Enjoying the Middle



I was recently reading a book, becoming more and more enthralled with the main character’s perilous journey, when the focus shifted to the rugged trail he had to take. There were pages and pages describing this trail.

Can I be honest? I skimmed those descriptions. My eyes went searching for his next thought or the next section of dialogue. Something other than that same rocky path.  I just wanted to get off of that trail and see what was going to happen next.

When I started to get frustrated, a gentle whisper informed me that I do that sort of thing all the time in my own life, and I need to slow down and enjoy the middle.

It’s true. I find myself wanting to hurry things along and get to the “good stuff.” Let’s get on with it, I might think. I’m ready for the next big thing, Lord.

But God doesn’t always want that. He doesn’t want us to miss the middle of our journey because not only are there a multitude of lessons to be learned in the middle, but God Himself is the One doing the teaching IF we’re willing to slow down and stop fidgeting out of frustration.

He wants to teach us lessons that will strengthen our faith for today, tomorrow, and way, way down that eh, rocky path, we might find ourselves on. 🙂

And a lesson we certainly don’t want to miss: God is in the details of our lives.

God is in the details all around us in our everyday lives and we may overlook those details if we rush right by thinking this is just a bunch of slow-me-down descriptions. He wants to show us things that, to someone else might not mean much, but to you and me, they could offer jaw-dropping, laugh out loud (literally!) moments that open our eyes to more of who He is and how He works in our lives.

But if you and I hurry through, skimming over them and rushing to get to the “good stuff” we’re going to miss that closeness with God, that intimate moment He wanted to share with us.

Need an example? There are thousands, billions perhaps.

Have you ever needed a quarter for the shopping cart or parking meter and found one in your car? Have you ever felt discouraged and a text came to you right then?

Did you ever notice how the rain stopped just when you stepped outside to get the mail or a song playing the perfect lyrics for your aching heart was on the radio the very moment you turned it on? What about receiving a card in the mail that gave you the confirmation you’d asked God for that same morning?

What about finding the last two pounds of the “right” kind of sausage at the grocery store to make your family’s favorite potato soup or seeing your Mom’s favorite spaghetti sauce was not only available but on sale right before you left to visit her?

You see, God is in the details, enriching our lives and blessing us all the way through the middle while we travel on the paths to get to where He wants us to be. And we don’t want to miss a single moment, a single detail of walking with Him.

Spending that kind of time with Him really is the good stuff.

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” (Psalm 46:10 NLT.)

“You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right- you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set.” (Psalm 119:1-3 MSG.)


(Photo from pexels.com.)

When God Asks You to Go for a Walk

morning walk with god2

When the sunlight began to dance across the snowy dunes early one morning, I was like a little kid rushing to go sled riding as I threw on my coat over my pajamas, pulled on my boots, and grabbed my camera. I just knew God was asking me to go for a walk, and I couldn’t wait!

I crunched my way around our yard, taking shots of this amazing scene God had created. The shadows from the trees stretched like charcoal drawings across the ground that appeared like white marble.

charcoal trees in snow

These unusual forms from blowing wind and ice stood by our driveway, something to admire and ponder like sculptures in a museum.

snow creature

And the ground itself resembled layers of waves on the ocean, the wind pushing them to some unseen shore.

snowy waves

I marveled at everything, thanking God and being especially grateful when the sun began to warm my gloves (and my camera battery!). Looking back, it really was like walking through an untouched museum, one I was allowed to capture with my camera.

I snapped shots of a weeping cherry with limbs coated in ice, its shadow resembling a dark dandelion going to seed.

dandelion tree

I thought it was pretty when the light hit the icy coating and sparkled like glitter. I tried to capture that sparkle, but every time I took the shot, it seemed the glitter disappeared. So I grabbed one more photograph, a random shot of a chunk of ice hanging from the end of one of the branches before moving on.

icy branch

It wasn’t until I went inside and downloaded the photographs on my computer that I realized there was more to that simple photograph than I’d noticed at a glance.

Tucked inside, preserved in ice, there appeared to be delicate snowflakes. I never would have noticed them if I hadn’t taken the time to look closer, had I dismissed the photo as being “too simple.”

snowflake in ice

Sometimes, my friends, we have to slow down and look closer. God may ask you to go for a walk, take a break from social media, or put down the phone. (It can be that simple!) And maybe when you do, you’ll find those hidden gems – that peace, those answers, and the direction you’ve been searching for all along, just waiting to be discovered in God’s amazing presence.

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” (Psalm 16:11 NLT.)

Slip Off the Flip-Flops

flip flops

My daughter and I were hurrying home from the store after finding the right sunblock and snacks for our upcoming trip to North Carolina when we passed a boy sitting by the side of the road selling lemonade.

Maybe this doesn’t seem like a big deal to you. It’s summer. The kids are out there patiently waiting as they try to sell lemonade and cookies wrapped in plastic wrap. But for me, it was a very big deal and a painful reminder.

Twenty years ago, I’d crammed a few songs and some clothes in a suitcase, tossed it in the back of my pickup, and began my journey of becoming a songwriter in Nashville. (Spoiler alert: It never happened!) I was frantic, leaving later than I had planned, and knew if I stayed on track with my timeline I could miss rush hour for a few major cities.

I was focused on the time, remembering the route I was going to take, and hoping I had everything I needed. And that’s when I noticed her: A little girl wearing a floral dress selling lemonade on a quiet street, her eyes wide and hopeful.

But I was in a big hurry. So I didn’t stop. I. Kept. Driving.

Fast forward twenty years to the boy selling lemonade as I’m rushing home with my daughter. I slowed down when I saw him, realized there was a place to pull over, and hesitated to stop. Why? Because we were leaving for North Carolina soon and I had a thousand things to do. So what did I do?  I. Kept. Driving.

When I shook my head and scolded myself for not stopping, my daughter spoke up from the passenger seat. “You can always turn around.”

The longer I kept driving, the harder it was going to be to find a good place to turn around. “No,” I said. “We’ve got to get home.”

But then I remembered the little girl I saw all those years ago. Those eyes, wide and hopeful.

I took the next light, turned, missed the street the boy was on, circled back around, and finally parked the car right in front of him to buy one big glass of lemonade for my daughter. The boy explained what he was raising money for, and a smile stretched across his face when I gave him a little extra. But when I got back into the car, I think my smile was bigger. It felt so good to tell my nagging, hurry-up attitude to take a seat in the back and be quiet.

Days later, my hurry-up attitude was banished from tagging along to North Carolina, but my busy-busy mindset jumped in the front seat with me. There was so much to do, so much fun lingering in the air, and so many memories to make. There were melt-your-heart grandbaby kisses, warm hugs from family we don’t see often enough, cooking hot dogs and hamburgers and potatoes larger than a small dog, and watching my daughter and husband tackle the ocean together.

But where was God in my every day?

Well, I was busy. We had plans and lots to do, and I was enjoying myself. So God sat, like the little girl with those anticipating and hopeful eyes, and waited for me to stop. He waited for me to spend time with Him, if only for a moment, and open His Word. But: I. Kept. Driving.

Of course I thanked Him for time with family, for the massive expanse of the ocean, and the excitement and thrill of touching a stingray; the feel resembling a squishy, wet mushroom. And I thanked Him for keeping us all safe.

I guess you could say I smiled at Him as I drove by. But again, I kept driving.

You and I can keep driving and ignore those hopeful eyes, those invitations to spend time with God. Or we can recognize when we mess up and turn around and do whatever it takes to slow down and spend time with Him. Real time. Not just a “thanks” we toss out the window at Him like a quarter.

We have the opportunity to have a real moment with God, to slip off our flip-flops and sink our toes in the sand and allow the waves to wash over our feet again and again, feeling ourselves shrink, sensing our smallness in the presence of something so grand, so wonderful and so mighty as we stand in awe, as we take it all in, as we realize the magnitude and are moved to tears at the beauty found not in the ocean, but in the presence of the One who created it: Our Holy God.

And He’s just waiting to spend time with us.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 NIV.)

When a Warning Slaps You


I slapped myself in the face yesterday.  And pretty hard too.  I had been rushing around, gathering shopping lists, coupons, and a few snacks and drinks for the long day ahead of me when I felt a little tickle on my face.  At first I thought it was just my hair brushing across my cheek until I remembered my hair is really short now, AND this tickle was moving and crawling up my face.  I went into panic mode, slapped myself in the face, and jumped from the car; thankfully I was still sitting in the garage!  I ripped off my jacket and shook it out, brushed madly at the rest of my body, and began to search for the creepy spider with long legs I just knew was on my face.  But I never found it.

What I did find, however, was a memory buried in the back of my brain that reminded me of another time when I was frantic, trying to get to the store with our daughter (who was only about two at the time) to pick out a Father’s Day gift for my husband before I had to leave for work. I made sure she was buckled in, got myself situated, and backed right into the garage door.  I forgot to put it up.  I remember looking back at our little girl, so thankful the door was the only thing that got hurt.

Sometimes God will do things, outrageous things, to slow me down just to protect me. Traffic jams, the car won’t start right away, or someone else is running late that I’m waiting on.  The phone rings right before I head out, or I can’t find my keys.  Or God allows me to back into the garage door or slap myself in the face to wake me up right then and there to reveal the panic mode I’m in and to snap me out of it.

So I have to wonder, what did God save me from yesterday? I may never know.

Hmm. Maybe He didn’t do it to protect me but to protect you.  Maybe that’s why He wanted me to share this with you, to help you slow down.  Maybe this post is your “slap.”

Please don’t rush past His warning.

“Hear, O my people, and I will warn you.” (Psalm 81:8a NIV.)