keys18 days. For 18 days I couldn’t find my keys and then suddenly there they were, in a place we’d looked several times. When I offered a reward—a lunch date—everyone looked even harder, but that didn’t help.

My 14-year-old daughter picked out a fancy Asian buffet and my husband said that he wanted to win, too. A date is a date.

The keys didn’t stay missing because no one looked for them. If you saw where they hid, you’d wonder why we didn’t find them in five minutes instead of 18 days.

Sometimes the things we seek are in plain sight, waiting for us to notice them.


I spent five relaxing days out of town over the weekend, but the transition home was brutal. I arrived at 8:30 Tuesday night; hopped back in the car to buy shoes for my kids’ first cross country practice the next morning; and stayed up until 1 a.m. to meet a writing deadline. My daughter was experiencing tooth pain and I wasn’t here to get her to the dentist; we were both miserable.

I felt like a failure in so many ways and just wanted to cry, overwhelmed by the knowledge that clearly I was not enough of whatever it takes to run this family. The enemy will break us with that message every chance he gets, and it’s easier when we’re vulnerable.

Apparently I set the time for my alarm but not the alarm itself, so we overslept and showed up late for practice, a barely thrown together mess of a first impression for our new team.


In the afternoon I found my keys; it’s amazing that something I’d normally take for granted—like car keys—can bring such happiness. Life looks radically different when viewed through a lens of gratitude. Then the dentist worked my daughter into someone else’s cancelled appointment and I was sailing.

That night my husband said, “I wish your life were better,” and I almost laughed because surely it was a joke. I’d forgotten he last saw me the night before, when all looked dark and I wore my stress. Hopefully I convinced him how thankful I am for my life and that I know it is good.

This week I overheard one of my kids give the I’m-out-of-here-when-I’m-18 speech. If you parent long enough, you, too, may hear this gem. Once it would have broken me, left me questioning, wondering why we weren’t better parents. How could one of our kids feel this way?

Now I know better. We wear our imperfections in plain sight, but ours is a big, crazy bunch and I wouldn’t trade my family for anything. I could improve in a million ways: organize daily family devotions; cook more and eat out less; homeschool better; prepare healthier meals.

Perfection is an illusion and if I make it my goal, I’ll live less and strive more. I’ll never achieve it.

I’ll never even publish this post.

Tonight my 19-year-old son and I see the Avett Brothers in concert and I’m grateful both for this time together before he leaves for college and for the chance to hear this group that speaks both to my heart and my head (and for waterproof mascara, because I’ll need it).

What are you grateful for today, maybe something in plain site that’s gone unnoticed?

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