As the Deer Longs

Before living in Texas I don’t think I truly understood what it meant to long for rain. I know there are climates much drier than Southwest Texas. However, growing up in the Midwest inclines one to take rain for granted. We may have had dry spells, but nothing like the oppressive and unrelenting heat of a Texas summer. A summer which, for those unfamiliar, can start as early as April and last well into October. The ground is so dry the wind can blow dust into a haze which is capable of blocking the sun. The grass crunches like potato chips underfoot.

Drooping basil in our front yard

Just a few days ago when a tropical storm hit Houston, a stray cloud still carrying water manages to open up over our house. My children were delighted. They threw on their rain boots and hurried to find puddles of any size before they evaporated back into the hot air. As I stood in the brief sun shower, a Psalm refrain came to mind

“As the deer longs for running streams, so my soul longs for you O Lord”

Psalm 42:1

Standing in the rain, after months without it, it felt as if my soul was pierced with understanding. I felt relief, joy, wonder and a desire to raise my hands and face to welcome the water. I laughed at myself, because how many movies have we seen where a character has done just this when a long awaited rain finally comes. But genuinely, this seems to be the most appropriate action. The thing I didn’t realize I was waiting for, longing for, had finally come.

As the deer longs – what am I longing for? For rain, obvious. But what else? What is my soul thirsting for, and what am I using to quench my thirst? As human beings made of mostly water, we can only survive 3-4 days without it. Water is a critical element to our existence and to the existence of all creatures. It’s not surprising then that the Psalmist chooses to use this image of water when describing how our souls yearn for God.

If you are feeling run down, tired, perhaps stressed out, take a few minutes to ponder this verse. Perhaps even repeat the first part a few times as you identify with your own thirsts. As the deer longs for running streams….so my soul longs for you O God. Then, let those thirsts go, recognizing that only God can truly satisfy all your wants and needs. You might also take this refrain to adoration, or perhaps use it to focus the few minutes before the start of Mass. No matter where you are in life, this simple verse can help calm your thoughts and focus the moment on He who matters most.

Even the smallest puddles nourish the soul

The Woes of Free Shipping: The Art of Waiting

I’m trying not to get into the holiday season too early. We still have 2 more holidays to go before we actually get to Advent and Christmas. But already people are starting to talk about Christmas gifts. And I’ll be honest, as a crafter I’m already knee deep in crochet projects for Christmas gifts.

I read something recently about small businesses, especially the home businesses that many moms are part of. Maybe it’s a small Etsy or Peter’s Square business, maybe it’s home-baked cookies at the farmers’ market or locally sourced honey. Often times, the products these small businesses may cost more than similar products you might find at Walmart or Amazon. And more often than not, they can’t support the free shipping we have been conditioned to expect, or even deserve.

The ability to buy whatever we want, and can have 2-day shipping to boot, has encouraged us as a society to become even more impatient than human nature already inclines us to be. Our attention spans, and capacity for waiting, continues to diminish. We can’t even wait for the holidays to arrive in their natural order of time. We are so excited for what comes next, instead of relishing what is now.

Even as I type this, I am anticipating what is coming, instead of being present in what is now. I almost said “As we look forward to Advent coming, it is a great time to slow down and practice waiting.” But you know what, why wait for Advent? Because I don’t know about you, but I could do with slowing down. My head is already starting to spin with Christmas present ideas, what to make for Thanksgiving, whether to host an Advent Bible study or not, how long our homeschool break should be, etc. Actually, I think that I always could use some slowing down.

So starting today, literally today, I am purposefully slowing down. Here are two things I am implementing immediately, hopefully with more to follow.

  1. I’m trying to drink more water. I’ve put a tracking system into my planner (just little water droplets to cross off, nothing fancy) to help remind me to drink more water. Because when I am hydrated, I’m less anxious, less stressed and my body is able to function as it was designed.
  2. I am saying a daily rosary. A bit ago I purchased a beautiful rosary bracelet from ChewsLife, a website run by moms in Michigan that has created beautiful rosarys for young and old. Literally, they have rosaries and rosary bracelets designed for little babies with safe, silicone beads that they can chew on and play with. It’s so cool. Their rosary bracelets for adults are lovely because they have a movable crucifix that you can use to hold your place, so that your rosary can stretch throughout your day (the only way I am able to get a rosary finished.
    IMG_2498
    My ChewsLife rosary. See the hook clasp on the crucifix and Miraculous Medal? It fits perfectly between any of the beads to mark where I stopped to handle [insert crisis here].

Though not part of slowing down necessarily, there is another practice that I am going to be more conscious about employing. Before jumping on Amazon to grab whatever it is I’m looking for, especially if it is a gift, I’m going to start smaller. If you haven’t heard of it yet, Peter’s Square is basically Catholic Etsy. Which is so cool! Then there is Etsy itself, which hosts so many incredible Catholic products and shops. There is also your local area, where perhaps you have smaller artisans who take such time and care in crafting their product. When I find that perfect gift, I’m not going to shoot over to Amazon to find something similar but with free or quicker shipping. Instead, I’m going to be willing to wait, to pay for shipping if asked. It is a way to intentionally help support another, and to put into practice the art of waiting.

 

Patience and Lemons

This is by far one of the things that I believe God enjoys teaching me the most. There is some kind of phrase or story that goes something like this: If you pray for it, God is going to give you opportunities to practice it. In my case, I pray often for patience and God hears me every time. I know this because I have lots of opportunities (and challenges) to practice growing in patience.

Some lessons in patience are bigger or harder than others. Ben is on a unique deployment schedule. He deploys for 2 months at a time, but sometimes is only home for only 2 – 3 months before he has to deploy again. And while he is home, he has to go on any number of trips that can last from 5 days to unknown – literally. Each time he is gone, especially when its a trip, I can’t know for certain when he will be home. I have to be patient and have trust. Some trips this is easier than others.

My lessons in patience aren’t always this large. Just the other day, I found some beautiful meyer lemons at one of our local grocery stores. I was so excited. *Back story* We have a eureka lemon tree in our backyard and I got my first harvest a few months ago. I had so many lemons I spent quite a bit of time looking at different things to do with them. I found something I had never heard of before – preserved lemons. It is a staple in Moroccan and North African cooking (neither of which is familiar to me, but I love to try to make new things). Just salt and the lemons in a mason jar. Even though my lemons weren’t the kind typically used, the recipe said my eurekas would be an ok replacement for the typical meyer lemons (who knew there were so many varieties of lemons!) For 3 weeks! After patiently waiting for these beautiful lemons, they were done. I had a recipe and couldn’t wait to start. Got my lemons, got my roasted garlic, and my fettuccine (I went Italian, that’s my wheelhouse). I figured I’d get braver and branch into the Moroccan after I knew these lemons were good. On my trip back to the refrigerator with the remaining lemons, time stopped. In the next moment, the jar, and all of those precious lemons, were on the floor. The glass had shattered.

I was devastated. My dinner was delicious. But my lemons were gone. All that waiting, and for what? Ben was deployed at the time so he didn’t even get to taste the fruits of my waiting. I haven’t attempted to make them again, it takes so long for them to be ready, and if they can be gone that quickly, is there really a point?

Then I saw those meyer lemons (the kind that the recipe would be amazing preserved). There was no question, I immediately grabbed them. Because even though I was still sore about my clumsiness, I knew I had to do it again. I can still taste that meal and am willing to wait the 3 weeks to have it again. So, presently we are a few days into our wait. Ben is not home, but he will be by the time they are done. I’m so glad that God gave me another opportunity to wait patiently.

It’s incredible how patient we really can be, when we know what is waiting for us at the other end. I know that those lemons are going to be amazing, because I’ve tasted them already before. Being patient this time is much easier already than last time. What is cool about this experience of patience, I think, is that I’m choosing to see it as a lesson from God. It makes my waiting and patience more than just an act of willpower, it is a way I am training my soul and my heart to be patient in the bigger things, especially in times when I am waiting for God’s timing to reveal His plan for my life and our family.

If my little story got you interested in trying to preserve your own lemons, I used this website: http://www.daringgourmet.com/2014/04/08/how-to-make-preserved-lemons-moroccan-middle-eastern-cooking/

And if you’re interested in the dinner I made after you practice your own patience skills, check out: http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-fettucci-5560. I grilled some chicken and tossed that in as well. Enjoy!