Monday, April 2, 2012

On Intentional Living {Guest Post}

I am honored to have Alicia, from The Overflow, wrapping up my series on Intentional Living with her poignant and delightful post. I am always fed when I visit Alicia's blog and know you will be blessed by her post today!

One morning last summer my youngest ones and I lingered in a sunny field crowned with butterflies. Armed with nets and tight-lipped determination, my children dashed after the flitting beauties with hopes of catching a few new residents for our small butterfly house.

My zealous hunters bounded through wild flowers and swiped madly at the sultry summer sky. They chased every flash of color with reckless abandon until they’d spun circles in the tall grass. From my vantage point on the field’s perimeter, I could see a splattering of wings perched soundlessly on the wildflowers. But my children, in their hurry, raced past the very treasures they sought. I studied their rushing feet and beheld a picture of my own frantic life.

A wise woman’s observation hung heavy in my mind: On every level of life, from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgment and efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure marks of the amateur. (Evelyn Underhill, quoted in 1000 Gifts).

A beautiful monarch soared above a patch of golden blooms and alighted gracefully upon a delicate flower. Hannah clapped her hands in anticipation and hollered to her brother. “Look at that  one!” Hurry! Get it!”  Fast feet whipped across the grass.Ambitious shouts filled the air. But those butterfly nets remained empty.

Could the greatest detriment to intentional life be “hurry”? In a world addicted to speed, I blur the moments into one unholy smear….Hands of the clock whip hard. So I push hard and I bark hard and I fall hard and when their wide eyes brim sadness and their chins tremble weak….… Hurry always empties a soul… (Anne Voskamp, 1000 Gifts). 

It’s difficult to seize teachable moments when our moments are crammed to capacity. It’s easy to race right past a burning bush when our eyes are fixed on our schedules rather than our Savior.
 Life is not an emergency, Anne reminds us. Life is brief and it is fleeting but it is not an emergency. Life is so urgent it necessitates living slow… in Christ; the most urgent necessitates a slow and steady reverence The fast have spiritually slow hearts.

Red-faced and sweaty, Joshua plopped down beside me and sighed in frustration. “I just can’t catch any flutterflies,” he complained with a wave of his empty net.  “They’re all too fast for me.” 

I glanced at the butterfly house sitting on the old stump behind me, and I leaned low to whisper in my four-year-old’s ear.  “Those butterflies aren’t the ones that are too fast, buddy. You are.”

Joshua cocked his sweaty head and raised an eyebrow toward heaven. 

“If you want to catch a butterfly, you need to slow down.”

My green-eyed boy plucked a blade of grass and rolled it between his fingers.  “So, being FAST doesn’t make me good?” he asked, confused.

I planted a kiss on his damp brown hair and spoke the truth more for myself than for my littlest boy.  “Being fast doesn’t usually make us good at much.” A poignant reminder for this woman who is prone to amateur living.

Intentional living doesn’t happen by default. It requires a deliberate change of strategy.  

“A really good butterfly catcher moves slow,” I told Joshua as I pulled him up by the arms and tugged him across the field of green.  “Let’s tiptoe this time and see what we can find.” 

We flung our nets over our shoulders and pitter-pattered through the grass. We noticed polka-dotted purple moths, tiny green worms, and dainty blossoms climbing up a mossy tree. Suddenly, a blaze of orange and black. A whisper of wings. A monarch on a petal of pink. With slow and deliberate strokes, we captured that fast flutterfly and placed it in our butterfly house.

Hannah slowed her steps and watched our hunting. Then she joined our tiny tip-toe brigade and together we moved unhurried across the treasure-filled field.

An hour later, we piled into the van and headed home, our butterfly house filled.  While the children bantered over what to name their new winged friends, I chewed on the words of another joy seeker. Jesus never seemed to be in a hurry. When I look through the Gospels, I see that He was attentive to people’s needs and deliberate about His actions. He was responsive and busy, but not frantic. He was occupied, but not frazzled…Jesus’ actions seemed to flow from His purposeful and decisive heart, a heart that was focused on and yielded to the Father’s will… (Ann Kroeker, Not So Fast,).

We pulled into the garage and I hurried to serve lunch before I hustled my firstborn into town for drum lessons. I glanced at the clock and calculated the hours left before the baseball game that evening. The baby would have to hurry up and nap before we went. And the uniform had to quick be laundered. And the dishes done. And..

I glanced at the butterfly house perched quietly on my kitchen counter, admired the rainbow flutter of wings and paused long. Then I prayed that this amateur mother would learn to slow her soul. “We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.” -Psalm 39:7

A lover of Jesus Christ, a seeker of abundant life, and a freelance writer and speaker, Alicia has a handful of children, a home full of laughter and a life full of noise.  While her laundry baskets are NEVER empty, her soul sometimes is. With the help of a relentless Savior, she is learning to live life intentionally one moment at a time. She blogs about her journey at The Overflow! She’d be honored if you’d join her. 



  1. The life of a young mom is never "slow" but so glad that Alicia is reminding us to slow our hearts as we approach our Savior. That's exactly what I need to hear today! Thanks for sharing this great post!

  2. What a beautiful post with such a poignant message! Praise God for leading me to read what He had for me in this moment.

  3. I love this: Life is not an emergency. For, real butterflies and intentional people do move slow!

  4. Good reminder. Somedays my soul is going at lightening speed and I can't settle focus on God, His word or communion with Him. I'll remember the butterfly house and be intentional with slowing down.


  5. A very good reminder that very little is achieved when hurrying and so very much is often lost.

    I'm breathing slow this morning and I pray that God uses these words to keep me at His pace.

  6. Thank you so much, Alicia. Yes, yes! Slowing down must be an intentional thing. When I am hurrying along,missing life, I want to think of that Monarch. Don't want to miss the beauty!

  7. Thank you so much for this! I'm always hurrying, missing the beautiful things, the quiet things. I was watching butterflies today -- I actually stopped and took time to notice. And it was a good thing. You would think by the time you are my age that you'd know these things --- but I'm still learning! Thank you again!

  8. I love Alicia's blog..and I love this post! Thanks for sharing her beautiful words! Slowing down for a mom is always a trick with BIG rewards!


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