When Waiting Is Quiet


when waiting is quiet

I’m sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, magazine in hand. The room is filled with people, but they’re unnaturally quiet—so quiet I can hear the clock on the wall marking lost time…all the wasted life I’ll never get back because I spent it breathing stale air in this crowded room.

I flip a page and stifle a snort: another celebrity has lost all her pregnancy weight in three days, and if I’ll only hire myself a personal chef who serves me a delicious diet of kale, chia seeds, and fresh fish imported by helicopter from Siberia and then boiled in colostrum and coconut water, I too can sport a postpartum six-pack. For the hundredth time, I wish I’d thought ahead and brought my computer—or at least a good book.

A nurse opens the swinging door with a whoosh, and everyone in the room looks up expectantly. I think I see a lady near the door slipping a fiver into the nurse’s hand, as if she can bribe her way to the top of the list.

“Mrs. Smith?” calls the nurse. Everyone not named Mrs. Smith heaves a despairing sigh. Mrs. Smith leaps up with a grin so broad you’d think she’d just been named the next contestant on “The Price Is Right.” (You know you’ve been waiting forever when going in to face the gynecologist with all her evil torture devices feels like an improvement on your situation.) I can’t decide if I want to offer Mrs. Smith a congratulatory high-five or shoot her an envious glare. The room falls silent. I go back to my magazine and mind-numbing stagnation.

Some waiting seasons are active, jerking us up and down and all around, keeping us guessing, dragging us through wild detours that may be insane but at least keep life exciting. As we wait for The Thing we want, we may be terrified out of our minds, wondering what twist awaits around the next curve, but at least we’re moving; at least we’re doing something!

But then you have the other kind of waiting season: The quiet kind. The monotonous kind. The boring kind. The kind when we’re stuck in life’s waiting room, in between phases, where nothing ever happens and nothing ever changes. Life feels useless, meaningless, a song stuck on repeat. Every day the same: Same old classes, same old job, same old apartment. How we wish things would change, how we long for the next thing—The Thing we are convinced we cannot be happy without…but The Thing won’t come. Life won’t change.

How to wait on God via @lizzylit

In times like this, we face a choice: We can either sit there filling our time with empty, brainless things—reading magazines about other people’s lives, scrolling through Instagram pictures of everyone else’s Big Exciting Adventures… or we can fill our own time in meaningful ways. We can find ways to use the “down time,” the life in-between, with purpose. But how do we do that? Find purpose in pauses?

We don’t often think of Him this way, but Jesus was no stranger to waiting. In a way, He spent His whole life waiting: Waiting for the cross, the day of suffering that haunted his future like a daily shadow. Waiting to be set free from this broken world and His soon-to-be broken body. Waiting to return home to heaven and be reunited with His Father.

How did Jesus fill His waiting days? Not worrying about Himself or His own needs—no, He filled His days with service. With love. With constant communion with the Father He missed. We too can fill our in-between days by walking in His ways. By finding people to serve, needs to meet, ways to give.

In Luke 9:23–24 Jesus tells us, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it” (NLT). It’s not easy, but selflessness is the way of Christ. The way of purpose and meaning. Selfishness leads only to frustration and discontentment.

Let’s find people to serve, needs to meet and ways to give, even while we wait. If we reach out to comfort or befriend, to serve or to save even one soul while we’re waiting, this time is not lost. Waiting time need not be wasted life. We can redeem waiting times by giving them to God, so that when our name is finally called and our time in the waiting room is over (hallelujah), we can dance out of the waiting room feeling great about how we spent our time there. We might even high-five a few new friends on the way out.

**For one week only, you can download a FREE COPY of my new book, When God Says “Wait,” from Book Bub! Don’t wait…this deal ends soooooooon! Click here to get your free copy. **


If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

When Waiting Is Terrifying

When Your Life Feels Wasted

When Life Poops on Your Party

A Letter to My Children’s Teachers, from a Grateful Parent

My new Instagram account, where I post lots of thoughts about waiting on God!

My new book, When God Says “Wait”: Navigating Life’s Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind


Everything You Need for Lice and Godliness


handling life changes with grace and humor

Nope, that’s not a typo in the title. It’s the ETV (Elizabeth Thompson Version) of 2 Peter 1:3: “His divine power has given you everything you need for life lice and godliness.” (Hey—I think my translation still suits the spirit of the scripture.)

I’ll take another liberty, this time with Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem:

‘Twas three days before Christmas, and all through my house, not a creature was stirring, except for a louse…

Yep. This Christmas, we got visited by more than just elves and Santa Claus.

It was December 22, 6:00 am. The night before, I had nearly killed myself to finish an intense editing job—I’d worked long hours for weeks on end, scrambling to finish with a few days to spare so I could shut down and spend time with my family for Christmas.

So there I was, the morning of December 22, finally free, and happy, happy, happy. For thirty-eight minutes, everything was perfect. I woke up before the rest of the family, smiling to myself in a dark and sleepy house. I brewed coffee, switched on peaceful music and the Christmas tree lights, and settled down on the couch with a mug and my Bible. Christmas had finally begun, and I was going to start it off right: alone with God.

A few minutes later, my daughter stumbled out, bleary-eyed and tousle-haired, and snuggled up beside me with her head in my lap. Happy, happy, happy, I sat there and prayed over her and stroked her hair.

And that’s when I saw it: a louse, scurrying across her head.

I should pause the story here to note that I am bug-ophobic in the extreme. And lice? My terror knows no bounds. (Don’t believe me? Read here: On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love.)

So you will be impressed—perhaps even amazed—to hear that I did not scream. I did not even gasp. But I felt my happy, happy, happy feeling skittering away, carried off by little louse feet.


Want more of Elizabeth’s work? Click here to preorder her next book, When God Says “Wait,” coming March 1 from Barbour Publishing! 


Within an hour, the whole house was awake and Kevin and I had kicked into Save-This-Christmas Mode. We called and made an appointment with the “Lice Lady” who had saved our vacation the last time the lice fairy paid our family a visit, when we were on vacation. Who cared if her office was a ninety-minute drive away? Christmas had to be saved. (I hereby pause this essay for a random proclamation: If your kid gets lice, hire a Lice Lady. Hock a family heirloom to pay for it if you have to. It will be the best money you have ever spent, except maybe for your epidural. Lice Ladies know what they are doing, and will help you get rid of evil bugs waaaaaaay faster than you could on your own. They will also help you retain your sanity, your spouse, and your salvation. Okay. Back to our story.)

So we stuck a shower cap on the Infected One, cancelled our big Star Wars plans with friends, loaded up the four Crazies in the minivan, packed enough snacks to survive a four-month covered wagon journey across the Oregon Trail, blasted Frank Sinatra Christmas carols, and trundled down the road to the Lice Lady. When we got there, our poor almost-three-year-old squealed with glee: “We going ice skating!” We had to break her heart and re-enunciate: “We are going to the LICE LADY, not ice skating. Instead of ice skating, you get to sit in a chair and let someone comb your hair looking for bugs! Woohoo!”

And so began the Great Christmas De-Lousing.

The first appointment was just the beginning. The afternoon at the Lice Lady’s office was followed by several days of laundry and hours of follow-up nit-picking, even as family members gradually filled our house for the holiday. (Paranoid family members, I might add, who were terrified—rightfully so, I’m not judging—of hugging us.)

But you know what’s great?

I didn’t lose it. I didn’t cry one self-pitying tear. Not even when my dryer decided not to help me dry the 4,000 loads of laundry I needed to do when we got home. I didn’t lose my temper, or snap at my husband or kids. I didn’t flip out, not even behind closed doors. I just rolled with it. I even laughed about it. I’m kind of gawking at the computer screen even as I type these words, because this is not normal for me.

Through the Christmas Lice Fairy Visit, I realized that by the grace of God I have grown this year. God has pounded a profound life lesson into my thick head (a louse-free head, in case you were wondering), and apparently, I have listened and started to learn:

I am beginning to accept that life is messy. Things do not go according to plan, pretty much ever. If we wait for our whole life to be perfect to be happy, we will be waiting forever. We will grit our teeth through a series of disappointments, and only find peace and joy when we make it to heaven. That’s not how God wants us to live.

The secret to a joyful life is appreciating what we have, when we have it, for as long as it lasts. Not placing rules or restrictions on our happiness—rules like: “I can’t be happy until…” or “I won’t be happy unless…”

Nope. That’s not how joy works. That’s just a recipe for disappointment, frustration, and unhappiness.


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We find joy in spite of the mess.

In the midst of the mess.

Sometimes even because of the mess.

As 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 puts it, “Be joyful always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

I’ve come to accept that there will always be something wrong with our life. Something we wish was better, or different, or…whatever.

There was a day—two years and nine months’ worth of days, actually—when I couldn’t get pregnant, and I would have gladly given my right arm to have a house filled with lice-infested children. I never want to forget those lonely days.

If we can learn to roll with the unexpected, to adapt on the fly, to appreciate what we have even though there are things we lack, to “laugh at the days to come” instead of fearing them (Proverbs 31:25)—better yet, to laugh at the days that are, even when they go so completely wrong…then we can do more than just survive life. We can enjoy it. We can thank God for it. We can be a person we’re proud of being, in all kinds of circumstances.

So if I have a new year’s resolution this year, it’s this: To keep on rolling with the punches. To stop waiting for perfection. To stop expecting smooth sailing. To accept, embrace, and even laugh at the mayhem of the unexpected.  To be happy now—no asterisks, addendums, or alterations.

And to braid my daughters’ hair, and spray it with mint spray, every day from now until eternity.

Happy new year, y’all. Here’s to the madness.

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If you enjoyed this essay, you might also enjoy:

On Pinkeye, Lice and Love

Keep Dancing

While You’re Making Other Plans

“I’m a Big Girl, No Wait, I’m a Baby” Syndrome

By This Time Next Year: A Christmas Miracle

When Being a Grown-Up Means You’re Still Growing Up

5 Simple Ways to Bring God into Your New Year


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13 Readings to Help You Find the Thanksgiving Spirit


13 readings to help you be thankful

Image courtesy of Pixabay

In honor of Thanksgiving, I’m honored to share with you thirteen fantastic articles from blogger friends, all about gratitude. If you haven’t caught the Thanksgiving spirit yet, these will do the trick. Some readings are devotion–style, with scriptures to meditate on; others are essays to get you thinking; a few give practical tips for cultivating a spirit of gratitude in your family life; all will inspire you to feel (and live) thankful! Read one a day, or splurge, Thanksgiving–style, and read several at once—this is the best kind of feast, one that lets you go back for seconds and thirds, without getting a stomachache!

Bringing Gratitude into Your Daily Life as a Parent

71 Ways to Show Gratitude to Family, Friends, and Strangers by Lauren Cormier (Oh, Honestly). I absolutely love this list of fun, practical ideas for ways to show gratitude—things like giving lots of hugs, or doing a chore no one else wants to do. Lauren writes, “By living life in a way that constantly looks for ways to improve the lives of others, we are showing gratitude.” Read the article here

Today’s Lesson from a Grateful Mom by Traci Rhoades (Traces of Faith). Track writes about slowing down the hectic mom-life pace, and choosing gratitude along the way: “When we force things to slow down, things get better… Because the years we have together are gifts. Memories in the making every day.” Read the article here

4 Tips to Teach Your Children Gratitude by Lauren Cormier (for MissHumblebee). This is an insightful take on getting to kids’ hearts, raising grateful kids, not entitled ones. And guess where it starts? “Model gratitude. This may be the most important tip of all since our children learn what they see.” Read the article here

Gratitude Turns Who We Are into Enough, by Meredith Ethington (Perfection Pending). Encouraging thoughts for moms who never feel like enough, who think, “I yell sometimes, and a good mom would never do that… I want peace and quiet at the end of the day instead of loud laughter and kids running through the house wild and happy. Good mothers don’t think like that. But this mother does.” Read the article here

Devotional Thoughts on Gratitude

Which Letter Is Yours? by Jeanie Shaw (My Morning Cup). This is a hilarious rewrite of the letter Paul wrote to the Philippians. He had every reason to complain, and yet he chose joy. But what if he hadn’t? “Nobody really cares about me…everyone is just thinking about themselves. Well, except maybe Timothy and now he’ll likely go to you and then you will ‘need’ him.  Sheez…what else do you want?” Read the article here

One Thing to Be Thankful for (that’s Not Based on Your Circumstances), by Ellie Fulton (Gumption). Ellie writes about the wondrous reminder that God is always at work in the details of our lives, to bring us to him: “God worked in the very details, every day, of these twenty souls. And I was reminded—it is not just those twenty people. God has worked in the very details, every day, of my life since before I was born…and he keeps doing it…” Read the article here

Giving Thanks, by Debbie Williams (Blogger Loves the King). Debbie writes a simple reminder to live (and thank God) intentionally every day, not just on Thanksgiving Day: “We may not be able to change our circumstances, but we CAN change our attitudes to attitudes of gratitude.” Read the article here

How to Have a Real Thanksgiving This Year, by Stephanie Robertson (Barnabas Lane). Seeking a true Thanksgiving, the kind that begins in your heart and not with your fork: “Heaven forbid we put more preparation into the meal we eat or the way we eat it on Thanksgiving than the way we really experience and really have Thanksgiving.” Read the article here

Monday Thankfulness: Simplicity, by Destin Wells (Arrows of Content). Destin writes about finding joy in life’s simple, daily blessings: “We don’t have much, but we have everything we need. We aren’t wealthy in terms of money, but anytime I spend a weekend doing simple things with the ones I love, I feel like the richest person in the world.” Read the article here

Looking for family devotion ideas? I’ve written a couple of devotion ideas to teach gratitude to kids: A Fun Family Devotion to Teach Kids Gratitude, and A Fun Way to Teach Gratitude to Kids of All Ages.

Gratitude During Hard Times

Choose Gratitude, by Sarah Philpott (All–American Mom). I loved this reminder that gratitude is a choice, even we’re struggling, or suffering, or grieving: “Anchor your soul in gratitude for what the Lord has done.  You might not be rescued from the storm, but you can look around for the beauty in the midst of the upheaval…in the midst of the tempest choose to cherish.” Read the article here. (Sarah blogs about miscarriage and pregnancy loss, so if you or a friend is going through this, Sarah’s blog is a great resource.)

Giving Thanks: Not the Usual Suspects, by Bonnie Lyn Smith (Espressos of Faith). This Thanksgiving, we’re all wondering, how do we find gratitude in the midst of so much fresh pain and terror in the world? What does it really mean to pray for our enemies? Bonnie writes, “…Good rises up in horrifying circumstances, and I have the privilege to pray for change and sometimes to participate in it… I cannot be as self-focused when I am willing to pray back the dark.” Read the article here.

You Are Alive! Savor It, by Christine Carter (The Mom Cafe). If you battle depression during the holidays, this post will encourage you, helping you find ways to savor life even when it’s hard, or you’re not up for the daily grind: “Despite those hard days, those trying trials, those sometimes suffocating sacrifices we endure just to get through the day, we are aliveWe haven’t been taken from this world, just yet.” Read the article here.  

This Is Living, by Jennie Goutet (A Lady in France). Jennie lives in Paris, and had a birthday in the midst of the recent tragedy—and yet she found joy and light in the midst of heartbreak: “Outside it’s dark and it feels like the night is only getting darker. It feels like the heavens are weeping over the tragedies without cease. But we, my friends, are lit from within.” Read the article here


Want more parenting tips and devotion ideas? Sign up for my monthly parenting newsletter, and you’ll receive a free download with seven two-minute devotions to do around the breakfast table with kids!


If you enjoyed these readings, you might also enjoy: 

A Fun Family Devotion to Teach Kids Gratitude

10 Ways to Encourage Kids to Open Up

13 Scriptures to Help Siblings Get Along

These Days of Small Things

When Being a Grown-up Means You’re Still Growing Up

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These days of small things


how to enjoy childhood via @lizzylit

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

We’re at the North Carolina State Fair on a perfect October night. The sky is cloudless, speckled with stars. The air is crisp, cool but not cold. It’s a night for pumpkins and bonfires, sweatshirts and cider. It’s also a Saturday night, which means that the entire population of North Carolina has been inspired by our same not-so-brilliant idea: “Let’s spend two hundred dollars buying deep-fried candy bars wrapped in bacon, and then get on rides that simulate standing inside a blender, and try not to throw up!”

But the October sky will not be ignored, so now here we are, fighting our way through a heaving river of humanity to find the kiddie area. Kevin is muscling our double stroller through gaps in the mass of people, parting the crowd like Moses with the Red Sea, only with more shouting and carnage. I’m right behind him, clutching fistfuls of the two older kids’ sweatshirts in my hands, praying we don’t lose any of our four struggling, goggle-eyed children in the swarm. Over the crowd, Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome and I keep flashing each other this forced, crazy-eyed smile that means something along the lines of: “Maybe if we keep fake-smiling we’ll trick ourselves into believing we’re having fun, even though we’re terrified—and for the love of all that is good and holy how did we talk each other in to spending our kids’ college fund on rigged games and fried candy?—and by the way, we are never doing this again!”

Finally the wave of people dumps us out into the kiddie area—along the way we’ve mowed down twelve love-struck teenagers and one giant stuffed banana wearing dreadlocks, in between dropping sixty bucks on kettle corn, elephant ears, and a Lebanese dish we can’t pronounce but that tasted like glory—and by some miracle, all four kids are still with us, and no one has thrown up (yet).

I convince the three older kids to ride the giant swings with me, and all through the line they do a dance of delighted terror. You’d think they’ve never been on a ride before, the way they’re gaping at the swings, hugging each other and hiding their eyes. I’m worried they might chicken out. But the minute the ride starts and our feet leave the ground, my six-year-old throws both arms in the air and laughs like an experienced roller coaster rider, like she was born for this. (Recalling her habit of flinging her body from terrifying heights in an apparent desire to become BFFs with the local emergency room staff, I suspect she was.) We stumble off two minutes later, giddy and giggling. I’m starting to feel like the fair wasn’t such a terrible idea after all.

And now it’s the two-year-old’s turn to ride something her speed. We ease back into the torrent of people, searching until we spot a merry-go-round of glittery miniature cars. At first we hesitate, hands pressed against our ears, because the ride’s designer, who has clearly never met a child, thought it would be clever to equip the cars with ear-splitting horns, which the happy toddlers are honking as aggressively as their fat fists can manage. But Sawyer’s eyes light up, and we all sigh: She must ride this ride. She must honk a horn. We must sacrifice our hearing for her happiness. As the girls and I get in line, Kevin pantomimes a message over the relentless horns: he and Blake are going to save their eardrums and go pay a fortune to throw weighted darts at unpoppable balloons. I stick my tongue out at them, because they’re totally getting the better end of the arrangement. Besides, they might win a stuffed banana.


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When it’s finally our turn, I stand behind the Parent Fence as my nine-year-old, Cassidy, helps buckle Sawyer in, and then folds her own long legs into their tiny car. Cassidy’s knees are bent almost up to her ears, and she throws me a dimpled, self-deprecating grin—a grin that says nineteen, not nine. Sawyer attacks the horn with gusto. Avery, my six-year-old adrenaline junkie, scrambles into the car in front of them.

Lights flash. Music blares. Horns crescendo. The ride jolts forward, and Sawyer squeals her delight. Cassidy leans in close, showing Sawyer how to turn the steering wheel. For a moment, their twin grins are all I can see, but then I notice Avery. She’s still young enough that she should be swept up in her own ride—spinning her own wheel, honking her own horn—but instead she is twisted backwards, shining brown eyes locked on Sawyer. She is ignoring her own ride so she can watch her baby sister experience hers. Avery beams at Sawyer, a proud, knowing smile. The same maternal smile I feel lighting my own face.

The simple, honest sweetness steals my breath. For a few seconds my ears forget to hurt. I stand there, blinking tears, drinking in the beautiful sight of my three girls, adoring each other in this small moment.

I’m reminded of a scripture I’ve just rediscovered, a new-old favorite, Zechariah 4:10: “Who dares despise the day of small things?” The passage is a celebration of a quiet but significant event in Israel’s history, as God’s people are rebuilding the temple. The temple is still years from completion, but the plumb line—the guiding marker that will assure the building is constructed properly—rests in the designer’s hand. The building has only just begun, but it has begun the right way.

I think to myself, This may seem like a small moment, but it is not small. Not to God, not to me. My girls, here in this fleeting moment, are all that sisters should be. For these few seconds, the older ones care more about their baby sister than about themselves. They may have squabbled a dozen times on the way to the fair today, they may have begged too insistently for cotton candy and cheap stuffed animals, but right here, right now, in these sparkling seconds, they are loving each other, and how lovely it is. This is no small victory, no insignificant thing. It is the promise of things to come, the foundation of all we are trying to build in our family.

I put the night on pause: I will not despise this moment, this small thing. I will not let it pass by unnoticed, unappreciated. I will make it holy, sending a prayer of thanks up into the starry October sky. I will write it down and make it last. Like Mary, I will treasure this memory in my heart, storing it deep inside so I can bring it out and relive it again and again for the rest of my days (Luke 2:51).

And I will look for more moments like this, small blessings I might miss if I’m not paying attention. I will savor these too-short childhood years, this endless stream of simple joys:

Happy shrieks on scary rides, ice cream stains on brand-new shirts.

A night with no tantrums, a day with dry diapers.

A thousand silly but splendid firsts: the first time they whistle a note, tie a shoe, blow a gum-bubble.

I will not despise these chaotic days in my marriage—this stage of sleepless nights and zombie days, of stolen romance and secret smiles—these years that demand so much, yet make us better.

Family is a happy mess, life a hectic whirlwind. One minute is a disaster, the next a delight. But countless gifts glisten, hidden inside each roller-coaster day, if only we’ll pause long enough to notice. To open. To savor. And in noticing and opening and savoring, we sanctify these small wonders, these insignificant things.

Perhaps we find that small things are not so small after all.

That fleeting moments are not fleeting, not momentary, after all.

That simple days of small things are the best days—the biggest things—after all.


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy: 

When Life Poops on Your Party

On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

A Letter to My Child About Your Unfinished Baby Book

“I’m a Big Kid, No Wait, I’m a Baby” Syndrome

13 Confidence-Building Scriptures for Kids and Teens


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Freeze-Frame


Freeze-frame

Across the room you catch my eye,
bouncy curls bobbing, glinting sun,
chubby hands clutching, waving spoon,
secret laugh bubbling, casting joy,
and I want to stop time,
freeze-frame your innocence,
your toddlerhood,
this moment,
forever.

So I try.

I pick up the camera.
Snap.
Reframe.
Zoom.
Adjust the lighting.
Try another angle.
Snap again
and again
and again.

But I cannot capture
the way the fading sun fingers your golden curls,
painting a second sunset in my kitchen;
the way the twinkle in your honey eyes sparks,
and I see my grandmother winking there;
the way your coy giggle spins and curls and winds
across the room, around my heart.

At last, suddenly wiser, I stop trying.

I put down the camera,
and sit down across from you,
and drink you in,
and share your secret joke,
and we laugh,
and I know, somehow,
that I have finally caught the moment,
and my heart will always remember.

poetry about motherhood