Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Tuesday 3rd January 2017

The Magical Habit of Lingering (+ a FREE journal!)

For a couple weeks before Christmas, I spent most of my waking hours helping my parents, whom I love dearly. Dad was recovering from a surgery on his amputated leg; meanwhile, Mom was using a wheelchair because of intense pain in her back. We left the hospital on a Thursday, and we brought Mom and Dad to our home, to help them as they recuperated.

When we got home, our Anna got sick. It was strep. Nothing earth-shattering, but still … so much sickness. So much pain. So many tears.

But also — I promise you — so much joy.

The days went fast, and they were remarkably full — a series of appointments, medicine delivery, praying, back-rubbing, hand-holding, inside jokes, helping one other, songs around our baby grand, and tummy-busting laughter in unexpected moments.

Scripture says that the Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and that’s the verse that I prayed over my Anna when I held a cold washcloth to her forehead.

One of the things we all got really good at … was lingering. Partly out of necessity and partly out of intentionality, all of us took our time with everything. We enjoyed moments of happiness, when those sweet moments decided to pay us a visit.

By the time 2016 turned into 2017, Mom and Dad had returned home. But I can’t stop thinking about that word: Linger.

Lingering is one of the best things we can do to cultivate joy in our lives — on our best days AND on our worst days.

Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you wouldn’t describe yourself as a naturally good lingerer. For a moment, consider how quickly you move past celebrating an accomplishment at work because you see the stack of papers still sitting on your desk. Think how fast you brush off a compliment instead of letting yourself linger long enough to internalize the kind words. Consider how quickly you race from one task to the next.

We need to linger longer and better.

That’s why I decided to make LINGER my word of the year for 2017.

When we linger, we allow ourselves to sit with good feelings. We are hitting the pause button on our lives so we can take time to appreciate something delightful. So much of our happiness is hidden in plain sight — in these little cherished moments.

When Mom and Dad were here, we lingered for hours around the breakfast table. Occasionally one of the able-bodied among us would fetch a glass of water, a bottle of ibuprofen, another cup of coffee, a book we were talking about the night before.

Today, I lingered alone in my house, standing at the back windows, to remember the beauty that first drew us to this particular bit of ground, when we built our home in 2002. I used to linger often at the windows, but over the course of years, had stopped.

This year, I will linger more.

As a recovering productivity addict, my soul needs this. My desire to do more has been rivaled only by my need to do it faster and better. I will always be a “doer,” and I’m fine with that, but I need balance in my life.

This year, I want to put the breaks on over-hustle, on “taking matters into my own hands,” on this steady self-reliance that has me trying to manage outcomes.

I know where all of that has led me in the past — miles away from God. I know how my addiction to busy has knitted me to my tasks, instead of my true North.

Like Screwtape advised Wormwood, one of the most effective ways to distract humans from Jesus is to “keep them busy.”

If you’re like me, you want 2017 to be different. You don’t want to miss your life. You don’t want to live with the regret of not nurturing your soul, of ignoring your spiritual growth, of getting so busy that you’ve gotten yourself untethered from your true North.

2017 is a fresh slate, a new beginning. Today, I’m praying this prayer:

Dear God, never let me be so busy that I can’t hear Your voice. Cause me to linger.

May you find moments to linger today, too.

Linger at the back of the movie theater when the credits are rolling to soak in the happy ending. Linger at the table with your husband and let the dinner plates sit a few more minutes. Linger over your plans for next weekend’s girls’ day out. Linger over the kind words that someone texted you this morning. Linger in the warm bath, under the dome of stars, or above the earth at 30,000 feet while staring out the airplane window. Linger in the presence of God, who promises to come close when you are brokenhearted.

Find your own happiness right where you are, hidden in plain sight — but absolutely discoverable.

If only we would linger.

An Invitation and a FREE Journal

We have created a brand new journal and discussion guide to help you bring in a Happier New Year!

To get your FREE copy of this printable journal, subscribe here. You can print the journal at home! (Current email subscribers, a link to this free journal will arrive in your inbox sometime today, so you don’t need to sign up again! It might already be there. Check your promotions or junk mail folders if you don’t see it in your regular inbox.)

You can use this journal as a companion guide for The Happiness Dare. Go through the journal at your own pace, or join our Happier New Year Book Club on Facebook by clicking here.


Hey Tell His Story crew! It is a joy to gather here every week with you. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great! And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there!

Our featured writer this week is Lisa Tindal. I hope you’ll take a minute to read her simple yet beautiful poem about a breakthrough during winter. Find Lisa here.

To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. xo Jennifer


  • Mary

    Thank you for the beautiful read to begin our new year. Linger is the perfect word and one that will cause great joy if we partake. Happy New Year to you and your family!

    • Lingering is almost like a spiritual discipline for me. Running from task to task is my default. Thanks for being here, Mary.

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  • Yes, linger… Something I need to do more. To linger to hear God’s voice. And to soak in blessings and beauty all around us. I need to relax more… Thank you for this inspiration, Jennifer.

    • so glad these words spoke to you, friend. Have a lingering kind of New Year. 🙂

  • What a beautiful word for 2017! I’ve been lingering over the spectacular sunrises each morning of my vacation–a pure gift for this dark time of year.

    • How wonderful, Anita! We had such a great time in Arizona last week.

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  • What a beautiful, inspirational word that is…linger! Thank you for the encouragement we find here each week. I look forward to opening up the journal, thank you! Happy New year!

    • Happy New Year to you as well, Tammy. Have a blessed day.

  • Jasmine Ryan

    You probably won’t be surprised that “Linger” was among my top 3 this year! Since Linger caught my attention with one of your Facebook posts, I have noticed two things:
    1. I am awful at lingering. I am a fellow doer, and I cheat myself of the “happiness hidden in plain sight” as you put it, by reading the next item on the to-do list before I even finish the checkmark in the previous box.
    2. My husband is an expert lingerer, I had just always called it “dawdling” LOL! He is constantly looking out the windows when it’s time for dinner. He drives agonizingly slow down the driveway just to look at all the trees and point them out to me. His showers are always longer than mine. He takes multiple minutes to say goodbye. I now see that I have so much to learn from him! And always, always more grace to give.
    So excited to watch this word bloom in your life!

    • I am so like you …. I had put lingering and dawdling in the same category. I’m eager (and nervous) to see what God will reveal to me in 2017, as I linger longer and better.

  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    This is so beautiful, Jennifer, and I loved that your lingering drew you even closer to those you love. I recall lingering with my parents during the days after I gave birth to Sheridan–such quiet, insulated days when Mother brought her delicious meals, and we shared those “inside” jokes and such intimate tenderness. And when my Daddy was so ill, he and Mother lingered here for several days when they experienced a power outage in the dead of winter. It would be the last time my father would ever come here, and how thankful I am that God gave us a leisurely, lingering visit. I hear your type-A personality echoing, and how lingering can at times be difficult and how you have to purposely pursue it as a spiritual discipline. Surely, I’m not glad about your father’s physical difficulties or Lydia’s, but I’m glad you could be with them as a real source of comfort, as I know they are to you. Linger is such an interesting word, because it has a flipside. It can imply a reluctance to leave or a tedium in remaining while you experience something not desired . . . it is rich with possibility or people can linger in such a way as to wither. I love the life-giving way in which you linger and long to keep doing so. May your lingering be a tarrying, the kind where you tarry with Jesus, as you walk and talk with Him in the garden of your soul. May He bestow you with His very presence in the lingering. Happy New Year dear one!!!

    • I’ve almost always viewed the word “linger” in its more negative form — like an illness that lingers and won’t go away. Or a bad odor or something. So it’s been interesting to me that the word has been following me around for the last month, making me stop and pay attention to it. Thanks for your words here, Lynn.

  • Lisa Tindal

    I’m truly overwhelmed. I posted earlier today on FB and Instagram, about believing what God has purposed me for, about how we tell overselves we’re not capable, that maybe our dreams are too lofty…that our inability is really just doubt and laziness disguised as fear. Thank you for your words, your encouragement,your part in God’s purpose for me. I thank Him for you, for this providence, this intersection. Thank you for Telling His Story.

    • Oh Lisa … That’s so true, what you say here. Thanks for your convicting word about our dreams and purpose.

  • Mine’s similar: listening , which takes lingering as well as some duct tape. blessings. sue

    • Yes, those words go hand in hand. LOL, on the duct tape. 🙂

  • I absolutely love the next-to-the-last paragraph — all the places we can linger. But that fits right in with my happiness style! Hope you have MUCH to linger over this year, Jennifer. Thank you so much for your generosity with your space and this link-up, for your consistent and authentic encouragement. I so enjoyed getting to know you a bit more this year through your book launch.

    • So glad these words spoke to you, Lisa. I appreciate you so much.

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  • Meghan Weyerbacher

    La, la, loooove this word. I also love your storytelling and how you share your life as is, and the goodness of God in it all. You have been such a positive seed in my life, Jennifer! So thankful you continue to write here and allow us to join you. Prayers as we enter into this new year! PS: My word(s) are: healthy changes, restoration, wonder… I think I may add linger on too!!! 🙂

    • Oh Meghan …. Thank you. I just adore you, friend.

  • I love your word. I haven’t quite figured out mine for this year. Waiting to hear from God. Well really waiting to hear if I heard him correctly.

    • I don’t always have a word, but this one word just kept after me. I had no choice. 🙂

  • Sherry Thecharmofhome

    Thanks for hosting! I will check out the free journal. Almost have last years full. Happy 2017!

    • Some of the pages are the same as the journal that’s been available in the past. But there are new pages and lots of new content related to the New Year.

  • Nancy Ruegg

    Oh, Jennifer, you’ve been following me around! You saw me tackle that stack of papers that accumulated during the holidays, start a new to-do list, organize the Christmas card list for next year, etc! I am learning to linger in my later years–watching the birds and squirrels, soaking up story time and crafts with our three-year old granddaughter, and reveling in longer quiet times. But linger over a compliment? a cup of coffee? a touching passage in a book? These are skills I still need to learn. Thank you for a beautifully written, inspiring post, and may you enjoy a very happy new year of lingering!

    • Learning with you, Nancy. I wrote about lingering at length in The Happiness Dare, but I get the feeling that I’ve only scratched the surface. I’m kinda excited/kinda nervous to see what 2017 brings.

      • Nancy Ruegg

        Right with you. 2017 will present some challenges. I need to keep mindful of that saying: If God brings you to it, He’ll also bring you through it. Also desire to cultivate an attitude of positive expectation in the creative, perhaps downright miraculous ways God may work!

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  • Tara Ulrich

    I’m a good lingerer when I want to be. So much THIS: “Lingering is one of the best things we can do to cultivate joy in our lives — on our best days AND on our worst days.” My word is hope.

    • That’s a great word. This old world definitely needs more hope right now. And who better to carry that HOPE out into the world, than those who know Jesus? He is our hope.

  • Jennifer, my word could go along with yours. It is “wait”. I, too, need to learn to linger more, to wait a bit and not rush ahead to the next task. Thank you for these encouraging words today! Blessings to you!

    • Yes … our words go hand in hand. Have a blessed new year.

  • Jennifer, this post! It spoke so deeply into my heart. Last year my word was Rest and God made sure I did it….in so many areas of my life. I learned to carve out time to rest, even when it made no sense. So, I get your word in ways that I might not have prior to last year. This year my word is Come. I wrote about on Monday. Bless you, friend and Happy New Year!

    • I feel like I have a LOT to learn, Leah. I talk at length about lingering in The Happiness Dare, but I get the feeling that I only scratched the surface. Thanks for being here. Bless you. xo

  • JosephPote

    Oh yes…lingering! Spending intentional time with someone to simply enjoy their company. Similar thoughts have been on my mind, lately. Thank you for sharing this so beautifully, Jennifer.
    I pray everyone is recuperating well at your home.

    • Slowly, we are getting better. Mom and Dad are at home now. They could use your prayers! Thanks for your kindness.

      • JosephPote

        Glad to hear they’re improving. Praying for all of you, now.

  • Yes, do I ever need to linger longer …in every moment of life. I squeeze the most out of every minute …but in doing that I rob myself of the peace Jesus died to give me. I am joining you for The Happiness Dare …and didn’t realize how much I needed the message. Thank you so much. Happy Wednesday!

    • So glad you’re joining us in The Happiness Dare. Did you join the Facebook group?

      • Yes! I sure did. And I’ve got my book and beautiful journal ready to go. Thank you!

  • This rings true today… Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    • So glad these words blessed you!

  • I love this idea of Lingering. It such a beautiful thing to embrace moments fully without rushing them. Even the hard ones. How do we linger when we get the bad news or after an argument or when I’ve lost my temper with the kids without it being destructive? It may sound odd, but I think the more we linger in all of our moments, the more we will find God in them.

    So glad to read about your word of the year. I wrote about mine today too!

  • This is just beautiful. It confirmed for me a thought I had while reading yesterday. It is true, we can become distracted from that which is most needed in our lives each day. Wonderful and truth filled message. So glad that everyone is feeling better too!

  • Susan

    In this rush-rush world may you find at least 365 ways to linger in 2017!

  • Sharita Knobloch

    Great post and great OneWord for 2017, Jennifer. I also am not naturally adept at lingering, but I learned a couple of years ago that hurry steals our joy.

    And one of my favorite quotes is by Corrie Ten Boom: “If the devil can’t make you bad, he will make you busy.” <– PREACH!

    So my OneWord for 2017 is PEACE. Seems pretty run of the mill, but definitely a deep (and challenging) meaning for me… And I have no doubt that lingering will be involved, especially as we prep to welcome a new Tiny Human into our house in a few weeks (I feel like with the first kiddo, I never lingered and didn't enjoy the experience as much as I could. Ready to hopefully do things differently this time around.)

    Thanks for this great post– and hosting the link up. Blessings to you up north!

  • Lingering… it is a skill we cultivate, isn’t it? I am able to do it a little more each year, in part, I think because I am older and hopefully a little wiser and I have learned to appreciate things better. Mostly because I’ve lost. I think that is what catches our attention. When we lose the pieces and lose the time and lose people we learn to linger a little more. But I don’t want loss to be associated with the beauty you are proposing, either. There is glory in the waiting cause we catch the dust that reflects a new color in the sunset and we might see the shooting star in the regular night sky. So much good here in your reflections and challenge to linger and to wait a little more. May we each learn to wait in Him, to linger in His mercy and grace and to let love build us more and more.
    Blessings friend! Happy New Year!

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  • I love your word for the year, linger. I think it’s related in many ways to my word for 2017, abide.

  • Ruth

    I love your word, linger! Taking time to enjoy our children’s smiles, the birds at the feeder, a baby learning to walk or talk, lingering in the Presence of our Lord who loves us…
    I especially like your suggestion to linger on kind words someone has spoken to us. I need to work on that.

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"When you catch a tiny glimpse of the future be sure not to smother it with your own agenda. Let it breathe. Let it grow at a healthy pace. Admit it's both delightful and terrifying. As you take your next right step today trust that God won't let you mis… ift.tt/2ophzwB pic.twitter.com/uTYr8c7vdm