How to See the Big Miracle of Small Wonders

May 21, 2012 | 45 comments

It’s no small wonder
that the world is filled
with small wonders.

But it takes a child with a stubborn streak of attentiveness to discover them.

Often, the smallest, biggest wonders are right where you are, on the way to where you’re headed, begging to be found under your feet. She found it first, in that glorious patch of clover that I had fully missed.

A child sees. She stops for miracles, gathering them up by the fist-full.

She discovered a clover patch at the edge of the soccer field. I had passed it, but she had stopped. I turned around to tell her to hurry, so we could sit in the lawn chairs that her Daddy had set up for us. But she was persistent after the miracles. She plucked them one by one.

Her slowing down was God’s way of reminding me: The here-below is a canvas of God above, who went to the trouble to create infinitely beautiful treasures to brighten up the sullen parts of this world.

This one child, made in God’s image, resembles her Maker, bending low over a handsome patch of clover. She holds grace in her hands.

I’m stopped by this. Watching her, I ask myself: When did I outgrow this kind of wonder? I used to stop for the clover, as a child. When does a grown-up stop stopping for wonder?

Here now, only with the help of a child, can I see. So I take three photos with my iPhone, and watch her, jealous for her eyes.

A child’s unyielding search for wonder, as she wanders, makes me wonder. Why don’t I?

How many small miracles have I missed? How often have I chased after the big thing — the promotion at work, the plush assignment, some sort of status or significance — while missing the wonder of the moment I’m wondrously in?

I’ve been a chronic miracle-misser. Children, I think, are born with that stubborn streak of wonder. Maybe we outgrow it, trade it in for stubborn streaks of personal ambition.

I think this is part of the reason why God gave me children — so I could see again. God is in the business of curing the blind. I know it firsthand: I am slowly regaining my vision, and now I have only begun to see visible signs of an invisible God everywhere. Everywhere, I tell you. He has soaked His world with wonder.

If we’ve outgrown our streak of wonder, then what would it take to make it fit again? I think about my closet, filled with things too small. If something is too small, we can’t generally make it bigger … we can only get smaller ourselves, so it fits again.

Yes, I need to get small. I need to decrease, so I can fit into my child-wonder again.

This blog — this post — is me, growing smaller.

I asked Anna, if she had any first-grader advice for big people who want to see like a kid. So here they are, Anna Lee’s Three Tips for Paying Attention:

BE LIKE AN OWL: “In my teacher’s classroom,” Anna tells us. “There’s a picture of an owl and some words that say, ‘This owl sits on a log. The less he talks, the more he learns. The more he learns, the less he talks. Why aren’t we all like that wise old owl?'”

SIT STILL: Anna says this is one of the rules posted on the wall of the classroom. If you’re moving around too much, she says, you can’t give your full attention to what’s right in front of you.

BE QUIET: “We’re supposed to be quiet when the teacher talks,” Anna says. This is true in life, too. When the Teacher is speaking, I want to be found at His feet, listening. Maybe with a fist-full of clover.

Writing in community with Laura Boggess and Michelle DeRusha …

by | May 21, 2012 | 45 comments

45 Comments

  1. Cassandra Frear

    I have to become a child again before I can grow up.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      LOVE that, Cassandra. You said in 12 words what I said in 500. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Kim

    I love Anna Lee’s tips. I will try to put them to use as I go out for my morning walk. The world truly is filled with small wonders, including those childlike eyes.

    Reply
  3. r.ellott

    love..love this…the picture says it all…bent low…taking in the treasures…what others pass by…what others call weeds…a child see with wonder…I too want to become small…to regress with age…thanks for this…blessings as we decrease.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you for being here. I loved the pictures, too, the way she’s all caught up in beauty. Like she doesn’t know I’m watching.

      Reply
  4. ~Brenda

    I miss having little ones around for this very reason. Thank God for grandbabies (first one to arrive in September!). But little ones or not, I need to look closer … get smaller.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh Brenda! Congratulations on your new little grandbaby. Before these two girls grow up and move out, I’m taking lessons in attentiveness.

      Reply
  5. Dolly

    Oh, the gift of children…Thanks for sharing Anna’s words of wisdom…off to ponder them in wonder 🙂 Happy Monday, Jennifer 🙂

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      When I asked Anna the question, “How do you pay attention?” … she answered with this list of three from her classroom wall, tips from a teacher who needed the kids to be attentive in class. When I asked her how she paid attention to things like clover and leaves and bark on a tree, she looked at me like I was crazy. As if to say, “How can you NOT be paying attention to that?”

      Reply
  6. Diana Trautwein

    That is one wise 1st grader you’ve got there. What you’ve written about here is part of the reason I chose the name that I did for my own blog. That word wonder has so many layers to it, and this one is the most basic and in many ways, the most important. Becoming a wise owl, sitting still and being quiet – yes, indeed, that’s where the wondering begins.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hi Diana … Anna made these comments after I asked her the general question: “How do you pay attention?” She drew from her experience in the classroom, where it’s hard for her to pay attention. But when I asked her a more direct question — about paying attention to things like nature — she looked at me with a funny look. Like it was the most absurd question she’d heard, and who WOULDN’T pay attention to such things? 🙂

      I guess I am like an antsy kid in a first-grade classroom, when it comes to attentiveness. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Megan Willome

    I like that the more the owl learns, the less he talks. I’ve met people like that and always admired them, wondered how on earth they could be so wise and shut their mouths.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Mmmm-hmmm. You’re an owl, Megan.

      Reply
  8. Beth

    I want to “decrease” too, Jennifer. This is such a beautiful reminder of how Christ wants us to come to him like a child. Yes, there is much to learn from the little ones around us. I love your daughter’s advice and also thank you for sharing your great observations as well.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Beth.

      Trying daily to live John 3:30.

      Reply
  9. Candace

    In the busyness of life I can definatly say the past while I have totally forgotten to look for all the wonderful things my children seem to spot so effortlessly. God can use the most gentle and small things to show us how big and magnificent He is.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      So true, Candace. God has showed favoritism toward the small.

      A small boy, with a sling and a stone.
      That still small voice.
      The babe, in a manger.

      Reply
  10. laura

    Your gift to me? Inviting me to grow small with you. A big thank you to your Anna. What an amazingly perceptive little girl :). (Somewhat like her mamma). I might just wander off to find me a patch of clover today.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      We actually just got back from a walk at a place in Sioux Falls called the Outdoor Campus. The girls noticed all sorts of things that I missed entirely. Always learning and reconditioning! 🙂

      Reply
  11. kd sullivan

    What an amazing post. I want to grow small with you as well…In fact, I’m going to take the dog for a walk and try to see through Anna’s eyes right now!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you, kd. To “grow small.” Yes. That.is.it.

      Reply
  12. Jenny

    What a lovely post. I enjoyed reading this timely reminder.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks for being here, Jenny. Have a great week, spotting the wonders of God.

      Reply
    • dukeslee

      happygirl …

      Lovin’ that clover chain. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  13. Lori Poppinga

    Her teacher should be proud of all she learned from her classroom walls this year…and it is a good reminder that little ones are paying more attention to their surroundings than we sometimes know.
    Keep up the God work.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Her teacher is amazing. I’ve been in Anna’s classroom many times through the school year, and had missed the owl saying. I’m loving it. Looking forward to catching up with you and hearing about your writing projects when you have time.

      Reply
  14. elizabeth

    What sweetness. And such profound advise from a precious young girl with an eye for God’s world and His small gifts. So beautiful. So tender. These pictures are just so very touching in every way. Can almost smell the grass (cold and soft 🙂 )

    Reply
  15. Nancy Franson

    Missing the miracle. Hmmm. I’m thinking today, not about the way I rush past beauty without drinking it in. I’m thinking about how I want to move on past the hard things and get them behind me as quickly as possible. And yet. How many miracles am I rushing past, trying to outrun the hard things in life? Maybe they are miracles too?

    Reply
  16. Linda

    I think one of the things blogging has done for all of us is to open our eyes to the “bigness” of His creation and our own “smallness.”
    What a wise teacher and what a brilliant student. She is so very dear Jennifer.

    Reply
  17. emily wierenga

    i love these photos, and the three lessons. the one about the owl, i read three times. i wish i could stop talking, and just listen. i wish i could stop feeling the urgency to be heard all of the time. love you so much girl.

    Reply
  18. Jennifer@Adam's Rib

    Our children are our greatest teachers. Small IS big. You have a lovely girl, inside and out.

    Reply
  19. Marianne

    Ooooh, thank you for this post. The simple lessons of paying attention. I want so much to turn off the noise in our lives!
    Blessings to you,
    Marianne

    Reply
  20. Jenn

    Great advice….we have so much we can learn from the children in our lives. They really do see things that we don’t take the time to.

    Reply
  21. Daune

    OH Jennifer,
    With tears pooling in my eyes, I remember, as a little girl, sitting in the grass, collecting clover. And I remember my own daughter, in her teens, sitting in a patch of clover, hand-picking the four leafed ones and bringing them in to me, so proud, when she was ‘supposed’ to be doing ‘school’!
    Then when the twins were born, the world took on new eyes. I saw things from their vantage point and rejoiced, again, that I’d been given another chance to see.
    Thank you, again, for this precious reminder to see the things that are sometimes screaming right before my very eyes, but I’ve become to busy to notice.
    That’s why I love having Bert here on Fridays…may we never grow up in this regard.
    Blessings on you and thanks for visiting. You are a jewel to me. How grateful I am for finding you!

    Reply
  22. kelli

    We are on the same page this week, Jennifer. Must be our common Teacher.

    Lovely words and pics . . . even though captured by an iphone. that we could always remember to let the children disciple us so.

    Reply
  23. Amy

    Wow, Jennifer Lee, such beautiful words of wisdom, both from you and your beauty of a daughter. I wish I had her insight and your way with words. <3 Yes, I know that God has given me a different way, but sometimes I long to put a child's wonder of the world into words that flow, as you do.

    Thank you for blessing us all with these words. Inspiring!

    Reply
  24. Sandra Heska King

    I just sat down with a clover flower, pulled the petals one by one, and nibbled on the sweetness–just like I used to do. Thanks, Anna!

    Oh, how I want to grow smaller, too.

    Reply
  25. Sherrey Meyer

    I want to be that child again, filled with wonder at the mysteries around me. One who stops to “smell the roses” (or maybe clover!). Remember, or maybe I’m dating myself, making clover chains. You had to collect a lot of clover so you had a necklace, a bracelet, a crown, and maybe even an ankle bracelet. Drove my mother nuts waiting for me! You brought back memories, but you also made me realize I need to grow smaller too.

    Reply
  26. Lynn Morrissey

    Oh Jennifer. How this exquisite post resonates, as so many of yours do! For the past year, especially, my deep longing has been for God to heal my spiritual eyes, the eyes of my heart (ala Eph. 1:18). I’ve even incorporated this idea into my ministry name. Physically, I’m blind as a bat without optic intervention, though it seems to me that my spiritual blindness can have far greater consequence. Before God saved me, I desperately needed His intervention. He opened my eyes to truth. Praise God that I was blind, but now I see. And yet, how often do my spiritual eyes cloud over as they focus on the idols you mentioned. Oh, that I would only have eyes for Jesus so that all else which attracts would grow “strangely dim.” It does take time and intentionality to see. I think, moreover, it takes purity. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall *see* God. It seems to me that as you grow smaller, you also grow purer. Because when you grow smaller, you only want to magnify Jesus–let Him be large. I love that your child had eyes to see the wonder of clover, despite that the world would deem it a weed. I never cease to be astonished that Jesus doesn’t see me as a weed. He’s blind to my weed-weakness. Instead, He sees me with wonder, as someone worth redeeming. And at this realization, all I can do is bow low, then lift my eyes to the heavens in praise.

    Reply
  27. Summer Gross

    lovely and so true, Jennifer.

    I’ve been pondering the need to stop…especially with summer beginning and children home from school.

    And thanks for your honesty. It is always good to hear that others struggle with this same disease of looking over the details of God’s Presence.

    Reply
  28. michelle derusha

    She is so, so wise.

    Noah finds 4-leaf clovers all the time. I asked him how he did (I’ve never even found one). “You just have to look, Mommy,” was his answer.

    I know it’s as simple — and as hard — as that.

    Reply
  29. Ann Kroeker

    Marvelous…absolutely marvelous!

    The other day, I jogged down a path lined with shrubs and small trees with branches that hang overhead, providing shade. I caught a whiff of honeysuckle and remembered stopping to pluck the blossom to place that drop of nectar on my tongue. On my way back I thought about stopping to do that, but I ran on home instead.

    Today, however, I stopped. I was running strong, but when I came up to that honeysuckle, I stopped and pulled out my camera to take a picture and then plucked a blossom to see if I could find that sweet drop of nectar.

    It didn’t taste as sweet as I remember from childhood, but I did stop to try. Maybe I need to only pluck the most yellow blooms?

    Reply
  30. Laura

    I LOVE Anna’s tips! Wonder is one of my favorite topics, one of my favorite pastimes. And THIS is one of my favorite posts!

    Reply
  31. Alicia

    I love this, Jennifer. Once my daughter read a mother’s day poem to me in front of her first grade class- the poem was only one line: I love my mom because she’s never too BIG to play with me. Being small is no small deal!

    Reply

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