What if we could live fully in the small moments?

Michelle Bader, my beautiful young friend, is standing watch as her husband is dying of cancer. Michelle’s anticipatory grief for the loss she and her three children will experience is taking her heart on a crazy roller coaster ride these days.


Photo by blueberry Maki on Unsplash

Sorrowful seasons.

They’re a guaranteed part of life while we inhabit this spinning globe. They’ll look like betrayal and cancer and infertility and divorce and Alzheimer’s and loss of a loved one to death, to drugs, to mental illness.

They’ll leave us feeling run over by a Mack truck. And we won’t be able to imagine—through the pain—that our hearts will ever be whole again. 

And then there are the sweet seasons of life. (I wonder, do we enjoy the sweet seasons more because of the hard ones?)

So the question is, how can we fully inhabit all the moments—sorrowful and sweet—that are contained within our unique, extraordinary, far-reaching lives? 

I think Nanea Hoffman may have touched on part of the answer:

For the week ahead: May you practice patience, forgiveness, or failing that, silence. May you ignore nonsense and provocation.

May your coffee, your resolve, and your Wi-Fi be strong, and may you face your challenges with honor, grace, and chocolate when necessary.

And always, may you notice the small moments of beauty.

Consider these 3 ways to embrace and live fully in life’s moments:

1. Release any pain or sorrow to God.

What if we could give our pain and sorrow to the One who never promised that life would be perfect, but who did promise to be with us during the hard and holy moments? We can.

Be strong and courageous … for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. — Deuteronomy 31:6

Lean into God. Take a deep breath. Relinquish.

2. Allow joy in.

Michelle and her kids recently adopted a new family member. Bentley.

Bentley is energy wrapped up in a puppy.

It’s not necessarily practical to take in a puppy while dealing with terminal cancer and hospice care. But, oh the joy Bentley has brought to the Bader household in the middle of their anticipatory grief. 

If we’re in a sorrowful season, consider how we might allow joy into the middle of it.


Bentley (photo by Michelle Bader)


3. Pay attention to the simple pleasures.

A friend and I have been hiking and snowshoeing and paying attention to the small moments. Like, the beauty of this natural rock castle …


Nature photos: Marlys


… and this soft-serve vanilla ice cream cone, plopped down in the middle of a snowshoe trail …



… and the simple pleasure of sharing roasted nuts with the bold gray jays (a.k.a. camp robbers).



Although I’ve known deep sorrow and loss, I happen to be in the middle of a sweet season.

And I want to be wholly present in this moment—with this friend, on this dirt trail, on this snowy path, as we work side-by-side to make life a little better for others.

What if?

What if, when we’re asked to do without, we could notice the small moments of beauty and aliveness?

What if we could pay attention to the simple pleasures that make up our exceptional lives?

What if, in the middle of dealing with the challenges, we could make room for joy?

Speaking from experience, we can. Oh, yes, we can.


When this is over …


What truly brings you joy?


  1. Marlys, I love these words of encouragement and hope. May I share them with my readers on Dear Julie?

  2. Tricia

    Well, Marlys, you have hit it out of the park again. Very well written, and I love the sweet season you are in.
    God is so very faithful and so very good.

  3. Allison McCormick

    Marlys, thank you for asking the hard question!

    “So the question is, how can we fully inhabit all the moments—sorrowful and sweet—that are contained within our unique, extraordinary, far-reaching lives?”

    I think we have been given such an amazing gift, life in the midst of the hard. God is so faithful. These times will mold us, strengthen us, keep us humble, soften all the rough spots, and prepare us for the work He has designed for us.

    I pray we can find His peace in the midst of the hard, His miraculous tender love as we navigate our storms, and come away with a new awareness that God remains in control.

    I will be praying for your friend.

    • What an encouraging thought, Allison: “These times will mold us, strengthen us, keep us humble, soften all the rough spots, and prepare us for the work He has designed for us.” Thank you for your insight and wisdom.

  4. Cheryl White

    Beautiful! And you always have the perfect pictures to go with your thoughts and words. The Castle Rock picture is beautiful! I presume that is near Bend? I am so glad your friends made the decision to get a puppy to love on and be loved by during this hard time. I got a puppy about 3 weeks after Steve died and I can’t even begin to tell you what a blessing she has been! Thanks for sharing Marlys. P.S. I’m so glad you have a hiking partner 🙂

  5. Beautifully said, Marlys, and a good reminder that even though so much attention is on COVID-19 these days, there are also many suffering and grieving over other losses.

  6. Peter

    So heart wrenching for Michelle and family, our prayers go out to them. You clothed this situation with meaningful scenes and thinking of the simple things in life. ‘Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of them self’, so the saying goes!. I read a short note which ask us all to recognise Spring. The article suggested we look at a daffodil bulb… it looks like a piece of wood chip and there’s those straggerly things hanging from it (it’s roots) but put it in the ground for the whole of the cold winter AND then folk get all excited at the beauty of it as it blooms… and rightly so. The point being made was the lack of appreciation for what Nature in God’s wilderness, awaits us if we only take a little time to acknowledge His presence all around us, all of our lives. Just a little bit of nonsense, but so true. Thanks again, our love and soon, prayer time for so much and so many. God Bless, BxP &a family

    • What a great word picture, Peter, of the daffodil bulb with the straggly roots turning into a gorgeous spring flower as a reminder to notice and appreciate God’s creation. Thank you.

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