Photo credit: San Diego Lawyer

My son takes music lessons at the local music school every Tuesday night.

When we arrived this past Tuesday, a man was already in the lobby. I could hear a trumpet lesson going on and assumed that may have been his child. Sure enough, a little girl around 10 years old, came running out of her lesson a few minutes later, full of excitement.


Her father looked up briefly, smiled in greeting, and went back to the text he was composing.

The little girl danced around him for a few minutes and said, “Daddy, do you know what my teacher said?”

No response. The only sound was the tapping of the keys as he continued to text. He didn’t even look up.

“Daddy! Don’t you want to know what she said? Daddy?”

More texting, then finally he glanced up at her, almost as an afterthought.

“Just give me a minute, honey. This is really important.”

She sat down on the steps in front of him, a cloud of sadness passing over her face. Silent.

He continued to tap away on his phone while his daughter sat right in front of him, looking small.

She glanced up at me. I smiled but she looked away, searching her daddy’s face once again.

Finally, he stopped texting and said, “Okay, tell me what your teacher said.”

She told him, but the spark had gone out of her voice. He praised her just as his phone buzzed.

“Daddy, can we go get something to eat?” She asked the question quickly and breathlessly, trying to talk over the buzzing.

He held up his hand and checked out the incoming text. He responded, then said, “Okay, now what did you ask me?”

She repeated her request and he said yes, they could go out to eat.

He helped her gather her trumpet case and her music and they left together.

He was still clutching his cell phone.

A few minutes later, a mom walked into the lobby with her daughter, who was carrying a guitar case that was almost as big as she was. In her hands was a McDonald’s bag. They were early for her lesson, so the little girl settled into her seat and began to eat her Happy Meal.

Her mom whipped out her cell phone and immediately began to type a text.


“What?” Eyes still fastened on the phone, fingers flying across the keyboard.

“What does T-U-I-T-I-O-N spell?” She was reading a sign on the wall.

“What?” came the distracted reply.

Her daughter repeated the question.

“It spells tuition.” Still texting.

The little girl ate for a few minutes in silence. Mother and daughter, sitting side by side as the moments slipped away.

When the time came for her lesson, she scrambled out of her chair and ran into her room while her mom left, promising to return at the end of the lesson.

The lobby now empty, I just sat in my seat reflecting on what I had just seen.

I am on my sixth re-reading of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. This book has had such a tremendous impact on my life. I have learned to live my moments with almost razor-sharp focus. I am fully present. (not all the time, of course, but much, much more than I used to be). I drink in the sights, the sounds, the scents of the present moment that will never come again. I see. savor.  I give thanks to a beautiful God who is LIFE itself, who  has granted me a finite number of days on this planet and has gifted me with so many cherished loved ones. I love to capture beauty through the lens of my camera. I am utterly captivated by the dazzling beauty all around me, from the deep blue of a winter sky to ice-covered lakes to the sparkle of my wedding rings.

I search for beauty everyday, which makes everyday a treasure hunt.

I do not assume that I will have tomorrow.

I am fully alive.

One of my childhood friends lost her six year old son to leukemia. My cousin David’s parents lost their son on a dark Pennsylvania highway when a bullet ended his life. My cousin lost her daughter while she was still in the womb, almost ready to be born. Each of these people would give anything for one more moment with  their child.

The parents in the lobby of the music school had been given an opportunity to spend precious time with their children. To really see them. To hold onto and savor the moments before they disappear forever.

Yet…long distance communication was given preeminence over the face to face, voice to voice, eye to eye, heart to heart.

Now, I fully realize that no parent can give 100% attention to their children 100% of  the time. It is not possible or practical.

However, a choice is made every day. Will we give our attention to the temporal or to the eternal? The tyranny of the urgent or the gift of the present?

Choose wisely.

Live your moments.



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8 responses to “Distraction

  1. The Elaine

    You know I’m with you on this. People, the people close to us are the ones we need to focus on. I can’t say it enough–enjoy those you love, spend lots of time with them, and show and tell them you love them often. Love you bunches.

  2. Dianne Schenk

    Oh my goodness….I just want to cry for those two children you observed yesterday with their thoughtless parents. 😦 I know though, that I’ve been guilty of similar behavior, when I’m on the computer. Thank you so much for this reminder to be FULLY PRESENT in our children’s lives…..they are gone in a flash. I love your blog by the way! 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Dianne! I, too, have been guilty of the same behavior…still am sometimes. But I’m happy to say that those moments are becoming fewer and fewer! Isn’t it a wonderful thing that God’s grace covers our mistakes with His mercy?!

  3. ~marg~

    Amen. I realized the other day that we live in a day and age where we have to choose between “virtual reality” and “reality”. Your post today pretty much explains what I mean by that. I am guilty of allowing myself to get sucked into what feels like a vortex of virtual reality when I should be taking part in reality. (With me it is e-mail and Facebook.) Your post is a good wake-up call. The key words are “feels like”. It IS something I have control over, and I need to make the right choices. Thank you!

  4. Great read. Thanks for the reminder to “be present”!

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