Routine Miracles

Telluride in the Fall

Are the leaves changing color where you live? I must admit…I miss getting to experience those first exciting hints of fall like we did in Colorado and New Mexico. Friends are posting pictures of the Aspen Trees on the mountain in Santa Fe. And Colorado is showing off with amazing fall colors in contrast to snow-capped peaks. Newsflash – the palm trees don’t turn brilliant colors and shed their leaves in the winter. While it’s nice to throw on a tank top and flip flops to walk the boys down to school, I do miss the natural transition to jeans and boots. I have a feeling though, that come February, I will not miss fitting four kids into snow boots and winter gloves.

I have long thought that the vibrant colors of fall are a creative gift from God. I bet He came up with that idea so we wouldn’t complain so much when the time comes to rake the leaves out of the yard.

And along those same lines of God’s creativity, I think the clear reason that newborn babies are so scrumptious and have that amazingly unique smell is so new parents have the super human ability to wake up every three hours through the night for weeks on end. Douglas Quenqua wrote about a study published in the journal, Frontiers in Psychology, confirming that ‘new baby smell’ acts as a kind of sensory rush for mothers. According to the study, researchers asked 30 women — 15 who had recently given birth, and 15 who had never given birth — to identify mystery scents while their brain activity was monitored. When given the smell of newborns, the women all showed activity in the same dopamine pathways that light up after ingesting stimulant drugs and enjoying good food. God is a genius! It’s as if He has it all figured out. It’s a miracle in the first place that babies are formed in the womb and bless our families the way they do. But it’s a routine miracle that these little miraculous lives enchant their parents day after day, night after night – even in the midst of serious deep sleep deprivation.

Routine miracles are events that happen regularly – every day…every year…often enough to see a pattern – yet you are still absolutely blown away each time. I won’t see very many changing leaves in SoCal this fall. But every time I see the sun set over the ocean (apparently it happens EVERY DAY here), I am in complete and utter respect for the beauty of life.  And for our magnificent Creator.

“If God creates such exquisiteness, how much more magnificent is the Creator? Even the most spectacular displays in the cosmos only hint at the splendor of God; the deepest insights into nature are shallow observations compared to the depth of the nature of God.” – Margaret Feinberg, Wonderstruck

Routine miracles are truly a gift. I hope that each time I witness one of these routine miracles in my life, I can be reminded of Jeremiah 31:3. The Message translation reads:

 “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!”

In the midst of my mundane routine (like sorting up to 84 socks per week!), God gifts me with little reminders of His everlasting love for me. And no matter how much I screw up, how much I loose my patience with my kids, how much I fail to show my best friend how much I love him — the leaves still turn, the sun still sets, my growing babies still enchant me. And I am reminded that “God is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).  And He loves me yesterday, today, and forever.

My Jesus Calling devotional on October 8th reminded me that every day I must look beyond the mundane, chaotic, and often sad circumstances of life and discover God gazing lovingly back at me. What are the routine miracles in your life this week? It is my prayer that we all recognize and appreciate the routine miracles and feel the deep love that God has to offer through those events. So grab a pumpkin latte (or maybe a pumpkin ale if its warm) and soak up the gifts of fall.

*photo cred to Mariah A-g of Telluride Ski Resort on Facebook


The Face of God

One Sweet Little Face

“All of God’s grace…in one sweet little face.”

I’ve had this picture of our first-born, above, framed in our home for six years. I look at it just about every day. But yesterday I saw the photograph and the quote on the frame in a different light.

Last week, in the book Sparkly Green Earrings, I read Melanie Shankle’s account of her daughter’s birth. She wrote about one of my absolute favorite moments I have ever experienced…that moment when a newborn baby was placed on my chest for the very first time, just seconds after birth. It’s simply magical. There is no other instance in life (that I know of) when such great physical pain and such immense joy intersect so quickly. Shankle writes,

“I stared in wonder at this little pink gift, this tiny person fresh from heaven. It was as if I could still smell the angels on her, like I was looking straight into the face of God.”

The newborn days have passed. Now, we are in the full-blown toddler phase with our twins. And we are trying to figure out how to shepherd our young boys into respectful young men. I’ll be honest…the toddler thing wears me out. Especially as we double down on the ‘terrible twos’ with this interesting twin dynamic.

But even in the midst of their messiness…and in the midst of my messiness… these toddlers are a fabulous example and reminder of my relationship with God. Even now, as I look into their sweet (and dirty) little faces, I feel as if I am looking into the face of God.

Sometimes, my toddler reminds me of myself.

I remember years ago, someone told me that thinking we can take hold of a situation in life without God’s leading is about as realistic as a two-year-old trying to make pancakes on their own. Every day, I hear my daughter say, “I do it!” or, “No, mama, all by myself.” Her desire for independence is a good thing. But, when we are doing something as messy as making pancakes…it’s just a disaster. And so it is when I try to take over my own life and attempt to navigate life’s challenges and unexpected turns “all by myself”. When I’m not leaning on God, relying on Him to carry me through life, my life can get as messy as a toddler making pancakes.

Sometimes, my toddler reminds me of God.

Again, my daughter comes to mind. Our two-year-old son plays independently. He will actually ride his tricycle in the driveway or simply look at bugs alone in the yard. But my sweet girl…she pursues me relentlessly. If I’m working on the computer, she wants to be in my lap. If I’m folding laundry, she wants to be sitting right there on the counter talking my ear off. She simply wants to be near me. She wants me to be in her presence. Sometimes I get frustrated…I mean – it would be nice to go to the bathroom or take a shower alone occasionally. In the midst of a moment of frustration yesterday, I saw the light and was flattered by it. The girl just loves me. Each week in church, we say a silent prayer praising God for His mercy and His tenacious love. My child’s tenacious love for me is just a tiny taste of the love that God has for me. He simply wants to be near me. He wants me to be in His presence. I am incredibly thankful that, despite my bullheadedness, My God pursues me relentlessly too. Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life…” Psalm 23:6 (The Message)

As Melanie Shankle continued to reminisce about her experience with the pain of childbirth in contrast with the joy of her new precious baby girl, she wrote,

“I realized this whole process was such a striking picture of how Christ works in us. He takes our disappointments, rejections, and hard times, and he makes something beautiful…He blesses us beyond our imaginations, in spite of all the broken roads we’ve walked. In fact, maybe he blesses us so lavishly because of all the broken roads we’ve traveled.” In regards to her new baby, she wrote, “I looked at her and saw perfection. And love. And mercy. And grace. I had never seen the hand of God more clearly in all my life.”

In my experience with newborns, toddlers and small children, I can vouch. When I take a moment to stop and admire their sweet little faces, these precious children remind me of God’s incredible grace. Whether you have a child, a grandchild, or a little friend — I encourage you to take a good look into their face this week and find God.

Despite my desire to make pancakes on my own…And despite by my foolishness to think I could ever be better off outside of the presence of God – He shows me His mercy. His grace. And only because of the perfect life, gruesome death, and miraculous resurrection of Jesus – when God looks at me, He sees perfection. Just like a parent with their newborn.


“We are children, perhaps, at the very moment when we know that it is as children that God loves us – not because we have deserved his love and not in spite of our undeserving; not because we try and not because we recognize the futility of our trying; but simply because he has chosen to love us. We are children because he is our father; and all of our efforts, fruitful and fruitless, to do good, to speak truth, to understand, are the efforts of children who, for all their precocity, are children still in that before we loved him, he loved us, as children, through Jesus Christ our lord.”
― Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat