I walk through the freezer section of the grocery aisles and consider what foods might be an option for my family over the next few days. I don’t have the fire within me to make something fresh, and if I’m honest, it feels like that flame has flickered low for awhile now.

I prefer things from scratch and my heart longs to give my very best in everything while doing all-the-things, but I finally realized I can only do a few things well and those things would vary from time to time.

So I pick up the food I don’t really want to succumb to, because it serves a purpose for the season I’m in. This season ebbs and flows and it’s ebbed more than not in the last few years.

Deep breaths. I remind myself it will be OK.

When I started blogging, the plan was to journal my adventures in the kitchen, then my organic garden, my backyard chickens, and the herbal remedies I was making. I wrote a few posts but found myself bored. I enjoyed learning, but I didn’t enjoy writing about it.

Eventually, our family would endure an intense season of serving and when it was done, I would be faced with choosing what could and would get done. I was overdone with being overworked and suffering with signs of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. I simply could not do what I’d done before.

Before we ever served as foster parents. Before we ever lived with up to twelve children in our home while enduring unbelievable amounts of physical, emotional, and spiritual stresses. Before all of this, I was overextended. Multiple ministries, growing passions, homeschooling, and a family to care for caused me to run stir crazy way too long.

Earlier this year, the garden came down. We pulled out cinder blocks and raked the dirt so grass could grow instead of weeds. Part of me cried and part of me felt relieved. I knew I was in a different season, but still, in order to accept the new things I had to let go of something else.

There’s this crazy controlling thing inside of me where I like to have it all. The garden, the herbs, the decorated home, the immaculate spaces, as well as fermented foods, chickens, fruit trees, and everything possible made from scratch in my kitchen. On top of family, fun, fellowship, healing, reading, writing, and serving.

But when your fists are clenched around all-the-things, they cannot grab on to the things God gives. Those things which are often found in the releasing. Our hands don’t need to grip tightly, because what he places within them is also securely placed with His overall plan for good.

So, I released the garden while loosely holding dreams of rebuilding one day. Our chickens will find a new home soon. My herbs have sat on the shelves, dwindling as I use them for tea.

If I had my way I’d have it all, but the all I want snuffs out what God wants for me. Like the simple gifts found in surrender, in trust, in waiting, and in healing.

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Years ago, people walked in and out of our home with frequency and in high numbers. We welcomed new acquaintances, old friends, neighbors, and a homeless couple known for years.

Today, few come through my doors like before. Anxiety still lingers at the thought of opening them all the way, so I cherish the few who come and the moments we have together.

Like the other night when I receive a visitor whose presence shows God’s wild ways of weaving stories together. She went to high school with me and moved several states away, just like I did. For several years she delivered mail to my front door and I didn’t even know it.

For the first time in all these years we sit down to visit and tell the stories of our lives. My kids need to eat and she offers to help me in the kitchen. I don’t have a meal planned, so I grab tortillas, cheese, and leftover grilled chicken. We make simple quesadillas and enjoy simple hospitality. Somehow in the letting go of doing all-the-things I’ve found what it’s like to live more deeply aware.

My hands aren’t so full that I can’t hold new things.

God reminds me to keep this season simple and allow a new feasting of his presence. One without rushing, but wholly redemptive.

When I sit, when I rise, when I’m in the kitchen or not, even when I’m letting my kids feast on frozen foods, this Savior who sacrificed it all for me is found simply present.

***

Here’s a recipe that’s used often in our home for simple hospitality. 

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Simple Beefy Tomato Pasta
Serves 6
This simple dish is a staple in our home. It's super simple, economical, and tasty. We love it served with extra steak seasoning.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 package of pasta (Regular or Gluten-Free; Rotini, Elbow, and Penne all work great as options)
  2. 1 pound ground beef
  3. 1 small onion, chopped
  4. 1 clove garlic, chopped (optional)
  5. 1-2 cans diced tomatoes
  6. Steak Seasoning (we like Montreal or Canadian)
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta and drain. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet or dutch oven, brown ground beef with onions and garlic.
  3. Season beef with steak seasoning. Drain excess fat.
  4. Add pasta and tomatoes.
Notes
  1. That's it! Feel free to add more seasoning to taste.
Grace Table http://gracetable.org/
Jolene Underwood / Posts / Blog
Jolene Underwood is a faith warrior acquainted with many of life’s challenges as well as God's healing work. She is passionate about cultivating a life well-lived, because she knows the power of God to revive weary souls. She believes a well-lived life is one that goes from surviving to thriving, no matter what the circumstances are. Join her conversations of encouragement & faith at joleneunderwood.com and on social media at @theJoleneU
  • Heather LeFebvre
    http://www.blackberryrambles.blogspot.com

    Thanks for this. I’m in similar kinds of seasons here and it’s always hard to be reminded we can’t have it all or do it all. Thanks for reminding us to let go of all-the-things so we can receive what God is giving.

    November 30th, 2016 7:58
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    • Jolene Underwood
      http://joleneunderwood.com

      Hi Heather, thanks for letting me know I’m not alone in this. It’s hard to do this letting go and I’m still learning daily.

      November 30th, 2016 15:46
      Reply
      02
    • Indy
      http://fqnlhco.com

      At last! Someone with the insight to solve the preolbm!

      March 9th, 2017 1:20
      Reply
      03
  • Leah Adams
    http://www.leahadams.org

    I get this…although my season has not been home hospitality related. Rather it has been blogging. The Lord asked me to step back and rest. It took many months for me to bend my knee to it, and for that disobedience I am deeply sorry. When I did finally cease, it was good. So good. God had my best in mind, even when I could not see it. Bless you, Jolene, as you traverse this season of life.

    November 30th, 2016 10:50
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    • Jolene Underwood
      http://joleneunderwood.com

      Thank you so much, Leah. I imagine it was quite tough to obey God in that kind of letting go. Writing can be such a personally connected passion. I’m encouraged to hear God has used it for good in your life, Leah. Thank you for sharing!

      November 30th, 2016 15:47
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  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    Jolene, I’m so under the weather, so I’ll be brief (luck you for a change)! I am staggered w/ all you have done, and I’m thinking that God is honoring you more for your heart of love and hospitality than what you put on the table. So many families don’t even eat together at the table! Using your “rise” theme, I’m thinking your family and all the foster children you have served throughout the years, will indeed rise up and call you blessed. You are one amazing lady.
    Love
    Lynn

    November 30th, 2016 14:44
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    • Jolene Underwood
      http://joleneunderwood.com

      You never cease to bless me with your encouragement, Lynn! I’m so sorry you are sick. I hope you get the rest and healing you need. Maybe one of these days I’ll share some of our at the table stories when we had 12-15 in the home. Goodness, like the disappearing broccoli later found under the table. That’s all for now. 🙂
      Blessings, friend.

      November 30th, 2016 15:50
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      • Lynn D. Morrissey

        tx foryour kind wishes and prayers. and you made me smile! needed that. my cousin admitted years later to feeding her dog all the stuff her mother made her eat. my autn never knew!

        November 30th, 2016 15:53
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  • Theresa
    http://www.theresaboedeker.com/

    Sometimes it is hard to accept the seasons in life, especially when we are told by society that we can have it all. But the truth is, we can’t. I grieve for your loses and hope you find rest and renewal in this new season. For God is involved in all our seasons.

    November 30th, 2016 22:48
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  • C Allyn

    That recipe sounds real good to me.
    I love the language of clenched fists/ open hands.
    I’ve had clenched teeth.
    Gritting my teeth at the thought of another move. Looking over things I can see His directing us as little things come together.
    Thank you for sharing your heart.

    December 1st, 2016 10:55
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    • Jolene Underwood
      http://joleneunderwood.com

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy the recipe.

      Father, please be with C Allyn today in a special way. Show your goodness and presence in a way that she can remember, no matter how small or big it is. We thank you for providing every step along the way. As hearts, teeth, and fits are opened to you, fill them with more of you. Amen.

      December 3rd, 2016 8:56
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  • Christine Duncan
    http://www.preceptsandlifepreservers.com

    I have to say thank you. I won’t be beating myself up today for not winning at all the things… instead I’ll give myself a little grace. 🙂

    December 3rd, 2016 14:48
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    • Jolene Underwood
      http://joleneunderwood.com

      Christine, it blesses me to hear this. Yay, for grace each day!

      December 3rd, 2016 15:18
      Reply
      14
  • Gm.
    http://Gm.

    Very sweet, heartfelt post. Found it by way of Smacksy. Thank you for the reminders.

    Gm.

    December 5th, 2016 12:30
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    • Jolene Underwood
      http://joleneunderwood.com

      Thank you for reading and for your kind words, Gm. Glad to meet you here.

      December 7th, 2016 16:58
      Reply
      16
  • Su

    tears. . and I do not know why. Perhaps because our house too used to be full of people. . in and out. . all day long. . .and now, there are few who walk thru our doors because it has been a hard year . .. Perhaps I am grieving. Off to reread this and let it soak in. Thanks for writing.
    .

    December 7th, 2016 16:40
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    • Jolene Underwood
      http://joleneunderwood.com

      Su, my heart sits here with you. I know the pain of grieving. I’m sorry for the sadness, and hope these tears are a form healing. I’ve shed many in the process, too. Today, I just want you to know I am sitting here thinking of you and praying for a special touch of comfort from God. Blessings, dear Su.

      December 7th, 2016 17:00
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