Engaging in My Own Life

Engaging in My Own Life

March 1, 2017

“You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.” Psalm 39:5 (NIV)

Devotion Graphic

We snuck the old 8 mm movie cylinders out of the home. The box was broken down on one corner, and the blue cases inside were fragile.

I remember the first time I watched them. My mother-in-law took out the archaic projector. She flashed the films on the wall. Some of the films were fragile, and they’d break over and over as she tried to show them. Soon, technology changed so much we couldn’t watch them anymore. The box got dustier and pushed back further in the closet.

We took the box out secretly, because we didn’t want to get her hopes up. I went to a local vendor and asked if there was anything he could do. He took those precious memories out of my hands and promised to try.

A few days later he called me back. He did it!

When we gave my mother-in-law the DVDs that held over 50 years of her life on them, she wept.

So did I.

Way back then, when the flickering film was projected in her living room, I appreciated it, but I didn’t see it the way she did. Those films held pictures of her mom and dad. They showed how chaotic it was for her to be a young mama. She treasured them because life was changing. She was a grandma, and some of those precious people were no longer in her life.

As we watched the movies this time, my mother-in-law sat nearby. Her hands shook; she now uses a walker to get around.

Today, I’m the grandma. Many of the people who seemed so young back then are no longer here.

In today’s passage, the psalmist describes life as a handbreadth, which is a measure of four fingers. It indicates how brief life is. While the writer of this psalm lamented that he put too much emphasis on wealth and things of the world, I’m reminded of other distractions.

I admit that sometimes I live as if my precious moments aren’t valuable. I take people for granted. I disengage as I scroll through social media, while real live people whom I love are nearby. I pile on work and activities, promising to spend time with those I love on another day.

It’s so tempting to value what has no lasting value at all and overlook what we’ll one day label a treasure.

That night, I looked around the room. I took in the faces one by one, appreciating something about each of them. I put my phone in my purse. It wasn’t nearly as important as talking to the one next to me. The room was crowded and noisy, and I realized that one day it would be quiet — for those little ones would be all grown up.

We shot our own videos that day with our phones and snazzy technology. One day, we’ll look back at those and laugh. We’ll weep at who is no longer with us. We’ll talk about how young we all were.

My hope is that I’ll watch it and know I didn’t live those moments disengaged or distracted. That I engaged in my own life in the handbreadth of time I was given, valuing all those I love.

Heavenly Father, despite what’s distracting me from the goodness right in front of me, show me the true value. I may not be able to put it aside fully, but show me how to give it the proper place in my heart and my life. Lord, help me treasure precious moments as memories in the making. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Psalm 144:4, “They are like a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow.” (NIV)

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In Come With Me: Discovering the Beauty of Following Where He Leads, Suzie Eller shares how faith helps us determine what really matters and what is simply a distraction.

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What is one way you can show your appreciation for your loved ones today?

© 2017 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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  1. Beautiful. Every day I pray for God to allow me to appreciate this fleeting life I have been given.

    • Lord, thank you for Cara and her desire to enjoy every day. Hold her close today. Let your presence soak over her heart and life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

  2. Mary in NH says:

    Thank you so much for this beautiful reminder that we need to be fully present and engaged with the ones we love. Not skimming texts, social media, etc. I’m vowing to really follow up with those I care about, pray for their needs, and keep their concerns in mind.

    • Melissa Meek says:

      Amen to your words Mary in New Hampshire. The Life Application says for Psalms 39:5- It is ironic that people spend so much time serving their lives on earth and spend little or no thought about where they will spend eternity…..

    • I’m personally taking this one to heart, turning my attention away from my phone and toward my loved ones. I’ve been intentional about this for a few days, and one of the unexpected benefits is that I’m sleeping better. Evidently checking those notifications and getting sucked into social media isn’t just hard on our relationships, but those blue rays make it hard for our brains to slip into rest mode. Bonus!

  3. This was simply beautiful. Thank you. Taking time out to talk with and listen to our loved ones is a worthwhile investment. We’ll regret it if we dont.

  4. Thank you so much for this beautify devotion. As a “younger” mother of 7 children, I sometimes find myself feeling overwhelmed by all the chaos that each and every day brings. I pray that instead of getting aggravated, I can quickly remember to step back and appreciate all the noise and activities that are occurring at that very moment and be grateful that the Lord has blessed me with such a big, beautiful family… I want to cherish every moment… I know that they will only be young for a little while and soon, when they are grown, I’m sure I will miss all the noise and the chaos that filled our home.

  5. Watching at all videos is always a precious and priceless moment.You get the opportunity to remember things and people that most of the times we forget,because of the 24/7 rush we live in nowadays.It is making us look like ghosts in this world.I’m a teacher and makes sad when I see my students like “walking dead” together with their beloved phones.But guess what? Not me ,I’m everyday sharing tons of ❤❤❤❤with them with MEGA ENERGETIC MORNING GREETING and taking the time to talk about other things rather than school things.I see and feel their ❤when coming to my classroom even tough I’m not having them on certain days.Thanks for this devotional,and many blessings!

    PS.I’m doing the same with coworkers and whoever pass in front of me(sometimes I get ignored or look at me like I’m crazy…Lol)

    Still…I will share my ❤❤❤❤❤❤

  6. I don’t want to live my life like the tourists who see the attractions only through their cameras. Yes, memory is a fickle photo album, but I want to paste my treasured moments there first. Thank you, Suzie, for warning us of the temptation to “disengage as I scroll through social media, while real live people whom I love are nearby.”

    Lead us not into temptation, Lord. Deliver us from the evil side of our devices. Amen.

  7. I too “disengage as I scroll through social media” and look up and find my kids bathed and in bed…stories from the day already told…and I missed out on the moment. Lord I know this time is fleeting and I thank you for giving me each precious moment. Continue to remind me to engage and listen and slow my thoughts down. Live in the present.

  8. Today is my birthday so I guess it’s fitting for God to remind me that life is fleeting and I need to focus on what matters. I’m a momma of 2 young children (3.5 yrs, 10 mos) so sometimes it’s hard to treasure the difficult things, but I try and today I’ll try even harder, to make sweet memories instead of just getting through the day periodically disengaging from the real moments of my life by obsessing over social media. ?

    • Happy birthday, Angie. <3 I pray that your intentional, engaged moments in this busy season are sweet. As a "Gaga" of six, I can tell you that time does pass quickly.

  9. Thank you. Shalom. GREETINGS FROM SPAIN!!!.

  10. Kimberly Broadhead says:

    This has been on my heart so heavily! To make time for those we treasure is of such value and importance. We must guard those times! They are but moments…that come and go so very quickly. I often think of the verse, “Honor thy Father and Mother”, a command which brings a blessing. I honor mine in my heart every day and appreciate who they are…and the life they gave me. But I want them to know how much they matter! Any and every chance I get. Thank you for what you shared…beautiful!!!

  11. What a timely message for all of us. I was visiting a friend the other day. She has 4 children, several pets inside and she apologized for the mess. My response to her was, “enjoy this, one day your house will be empty.” I would much rather have kids, pets and mess than a spotless house.

    • Oh Peggy, I remember those days! Tsunamis in the living room. Chaos in the bathroom. It was like mowing the grass, and going outside to discover it had grown eight inches while you were putting up the mower. You are right. One day, the house is much easier to clean but those memories (in the midst of the clutter) are priceless!

  12. Jo Anne says:

    Great devotional to begin Lent. I retired in January and my fiends keep asking me my plans for this stage. Where am I traveling to? Am I planning on moving to a lake or the mountains? I have one grandchild and another on the way. My plan is to care for them while their parents work. Today’s devo impressed on me the importance of supporting my family since they sacrificed so much during my employment years. We all live near each other and it’s wonderful to have such a close family

  13. This is so beautiful.
    My father is in a Memory Care Unit right now, trying the (most times) impossible feat of capturing a memory and reliving it in that moment. My mother sits by his side longing for the life once lived with him.
    Last summer we found some old slides from his days at the end of the Korean War and at the beginning of their marriage. Tears flowed down both of their cheeks as they saw those sweet memories right in front of them. Dad, mostly just with that bit of awareness that that beautiful young bride was somehow still at his side, and mom, knowing the lifetime of love, family, and faith was a treasure that she held so closely in her heart.
    It was a moment I’ll never forget. A sacred moment.
    Thank you for sharing your story, Suzie!

    • Barb, my father-in-law is in advanced stages of Alzheimers. I’m right there with you. I understand how hard it is. He has taught us to treasure the memory unfolding in front of us today, rather than waiting to create memories later.

  14. This hit home to me. My dad passed away unexpectedly in 2014 and gave me a new sense of urgency- to spend time with family, to take candid pics of family members enjoying life, to laugh and hug and cry. This is one of the reasons why I quit my job recently- to spend more time participating in family activities and stop letting my career dictate my life. It’s hard knowing those I love are getting older and won’t be with us forever, but making those memories takes the sting away a bit, and knowing we will be reunited in heaven makes it all worth it.

  15. Funny, I’m reading an email to get this sage advice, and it’s social media that’s distracting me. Praying for any desire to look at social media to go away.

    • I’m in a personal 21-day challenge to put the phone down at a certain time of the day and to only pick it up if there’s a phone call from a family member. It’s crazy how addicting social media can become, and one day when we look back, social media won’t be our most valuable commodity. I want to appreciate what is most valuable today, rather than regret what I missed.

  16. Brilliant!

  17. Thank you for this extra special read today. Cherishing the moments!

  18. Wow. I’ve cut way back on social media but it’s time to cut out more that involves my face in my phone (mindless games I play during conversations with my kids ??–so rude of me!!!!)
    Thank you

  19. Jan Dell says:

    Thank you, Sharon. So true, so sad, so beautiful…all of the above.

  20. My spouse’s parents have not been a part of our lives for years now. Yes we get the Christmas card but that is it there is no relationship. And to be honest we have no idea why….we are afraid to go talk to them because we wonder why they never reached out to us. Its hard to read something like this devotional because we know time is short and over 12 years now have gone by. We have prayed for years about this but there doesn’t seem to be an answer.

    • Lord, I pray for this brave woman who has shared her hurt and her heart with us. I pray for wisdom, for guidance, for healing. Show them one step they can take. Stir the hearts of these parents to reach out as well. God, you are sovereign and omniscient. You can do what we cannot do on our own. Lead. Guide. Heal. In the powerful name of Jesus.

  21. Sarah M says:

    I have found that since taking a break from social media, I don’t take as many pictures as I used to. I’m opting for being present in the moment with my phone away.

    At the same time I have found myself very distracted by the online world recently, to the point of completing tuning out my children and what they are saying to me. I will be praying about this today.

  22. Kate Baugher says:

    Loved this read!

    We often get so caught up in life’s crazy everyday adventures that we forget to slow down and live in the moment. I’m 100% guilty of that….

    Today I will take a break from social media and contact some important people to me and tell them how important and loved they are.

  23. Amanda Davidson says:

    I just lost my 59 yr old mom about one month ago. Now more than ever this rings true with me. Cherish what little time you have for you never know when it will be your last!

  24. Michelle says:

    Oh wow! Thank you so so much for this!!! I am holding back tears as I type this because it hit home so much for me. I am a stay at home mom and find myself sometimes trying to “escape” what I feel is chaos and I also miss conversation with adults during the day and I will get lost on social media. Today I am going to really try to limit my time on my phone and make more time for face to face, eye to eye interactions with my kids. They are so precious and I need to focus more on them. Thank you again!!

  25. I like this entry a great deal. Well done and so very true for me the distracted one! Thank you for your good work, J

  26. Maureen Smith says:

    Your words are so poignant and brought tears to my eyes. I have lost 2 relatively young people in recent weeks and it makes me realize just how brief our time is here. I am trying to be more present in my life and in the lives of my family. Thank you for your beautiful words.

  27. sovereignheart says:

    If you can enjoy every moment you are blessed with, be enteral Thankful!! Because I feel so cheated!! I have dealt with a family member ill for over 30 years. Then add two more to the mix, of illness’s and you would understand why I feel so cheated. There is a never ending cycle to where there is no break in what tidal waves of illness bestows. This year is already dealing with a year that will be filled more with illness and loneliness than any fulfillment. When you have someone ill, people of all walks of life and family stay away from you. They cannot support you along the way.
    So enjoy what blessings you have of family around. Enjoy the time with little ones and messes and the time the little ones will need from you. Be thankful for what time you can spend with who ever encounters your life. For you will never know when you wish you could change the world to have it all back again. Or just to have the normalness of it all. Because other things in life make it all disappear before it will ever reappear.
    LORD!! you know my heart! you know the strife I am constantly feeling. You know where I feel cheated by time spent medically instead of feeling the way you can make things blessed. Help me break the chain you have noosed around me. Bless those your servants that have experienced your glory and your abundance. Let them continue to be able to smell the roses and realize that there may be thorns, but they are more blessed with the sweet fragrance of what you bestow to them in overflowing abundance to them. Amen

    • Lord, being a caregiver is hard. We are realizing this with our aging in-laws. It’s been years and it is isolating at times. Thank you for this woman who has sacrificed for her family’s sake. Pour out joy over her heart that surprises her. Give her rest. Bring a good friend to her, and thank you that you are the best friend she can have in this hard place. I hear her words of encouragement for others, and I love how brave that is. Hold her close today, Father. In Jesus’ name, amen.

  28. Just what the Lord spoke to me last night. He said, “one day you will no longer be here”. And the scripture up there says it beautifully. Our lives are nothing but a handbreadth. Thanks for always being timely, Proverbs 31!

  29. Natalie Johnson says:

    Stay off your phones! It is so easy to be on social media, text, whatever instead of paying attention to your loved ones. For Lent I’m giving up Facebook as it is my biggest distraction & from here on out I’m going to try to be on my phone only if it’s an emergency or when I’m not around my loved ones so I don’t miss out on them.

  30. Sally Ann Price says:

    Thanks for this great devotional!

  31. Shantell Cotton says:

    Thanks so much for this freshening!

  32. Susan G. says:

    Thanks for these words today Suzie.
    They hit home to my heart as I remember my mom, who entered Heaven a month ago…and my brother four months ago… The photos and videos we shared recently of both of them are priceless.
    I hope the younger generation, who always seem to be on their phones and social media, will especially take notice to your words.
    Blessings to you!

  33. This was powerful to me. My bestfriend and sister in Christ passed away in 2009 she was 30 yrs young. When 2010 came we lost a lot of people in our family. My husbands great uncle passed away, he was hit by a train. A week later my husbands grandma passed, a friend from high school, a week later my father who was in a fire, then 8 months later my father in law passed of cancer. This list just continues and in 2012 my husbands grandfather passed away. My spiritual mom passed away last Nov. Talk about loosing great people. When I look at my wedding pictures it bring back to all of them that were there in the pic. How that moment brought us all together, sharing love, laughs, hugs, kisses and awesome memories. Then I get reminded how they are no longer with us.
    It is important to me to spend time with my family. There are times I get a lil frustrated when certain family members chooses other things over us. When someone dies in the family some people will stop everything they are doing to get to the dead but not for the living.

    • Gayle S says:

      Such wisdom, Lanina, about priorities – some people will stop everything they are doing to get to the dead but not for the living – that gives me much to think about. Thank you.

  34. Prettyone says:

    This article reiterates my one year ago, departure from facebook, I realized that facebook consumed me way too much, and would hinder my elevation in God that I was seeking at that time in my life…….deep breath, that was the best decision I have made. I find myself seeking daily devotions, seeking time in God’s presence, leaving my worries to God, worries are like weeds they will trap you and drain all the water needed to quench your thirst for God that faith required to carry us through our days…….since Ive got away from facebook I realized that my son that needs every second of my day, because one day he will be grown and gone and would’ve missed so much of his life, we take silly selfies, make videos of the good times, and I grant him a thousand kisses a day (disclaimer though he doesn’t want my tender kisses thousand times lol), this article helps to remind me to remain undeterred in making time for the one’s that I love and the ones that I want to create lasting long memories with.

  35. Wow this is so for me! How timely!
    Thank you for this devotional!

  36. Michelle Nietert says:

    A great reminder for those of us in Texas as we enjoy spring break season. It does take Intentional focused time fully present to connect and truly imprint these moments in our hearts ? . As I did so tonight with my daughter, I learned something new that my questions had never uncovered.

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