Archives For awe

The request came at a point in my day when I was exhausted.  “Mom, will you come outside and watch for meteors with us?”  The request materialized a couple of hours ago at 10 PM.  One of the nights of the Perseid Meteor Shower.  Not only was I physically drained but I still needed to make a grocery list and write a blog post.

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“Mom, over here!”  On a beautiful and cool night we had been invited to a friend’s house for a party.  I had just filled my plate with food and was heading to sit by the pool with some friends when I heard my son call to me.  I noticed he was sitting alone and my heart evoked the pain of having nobody to talk to when everyone else is having a great time visiting with each other.  So I quickly diverted my path from the table filled with friends laughing and having fun to sit with my little boy.

“Mom, will you play volleyball with me in the yard?”  Although, my body was tired from already doing a hard workout and looking at a daunting to-do list, my daughter’s request could not be ignored.  She was working hard to expand her skills in the sport she loved most.  I mustered the little bit of energy I had left and used it to bump the ball, run after serves, and dive for kills.

With three kids, the requests for Mom seem unending.  Unfortunately, my task list and schedule also seem endless.

When my kids asked if I would join them on the deck for the meteor shower, I was tempted to say, “Not tonight.”  But then I thought back to the days when they were smaller and the many bedtime stories I would read to them.  Scheming against going to sleep, there was always, “Just one more, Mom.”

Now I searched my memory for when the very last request for a bedtime story came.  I could not remember that night and I was left to question, did I end with a, “Not tonight,” or a “You bet we can read one more.”

Our kids only grow up once.  Someone wise once said in describing raising kids, “The days are long but the years are short.”  The long days often tempt us with a “no” answer.  There is always something else competing for our time on a daily basis.

But as our kids grow, it’s important to remember there will be a last time for certain requests.

  • “Mom, will you hold me?”
  • “Mom, will you play a game with me?”
  • “Mom, will you read me a book?”
  • “Mom, can I make cookies with you?”
  • “Mom, can we do something special together today?”

The thought of not knowing when the last request will come encourages me to say, “yes” more than I say, “no.”

After considering my children’s fleeting requests, I donned a sweatshirt and sweatpants and headed outside with my two excited children to watch for meteors.

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Without computers, phones, video games, iPods, and other distracting influences, we began a lovely and focused conversation.

  • We contemplated if bugs sleep.
  • We questioned God’s choice of sound for certain animals upon hearing an owl hooting.
  • I answered questions about the bible.
  • We discussed the upcoming school year and all the fear and excitement it’s generating.
  • We oohed and awed over each meteor we saw and took a tally of how many each saw.
  • We saw a bat.  A BAT???  Okay, I’ll admit the bat sighting made me ponder if my love for my children really needed to supersede my grocery list.  But I planted myself in my seat and proceeded to fling my arms in a frenzy when a moth would pass by fearing it was the bat.  I soon became the entertaining headliner eclipsing the meteor shower

Although my grocery list sits blank on the kitchen counter and I’m working on this blog post at midnight, I feel good about my decision.

Grocery lists will await me the rest of my life.  The opportunity to write will most likely continue long after my kids have grown and moved on with their own lives.  However, the time I have with my children at home is fading fast.  I want to make the most of it while I have the opportunity.

Are you in the midst of busy days while raising kids?  Are you inundated with your kid’s requests?  Which ones will you miss most someday?  Will you begin to say, “yes” more than, “no”?

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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

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View more pictures at Susannah Cushman’s blog here.

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3 Surefire Ways to Live Your Priorities

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

Flying from Venice to Amsterdam in Europe, my traveling companions and I had the privilege of passing over the Austrian Alps.  It was stunning.  Snow-capped peaks as far as the eye could see.  It never seemed to end as if it was wrapped all the way around the world.  I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the view outside the plane window.  It was truly the most beautiful and amazing natural sight I had ever witnessed.

Alps pic 1More astonishing than the incredible vista outside the plane was what was going on inside the plane.  Shades were closed.  Nobody was looking at the majesty just beyond the glass.  Engrossed in books, magazines, or computers, some were unaware of the beauty they were missing.  Others had grown so accustomed to the view, they had lost their awe of its magnificence.

As I sat there astounded something so marvelous could be so easily disregarded, I slowly realized I was guilty of the same thing.  I may not live near majestic mountains but there are many striking sights within my own neighborhood and my own walls that I take for granted every day.  I’m guilty of shutting the shades on:

  • My own surroundings  –   On a warm day in September, my son, Colby, and I went for a bike ride that was quite eye-opening.  Colby admired beautiful landscaping in yards.  He pointed out two playing squirrels.  We stopped to ogle a tractor.  We took time to play on the swings.  We went up countless hills (is it possible to go uphill both ways?) and raced down streets.  And that’s when I realized, somewhere along the way, I had shut the shades on the world around me and no longer viewed it with wonder like an 11-year-old.
  • My children – Their faces, toes, and fingers were something that stole my breath in the delivery room.  Where had I lost that admiration for the miracle of their creation?  I had shut the shade on adoring my children.
  • My husband – On the day of our wedding, he enraptured my attention.  Everything and everyone disappeared into the background as I became lost in the moment.  As I regarded my soon-to-be husband, I was overwhelmed with love and how much I treasured this man.  Although, I love my husband even more than that first day of our marriage, I no longer look at him with rapture.  The business of life and managing many responsibilities had allowed me to shut the shade on cherishing my husband.
  • God  – God and I spend time together every day but many times I do not marvel at His presence.  The ability to talk with Him anytime, anywhere has become routine.  The idea that I’m walking into His throne room no longer impresses me.  I had shut the shade on revering God.

Have you shut the shades anywhere in your life?  What no longer impresses you?  What once took your breath away that has now become routine?

149076772Let’s determine to throw open the shades and regain our sense of wonder.

  • Be intentional – Choose one day a month when you will determine to adore what you’ve closed the shades on in life.  Today is my birthday, so I’ve decided that today and each month on the 14th, I will slow down and intentionally look out my windows of life with amazement.
  • Be amazed – Ponder the special qualities of the place or person you want to notice.  I’m determined to think about my husband’s amazing qualities and all the reasons why I love him.  I will hug my children and admire their beautiful faces.  I will be mindful of the landscape, people, wildlife, and everything else surrounding me and marvel at its beauty.  And I will walk into God’s presence with a renewed mind.
  • Share – Tell the people in your life why you love them and what makes them special.  Share your thoughts of your beautiful surroundings with whoever you are with at the time.  I will be purposeful in telling my husband and kids why they amaze me.  I plan to share in my kid’s wonder of the world around us and point out the extraordinary.  I’ll praise God for who He is and not just for what He’s done for me.

When we are intentional, we begin to see all the beauty and blessings we take for granted.  I urge you, open the shades and gaze at life with a renewed sense of wonder.  Share it with those around you.  And let’s resolve to never close the shades on our lives again.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”  Ecclesiastes 3:11

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©2012 Connie Davis Johnson

The tree beckons me with its lights and divine pine aroma.  Mesmerized by the lights, I’m soon lost in thought.  I smile as I remember special memories of family and friends.  I sigh with contentment as I reflect on how many blessings I currently enjoy.  I’m awed as I revere the One who made it all possible.

86517640Stopping to smell the Christmas tree is something I did often as a kid throughout the Christmas season.  However, these precious, personal moments seem to have gotten lost as I’ve gotten older.  Now there is shopping, baking, wrapping, visiting, decorating, volunteering, caroling, and a myriad of other Christmas duties dominating my time.

My carefree moments to enjoy life, encouraged in the favorite saying, “Stop and smell the roses,” is desperately lacking.

As an adult, I find myself rushing through the Christmas season.  Clamoring through my task list while attempting to produce memories for my kids, I miss out on actually making memories with my kids.  Stress and perfection become my family and consume my time.  And before I know it, Christmas is over and the doldrums of another wasted season become a reality.

Therefore, I’m determined to create white space on my calendar so I can actually enjoy the people I love and the blessings I’ve been gifted.  If you find yourself rushing through the season, unable to “stop and smell the Christmas tree,” I encourage you to delete a few items from your calendar or from your task list.  I promise this will not cause a rip between time and space.  Christmas will still come.  Only this time, you will have time to relish the fleeting moments.

Start by taking time to gaze at the Christmas tree.  Get lost in the mesmerizing lights.  Enjoy the moment and do the following:

Remember – Remember past blessings.  Reminisce about past Christmas’.  Examine the ornaments on the tree that hold special memories.  Ponder the people from past years that have made a positive impact on your life.

Reflect – Reflect on current blessings.  Spend time contemplating encouraging and supportive people in your life and their wonderful qualities.  Consider the reason for the season.

Revere – Revere the One who made these blessings possible.  Thank God for the people and blessings He’s provided.  Read the Christmas story in Luke 2:1-20.  Spend time expressing gratitude God sent His Son and through Jesus we have the promise of eternal life if we simply accept Him as our Savior..

Resolve – Resolve to take a few items off your to-do list to spend time with the ones you love.  Devise a plan to contact those you love either by phone, note, email, or face-to-face and share why you love them and what makes them special.  Determine to stop and smell the Christmas tree not only during this season but in all the ones to come.

I wish you the very best at savoring all your special moments.  Have a very merry Christmas season.

 

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Burned

©2012 Connie Davis Johnson

I’ve always struggled with feeling dumb and with forgiving myself.  Both feelings collided in a life-changing way in 1999.

Shortly after we gave birth to our first child, we wanted to add more children to our family.  We began trying to get pregnant almost immediately.  Month after month, I was convinced I was pregnant only to be crushed with yet another negative result.  These ongoing heavy emotions caused my husband to outlaw home pregnancy tests.

We began medical testing to find the problem.

After many tests, we graduated to the hysterosalpingogram (HSG) test.  A dye is injected and an X-ray taken of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and the area around them.  A blood pregnancy test was required the week before the HSG to make sure I wasn’t pregnant as the test could harm the baby.

Again, convinced I was pregnant, I was utterly shocked when the blood test was negative. Undeterred, I called my OB/GYN office every day trying to convince them the test was wrong.  The staff was very compassionate but assured me I wasn’t pregnant.

I was so convinced I was pregnant, I called my doctor’s home at 11:30 pm the night before the HSG.  I’m sure he was thrilled I kept his number from the years I worked for him.  He very sweetly explained a blood pregnancy test is extremely sensitive and shows a positive result within 24 hours of conception.  Therefore, I could not possibly be pregnant.

I went to bed and prayed asking God why I continued to experience such strong feelings while everyone disagreed.  Only three times in my life has God spoken so clearly, it may as well have been audible.  For the first of those three times He said, “I promised you a baby, cancel the test.”

I immediately began thinking of all the reasons I couldn’t possibly cancel the test.  My doctor was making a special trip to my chosen hospital at 6:30 am before he planned to rush across town to another hospital for surgery.  The Radiologist and nurses also made special concessions to come in early for my doctor’s sake.  I would not be able to cancel in time.

My concerns also involved how dumb I was going to look if I walked in refusing to take the test saying, “Well God told me……”  I felt stupid enough already!

There was no way I was cancelling the test.

The next morning when the test began, I knew I had made a big mistake.  I prayed and asked forgiveness for disobeying and asked God to cover the baby with His hand if I was pregnant.  After finishing the test, I felt nauseous and left.

As much as I tried to put it out of my mind over the next month, I finally couldn’t deny my symptoms any longer.  I bought a pregnancy test.  The result?  Positive.

The doctor confirmed I was indeed 4 weeks pregnant during the HSG.  He informed my husband and me the baby would not be able to handle that much radiation and fully expected us to lose the baby any time.  However, if in the off-chance we carried the baby to term, he or she would have a high chance of developing childhood leukemia.  He offered us an abortion.  We declined and went home with instructions on what to do when I miscarried.

I climbed into bed and stayed there for a week.  A deep depression set in.  I hated myself.  I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror.  I had killed the child I coveted because I was afraid of looking dumb.

Crying and praying, I begged God not to take my stupid mistake out on our baby.  After a week, God spoke clearly for the second of three times, “I covered that baby with my hand.  Now get up.”  This time I believed.  All my fears dissipated and I worried no more.  Seven months later, we gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.

Our daughter celebrates her 13th birthday today.  And other than a sensitive stomach, she is perfectly healthy.

My daughter’s birthday a reminder of my worst mistake?  Yes.  But I also have a wonderful daughter who reminds me God loves, God forgives, and God redeems.

“For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.”

~ Psalm 139:13 NKJV

©2012 Connie Davis Johnson

Burned!

October 29, 2012 — 11 Comments

In the early years of our marriage, my husband and I tried camping.  My husband loves camping.  I love hotels.

In the middle of nowhere, enjoying the fire, I suddenly smelled pizza.  I asked my husband if he thought someone nearby ordered delivery.  As he laughed and explained the ridiculousness of that question, I felt a searing pain on my leg.  I looked down and a spark from the fire had burned through my pants and had reached my flesh.  We found the source of the aroma.  Who knew I smelled like pizza when set on fire?!

Although I was burned, I treated it with balm and gave it time to heal.  Mistakes sometimes feel like a burn.  But many times I don’t treat the burn properly:

• I pick at the burn – Reliving and beating myself up over my mistakes.  Making it fester by not forgiving myself.

Living with the burn – Not dealing with the mistake.  Ignoring and learning to live with the pain, inadvertently magnifying the scar.

• I put butter on the burn – Attempting to fix my mistakes in the wrong way.  Making excuses and placing blame on others, prolonging the burn.

Recently, I visited Colorado, staying in a house with a beautiful view of Pikes Peak.  On the last day as I admired the view, I began to realize the burn zone from the 2012 Colorado fires was just in front of Pikes Peak.  An amazing sight I had not noticed until now!

The view of the burn zone against the majestic Pikes Peak provided a lesson in dealing with my burns (mistakes) correctly:

• Deal with burns swiftly – Taking responsibility and not making excuses brings a swift end to what otherwise can turn into an out-of-control fire.  Asking forgiveness from God and others is vital to stopping the burn.  Forgiving self is integral to healing!

• The majestic softens the look of the burn – Mistakes are ugly but against the majesty of God, they become part of the beautiful landscape of His grace.

“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despairThey will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”  Isaiah 61:3a

• Burns stimulate growth – Mistakes provide learning opportunities.  If we learn, we grow.  We can also help others by allowing them to see our burns and share how we healed.  This spreads growth.

“ We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope.  This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts…”  Romans 5:3-5

Being human, nobody gets through life without getting burned by their mistakes.  But there is hope and healing for those burns.  The ash clouds will clear and the sun will shine again.

“…He rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope, restoring dignity and respect to their lives—
a place in the sun!”
1 Samuel 2:8 (MSG)

@2012 Connie Davis Johnson

1.  Stay in the moment and don’t play the “What if” game.  Corrie Ten Boom said, “Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles….it empties today of its strength.”  Refusing to worry will keep you joyful.

2.  Stop and observe the extraordinary around you.  People everywhere are doing, saying, and experiencing some amazing things.  Observing these amazing people and moments brings joy.  Read about some of the extraordinary observations while simply grocery shopping.

3.  Feed your inner introvert or extrovert.  Do you re-energize and refuel by being alone or being with other people?  If you feel depleted after spending a lot of time alone but feel exhilarated after being with others, you’re an extrovert and the opposite means you’re an introvert.  Feeding that inner introvert or extrovert will keep you joyful.

4.  Accept, don’t judge.  Loving and building others up provides joy.  Criticizing steals it.

5.  Laugh.  Find the humor in the everyday.  Humor is found in many of life’s moments.  Find humor and you find joy.  Milton Berle said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.”

6. Forgive others AND yourself!  Max Lucado said, “Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner!”  Unleash forgiveness and release joy.

7.  Spend time with God.  Nothing helps me keep perspective and provides more joy than spending time with God every day.  Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence…”

@2012 Connie Davis Johnson

Each time I visit Colorado, I feel as if I’ve entered God’s Spa.  He feeds my personal needs in many ways.

He rejuvenates

He awes!

He surprises!

He thrills!

He’s unconventional!

But the most extraordinary are the friends He gave me to share all of this with!

@2012 Connie Johnson