Faith Spilling Over… Into Everyday Life

The Best Gift You Can Give


The very act of slowing down to be present is a gift to yourself and to the people you love.

I almost missed a significant conversation with my 18 year old son because of Downton Abby. (Can you believe it?) The only television show I watch all week was about to start, and we’d already been talking 10 minutes. So I said, “Well, I’ll let you go. Was there anything else you wanted to say?”

His answer surprised me.

He said, “My week wasn’t the greatest. Now that school started, I have loads of work, and you know David Bowie died.”

I’d been vaguely sorry about to hear about singer David Bowie’s death, but it had slipped my mind. At that moment, I realized it was important to my son. I knew almost nothing about David Bowie, except that I didn’t like his music at all, but I just started asking questions. (I didn’t mention not being a fan myself.) We ended up talking for 15 minutes about David Bowie and how my son felt when he saw the news of his death.

So I missed 15 minutes of a TV show, but I was able to talk with my son about something important to him. Andres left for college 5 months ago, so I don’t have that opportunity every day.

I wonder how many opportunities I miss? Opportunities to talk, to be present to the people I love?

I was in a hurry turn on a television program, so I almost missed the chance to be present to my son.  Again this evening, I almost missed a conversation with my daughter Camilla because I was stressed out by traffic on the way home from her first day at community college. I pulled myself together enough to listen to her stories of a quirky classmate, and we laughed harder than we had in a long time.

Instead of being present to the people around us, we get wrapped up in our work, tied up with our phones, and busy with our to-do lists. We’re going at warped speed, but maybe we’re missing out on real life.

Real life happens when we slow down to enjoy the moments with the people we love.

When we slow down enough to have fun making cookies with a preschooler, we’re making room in our lives for wonder. We feel a small surge of joy when we take time to chat with a friend.  And when we make time for a heart to heart talk with our spouse, we feel more alive. We’re present to the people we love.

The very act of slowing down to be present is a gift to yourself and to the people you love.

How about giving the gift of presence to someone today?

  • Listen.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Ask questions.
  • Smile.
  • Engage.

It’s the best gift you can give. You’ll be glad you did, don’t you think?

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday. Writers all around the world join in a flash mob of free writing. This week’s prompt is “Present.” Join us over at Kate’s place for fun and encouragement. Also joining with Holly Brown’s Grace & Truth,  Susan B. Mead’s Dance with Jesus, and Deb Wolf’s Faith ‘N Friends.

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Photo Credit: Melika

Author: betsydecruz

I want to enjoy the everyday life God is giving me as best I can, even when the road gets bumpy. I love having fun with my teenagers, learning almost anything, and drinking dark roast coffee with my friends.

42 thoughts on “The Best Gift You Can Give

  1. Oh Betsy, your post is challenging me. I am so very guilty of not being present in my kids’ lives. Sometimes I think that just because mine are older now (25 and 16) that they don’t need my attention as much. May your words serve as a reminder to me to engage more with them. Blessings be upon you.

    ~right behind you at #9 this week

    • It can be hard, can’t it Lynette? We get so busy and we think they don’t need us. Actually I think my teens (especially the 16 year old at home) need me more now than they ever did. We’re hoodwinked into thinking they don’t need us because they can drive, get around, do things on their own.

  2. “The very act of slowing down to be present is a gift to yourself and to the people you love.” Amen, Betsy. I’m glad you didn’t miss those moments with your kids, but instead, you chose to be present.

  3. Great post, Betsy.

    I can’t really b present in person – my physical profile no longer really allows it, except with dogs for whom wordless communication works.

    So I try to be present online…and those who are willing to be present in my life, through this medium, give me the strength and hope to continue.

    Every day.

    • You do such a great job of being present online, Andrew. And you are spreading strength and hope to others as well as receiving it. I hope you experience grace today, friend.

  4. It must be the fact that we have older kids in our houses – so often I find my thoughts running in the same track with you. My focus for 2016 is this very thing. Slow down. Be all there. Quit keeping track of minutes. Thanks, Betsy, for this post. So helpful.

  5. After living for 74 years I am finally understanding what you are talking about today. I am visiting my older sister in Florida. We have always been very quiet people. She is much quieter than I am. When we are at breakfast we eat with some interesting people. Today I found myself nodding and making eye contact with those who were talking. Being in small groups for OBS has helped me to have a voice.

  6. This prompt and several blog posts got me to thinking how many important conversations have I missed when I have been too busy playing on my phone.

    Your fmf friend parked at number 5 this week and your neighbor at grace and truth

  7. Such a great post. Love this line: Real life happens when we slow down to enjoy the moments with the people we love. It’s so true that we can easily miss out on those important relationship moments because we are distracted, busy or focused on our own wants. I’ve definitely done that and I don’t like to admit it. Thanks for reminding us what’s most important!

  8. Great reminder for me as I run out the door to do my weekly “duty” of taking my elderly mom on errands. Unfortunately, too often I forget that spending these moments with my mother is a privilege that won’t last forever. I’m visiting for the first time from Grace and Truth… Wendy (Fellow CBB friend too!)

  9. Yes! Being present is a gift to myself! Thanks for this great reminder and beautiful words. Happy Friday!

  10. Betsy, you know I’ve realized those precious moments of slowing are us accepting the Lord’s invitation to commune with Him. It’s this little tug at the heart in the midst of our “busy” lives: my daughter climbing on my back from the couch with me glued to my phone wanting a piggy-back-ride, my oldest passing me a toy tea-cup to drink from with me saying “not now”…We’re missing Him in our days: creation is filled with His wonder- both people and nature…and He’s inviting us to rest in it…Just as you wrote: “The very act of slowing down to be present is a gift to yourself and to the people you love.”

    Thank you for this important reminder to slow to hear Him calling.

  11. Betsy, I’ve seen variations on this theme several times lately, but yours has really gotten my attention. I love your five points and need to be more intentional about practicing them, especially when someone’s talking about something I’m not very interested in! Thanks for your help with that!

  12. This is a powerful message, Betsy. One I need to read over and over. I have a little frame over my desk where I hang notes and graphics. Think I’ll have to make a graphic to hang with your “gift of presence” list. Good stuff. Thanks for your encouraging words.

  13. Betsy, I am a terrible multi-tasker and I think that goes with not being present. I love your examples concerning your kids – I know I do this and I so don’t want to. Lord, help us all be more present as You are present with us at all times. We are weak!

  14. Oh, I don’t agree with you at all, Betsy: Downton Abbey, now — that’s much more important! 🙂 JUST KIDDING!! I think your point is so important. I’ve had some of these moments with my daughter where I’ve almost missed them. I’ve also had times when I’ve been tempted to jump in and bring up a subject but when I wait, I’m glad I have. My daughter & I got new smartphones at end of December. This is her first phone and she made the mistake of using it at school (to do some internet surfing etc.) without using Wi-Fi and went way over her allowed data (like $30 over) . I saw this on our online account and knew I’d have to intervene right away but I was reluctant to jump all over her as soon as she came home from school. I waited, and about 1/2 hour after she got home, she said, “Mom, I think I’ve used too much data.” So we looked at the phone, discussed what was/wasn’t allowable, and figured out what she could do in future. Communicating with kids at this age is so important and sensitive. I’m glad you wrote about this and mentioned such great examples from your own kids — and also that you did not tell your son your opinion of David Bowie. That might be for another conversation but not this one. Thanks for the great post.

    • Dear Jeannie. Thanks so much for sharing your story here. And thanks for the good laugh about Downton Abby! ha ha ha Yes, that is such a good point that sometimes we need to wait to bring things up to our kids. We want to solve things right away, but sometimes giving people a bit of space is more effective. I’m sure if you’d said, Hey we need to talk about your phone” right when you daughter walked in, the conversation would have been less effective!

  15. Hi Betsy! My mom was very attached to Jeopardy. Woe to you if you called her during that show. She’d ask to call you later!
    I remember reading a really good quote, the wording of course escapes me now, but the point was…if we hide ourselves away in our prayer and spirituality, we miss the very life our spirits are supposed to touch. Your story reminds me about how true that is, both in spiritual and worldly things.

    I suppose it’s all about priorities, and you seem to have found your balance in it all. I congratulate you that you only watch one TV show! Can you believe I’ve never seen that show? My dad is scandalized, he LOVES that show!
    Keep loving your kids as well as you do. You’ll never regret those conversations.

  16. i can so identify betsy! i still remember the times when the girls wanted to talk at strange hours and inconvenient times! fortunately, they didn’t have to compete with cell phones then. with cell phones to compete with, the fact that anyone can communicate is amazing! blessings:)

  17. Betsy,
    Oh, I’ve so been there. I found, with raising my kids, that I had to be “around” and “available” a lot in order to get those rare opportunities to truly interact on a meaningful basis with them. You can’t “schedule” quality time…it just sort of has to happen. In order for it to “happen” we need to practice being “present”. Great reminder!

  18. Betsy this is awesome. I have to watch that as well. A dear friend gave me this advice with my olders who call: don’t be the one to end the call. That has saved me so many times when I want to wrap up b/c life is happening fast and furious in front of me. But those calls are precious. Thank you for the GREAT reminder.

    • That is a great piece of advice! What caught my attention is that when I said, “Well, did you want to say anything else?” before I hung up, he said, “How was your week?” I thought, we’ve been talking 10 minutes, what do you mean how was my week. So I realized I needed to ask HIM how HIS week had gone…

  19. I’m always glad AFTER I choose to be present, but making that conscious decision to be present is pretty hard for me ;).

  20. I have to work in this area so much. Not only at home but at school too. We get trapped in the crazy schedule, planning, meetings, checking emails all day to not miss something work related, that I can not have those few precious minutes with students who need a caring teacher.

    • May the Lord open doors for you, and give you short, but divine appointments with students who need you, Adriana! You are a light in that school. It must be hard with all the admin. work you have…

  21. With adult children and teens in the house, it takes a lot more effort to “be present” with them. They are always coming and going and it seems like they only want to talk once I’ve settled in with whatever it is that is important to me. I try to make an effort to speak with my children on a heart level each day. Sometimes they aren’t up to talking, but t least they know I am here for them.

    • That is SO TRUE, Barbie. We kind of have to be “present” to them on THEIR time schedule don’t we? Sometimes I also take initiative and my kids are into something else at that moment, but as you say, at least they know we’re here. Blessings on your family!

  22. The gift of presence is indeed the best gift you can give someone. I know I have missed out on many moments of presence because I have let the silly details of life take over instead. Thank you for this reminder today!!! Have a blessed weekend!

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