On the kitchen counter, my computer lays between a Dutch oven simmering on the stove and a butcher knife and cutting board. A new recipe on the screen is the centerpiece in the menagerie of measuring cups, a half-empty bottle of red wine, olive oil, and a tureen of butter. It’s 3:37pm on Saturday.
Pushing the knife through layers of a small onion, I dice in a sprint, maximizing a lull in conversation. I’m waiting for the ping that alerts me of her response to our Facebook chat. Grasping the metal handle on the wood block, I tilt the white mound sprinkled with minced garlic into the pot, over the chicken and stir while it sizzles. Steam rises up to my nostrils and fogs my glasses.
“I don’t know what you are making but it sure smells good,” H yells from the living room.
I wipe my hands on a paper towel, push my glasses back onto the bridge of my nose and read her prayer request. My friend is recovering from the flu infiltrating every head and chest in her home. We are exchanging encouragement before sundown, the beginning of Sabbath.
Opening a new tab, I read how the red ribbons of clay sediment wrap around the feet of four friends making their way through East Africa on a blogging mission. Envision my Rwandan girlfriend stirring a metal pot of beans warming on a coal burner on the dirt floor in the corner of her small house.
The red dust of Africa sticks to your heart permanently once you’ve experienced it.
I send out a tweet, share their stories on Facebook and pray — a piece of my longing goes with them.
Chopped tomatoes, sprigs of thyme and oregano lay on top as wine glugs from the bottle and into the pot. While I wait for bubbles to push their way to the surface and roll from heating up, I respond to emails from friends in the Sabbath Society who send prayer requests. In a matter of minutes, I’ve reached the tabletops of people in three continents.
And dinner brazes in the oven, like my thoughts about this week.
Suitcases lie open in the bedroom, next to piles of socks and sweaters. I’m not traveling to Africa, but Houston, where I’ll speak about expanding ministry through social networking to crowds of church planters and saints. I’ll hug the neck of my friend, the Rwandan Archbishop who paved the way for five years to raise funds for eighty orphans.
As I fold pairs of pants, I’m rehearsing what I’ll say in my talk. And suddenly, I realize — I’m living the message.
When the sun makes her descent, flames from Shabbat candles lick steam curls rising from bowls on the table. Four chins bend toward chest while H blesses the beginning of our twenty-four hour rest period. And I think about the way of trust with each spoonful.
Trust holds out her mirror to your circumstance and what you see makes you chuckle or shake your head in grief. Sometimes we worry ourselves silly about controlling the details when the details are staring us in the face. When you relinquish a death grip on the handle of the future, trust isn’t a reflection of your fear of losses but the love of Jesus staring back.
We wait for the miracle. Perhaps it’s simmering in the soup of your everyday life.
Shelly, this is so beautiful. Thank you for reminding me of the vast expanse of our words and relationships. I need to remember this for the days when I want to hole up like a hermit and quit all social media forever (how’s that for dramatic?!) I forget the reach–I forget how far our words and prayers travel. Thank you for reminding me–for helping me remember the value of all of this. Praying for you as you go, sweet friend. I know God will use you to bless and encourage the people you are sharing with. XO
Kris I had breakfast with a high school friend who I haven’t seen in about six years and she told me she reads all my blog posts. It was like we just picked up where we left off. You just never know. And that is just one story since I’ve been in Houston this week . . . .
I completely agree. I’ve lived this over and over. But I still need the reminder. I’m not sure why we forget so easily, but we do. I do. Thank you!
I know I need the reminders too Christie. It’s so easy for my thinking to become insular, I’m grateful when perspective makes a visit.
Oh, this just makes me smile. Your are the perfect one to give this talk, Shelly! I”ll be praying for you but I know God planned this one out well. So grateful for social media and how it brought us together. Love to you, sweet friend.
Well, aren’t you sweet Laura, thank you. Love you too, big.
Beautiful, Shelley. My stomach is growling 🙂
Praying for you as you present your message. Social media can be such a powerful tool in sharing the Gospel and encouraging believers!
Praying what I say will help someone think differently about it Susan.
Simmering in the soup of my everyday life…love this.
What a beautiful, powerful post!
I loved that you said you were living the message you needed to speak. I want to live the message.
Sometimes the obvious is completely veiled in my small thinking, Donna. Perhaps you are already living the message too.
Shelly,you indeed ARE living the message as you cheer me and others on :). Thanks for your behind the scenes and public support of so many.
Your descriptive writing style is so beautiful. I felt as if I were right there in the kitchen with you. And you’re right, we do try to control the details when the details are right in front of us.
Love, love, love this – “We wait for the miracle. Perhaps it’s simmering in the soup of your everyday life.” Amen and amen, dear sister in Christ! This is the message to be preached to all – That the miracles are here; the miracles have always been here. The miracle is that we get to experience everyday life, and breathe in its massive moments. I so frequently looked “out there” for the miracle that was already “right here” – that which is my very life and the chance to live it. Thank you for this reminder!
Wow, Shelly, these lines sure resonate, “When you relinquish a death grip on the handle of the future, trust isn’t a reflection of your fear of losses but the love of Jesus staring back.” I spent Tues and Wednesday between hospital visits with my hubby (recuperating well), had a women’s meeting at my house and spent yesterday serving my on-bedrest daughter. And there have been some amazing God appointments and such evidence of His presence throughout. “Jesus showing up in the everyday.” Yessirree.
May He multiply your message as you share His heart.
I agree with the sister-bloggers below. Your descriptions are delicious to read–even when they aren’t about food! And your words resonate in our hearts because you see beauty and find thought-provoking meaning all around you–even in the familiar routine of making soup. (Your recipe sounds especially delectable, from the ingredients you list. Any chance of posting the recipe?!)
Today, your conclusion was a real zinger–miracles simmering in the soup of everyday life. God may very well be engineering events even now to bring to pass that desire of the heart. Reminds me of Isaiah 65:24–“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”
The ingredients are in place, but a bit more time for simmering/maturing is needed. Soon…a perfect blend of events that result in a delightfully satisfying conclusion! Meanwhile we can rest in the reflection of Jesus who gently reminds us, “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace…Keep company with me and learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:29-30, The Message).
Thank you, Shelley, for the delight YOU bring to us, in your inspiring words, and from your Spirit-sensitive heart.
OH yeah. You are living your talk — not only the one you gave in Houston, but the words you pour out here day by day. You’re beautiful, my friend. You’re livin’ it beautiful.