One Chance: Appreciating Each Moment

I am having one of those nights.  You know the kind.  The kind where you waste precious moments wishing you could press rewind and re-do the last scene (or two).

It all actually started last night.  I went on a delightful shopping trip out to our new outlet shopping center, a mere 25 minutes away (19.7 miles, an estimated $1.64 worth of gas according to MapQuest). I window shopped for the first part of the excursion but then I got sucked into the sales.  Oh the glorious sales.

I tried on a lovely pair of shorts and while I was waiting in line, I thought ‘why one pair of lovely shorts?  I’ll get two,’ and so I grabbed another pair of the exact same shorts in the exact same size but in a different color.  I left the store on a euphoric high…I had shorts that fit in my bag.  Shorts that didn’t squeeze my mommy tummy out of the top; shorts that didn’t show off my pathetically sagging backside.  Life seemed so, well, lovely.

Morning arrived.  I gleefully pulled my new shorts out of the bag, ripped off their tags, tossed the tags into the trash and the new clothes into the washing machine.  (Just a random note, but I NEVER throw away tags until I have washed the clothes…until today.)  Hours later I tried on the shorts just to be sure I had not dreamed all their loveliness.  The khaki shorts were just as lovely as I remembered.

But the gray shorts?  The ones that were the exact same size, exact same shorts…yeah, there is clearly nothing exact about them.  They are tight in all the wrong places, or in our house they would lovingly be referred to as shorts with VPL: code name for Visible Panty Line (as coded by my father for the times when we needed a fashion adjustment).  Something a mama in her mid-thirties should definitely not be wearing.


Yesterday’s clerk’s face swam in front of my eyes as I remembered him specifically saying, “You may return anything for 90 days as long as the tags are still on.”  The tags.  Oh those precious tags were definitely no longer attached but maybe if I could find them, I could still attempt a return.  I quickly dug through the kitchen trash can.  And then I remembered that Dax took the trash out this morning after my de-tagging moment.

So I headed out in the cold drizzle and yanked this morning’s trash bag out of the trashcan.  I pulled it over to the single bulb by the backdoor and began digging.  But there was so much trash in there.  And it was so cold outside.  And every time I adjusted the bag so I could see better, I just ended up with the run-off from the roof dripping in my eyes.  Frustrated I tossed it back in the trash can and vowed I’d search tomorrow.

I walked back into the house grumpy.  I barked at Daxson, who, with good intentions, asked why I hadn’t tried on the shorts.  I barked at William who was bouncing around.  And then I barked at Andrew.

Andrew had walked out into the kitchen as I was washing the grime off my hands (and arms) and said, “You know what Mommy?”  And I snapped, “Not now.”  But he didn’t miss a beat.  “Mommy. it’s just 90 more years til my birthday,” and then he realized his mistake and grinned that great big grin with those missing teeth and my heart softened just a bit, but not fast enough because the next words out of my mouth were, “Andrew, not now.”

Still he persisted.  “I mean 90 more MONTHS til my birthday.”  And then he crumpled into giggles as he realized again that somehow that wasn’t right either.  I paused my inner drama queen and turned to face him.  “Mommy, it’s 90 more something til my birthday.”  “90 more days?” I asked.  He wrapped his little arms around me and said, “Yes!  You got it right!  90 more days.  I know because,” and here he leaned in close and beckoned me with his little hand, whispering “I counted each day on the calendar.”  And then unfazed by my mood he turned and skipped off to the bedroom to tell his brothers that in 90 days it would be his birthday (which, just for the record, is a bit off).


And I stood there, alone in the kitchen and I thought about those moments.  I thought about how I had set a terrible example, letting my anger get the best of me as I needlessly barked at everyone as if the blame were to be found somewhere outside of myself.  I thought about how I snapped at Andrew not once but twice and had he not been so persistent in his joy, I probably would have snapped a third time.  I thought about how he wasn’t even fazed by my grumpiness…he didn’t let my mood affect him and I thought how lucky that was because in my grumpiness I had the power to ruin so many moods tonight.

But there was at least one little mood I didn’t ruin.  Andrew’s.  And in his joy, I found my anger dissolve.  I found myself sucked into his excitement about 90 whatevers til his birthday and suddenly my drama over a pair of shorts didn’t seem nearly so important.

I wanted to press rewind.  I really did.  Because I didn’t want to snap at that excited little face.  I wanted to go back and look into his eyes the first time he tried to get my attention.  I wanted to cup his little face into my hands and celebrate the excitement over an upcoming birthday with all the attention it deserved.  But I can’t.

I just get one chance.  One chance to live each moment.  One chance to celebrate each moment with proper attention.  I have to be careful not to lose myself in the drama of superficiality.  I am learning to immerse myself in the beauty of each precious moment.  Because I just get one chance.

A Salve for my Soul: Intentional Reading

This is the third post in my Intentional Reading series as I tackle pinning down my intentions for the coming year as far as the information I put into my brain.  You might remember that I’ve broken my intentional reading list up into three areas: Mind, Body, and Spirit.  This list focuses on books meant to soothe my soul and lift my spirit.

When I sat down to think of what would nourish my soul, I was so excited about the possibilities.  My list quickly filled up and I had to do some serious paring down so as not to have the opposite effect on my soul.  In a year of intentional living, my goal is to nurture my soul and respect my time constraints, not overwhelm myself.

My criteria for this list were quite simple…the books that I chose had to be filled with beauty, truth and goodness.  They had to, in some way, nourish my soul and lift my spirit.

Some are more intense than others.

Some are just for fun because light and fun often lifts my spirits.

Some are in preparation for assigning them to my own little flock…by pre-reading them, I’m able to build the foundation upon which great conversations can take place.  It’s hard to discuss ideas and characters and dilemmas when I haven’t personally engaged with the reading and as my learners grow and branch out more on their own to read more independently and less as a family, I want to be sure that our conversations have the chance to continue.

The only books for my soul  that aren’t listed here are the ones listed on my post about my book club.  Those books, coupled with my book club conversations, feed and nourish my soul in a way that nothing else does, so be sure to pop over there to see which books we’re tackling this year.

Alright, here we go…


Books for My Soul:

  • The Quiet Light:  I am a huge fan of de Wohl, his favorite of mine being The Living Wood.
  • Hindfeet in High Places:  This one came highly recommended and it gets such amazing reviews…I’m very excited!
  • With God in Russia:  This has been on my list for quite some time and I’m glad it made my intentional list for this year.
  • The Broken Way:  Leslie and I are working through this one together.  We’re going nice and slowly so that we can really soak in all the depth here.
  • *The C.S. Lewis Bible:  This has been my go-to bible for the last few years.  I love the reflections from Lewis and I haven’t made it all the way through.  I’ll pick this up from time to time and soak in The Word.  It’s a delightful salve for my weary soul.

Books for Fun to Lift My Spirit:

Books In Preparation for Great Conversations:

Please leave a comment and let me know what you’re using this year to nurture your soul and lift your spirits!

Windy Day Imagination

Today was windy.  Incredibly, incredibly windy.  I’m talking about the kind of wind that Brave Irene faced.  We went out for the morning, together as a family, and I cursed the wind.  I walked with my head bowed, barreling toward my destination, never stopping to look up.  My earrings flapped in the wind, the noise echoed in my ears.  Katie’s little hand was tucked inside mine and I practically dragged her along in my effort to get out of the wind.  I couldn’t imagine anyone choosing to stay outdoors on such a windy day.


We arrived home and after a quick dash from the car to the door, I stopped briefly by the kitchen window.  Katie was glued to my side but I realized the house was remarkably quiet.  The boys had all chosen to remain outside, despite the wind.  They howled with laughter as they chased each other around the yard.  Before too long, Joey and William were parked on the swings, straining their muscles against the force of the wind, heads tilted back, faces turned upward catching glimpses of the sun through the branches of the tree.


And Andrew?  Well, Andrew discovered the result of a windy day.  Branches and twigs galore.  I watched as he sorted through the branches, wielding one after another, testing the feel of each one in his hand.  I watched as he swung each branch, cutting through the air, imagining himself as a knight, battling a dragon.  His face carried his expressions as he drew within, fired solely in his internal world by his roaring imagination.


I stood and watched.  Just watched.  For moments of that windy day, I, too, was captured by Andrew’s windy day imagination.  My world stood still as I saw the windy day through his eyes.  His intentional moment was captured in his expressions, in the way the branch swung through the air, in his moment of glory when the dragon had been slayed.


I thought about all the windy days in my life.  The days when I walk, head bowed, barreling on, too caught up in a minor annoyance to stop and see the opportunity of the day.  I want to be like Andrew.  I want to face the windy days with the attitude of promise, the joy of intention.




I found this old post over on Standing Over Running Water and thought it was so relevant to the idea of being intentional that I thought it was worth sharing. 

It’s happening again.  Although this time I didn’t misplace something, unless you can misplace your thoughts.  I’d like to think these are random events; the effects of being a busy mommy, rushing through the day, but I’m afraid it’s a little more than that.  It’s mindlessness again.

When will I learn to be conscious of each sweet moment?

You think I’m exaggerating?  Fine, I’ll confess my mindlessness.  First instance that comes to mind was my shower the other day.  I was almost finished washing up when I thought to myself, ‘gee, I don’t remember my soap smelling this way.’  I sniffed it again.  It sure smelled familiar.  Right.  That would be because it was my shampoo.  Yep, I washed my body with my shampoo.  Well, maybe it was just a moment.

Fast forward a few hours.  I was in the kitchen searching for the one cup measuring cup.  It was getting a little frustrating.  I knew Joseph and I had just used it very recently and I’m pretty sure I washed it.  Where could it be?  Maybe I put it away?  Nope, there’s an empty box in its place in the cupboard.  Strange.  Oh my.  I threw the cup away and put the trash in the cupboard.  Is that normal?

Tonight I was making pasta, multi-tasking as women are so wont to do.  I was stirring spaghetti sauce, talking on the phone, playing Bert to Joseph’s Mary Poppins, trying to console a fussy toddler.  Did I put salt in the pasta?  I’m pretty sure I did.  I’m racking my brain, frantically trying to replay my actions.  I just can’t remember.

It’s not forgetfulness.  I promise.  I have an excellent memory (believe me, it’s excellent…I can recite every single line of Mary Poppins…after all, sometimes I’m called upon to play Bert, sometimes I’m Mary, sometimes I’m Jane or Michael…I have to know my lines or it really slows down my little mimic).

So what is this syndrome I have?  It’s mindlessness.  Pure and simple.  Somehow I manage to get things done, but half the time I can’t remember what all I’ve done.  Again, just like before, I’m looking at my children but not really seeing them.  I’m hearing my husband but not really listening.  How can I possibly pass so mindlessly through my days?

We’re only given so much time here on Earth.  Only so much time to soak in all the details.  Only so much time to notice each passing moment.  Our children grow so fast.  Our lives move so quickly.

I hope you’ll take a moment today to really stop and savor the moment.  And don’t choose an extraordinary moment.  Choose one of the ordinary moments…the moment when your toddler puts his hands up and says, “Mommy Time”; the moment when your preschooler says, “Watch this Mommy”; the moment when your husband kisses you as he walks in the door…because that’s what makes our lives so incredibly rich and these moments won’t last forever.

A Journey Begins with One Intentional Step

I am always busy.

There are days where it feels like I don’t sit down from the time I get up in the morning until the time I stumble into bed at night.  I cross off checklists daily and fill them just as quickly.   And yet for someone who does so much, it often feels like I accomplish very little.  I spent the past couple of months contemplating what I had intended to do during 2016 and what I actually did, and it turns out, I strayed from my path – often, and far.  I don’t always think that’s a bad thing, but when there is no intention to it, it becomes harder to justify precious time spent on fruitless efforts.

The holiday season arrived this year with the usual set of expectations and long lists of things to do so that we would be prepared to celebrate all of the traditions we do together as a family.  But we found our plans changed in many ways with an unexpected early admittance to the hospital for my mom for a major surgery that kept her in the hospital from the day after Thanksgiving until the week before Christmas.  Unlike in the past, I didn’t want to just try and cram everything into our schedule and hope for the best.  I’ve been there and it isn’t a place I wanted to go again.  The last time we found ourselves working through a hospital stay for my mom around the holidays it led to exhaustion and an overwhelming desire to just get through the holidays and be done with it.

I missed the joy that year, but more importantly, my family felt that absence and this year I had a seven year old who needed to see that life gets in the way no matter how hard you try to plan for it, but it is how we choose to work through it that ultimately determines how we feel about it.

As I organized my thoughts and prepared to journey into the busiest time of the year with my mom almost two hours away in the hospital, a high volume of work coming up for my job, a second grader to teach daily, and a home to maintain, I experienced my first real taste of what life is like when you choose to live with intention.

It. Was. Life-Changing.

I found myself simplifying my daily to-do list and then I decided to choose only a few of the most important holiday activities, the ones that would make the most impact, and let the rest go.  Suddenly, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by all of the things we had coming up that still needed to be done.  I didn’t spend my time in the present worrying about how I was going to get everything done in the future.  I invested all of myself into those well-chosen moments and for the first time since my son was born, I enjoyed so much more because we did so much less, but we did it with intention and purpose.

I knew then that 2017 would be my year to enter into a life lived with intention, a life where I choose what I will do AND how I will do it and to move forward with a purpose beyond completed check lists and days filled with hurried, unmemorable moments.  This will be my year to begin the journey towards building up the memories that will live on as a testament to the kind of life I choose to live.  I am delighted to have you join us here at With Every Intention as we share our journeys down this intentional path!