When it's Bigger Than You Thought

Hey there, Maeve here. When I started this blog, one of my hopes was to connect with other writers. Though I didn't really know how and I was intimidated to reach out to folks with really pretty blogs and good grammar. Somehow I stumbled upon Songbird & Nerd and saw the words "Guest Post". As I read further, I felt a nudge to let go of fear and send a few words to Lindsey. To my surprise, she got back to me and wanted to share my words. [You can read that very first guest post here if you'd like here. And while you're there, read some of her words too!] This one moment served as a catalyst to be a little more brave, again and again. It pushed me to reach out to other writers in hopes of fostering connection. And I am so grateful I did. I am so thankful to Lindsey and her writing - she writes with an open, unfiltered heart. She writes not solely when she's learned a lesson but when she's still in the wrestle. I am honored to feature her here on the wee spoon and hope you enjoy her words as much as I do. 


 

PC: Greg Raines

I’ve been on the road lately.

Last fall a nearby church invited me to speak to their mom’s group about neighboring, being present to the people God puts in our path. The talk was well received and the group leader shared my name and contact information with other mom’s groups in the state. Since then I’ve fielded invitations from many group leaders to come and encourage their women with funny stories and a fresh dose of truth.

It’s been a blast.

I’ve spoken to rancher’s wives in a tiny farm town, rocked the microphone in a strip-mall church start-up, and found myself in front of a stained glass window telling a story about failed efforts at breastfeeding.

Last week I invited my friend Gina to join me as I headed down to a nearby suburb to speak at a nighttime gathering of young moms. We had about an hour in the car to catch up while we made our way to the meeting. I had entered the address the group leader sent into my GPS, so although I was following instructions about when to turn, I wasn’t paying much attention to where we were going.

Until suddenly the computerized voice told us we’d arrived at our destination.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I was shocked. This wasn’t a tiny farm town, a small chapel with stained glass or a strip-mall start up. This was a mega-church and I mean MEGA. I’m not sure I’d ever seen a church so big in real life. It looked like it could possibly be big enough to host a professional sporting event. And the parking lot was packed.

My heart began to thud in my ears.

“Okay, wow,” I said to Gina.

“How big is this mom’s group?” she asked, echoing my own questions.

I hadn’t read the email that closely. Had they neglected to tell me that I was the opening act for Jen Hatmaker? Was it possible that I was about to speak to 3,000 women? Would my thoughts on cultivating friendships in this season of life work as well in a cavernous auditorium as they did around the table with a dozen mamas in a small town?

“Yeah, I’m not totally sure,” I replied to Gina, breathing deeply, trying to steady myself. I noticed in that moment that I hadn’t remembered to change my pants, which bore evidence of a day spent with 2 toddlers including food from lunch and dirt from playing at the park.

Why hadn’t I changed my pants? Why hadn’t I read the email? WHAT WAS HAPPENING?

I prayed, quickly, under my breath that God would carry me through whatever it was we were walking into and in we went.

As we entered the atrium, with 4 story ceilings and a fully appointed restaurant in view, an electronic marquee prominently displayed a listing of that day’s events. As I read the list, I felt myself relax. There were entries for a high school play rehearsal, a 7th grade basketball tournament, a support group for recovering addicts and a class about blending families after divorce.

And the mom’s group, upstairs, in a classroom down a hallway. Which sounded just about right.

When we walked into the room, we were warmly welcomed and invited to join a table full of other young moms, one of whom was also sporting dirty pants. My people.

The night was sweet, laughing and telling the truth about some of the challenges of developing relationships while raising children. We ate too much chocolate and told our real stories. One woman at my table cried as she shared how much she longs for deeper connections in this stage of life. As Gina and I said our goodbyes, I felt grateful, satisfied. I was in my sweet spot, speaking and teaching from the front, sharing stories in small groups, leading times of prayer.

Here’s the thing – I loved that night as it was, but I also loved that moment, that tiny space where I had to breathe deeply and accept that I might be about to get up in front of a stadium full of people. It was scary and thrilling and reminded me when life doesn’t go according to plan we can lean into what we know to be true.

That dirty pants don’t actually matter.

That God is present for big jobs and little ones.

That all we need to remember is to do the next thing.

If you’re lucky, the next thing will have fun new friends and a plenty of chocolate.


 

Lindsey Headshot NewLindsey Smallwood has good relationships and bad dance moves. She lives in Boulder, Colorado where she works, writes and raises little ones. Read more by Lindsey at her blog or connect with her on Facebook.

This was not that time.

sunrise It was 9:30pm on Friday night, Matthew and I were gathering our things to leave church.

We had just wrapped up a membership class.  A few hours of learning how the church came to be and where it was going.

The first step in becoming a member.

I've never really been a "member" of a church.  I've never lived anywhere long enough to do so.  But we were beginning to feel the desire to commit, to be more than long-term visitors or guests.

That's all I've ever really been at a church.  A one foot in and one foot out kind of girl.

Committing has never been easy for me and the thing is, more than anything, it's good for my soul.

Even when it might not feel right.

Because my feelings are fleeting.  They're up and down and in-between all day long.  And while I trust them, I have to question them.

Because sometimes our feelings, as good intentioned as they are, might not have our best interests in mind.   Our feelings might push us to do what we want and not what we may need.  Our feelings may want what is comfortable instead of what will bend and stretch us.

Feelings can be deceiving?  Welp, that could be a whole other post.

For this post, it's just a tiny piece of it.

You see, I was so icky that night.

If someone had handed me a cloak and said, "Hey take this.  Put it on and you'll be invisible. You won't have to ask thoughtful questions or give honest answers.  You won't have to do anything at all."

I would have snatched it - no questions asked.

I just wasn't in the proper head space to have small talk, or deep talk, or any talk for that matter.

Have you been there?

When the class ended, I was ready to escape and retreat.  But Matthew had started chatting [he's so much better at that sometimes] and so, out of courtesy, I did too.   But not because I wanted too - because I felt I had too.

Downright icky I tell ya.

A man from our church walked over, a man with a sweet, gentle, joyful sprit.  I had introduced him to my parents a while back and they hit it off.  Most of their conversation centered around crab cakes.  [We're from Maryland, y'all]

So naturally,  crab cakes came up again.

Though somewhere in the conversation,  when things got quiet and there was a natural [somewhat awkward] pause he said something completely unexpected.

"I got laid off today"

Silence.

How could I have missed that?  I knew, deep down, something was off. Something in his sprit, in his stance, in his eyes said, "I am holding something heavy today, help me carry it, will you?"

We said a deep, heartfelt sorry but quickly and awkwardly moved on. We moved right back on to stupid, un-meaningful, not-important crab cakes.

I wept when we got in the car that night.

I wept for a lot of reasons - some reasons I knew and some I couldn't talk through yet.

But one things for sure, I cried because we missed it.

We missed an opportunity to do something.

Why didn't we offer to pray with him, right then and there in that sacred place?  I mean, we were in a church.  The least awkward place to pray for anyone.

It all felt uncomfortably familiar.

Two years ago, Matt and I were eating BBQ at one of our favorite little spots in town, when a man sat near us at a red picnic table.  We were totally and completely in awe of each other that day // smiling, gazing into each others eyes, hand holding, kissing.

You get the picture.

Though somehow, in-between all that mushy gushy love stuff, we got to talking to this man.

He shared how he was just visiting Winchester. That he was in town because his brother was sick, really sick, and he wanted to sit beside him in the hospital.

Again, like Friday, we said sorry, one that was full of emotion and truth. Again, we chatted a little longer and yet again, there was nothing.

Nothing more than a missed opportunity // like pressing snooze, over and over again, when the colors of the morning sky stretch far beyond anything we can imagine - begging you to get out of bed and come look.

We should have prayed, right then and there.

We should have asked: what more can we do for you, kind stranger? 

One of my most favorite authors wrote this blog post the other day about words.  She challenged us to use them because they have so much power and grace and love.  She expressed how sometimes [so very often] we have no idea the impact or difference we are making, just by living our ordinary life, until someone tells us.

I know this one well.

Folks, when you share that my words mean something to you, I could just about burst with gratitude.  Whether it's face to face, through a text or email - those words, your words, mean everything.   Your words make it easier, every single day, to be brave.  To feel comfortable and less confused in my pale skin.

Because sometimes, that's the hardest thing to do.

And I have to think, that I am not unique in this.  I have to believe that when we take notice and REACT to whatever life throws our way - even in the most ordinary and simple interactions // we do WONDERS.

We are strength for a load that is too heavy for one person to carry.

We are hope that tomorrow can be different.  It WILL be different.

We are love - that you, you who's in hiding, lonely in the dark, in bondage from addiction - you're enough, you're not defined by any of that.

Sometimes, words are all we have.

Sometimes, words are all we need.

It's a timing sort of thing, you know?

Because, there's a time for sleeping in and rolling over when the alarm goes off.

There's a time for talking about crab cakes and the weather.

But this? This was not that time.

This was the time to splash water on my face and get my butt out of bed.

This was the time to leap outside my comfort bubble, abandon all social norms, wrap my arms around you or grab your hand and say, "You are not alone."