The secret to joy is hidden in the view


His head was down, fingers flipping through his Bible. I paused at the doorway reflecting on the gift he is to me. The house was quiet, it was just the 2 of us. Looking up from his bed, his eyes did that thing that makes my heart melt. They’ve done it since he was a baby. Such life is in his eyes, such joy. When he smiles, he smiles with his eyes more than his mouth. No matter what I have going on in my heart, his eyes can soften me in an instant.

“Well, buddy, you are almost 9.” His smile spread a touch wider. Folding down the covers and positioning his body, gratitude filled me that he allows me to do this.  And then I began singing a silly song about this being the last night ever he would be 8 years old.

Snapping his head up, he sucked in his breath. The eyes so filled with peace moments earlier teared up, “Mom, what? Don’t do that. Don’t say that. I’m about to cry. I’ve never thought of it that way before. If I think about this being the last time I’ll ever be 8, it will make me less excited about being 9.”

I quickly changed the tune to a silly song about being 9. His shoulders relaxed releasing apprehension to make room for contentment.

He was right. How we think impacts our view of the horizon. His view is always one of longing for sunrise rather than despairing over sunset. Mine is not. For me it takes daily effort and asking God to help me view life in a way that brings joy.

When my oldest was 5 months old, I sat on the front porch bench swing. It was March, the air was cool hinting at spring ahead after a long winter. I held him in my arms as we rocked back and forth. I watched as his eyes lost the fight to keep focused on my eyes. I never released my eyes from his.

I’d begun to have fewer and fewer moments of him falling asleep in my arms. A reminder that moments that seem so ordinary likely come to an end to make room for new moments. It’s good, not a bad thing. But a mama always longs to hold her babies. As I watched him sleeping in my arms, I thanked God for that very moment with him because I had the opportunity for one more. I was keenly aware how fast he was growing and all moments would end and make way for new developments. I knew he wouldn’t be 10 sleeping in my arms.

That was the last time he fell asleep on me like that. And I look back not with sadness but with such joy that I experienced it, fully aware that all moments are gifts from God.

As I tucked in my middle son, growing at a rate I can barely keep pace with, I felt that sense of gratitude I’d felt 10 years prior swinging his older brother as an infant.

He is growing. But so am I. And that is how I can view these moments through a lens of joy rather than sadness. He grows, I grow. Together we grow.

Today he is 9. Yesterday he was one. Tomorrow he will be 18. Next week he will be 30. I know how this goes. Today as we celebrate Zachary turning 9, I’m reminded again that every moment is a gift from God. This child has brought a gift to me that words can never fully express.


[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. You will receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]

Filling Our Treasuries

photo 2b

Psalm 117:2 “For great is his love toward us and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord”

There are moments that become etched into our souls for no obvious, apparent reason.  They find the spots that have remained a blank canvas.  What causes the ordinary moments to find that canvas inside of us?  Not the big moments, those are obvious.  But the ordinary ones.  The ones that don’t stand out for any reason in particular.

My 5-year-old’s eyes found that spot recently and painted a picture that will remain forever chiseled in my memory.  Those shiny blue eyes that whistle a carefree tune because the world is always bright through his eyes right now.  Those eyes grabbed me in a particular moment with the magnetic pull of his twinkling blues. Suddenly, I wanted to remember every detail of those eyes in that very moment.  I wanted to remember the way they danced in the sunlight on that exact day, in that exact spot.

With each lick of his vanilla coated spoon, I watched his eyes dance.  As he chewed hard those candy toppings, I listened to each smack.  His eyes told the story his mouth was too frozen to tell.

I soaked in all of him in that moment.  Praying hard to remember those chubby hands and how they gripped the spoon.  Listening on the edge of my seat as if on a first date.  Answering all the questions about what makes the ice cream come out of the machine, what are the lines on the ceiling for, where is the music coming from….is there a real person singing somewhere or is it coming from the mouth of the stuffed frog on the shelf.

I cherished every ounce of him in that moment.  Because I know soon a moment will come when I don’t have these kind of moments.  My moments will look different.  And I will miss these moments.

These are the moments that paint pictures into my soul.  These are the moments that will comfort my heart when seasons change.  These are the moments that are fleeting, so I cherish them.  These are the moments that form parts of our story.  I want each moment to count. These are the moments that are gifts from God, so I store them up and treasure them.  They remind me of His love and His faithfulness.

I want to build a storehouse in my heart.  I want a treasury  filled with these kind of moments. The small moments.  The ordinary moments.

I passed a church sign that read “A large heart can be filled with lots of small things.”  I want a large heart filled with all the moments that feel so small.  An accumulation of small moments can burst a heart wide open.

I sat down to write a post to link up to Holley Gerth’s link up with a writing prompt of “No matter what happens, you’re going to be ok because….”  But when I started writing, the sentence became ‘No matter what happens I’m going to be ok because.’  I needed to write this reminder to me.

But it holds true for you too.  It’s true for all of us.  No matter what happens, you and I are going to be ok because we have a choice with how we  fill the treasuries of our heart with the moments that paint a beautiful canvas for our soul.  We are going to be ok because we can choose to be fully present for the beauty of life in every moment we have, even the tiny specks of life.  We are going to be ok because we can choose to slow down, to say no, to savor and soak and linger.  We are going to be ok because the moments are endless and we have a choice in how we respond to them.

We are going to be ok even when we don’t believe it.  Our heart’s storehouse will remind us of all the ways He’s loved us and been faithful to us.

If you have rushed through these moments, don’t let the enemy bury you in regrets.  Each moment is new and fresh for the taking.  Each moment unfolds a new page to be written.

Treasure up these things in your heart today.  Build a storehouse.  Fill it brimming full, pushed down and poured out full of the little moments, the little beauties, the twinkling blues, and the candy smacks.  Fill it full of life lived fully, intentionally, and distraction-free.  And no matter what comes our way or how our seasons will change, our treasury will remind us we are loved and we are cherished.  Our treasury is proof of His love for us.

 Linking up with Holley Gerth on Wednesday.  Holley’s words always speak to my heart, and I’m sure they will speak to yours as well.  If you’ve never read Holley, I encourage you to go now.  You will love what you discover.



Approaching the slow zone to meet with God


The mental checklist threatened to ruin the pace I was determined to set for the last week of summer. Slow.  In the town I live in, the speed limit is 35 wherever you go.  We are pretty good at slow here. We are forced into slow.

The mind is a fierce fighter. 

As christian music softly filled the silence of the car, we meandered towards home.

When Jacob spoke, his words hushed my internal conflict instantly.  “Mom, I love to watch people solving problems.  Or when they are in a situation and they have to find a way out.  I love to watch how they figure out their problems.”

I will miss these conversations.  The ones that occur at spontaneous and random moments.  The ones we have at 8:30, 11:00, whenever a thought occurs.  The ones that make summertime a bittersweet season.

“That’s neat.  Like what kind of problems do you mean?”

“Well, like that man right there,”  he pointed to the cross walk.  A man I see in our town no matter the time of day or night.  A man I have felt burdened to pray for for the last year.  A man who looks to be recovering from a stroke and is always out walking.

Nothing is random in life.

Jacob continued, “I feel like we should always be praying for people with problems.   You know people who need help.”

My body felt as though it had taken a plunge into a refreshing spring on a scorching summer’s day.  The underwater silence.  The peace.  The outside world is silenced and everything no one else can see is alive, vibrant…..REAL.  You resurface and your lungs feel they may explode and you know you can’t retell it.  They need to see it for themselves.

Hands gripping the steering wheel, I resurfaced.  “Jacob, I’ve never shared this with you, but that man you are pointing to is someone I’ve been praying for for the last year.  I’ve told Daddy about him and a few friends.  I don’t know why God has placed him on my heart.  But the fact that you just felt the urge to pray for him is like hearing God speak to me through you.”

A moment ticked by.

“Mom!  Did you just hear what the radio said???”


“They just said, ‘We need to remember to pray for those in need.  Those who need our prayers.”

“Well, then we must pray right now.  God is clearly speaking to us.”

I prayed.  And I thanked God that He is a God that still speaks to us.  That He is a God that cares deeply and passionately for His people.  That He cares enough to intersect our to do lists, school supply labeling, house-cleaning days.  And I prayed that my boys would KNOW that they serve a REAL God.  And we prayed for a man we don’t know, who God has put in our paths.

As we neared our house, I said to the boys, “There will come a time you will have conversations with people who do not believe in God.  They don’t believe in the Bible.  Because they don’t believe in the Bible, you can’t say that you believe in God because the Bible tells you so.  You can tell them you know God is real because you have seen Him in the most real ways imaginable.  And you can share exactly how God has worked in your life.  Then let God do the work from there.”

Later that morning, I heard Zachary retelling Steve how God talked to us in the car.

One of my favorite songs reminds me that “God’s not dead.  He’s surely alive.”

Oh the sweet gift of the Lord to give a gift like that on a day I was desperate to hear from Him in a noisy world.

The gift of a normally annoying speed limit that forced me to SLOW DOWN.

God is in everything.  But He is magnified in the slow.

Go slow this week.  Hunt for Him.  Seek Him out.  Make the most of every moment.  They are fleeting.  The slow allows you to linger a bit longer.




How Perspective Alters the Journey


Warm sun, cool air, shaded trails, and each other.  Seemed near perfect for a 6 mile family bike ride.  After reaching our halfway point and heading back home, I lagged behind with one of my boys who had lost his momentum.

The entire first half of the ride he was focused on one thing and one thing only.  When we stopped at the halfway point, we would have a drink of water and a tasty snack.  His mind thought of little else than the goodness of what awaited him at the turnaround.

As you might imagine, once we headed back, all he could think of was reaching home.  However, at home there was no “reward” waiting for him.  All he could see was the long 3 mile journey ahead.

Whimpering, he said, “I just want to be home.  My legs are tired.  This is too hard.”

“It’s not too hard.  The trail is completely flat.  We can go as slow as you want.  I won’t leave you behind.  Let’s just enjoy the ride.”

His pouting and whimpering increased.  “I can’t enjoy the ride.  I just want to be done with it!”

“Look around you for a minute.  Look at what all you are missing because you are so focused on the negative.  Look at how the sun is hitting those leaves.  Listen to the birds singing a song just for you.  Look at all that God created that is surrounding us.  Look at this gift of time we have together to get to ride by ourselves and talk just you and me.”

“I know, mom.  I’m just tired.  I can’t hear the birds singing….”

“It’s because you are too busy complaining. Stop right here and listen.”

As we stopped, the birds chirped a beautiful tune in perfect harmony.

“It’s like God is singing a song right to you.”

A smile broke out across his face.

“You know, sweetie, the journey really is the best.  The journey is where it all happens.  Just think.  When we get home from the bike ride, we are done.  We are home, right?  The journey will be over.  When you think back to today’s ride, you likely won’t remember how tired your legs were or how hot and thirsty you were.  You will laugh at our reactions when riding by snakes lurking in the grass.  You will remember dad’s silly songs and chuckle.  You will remember jumping off the rocks with Andrew.  You will have fun, funny stories.  From the journey, not the destination.  It all happens on the journey!”

I don’t even know if he was listening anymore.  The more I talked, the more I realized I was speaking for myself as much as I was speaking for him.

Our perspective changes the moment entirely.  Our viewpoint makes all the difference in the world.  How many times have I caught myself irritated about something only to realize the problem was my own perspective, how I looked at the situation.  When I changed my perspective, everything appeared different.

Psalm 19:14 “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

The Swinging of Time


What makes time move so swiftly?  Is there any way to slow it down?  I’ve yet to find the key. Try as I might, it continues rushing and raging on.

Time wants to steal my moments.  So I try to slow the time by being IN the moment.  But the moment still whisks by.

I’ve not wasted time.  I’ve not rushed through my days.  I’ve indulged in the moments.  Yet time won’t slow.

I wish time were a swing, moving back and forth.

I didn’t have to wake him for school on this Tuesday.  This last Tuesday of 3rd grade.  Wait.   Is that right?  Is he really finishing 3rd grade?  Yes, time wants to steal my moments.  I dig my heels in harder.  His voice pulls me back into the moment.  I thought I was there.  I wasn’t actually in that moment.  I was drifting.  Drifting back to the moments of preschool days that seemed long and endless, full of innocence and wonder.

His voice brings me back.  “I can’t wait for today to be over.”


“Because then I’m one day closer to the last day of school.”

Wait he can’t do that to me.  He can’t rush his time.  If his time rushes, then my time rushes.  And that’s simply not fair.  I need that time with him.  I want to stop the clock.  He wants to fast forward.

My hand rests on the small of his back.  “Don’t do that honey.  Don’t rush a single second of your life by.  Treasure each day as a gift from God.  Remember that you will never have today again.”

That grin.  Oh that grin. “I know, Mom. I’m just so excited about summer break.”

I can’t be too hard on him.  I was just like him.  My mom said I spent most of my childhood worrying away my days.  Planning for every possible scenario, nervous about the future.  I wanted the time to pass quickly, the faster the better.  I couldn’t relish in childhood because I was too focused on the future ahead.  What I would do, what I would be, who I would marry, how many kids I would have.  I wanted to get there.  Quick.

How I wish I hadn’t done that.  So many moments I never fully entered because I was somewhere else.

But no more.  From the time I was pregnant with our first child, I knew I was done rushing time.  I knew I better enjoy every single second I was allowed.  I know time is lurking in the shadows, propelling me forward.

Time isn’t really the enemy though.  We are our own enemies.  Time can’t take from me if I’m completely in the moment.  Yes, time passes.  But if I enter that moment with my full self, the moment passes, and I’m left with the richness of the experience.  The treasure of the memory.

What builds a beautiful life?  Is it not a collection of the moments?  Each segment of time pieced together to form one meaningful existence?  Moments of pure joy and moments of gut wrenching sorrow.  Moments.  Each one a piece of the puzzle.  Piece by piece building the picture God is creating.

I don’t want to miss a moment.  I don’t want to rush a single second.

When we enter the next season of life, I can’t imagine the sweet satisfaction that fills the heart when we look back and know we gave it our all.  We poured in.  We poured out.

Thank you, God, for one more day.  One more day to pour in and out.  May it bring You glory.

A Little Encouragement Goes A Long Way

“Jacob, you will be the best dad one day,”  my Zachary said to his older brother.  With a sheepish smile, Jacob looked back at him and asked, “Why would you say that?”  Zachary’s reply, so sweet and genuine, “Because you are so responsible.”  Zachary was referring to how his older brother, cautious by his first-borne nature, seems always to keep an eye out for anyone around him.  Just like a father.  Just like both their earthly and their Heavenly Father does for them.

When Jacob sees his brothers in danger, he doesn’t hesitate to speak up or warn them away from their folly.  On this particular day, Jacob was very concerned about Zachary’s safety and felt compelled to warn and explain to him why he was in danger.

Zachary spoke a simple statement to his brother.  “You will be the best dad one day.”  How easy was it for Zachary to speak those words?  Words that are true.   Words from the heart.

How often do we think encouraging thoughts yet fail to speak them?  What power do we have to lift the spirits of someone we love?

Words have power.

Words of encouragement can take us from a state of withering away….

to a state of renewed life and energy.

I saw an immediate spark in Jacob’s eye.  He actually looked taller.  I realized he was proudly standing taller.  Something good he holds inside was recognized by someone he loves and respects.  And it was spoken out loud.  It built him up.  It edified him.

Proverbs 12:18 “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

As a parent we often become parched without realizing it.  When someone we care about takes the time to encourage us, it makes all the difference in the world.  We are renewed.

Several weeks ago I received the sweetest gift of encouragement from one of my closest friends.  A friend I adore, respect, and love to pieces.

This is what she made me

and these are the words she wrote that renewed my wearied heart

 She had no idea that on that particular day that her gift arrived in the mail, I was in need of encouraging words.  I wasn’t feeling like a great mom.  I was tired, overloaded, spread thin, and wondering if anything I was doing was making a difference at all.  She saw a different picture in me and took the time to tell me.  And it made all the difference in the world.  I went to my boys, hugged them, and that day I was the best mom I could be.  My parched soul had been watered.  I had renewed strength to grab hold of the moments in front of me that day and cherish every second, making the most of what God had blessed me with.

Encourage someone today.  They need it as much as you do.  Encouraging them will create a moment that will in turn create multiple moments down the road.

Linked to