody thoughts.
I leave the bed, but I’m in a different place. I’m in a refuge, a fortress, a heavenly dwelling.
I’m so inspired today when I hear a reminder that “a little goes a long way” in God’s economy. You give Him what you have–loaves and fishes–and He knows how to multiply it, make it last, and nourish many.
When I begin to think about God multiplying small offerings, I feel so blessed in ordinary, small, unseen acts of service that God can somehow amplify to become more than they are. If I don’t have much to give–financially, emotionally, relationally, or physically, I recall God’s multiplying miracles.
Today I read a curious command from God in Psalm 81:10: “Open wide your mouth, and I will fill it.”
I ask so many questions:
What does it mean that I open wide my mouth? How do I open wide my mouth? What prevents me from opening wide my mouth?
I found this gem of a quote: “‘Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it;’ widen and dilate the desires and expectations of your souls, and God is able to fill every chink to the vastest capacity. This honours God; when we greaten our expectations upon him, it is a sanctifying of God in our hearts,” said Thomas Case (1598- 1682), in “Morning Exercises.”
Widen my desires and expectations! Greaten my expectations! Yes!
But I think about what it means to open wide my mouth–literally.
I’m someone who cannot chew gum or crunch on too many hard foods because I’ll have jaw soreness and stiffness. I avoid opening my mouth too wide for this reason. I don’t want it to get stuck! Oh, the human jaw! I learn that the temporomandibular joints are the most complex joints in the body. I also learn this astonishing fact according to Dr. Michael Roizen. He says this: The jaw is “the only joint in the body that purposely dislocates itself during motion.”
It purposely dislocates. It purposely upsets itself, disturbing something natural, to work. When I “open wide my mouth” I’m disrupting, disturbing, dislocating the normal position of the jaw.
All morning, I think of what’s grown too stiff and clamped shut in my complex life. What can I allow God to disrupt, disturb, and dislocate to enable a wide mouth–a wide heart–that, like Case says will dilate my desires and greaten my expectation of Him? What does God wish to show me of Himself that my clamped little life won’t allow?
Help me open wide my mouth, God!
Today I have my favorite crock pot recipe cooking happily along while I’m on campus. It’s pot roast with the packet of onion soup, some cream of mushroom soup, some liquid at the bottom like beef broth, and some carrots and onions. There’s nothing quite like coming home on a winter’s evening to a crock pot holding your delicious dinner.
It’s so good I’m not home because I’m terrible at leaving the crock pot alone. I lift the lid and stir things up just to make sure things are happening. I read that if you lift the lid on a crock pot, you add 15-20 minutes to the cooking time. So much heat escapes that you can really mess up your recipe if you keep peeking inside.
Oh, but I want to peek! I want to confirm that things are happening in there.
I remember that things are happening, and I can trust the process. I let things be in my own life, trusting that God is at work, when I cannot see ahead. And I remember that I learned this same truth back in 2010 when I made popovers in the dark inferno. You just have to trust. You can’t peek because being hidden is part of the recipe.