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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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Wednesday 1st May 2013

#TellHisStory: When You’re Desperate to Find the Main Thing

The farmer’s wife standing in my living room snapped her fingers.

“That fast,” she said, and she snapped her fingers again. “It goes by that fast.”

She was staring at the framed portrait of my girls, years younger and dressed in white. They had posed in the doorway of our little barn out back.

That’s why the farmer’s wife, my neighbor, snapped her fingers. Because she knew it: Life moves fast.

And that’s why I swallowed down the lump rising up in my throat.

In two weeks, that snapping woman’s firstborn will graduate high school. She has earned rights to snap fingers.

It’s cliche, I suppose, for one mother to tell another mother how fast it all goes. For that mother to tell you to pay attention and hold tight to the moments. And she’ll tell you they’ll be “all grown up before you can blink.”

Or before you can snap.

You’ve heard the warning since your kids were babies, back when some blue-haired lady leaned over your kid’s stroller in aisle five next to the Campbell’s soup cans. You might have wanted to roll your eyes.

But here’s the thing about cliches. They’ve got roots sunk deep down into truth.

So I reckon I ought to pay attention to the snap moments.

You know, I might be tempted to look right over the shoulders of my girls, to chase after something else, in the name of cultural relevance. The world is a hot mess of making you think you need to plan ahead, get noticed, climb a ladder, make a name for yourself, earn some cred. Even in Christian circles, folks compete over who can talk loudest, argue longest, prove a point, make a case. Neighbors are getting good at building fences.

 

I do know this: One day, we’ll get to Heaven, and it won’t take long before we realize, “Huh…. We got all hot and bothered about a bunch of stuff that was never going to last anyway.”

Eternity has a way of righting things. Because there’s this one table where we’ll all sit, you know? And snap, we’ll all be there, all these feet under one table. And no one will argue anymore.

I”m thinking about that table when that farmer’s wife in my living room snaps her fingers at me. And I know it right then: I want to stop to take a good, long look at what matters in my life.

Now.

I want to be about the “now.” I don’t want to be about making a case or making a point. I want to be about making a big deal about the main thing.

The main thing in my house has a spelling test tomorrow. The main thing likes to play in a yard where green pops up in April. I see another main thing across my husband’s farmfield– it’s my church, where we aren’t perfect, but by golly, we’re loved. Yeah. That’s a main thing, all right.


I want to be about all my main things: my husband, my children, my Jesus, my morning devos. My morning coffee.

And a stack of good books on my nightstand.

My main thing, go figure, is even this: sweeping PopTart crumbs from wood floors.

 

 

My main thing remembers that life is a study in brokenness.

(Print from Annie Barnett’s Etsy shop)

 

My main thing is also this: two girls sitting in the glow of an iPad, playing Minecraft.  (don’t judge). 🙂

My main thing has me watching from across the room, watching how one little girl believes it for herself: that she really is special.

And the main thing is a soft bed where I fall every night next to my main thing, my main man.

 

Seventeen years ago, my mom insisted on playing a song at our wedding reception: “The Sweetest Days.”

You know what? I think the song is really about the Main Thing. It’s about the  sweetest things, in the sweetest days, a prelude for the Mainest Main Thing.

“All the while,” the song goes, “life is rushing by us. Hold it now and don’t let go. These are the days …. the sweetest days we’ll know.”

 

So, what’s your Story? A #TellHisStory is any story that connects your story into the story of God.

To participate in the #TellHisStory linkup, simply:

1. Write your #TellHisStory post, from your heart, straight onto your blog. A #TellHisStory is any story that connects YOUR STORY into the story of God. What story is God telling in your life this week?

2. Link here and invite friends to join in by posting the #TellHisStory badge on your post.

3. Copy the permalink of your post.

4. Using the linky tool, paste your link in.

5. Find someone (or two) in the link-up to encourage with a comment.

6. Come back on Friday to visit our Featured #TellHisStory, in the sidebar.

Your words matter to God. They matter to people. And they matter to me!

~Jennifer



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  • And when we’re all sitting at that table together, it’ll be all about the Main Thing. How I really want to be all about the main thing, too, while I’m here on earth.

  • You have really captured a precious moment in time here,Jennifer. Savor these moments!

  • First, love your coffee mug 🙂 Second, it may be cliche but oh, how true it is that it all goes by so fast. Thank you for the reminder to not get wrapped around the axle and forget the important part…that’s so easy to do especially when you’re raising up kids. We cannot leave sin unchecked but it’s easy to forget that they are a work in progress…just like us.

  • EXACTLY what I needed to hear this morning! Thank you, Jennifer!
    “I want to be about now. I don’t want to be about making a case or making a point. I want to be about making a big deal about the main thing.”

  • “life is rushing by us. Hold it now and don’t let go. These are the days …. the sweetest days we’ll know.”
    Jennifer, simply love what you have shared! God has taught me so much about what matters most…what the main thing in my life is, and that is Jesus, my husband and my children. Time does go by so quickly, and I had previously thought I had missed my chance to be a good mother to my now grown children. But it is never too late to give them your full attention, to let them know they matter and to not miss those snap moments. I was blessed last night to watch my younger son perform in a guitar ensemble concert…oh my did I not let that moment go by without my full attention. Thank you for your heart. You have blessed me, and I’m sure many today with your words.

  • You’re not the only fence builder my friend! Thanks for the reminder that the main thing can “look” small. But God’s ways aren’t mine, are they?! As always, I’m blessed by your words. Give yourself a hug. Love, Michelle

  • I’d say you’ve got it licked, Jennifer: you’ve found the main things. The challenge is to stay in the now with them. Such a beautiful post; such beautiful pictures. (And I love your stack of books; we could have some seriously wonderful conversations over a stack like that!)

  • I’ve been thinking about the same thing Jennifer. Had one of those epiphanies yesterday and then of course, I wrote about it. But really, there is just so much pulling us in a million tiny directions but He is holding it all together, in the palm of his hand. And I’m grateful for eyes to see the main thing.

  • ro elliott

    oh yes…snap and it all changes…and in each season I search to keep my eyes on the main thing…one consistent is Jesus…my husband…but even how my family is the main thing is a changing landscape… I too love my morning coffee with Him…always… I love the simplicity of this post…simple while calling us deeper…blessings~

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  • Beautiful! I linked up a post I wrote a couple of days ago about the stuff that matters in our life. Your post reminded me of it. 🙂

  • We were working the other day, across from a park that I used to take our sons to play when they were little. Hard to believe it was over 20 years ago that they were squealing with delight as they ran and climbed over the equipment. Equipment that is no longer there, but replaced with new. Much like my treasure of memories I carry of them – the days of gone are tucked into my heart – the days of now and tomorrow are all about creating new adventures. How thankful I am that I took time to entwine my days and live within theirs – to stop and just play – to delight in those precious gifts God has given me. Bittersweet is life – too fast, too soon.

  • Lori

    I’ve raised 5 children to adulthood and now some of them live across the country and I am lucky if I see them once a year. They were my “main” and I did my best to give them strong wings to fly on their own. I remember feeling stuck smack in the middle of long hard days and doing this messy job of mommy and I really didn’t realize that it would all go so quickly until my last one flew from the nest. And now I’m doing it all over again in raising my step daughter children as our own. We got them when the youngest was a newborn and the other 14 months old…and now they are almost 8 and 7. Now I know all too well how quickly the time goes. All of my bigs flew home this past week for a few days to attend my nieces wedding. It was 4-5 days of noise, chaos, laughter, love and fun and now that they have all gone back home, my heart aches with their absence. I completely support them on their adventures and I am so happy to see each of them so happy with their own families now. They are making a life for themselves like they are suppose to. But they are still my “main”…and I will miss them every single day until I get to see their faces and hug them again. This was a very fitting post to how I am feeling today. Thank you!

  • Oh, how this makes me want to cry. The main thing…..I have to remember to look for the main thing in every day. Just the main thing. Not the hundred other things I “should” be doing or thinking about. Just the main thing. Thank you for those words – I may have to put them on a plaque in my kitchen!

  • This has me thinking of “Main Squeeze”…and I think I get that phrase now.
    What do I hold on to the tightest? That’s my main thing. . .

    Do you think I can squeeze the life of Jesus out of me and into my children? or is that like toothpaste…it only goes one way.
    Maybe I’ll just make sure He’s my main squeeze and let Him take care of the rest…

  • I wish I was at home with my husband right now… after reading this post, I am feeling the urge to play that song and have a nice slow dance in my kitchen with my man. Enjoy every moment, sweet friend! You love well.

  • Mia

    Dear Jennfer
    Yes, dear friend, we look for the main things in the BIG things that happens around us, but we need not look further than the innocence of our children, or a husband that comes home in the evenings after he has worked hard to provide for his family. They are next to our Lord in being the main things in our lives. To love them is the most “main” thing on earth we can do.
    Blessings
    Mia

  • Oh my, yes. I wrote about this to a friend in an email yesterday. How do we continue to write when there is so much hate volleying back and forth, so much arguing and venom spewing? How do we hold to truth and clean and clear our minds in the midst of the every day duties of life? Because for some of us, just that is enough to struggle through. I have found myself struggling for creativity, for words, the noise suffocating. {This will be a post shortly ;)} Everything you said–I totally agree. This resonates with my heart–let us be about the main thing. I don’t want to be dragged into a current of negative til I drown and can no longer see Christ. And it’s oh-so-tempting. Gosh, thank you for writing this, Jennifer. Love you– and P.S. I noticed something over in the sidebar–wow, thank you for that, sweet friend. <3

  • Lynn Morrissey

    Funny. I was literally just reading about this “snap thing” in the Psalms this morning, where our temporary little lives are described in transitory metaphors, like disappearing smoke, withered flowers and grass, swiftly passing shadows, disappearing dreams, and briefest of all: *dust*! It is now afternoon as I write and how many more minutes and hours of my fleeting life has time swallowed in its massive maw? I feel positively gulped down. But I like what you are saying here, Jennifer. And I need to hear it and heed it. First, I have to wake up to the warnings of the blue-haired bevy of believers—those women who have whisked through their days like the rapid-fire thumbing of book pages when one searches for a favorite passage. They know of what they speak, so I need to listen and to believe (because, sadly, I haven’t always done that). And then I need not frantically flip through my life’s pages, but stop and linger to read them, word for word, minute by minute, savoring each and every one. And what’s in my book? Your table of contents lists your main-thing chapters. I daresay some of ours would overlap–like God, husband, daughter, family and friends… Your beautiful post reminds me that while I have marred some of my pages (having recklessly ripped some out, never to be replaced), thank God, my book isn’t finished. I have a chance to write the last chapter, ensuring that those I love have starring roles in my life. Oh, I cannot thank you enough for your gift today, Jennifer. Just THANK YOU!

  • So so true how times flies by so fast, and you don’t realize this until you have kids I don’t think. One minute they’re babies and the next they’re in middle school worried about being cool and popular and all the things that make you cringe. Trying to be more intentional about being in the moment and taking mental snapshots along the way, cause I don’t want to miss or forget a thing!

  • Oh, this is so true! I speak from experience: my time with my girls feels like it lasted as long as a snap of the fingers. Now I’m an empty nester who treasures my memories of my sweet babies. I think sometimes that is why people are so crazy for their grandchildren – now they KNOW how fast the times go.

  • i was thinking just this morning about how busy this time of year is, but really? It seems like every season is speeding by. Today my son will take his driver’s test for his operator’s. How in the world did that happen?

    I want to be about the main thing, Jennifer. I want to sit at the table with you, swinging legs in time under the table cloth.

  • Floyd

    I blinked and seemed to have even missed the snap… The oldest and middle daughters are now RN’s following the footsteps of their mother… Our youngest’s team just lost the last game of the season last night… She finally came off the lacrosse field after saying goodbye to most of her friends and laid her head on my shoulder… It wasn’t a full blown cry… just tears from the hard lessons of life. “It’s okay, babe, this might be the best thing that could happen going into the playoffs… we learn more from winning than we do losing.”

    I know the loss of them growing up… I’ve learned that much…

    • Lynn Morrissey

      Oh your babies, Floyd! Unbelievable how they’ve grown, huh? I misread your words, and thought you said that she laid her *heart* on your shoulder. I have a feeling that she did, and you’re just the tender kind of father that would let her do it!

  • “I want to be about the “now.” I don’t want to be about making a case or making a point. I want to be about making a big deal about the main thing.” I even look back at how fast my girls are growing and wonder what happened to the time? We aren’t promised tomorrow, so we do have to be present in the now… Thank you for the beautiful reminders1

    In the twinkling of an eye…

  • When I read “One day, we’ll get to Heaven, and it won’t take long before we realize, ‘Huh…. We got all hot and bothered about a bunch of stuff that was never going to last anyway'”, I wanted to both laugh and cry. So true.

  • I liked hearing about the Main Things in your life, Jennifer.

    Can I step out and be a bit honest here? A friend and I were just talking about this on the phone today; how we “don’t want to make a case or a point” with our writing. And given some situations that have happened in the online world lately, it really starts to make certain people stand out as clinging to the Main thing.

    You’re one of them and I thank you for it; for staying all peace and warm cookies amidst a world of chaos.

  • I straddle being a mom and a grandmother. Luke is about to be a senior and he will be my last bird to fly. He wriggles out of my grasp a lot, practicing for the leap. I realize I savor every little thing with the grand-girls. The gift comes from experience–of knowing how precious each moment truly is. Loved this beautiful reminder. (I am afraid my link up may be the other side of this story. Hope that’s okay? :))

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  • So thankful for the ways your words both ground me and cause me to soar. As I live this too quickly moving life with my daughters, I feel the love of your kindred mama heart. Thank you.

  • You know I always need the reminder of this perspective.

    {Minecraft is a big hit around our place, too.}

  • Yes, being about the main thing! I just wrote about my little sister and how important and special she is to me. I am glad I did. Sometimes we skip main things feeling like they aren’t as important as they really are. Things left unsaid…I don’t want that.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

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  • Your girls are lovely and they are blessed to have a mom who is keeping the main thing the Main thing…Thanks, Jennifer, for always pointing back to Him 🙂

  • Jillie

    Hey Jennifer…What a beautiful post! As I listened to the song, I looked round my livingroom at the wedding photos of my two ‘kids’…their eyes full of love and anticipation of their new lives together. And I recall those two very special days, and how their father and I sat in front-row pews and cried our hearts out! The rapid passage of time! My whole adult life has been about “the main thing”…my children, my sweetheart, my God. And now we’ve added our sweet grandbaby girl. Our chance to love, oh so love, a wee one again. Life really is good, IF we focus on “the main things”, without getting swept away by the temporal. NOTHING matters more than that.
    What a bittersweet photo of those two angels clothed in white at the door to your barn! Love it!

  • Marther Stewart

    i want to say a very big thanks and appreciation to chief priest Great OGUNA for bringing back my husband who left i and the kids for almost three months within the space of five days after following all instruction given to me. i am very much grateful for restoring peace in my marital home’ i pray God almighty give you the strength and wisdom to help more people having similar problem like mine,for help you can CONTACT HIM on this e-mail:ogunaspiritualtemple@gmail.com

  • Hi Jennifer,
    I love this. Knowing that we are special is my focus on my blog, He Cares for Us. I also have written and illustrated a children’s book for ages 2-7 about a little turtle who learns to accept how God had made him – Tadeo Turtle.
    Blessings
    Janis Cox http://www.janiscox.com

  • I love this! i experienced that with my girls growing up and now with my 9 grandchildren!! What a beautiful post and beautiful pictures. I even spotted a few books I have added to my list of must haves.. Thank you Jennifer!

  • The Main Things you highlighted in your post made me smile. Indeed, the world might consider our small family moments unimportant, but we empty-nester mothers know better! I’m so thankful God gave us a long-term memory, so we can enjoy over and over again the sight of a five-year old wobbling along on his new bicycle, the sound of cherubs singing songs in the back seat (who later argue over where to stop for lunch!), the pride of watching them reach out to others with concern and help, etc. But there are many Main Things to enjoy at this stage of life also. We mustn’t focus too hard on yesterday; today is full of glorious moments as well! “His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22b-23a). Praise God!

  • Listening to the beautiful “Sweetest Days.” I don’t recall having heard it before. I love it.
    Thank you for sharing your sweet girls. You are keeping the main thing, the main thing. Google +ing this post.

  • Enjoy each moment because they won’t always (want to) live at your house! Hopefully they will visit every so often, perhaps for the holidays. We have one daughter close by so that is nice. Our other daughter drops in for short visits from time to time, and Our son visits with one grandson. (his wife stays home as the other boy is working.) Anyway, We love them and they all have their lives to live.

  • AHHHHHHH… deep cleansing sigh. I just got to this today, after a week of business, heading into a week of craziness. And you know what it’s all in preparation to leave for two weeks just us. Because the main thing matters, because she is right (that farmers wife), in a snap it will all change. Love your heart, oh I so love it!

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  • What a beautiful post. I’ve been known to snap my fingers — I’ve grown two children and am growing two more, and time flies by. Thank you for helping me focus on the main thing.

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