Blog | Lindsey Smallwood

Jesus Might Be More Like My Family Than I Realize

Lindsey SmallwoodComment

I'm back at Middle Places this month with some thoughts on abiding and making things more complicated than they need to be...

For the last few weeks, I've been home. I brought my kid to my parent’s house for some much-needed vacation time, and we've been enjoying these days together.

There are so many things I love about being back under my parent’s roof. The smell of clean laundry as soon as you walk in the door. Taco nights when my brother and his wife come over and everyone teases me for putting ketchup on mine. Listening to my sons giggle wildly while my dad chases them around the living room.

Touching each of these elements is a sense of ease. We're family. We belong to each other. We aren't doing the "get-to-know-you" dance or trying to impress anyone. Sometimes there's conflict and sometimes it's awkward, but mostly we're just together.

For good or for bad, we abide with each other. To use a less fancy word, we spend a lot of time hanging out just for the pleasure of each other's company.

There's an unattributed quote on a photo meme making the rounds on social media lately. I've seen a couple variations, but essentially it says:

Be patient with yourself. Nothing in nature blooms all year. 

It's a powerful notion. I have no idea if it's true in a botanical sense. But the idea we could all use a break from the pressure to perform all the time resonates deeply with me...

Continue reading at Middle Places by clicking here.

Actually, Prayer Isn't That Easy...

Lindsey SmallwoodComment

I'm back at iBelieve.com this week with some reflections on prayer.

I grew up hearing it was easy - that prayer is "just" talking to God. And while there's some truth there, the reality is things worth doing aren't usually easy and prayer is no exception. 

When it came time for me to start first grade, my family moved. I found myself in a new school learning lots of new things. They had different ways of lining up in the hallway, eating in the cafeteria, even going to the bathroom. But the most painful difference in my six-year-old way of seeing things was that everyone in my grade knew how to jump rope. Everyone but me.

Everyday at recess, the girls would form lines and play games like Down in the Valley and Miss Mary Mack. I started out watching, trying to figure out what exactly was required to move as quickly and fluidly as they did through the ropes. A few times I attempted to join in, always falling or getting tangled up as I panicked, unsure of what to do with my feet. I remember one of the girls who told me “Try again, it’s easy, anyone can do it.” Still, my efforts always ended with me on the ground.

I came home crying, telling my mom that I hated my school. But she quickly figured out that what I needed was some after-school instruction in how to jump rope. My mom and I practiced every day for a few weeks as I built my confidence and my skill set. Soon I was able to join with my classmates, laughing and singing silly songs as we jumped our recess minutes away.

Many of us feel the same way about prayer that I felt about jump rope as a nervous first grader. It seems like it should be easy, it seems like everyone around us in church, in our Bible study groups, in our circle of friends already knows what they’re doing. In fact, we get advice, from friends, even pastors that tell us things like: “Prayer is easy, it’s just talking to God, anyone can do it.” And while there’s some truth there, the reality is a bit more complicated.

Prayer is talking to God. But if you’ve ever had any kind of meaningful relationship, you know... 

Continue reading at iBelieve.com by clicking here

Feeling Lonely is Not the Same as Being Alone

Lindsey SmallwoodComment

This isn't the first time I've written on loneliness. It probably won't be the last. No matter how many connections I make, people I befriend, babies I birth, I think learning to be alone is one of the deep joys, true sadnesses and profound challenges of my life. (There aren't many things I can say that about!) I'm thrilled to be back at Middle Places with thoughts on solitude, extroversion and why Jesus always gets to ride shotgun. 

For someone who's never alone, feeling lonely happens way more than you might think.

I'm raising two toddlers, so on any given day there's a lot of cuddling and carrying and breaking up wrestling matches.

I work part-time at a church, where I lead Bible studies, meet with women and use shared office space.

I'm an extrovert and my free time includes things like workout classes, mom's group and book club.

I'm married, which in my case means I sleep close enough to my husband to feel him breathe.

And add to all that, I'm pregnant, so even when I actually am alone, I can feel a tiny person swimming around inside me.

And yet, even with all of these daily connections, I find myself wondering about the quality of my relationships at church, in my friendships, with my family. Though I'm grateful for all the places I'm connected in this season of life, I find myself searching for more because I'm feeling lonely.

Continue reading at Middle Places by clicking here

How to Find Joy When Someone Else Gets What You Want

Lindsey SmallwoodComment

When your friend gets a book deal and you get crickets on a blog post, how do you keep going with joy? I'm writing today for the first time over at iBelieve.com on jealousy, comparison and what prosperity really means. 

My friend just wrote a book.

She sent me an advance copy and it is perfect. Sharp, witty storytelling, incisive ideas, a darling cover with cool, scripty font. I loved holding the result of all of her hard work in my hands, posting a glowing Amazon review and texting her my enthusiastic congratulations.

I hate what happened next, the feelings coming in a flood, each one all too familiar.

Jealousy.
Fear.
Self-doubt.

Whether it's cheering on a friend for accomplishing a lifetime dream or seeing an Instagram pic of a gorgeous birthday cake my neighbor made for her husband, I find myself constantly comparing my life to those around me, wondering how I measure up. Will a publisher ever offer me a book contract? Why did she get that opportunity when I didn't? Does my husband care that he got a burned cake from a box mix on his special day? Beneath those are deeper, more persistent questions...

Continue reading at iBelieve by clicking here.

Listen & Learn: Philemon & Colossians Weekly Talks (Audio Files)

Lindsey Smallwood

Last week I announced the publication of my new Bible study guide book - Philemon & Colossians: In Christ Alone. It's been so fun sharing it with all of you. There are still copies available with special discounts and free shipping for small groups.

This week, I'm thrilled to share a bonus component for the five week study on Philemon & Colossians - audio files of the weekly talks you can stream or download to use in your small group. Each talk is 10-20 minutes long and contains insights into the chapter, along with some personal stories and other Scripture connections. 

Thanks for reading and listening along!

Note: You're welcome to listen along even if you're not doing the study. Just know that on week 1, I spend the first 5 and 1/2 minutes tackling some study-related administrative stuff - so if you're only looking for Scripture talks, fast forward to 5 min, 30 seconds into the Philemon message and you'll be good to go!

Want to know more about the book? Check out Philemon & Colossians: In Christ Alone here

Note: You're welcome to listen along even if you're not doing the study. Just know that on week 1, I spend the first 5 and 1/2 minutes tackling some study-related administrative stuff - so if you're only looking for Scripture talks, fast forward to 5 min, 30 seconds into the Philemon message and you'll be good to go!

Want to know more about the book? Check out Philemon & Colossians: In Christ Alone here