Who We Were Meant To Be

May 21, 2010 | 29 comments

She telephoned as drowsy day drifted to dark, and asked, Could you please come tomorrow?

I paused silent, and surveyed the calendar by the phone. How could I cram another thing into the little box of the next day, pencil-scratched clear full with all of my “to-do?”

She interrupted the quiet. “Jennifer, It’s OK, truly. I’ll call the others.”

“I’m so sorry …” I said, and the phone went back on the cradle.


But in morning’s light, the calendar box held more white space than I’d remembered the night before. The Spirit’s whisper nudged within: “By all means: Go!” And who can say no to God?

So I Facebooked her and asked, What time? And, she said the six of us would meet at the nursing home at 2 p.m.

I told her I might be a bit late, but — yes, yes! — I’d be there.

I showed up 10 minutes late. Anna and I followed the laughter to find the room, dappled in sunlight reflecting off wheelchair-chrome and a mylar “Happy Birthday” balloon. (One of the women was celebrating her 96th.)

Sandy, the friend who had telephoned, was calling out the Bingo numbers on the microphone.

“B-16. Does anyone have B-16?”

And someone bellows: “Sweet sixteen and never been kissed!” Their shoulders shake when they snicker, and my daughter gets the giggles, too.

“B-18,” Sandy calls out. “B-18. Anybody remember when you were 18?”

Katherine shouts from her wheelchair: “I DO!”

Sandy asks: “What would you do if you were 18 again, Katherine?”

Katherine says she’d pick more daisies, and dance barefoot in the rain, and fish with a worm. Then she throws her head back with laughter. And the room reverberates with contagious joy.

Yes, that’s who Katherine would be
if she could do it all over again. She’d be
the daisy-picker and the dancer.

And aren’t those the very things that never fit on our to-do lists or inside the crammed calendar boxes?


What if every day I awoke to ask the Lord not what I ought to DO this day, but who I ought to be?

And He would always say: “I want you to be Jesus to someone today. I want you to be Love and a carrier of my Joy.”

If we’d just slow ourselves down enough to be…

If we’d just make fewer to-do lists, and more to-be lists.

If we’d do that, we’d turn to find the surprise: that the little white calendar boxes had room after all. We’d find, quite unexpectedly, that this is the place we were supposed to be all along.

We’d find that our most important to-dos were actually the things that awakened us into who God made us to be.

PHOTOS: From our visit to the nursing home. Thank you Sandy, for daily showing me what it means “to be…”


May our lives be filled with moments that awaken us to who God calls us to be: reflections of Jesus and carriers of His joy.

by | May 21, 2010 | 29 comments


  1. Jon P

    Awesome entry Jennifer! This Sandy that you wrote about sure seems like a nice lady. I wonder if she has any childrent that she has taught to "Be"? More specifically if there is a son that is the same awesomeness. Ha! Thanks though for the entry. I agree, She is a wonderful person.

  2. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Gee … Jon P, I think you might be right. Sounds very familiar.

    Is he that crazy guy who dressed up like Batman one Halloween? ~wink~

    She's pretty amazing. And so are her kids.

  3. Tabitha@ichoosebliss

    Jennifer, this was very beautiful and spoke to me deeply. I am fortunate that I don't have too many to-do lists, but I am guilty of letting things block what I am meant to be occasionally.

  4. Kelly Langner Sauer

    "She'd be the daisy-picker and the dancer."

    I want to weep… I want to be that too. today, while I can.

  5. Karen

    This was such an awesome post…the message really spoke to mt heart….

  6. Debbie

    Jennifer, what an amazing reminder … to be. I so want to be Jesus to someone today. I don't want my to-do list to interfere with that. Thanks for the reminder.

    I love the nursing home photos!


  7. Beth.. One Blessed Nana

    This is fabulous Jennifer. So many times, God gives us these opportunities and we don't see it at the time.

    I love How God worked in your life and I thank you for sharing it with us.

  8. jasonS

    Amen- thanks for sharing this treasure. Great reminder.

  9. Andrea

    What a blessings all of you were to these beautiful people. We should all "Be!"

    Blessings, andrea

  10. katdish

    "few to-do lists and more to-be lists"…

    Wow, Jennifer. That is a lot of wisdom crammed into so few words.

    Thanks. Always a blessing to stop by here.

  11. Missie

    Beautiful post, sometimes I really don't want to do things and they end up being the most meaningful!

  12. elaine @ peace for the journey

    Less to do this weekend; more "to be".

    What a great word, Jennifer. Thanks for penciling it in your day. We are the better for it.


  13. Rod and Jean B

    Another thought provoking blog entry — Thanks as am sure the residents especially my mother enjoyed having you there!!

  14. S. Etole

    what matters most … you found it

  15. sharilyn

    "reflections of Jesus and carriers of His joy"… and what better could we want to be?! well-said, jennifer…

    Lord, please help me to be who You designed me to be… a reflector of Jesus and a carrier of His joy!

  16. Michelle

    Thank you for the pictures.
    My very first job was as a `Candy-Stripper` in a Nursing Home. I loved it. I soon learned that there are people in the Nursing Homes who never get visited by family and friends. So sad! Those were the people I tried to do something extra special for. Even tho I went to be a blessing to them, many were a blessing to me.

  17. Laura

    A good story of time well-spent. What a wonderful example and legacy you give Anna when you give of yourself this way.

    I'll be right back, I need to cross out some of the stuff I have written in my own calendar box…

  18. annkroeker

    So often we can let our to-do list (all those things penciled into our calendar boxes) define who we are…sometimes the sheer quantity of things we *do* makes us feel valuable.

    Then through you, through wise ladies playing Bingo, we're reminded to pick more daisies and dance barefoot in the rain…to be sure to do *those* things, as well, or even instead of, the penciled in stuff.

    At least sometimes.

    Beautiful reminder to be more open to what we might…be.

  19. Wylie @ Shout A Joyful Noise!

    Oh, I was so blessed by this!

  20. Rose

    Jennifer I love this post, but I tell you, those pics could have told the story all by themselves. They are so touching! Thank you for the reminder to "Be."!

  21. Beth E.

    I volunteered at a nursing home for many years, and took my boys for visits when they were young. You've brought back some great memories with this post, Jennifer! 🙂

  22. bluecottonmemory

    What a perfectly beautiful story with such a poignant message! The most wonderful moments are when I am brave enough to throw the calender out the window, or forget the dishes and laundry and just "Be" whether it is with my children, my family, my husband or a wonderful person who needs a "Be" moment!

  23. Carol

    "This Sandy that you wrote about sure seems like a nice lady". You got it Jon P!!!! She has a gift with people, especially the elderly. She taught me that and so much more. Love her. Love you!!!

  24. cindy

    How do you become a Sandy?

  25. Angel

    What a powerful post! I am still pondering the importance of making my "to be" list rather than "to do" list. Thanks for this reminder.

  26. Graceful

    Jennifer, I know I say this all the time, but this was one of your best posts yet. I am a to-do list girl. I pray to become a to-be list girl.

    Your images reminded me of the years I visited my grandmother in the nursing home each week. I dreaded going — it was hard — but rich with love just the same. Thank you for reminding me of Nana, now gone, today. I have a big, fat lump in my throat. But I'm glad to have spent that precious time with her while I could.

  27. Angie Vik

    Bless you sweet lady. Love the thought – To be rather than To do. I'll try to remember that.

  28. Jennifer

    I missed my monthly nursing home trip this past Monday–it was boxed in on the calendar, and I just mixed up my weeks. I'd always thought of it as a duty. But now I realize how much I missed not going, not seeing their faces as they talked to my little children. A duty has become a desire.

  29. deb

    You are such a beautiful soul.
    And the photos…. I don't even know what to say.


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