She offers me half her raviolis and pesto for lunch. We’ve just arrived at the home we’ll share with three other sisters for the next few days - a beach house hours from family. The rain is gusting sideways and we are setting ourselves up for a cozy recharge inside the three-story house facing the Pacific.
I’m still full from the oatmeal date bar she bought me this morning on our commute up, so I thank her, but no - I will probably be just fine without lunch today.
I put water on for tea and arrange my 14 bags of books and projects, locate my yoga pants, and take up residence in the living room with my first book of the weekend and a heavy sea-foam green blanket.
Yes. This is how I recharge.
She’s in the kitchen chopping things for our dinner. We'll take turns preparing meals over the weekend and she's starting us off with something wonderful. There is a methodic rhythm in the washing and chopping of vegetables. I can smell the cucumbers. I smell coconut milk simmering and spices blending.
The house is fully stocked with beautiful dishes and she sets the table for five, placing her fresh flowers in the middle between jars of seashells and candles. Each place has a glass of water, a square plate, a square bowl, all set on a thick grass mat.
The table is lovely. She is lovely, and in her element.
Why aren’t I lovely like that? I ask. I’m asking God I guess, though I don’t expect a response. That's how I am.
I sit and words pour out of my book and in through the windows of my soul, but my heart struggles to hear. Sometimes, I'm so full of nonsense that the Spirit's living water becomes just run-off, funneled through gutters of doubt and unbelief.
This sitting and reading and even this retreat is lazy. I am lazy. I should have a gift like hers - serving others and taking such care in it.
The house shakes violent in the wind.
I pray for focus, Lord let me hear You through the author’s words.
I’m only 3 chapters in and she acts like she’s known my every thought. I can only conclude that we must hear the same voices - the one that tells me it’s lazy and unproductive to want to take words in and put words out. That voice might tell her lies, too.
And God is speaking, but He’s not loud. The voice in my head and the one in my heart don’t agree. Emily helps sort them out, like a good counselor, and I’m only 3 chapters in.
My friend in the kitchen is quiet while she works. When I visit the second story bedroom to get a pencil, the smell of our Thai dinner is already there. I suddenly realize that I am hungry - her gift awakens my hunger and my First Thought is that is how I recharge; that is my deepest desire. I want to write what people didn't know they wanted.
To awaken hunger.
I remember that this very book is a gift in several ways - from the author that wrote her art, to the daughter that paid attention, that was attentive enough to hear me mention it and then, at 12 years old, to search it out online and order it for Christmas.
My daughter is a giver. My friend in the kitchen is a giver. Emily is a giver. And everything good and perfect comes from God and who are any of us to stop it up? Or to want a different gift?
I wrote this back in January. I finished Emily's book the second day, and I can honestly say that the only other book I've underlined, hi-lighted, dog-eared, and otherwise marked up more, is my Bible.
I'm pretty sure it's time to read it again, already. Not only because I'm forgetful, but because I want to get ahead of the cycle of doubt that clouds my mind.
You have a gift that maybe you don't know about. Or maybe you do, but you listen to loud doubts instead of quiet assurance. I've been reading through the book of Jonah this week and the thing that struck me this morning was God's pursuit - someone else could have brought the message to Nineveh, with a willing heart and a little compassion. Jonah was the man for the job and God wouldn't let him go.
It's not really about what you or I are, or are not, capable of doing. It's about what God wants to do and how He chooses to do it - and your Nineveh may be just as much a gift to you as to the people who hear your message.
What is God not letting you go from?