No recipe today friends – just me talk/typing at my computer. In a rare turn of events I have 3 hours alone. Completely alone -well okay, not if you count other coffeehouse patrons. Otherwise for all intents and purposes I am by myself. No oversized diaper bag in sight, nothing in the oven to watch over, no friends to chat with, and no wiggly baby making me laugh at his silliness. I miss that last one a bit, but these moments are so few and far between that I’m trying not to focus on what I miss ;) I’m used to doing my days one handed, and I love being surrounded by people – today, however, is going to be good for me I think.
You can see why I’d miss him right?
2013 has been a year of so much awesome that I’m full to bursting with joy. It’s not been a perfect year, but there’s so much good that I’m having very little trouble dwelling on the rest. Honestly, I’m in danger of getting a little mushy & nostalgic, but can you blame me? Awesome kid? Check. Awesome husband? Check. Awesome friends & family? Check. Life is good and God has been ever present in our day to day happenings.
One of my highlights this year has been the opportunity to volunteer at our church in a number of capacities. We’re a musical family, and God has placed us in a community where we can use our gifts to serve both on Sunday mornings with the praise team and on Sunday nights leading worship for the high school youth group. That second opportunity has flourished into something much more that I expected.
When we were first approached over the summer about the possibility of leading worship for the high schoolers I was excited but a little apprehensive about our busy family schedule. My husband is in grad school, works full time, regularly does graphic design work on the side, and still manages to find time to be the most amazing dad to our son. He’s already stretched thin, but was ready and eager to jump at the chance to serve. When we talked about it together we mutually agreed that we could definitely be musically available, but that would probably be the extent of our involvement.
Two weeks before the start of the program we received word that they were desperate for small group leaders, and something happened. God asked me for something. I felt the familiar pang in my heart that said, “Okay, you know what comes next.” It would have been much easier to hesitate and remind God that we are busy. We are not in a place where we have a lot of extra time, energy, or resources to immerse ourselves in something that could end up being a fairly long term commitment. Thankfully I didn’t hesitate, and neither did my husband. Without talking to each other we both privately responded to the need, and excitedly came together that evening with our respective news. Ha! God knew what he was doing when he paired us with each other. All we could do was laugh about God’s timing and happily resign ourselves to serve with joy.
That was two months ago, and this weekend I was reminded to thank God for his excellent foresight in giving me 12 freshman girls with whom I am so excited to do life alongside. They are wonderful. It is very possible that I needed them more than they needed me.
As we sat this Sunday wrapping up our discussion I turned to the girls, like I do every week, and asked if there was anything else they wanted to talk about before we moved on to the businessy part of our time together (announcements and planning and such). Usually it’s a quick nod and acknowledgement that we’re all generally covered and we move on, but not today. One of my girls piped up and without looking directly at me said, “Could you text us more?” My heart dropped, and I quickly tried to cover my guilty face by apologizing profusely and promising to be better at communicating with them during the week. They were so sweet, and we had a good laugh as I set an alarm on my phone at a time comprised of some of their favorite numbers (3:07) to go off everyday.
Now I think I’m pretty cool, but I’m also pretty sure I’m one of the few who thinks that’s true. I had assumed that these 14-15 year old girls didn’t want to be associated with me outside our twice monthly meetings. I falsely believed that they didn’t mind that I only remembered to get a hold of them once or twice inbetween those every other Sunday hang outs because they have cooler friends and don’t need to be bothered by their almost 30 year old youth group leader. If it happens great, if not they won’t really be affected. And I would have kept believing that if that one girl hadn’t asked for what she really wanted – and then every girl chimed in to concur that they wanted to know I was thinking about them. I do think about them. Daily. It makes my heart happy to know that they want to be apart of my life, to know that they are loved, and that I’m not just another adult to them.
Sometimes a full heart is what you need to face what’s next – the next day in fact. As I sat in my car on Monday waiting for the stop light to go green I felt God pushing on my heart again. In the midst of my errand running and mental planning for the week I looked down at a blue string bracelet I have around my car shifter and began to pray. That’s what it’s there for – to remind me to pray. There always seems to be a pretty substantial laundry list of needs & thanks for friends, family, and life in general that I want to pray for, but I as pressed the gas pedal to make my way across the intersection I was interrupted.
Ask for what you want.
I didn’t know what to think. Again and again I’ve read those verses that say “ask and you shall receive,” and in the span of about 30 seconds I had to reconcile my brain with the idea that I had been asking, but not asking. God knows me, surely I don’t have to ask – he already knows. That’s not the point. I tell my husband and son I love them every chance I get, not because they don’t know, but because it’s good to say it. It becomes a reminder for both parties involved: you love this person – be gentle; or you are loved by this person – everything else can fall apart, but this is a sure thing. God knows what I want, but I needed to be reminded.
Tearfully I prayed. One sentence. Shortest prayer I’ve said in a long time. I asked for the deep desire in my heart that I had been continually pushing aside as secondary. It had become an afterthought – if this happens great, but if not I’ll be 100% unaffected. Wrong. God was asking me to acknowledge what I wanted because I needed to be reminded.
John 16:24 says this, “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” I know that God is not a vending machine, or some kind of magical, wish-granting genie, but I also know that all prayers are answered. God wasn’t asking me to pray so that I could get what I wanted, but he was asking me to pray so that I would know what I wanted. The answer I needed this day was to be assured that it wasn’t just God who knew what I wanted – I needed to be sure too.
I hope you are encouraged this week to seek after God, and after yourself.