Our eyes glimpsed the deer grazing across the pond. Birds sang, ducks swam, and a cacophony of crickets serenaded. As the sun set on our outdoor conversation, a more serene backdrop couldn’t be envisioned, yet our hearts’ cry was anything but.

My friend paged through her journal sharing glimpses of private thoughts: truths revealed, prayers cried, Scriptures penned. As our time drew to a close, she looked me square in the eyes, “Jen, my relationship with the Lord is stronger now than it was 31 days ago.”

I had no words.

I looked upon the face of a dear sister grasping; submitting to complete dependence and surrender to our heavenly Father after horrific tragedy.

“God is good,” she reiterated, “God is still good and I want the other kids to know that.”

31 days ago, as thick fog rolled through a winding road, her eldest, the 19-year-old son who made her a mom, went to be with the Lord. Even amidst grief, shock, and loss, her bold declaration rang true.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my friend and her family. We both have had three stair-step boys followed by girls and her nightmare call, which every parent dreads, could easily have been me.

My meditations are sparse: Life is hard. God is good. God is good. Life is hard.

On the morning of the funeral, it hit me. My son stumbled down the stairs airing his bad attitude everywhere. Eggs greeted him, but he didn’t want eggs. He wanted pancakes. (You can read about my heart reaction to that here. Typically, that wouldn’t sit well. )

Yet, as he grunted his way to the table, I knew my precious friend would give anything for the same, disrespectful morning greeting. She would gladly be a short order cook one more day. For the rest of her life, she will daydream about past breakfasts gathered at the table.

Tragedy opens our eyes to perspective changes, and in that moment, the simplicity of a one word vocabulary shift marked me.

Easy Blueberry, strawberry, raspberry pancakes

I took homemade pancakes a step further, packed them with berry love and remembered that this journey of motherhood – this soul draining, calling on my life, this making of meals and tending to wounds and continuing on when I’m tired and worn out and really don’t want to — it’s a privilege.


From Have to Get. One Word!

This simple perspective shift needs to be our war cry. Whether married, single, mothers or not, it’s a one-word gratitude challenge that impacts how we do life with those around us.

“I don’t HAVE to ______, I GET to __________.”

I don’t have to tackle the world’s largest laundry load, I get to. I’m thankful we have a washer that does the extra hard work.

I don’t have to go to work. I get to because it means we’re employed and there’s a paycheck coming in.

I don’t have to scrub the oatmeal off the floor, I get to. Soon the tiny hands that spilled it will no longer sit at our table, and I’ll wish for those days.

I don’t have to spend time with my mother-in-law, I get to. Varying personalities makes the world that much more interesting. How can I be a blessing in a difficult situation?

I don’t have to pay the electric bill. I get to because it means that we have heat during these chilly nights.

Personally, I’m in a season of refining, and this one-word shift impacts my attitude in profound ways.

I need to press in and learn to love what must be done, regardless of how I feel. It’s my choice.

So this weekend, make some delicious berry pancakes with your loved ones; laugh loud, give bear hugs and tickle away, dance in the kitchen and do all the silly things you’ve been putting off because of your busy fall schedule.

I’ll join you because we don’t have to, we get to.

Will you make that choice today and share in the comments? What’s your “get to” moment.

“I don’t HAVE to ______, I GET to _________.”

“This I recall to mind and therefore I have hope. The Lord’s loving kindnesses never cease. His compassions [or His mercies] never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I have hope in him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.” {Lamentations 3:21-25}

Rejoicing that we get to, Jen from Balancing Beauty and Bedlam
I shared my heart on this topic on periscope. To watch the replay video, hop over here. 

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I need to press in and learn to love what must be done, regardless of how I feel. It’s my choice. {Tweet this!}

  • Anna Smit

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m so sorry for your family’s and your friend’s deep loss. Praying that you feel God’s love continue to embrace you.

    I’ve been reflecting on that a lot lately with my two girls. I’ve put Scriptures on the fridge reminding me to slow, pray, listen (both to them and the Lord’s nudgings) and speak graciously. I’m slowly seeing how often things are exacerbated by my decision to respond quickly in anger, rather than in grace, recognizing the beautiful gift I have been given in my girls. Thank you for reminding me again of the need (and gift!) to slow to get to bless them in the grace my patient Heavenly Father offers me every single day!

    • Jen @ beautyandbedlam

      You are so welcome, Anna. I need the reminder often. :) xoxo

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    God is really hammering home the message that I, too, need to shift from grumbling to gratitude. What a simple, yet profound, way to state life. I don’t have to scrub down the shower…I get to. Praise that I have a home, a roof over my head, and running clean water. I don’t have to post on my blog…I get to. God has given me His words, and a brain that likes to weave them together to tell of His goodness. You’re right, the list goes on and on. May God enable me to focus on my blessings, have a thankful heart, and praise Him. I so needed this post today!! Prayers with your sweet friend that God would draw near and comfort her with His tender presence…

    • Jen @ beautyandbedlam

      So enjoyed reading your list….mine goes on and one too. :)

  • Jas

    I get to…live this wonderful life, I get to be a mother to 3 amazing kids, I get to and not have to – thank you for your wonderful post. I am very sorry for your friends loss and what a strong faith your friend has, a true relationship with our Heavenly Father, I will pray for peace and comfort for your friend, her family and yours too. Bless you x

    • Jen @ beautyandbedlam

      Thank you, Jas. Blessings on you and your three amazing kids. :) xoxo

  • http://www.whatithinktoday.blogspot.com/ Ms. Witi

    So true…perspective change in every thing we do makes the task a little lighter.

    • Jen @ beautyandbedlam

      Yes, it sure does, doesn’t it. Have a wonderful day, Ms. Witi. :)

  • julie trotter

    Thank you so much for this perspective on gratitude. I’ve been struggling with my college kids, my kid in rehab, my husband, my aging parents, my saggy skin; you name it. I know that we are to bring all things to the Lord “…in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving…” (Phil. 4:6) yet I lose sight of the simple word EVERY. Today I GET to have kids in college and rehab because there is money and help available to better their lives. I get to stay married and share our roller coaster of quality problems with husband. I get to call my parents and talk to them. I am grateful I have saggy skin, I am still alive and kicking.

    • Jen @ beautyandbedlam

      Oh Julie – that is a lot and I’ll join you on that roller coaster of life with college kids, aging parents and saggy skin!! xxoxo
      Thank you for sharing your “Get to” moments.

  • Lovelle

    This made me tear up. That is such a beautiful out look that we all should remember. Sometimes we take things for granted but we are so privelaged to be where we are no matter what we are going through. Thank you for this. I will have a “get to” attitude from here on out.

    • Jen @ beautyandbedlam

      You are so welcome, Lovelle. So exciting to see all the “get to” moments in your life lately! Love all the Lord is doing to use your story. :)

      • Lovelle

        Thank you!

  • A

    I am so grateful for this post and I pray that your friend and family knows the comfort and peace of Christ as you travel these days. Its hard to be grateful in suffering, yet its a healing to realize we get to do what is before us. Thank you for this beautiful reminder and gift for these harder days. Grateful for the work God is doing in your life :)

    • Jen @ beautyandbedlam

      Thank you so much, A, for your encouragement.

  • Stephanie

    Thank you Jennifer for sharing this! I am so sorry for your friends loss and I pray that Jesus’ love continues to embrace you, your friend, and your friends family. I’m going to try to start today by saying I don’t HAVE to but I GET to. This is helping me to be more greatful and to truly realize how blessed I am and how great God truly is. Thank you for sharing, you have encouraged me today. Have a blessed day ❤️

    • Jen @ beautyandbedlam

      Thank you, Stephanie. I hope you have a blessed day too!!

  • Joanne Peterson

    I don’t have to I get to….This is in the same vein as Ann Voskamp, “All is grace” Even the hard stuff with my boys, and what has been happening, is grace. My kids have a hard time, it’s grace to teach me love and patience, dependence on Jesus, know Him more, grace with my boys, their teachers, myself, my circumstances. Do I do this? NO, not as much as would be needed. And I lose it. These gifts could all be gone, in a second. Where is my heart of gratitude? Focused on my circumstances instead of on Jesus, and what He has done, and what He has given me. I don’t have to,……. I get to participate in……… Thank you Jen for this post.

    • Jen @ beautyandbedlam

      Thank you, Joanne, for adding so much wisdom here in your comments. I’m participating with you because I don’t shift my focus nearly enough either. :)

  • Penny

    I am deeply sorry for your friend and her family’s loss. I pray that they find the comfort of the Lord.

    Thank-you from the heart for reminding us, time doing what we get to do is precious. And I get to do what I do because it’s a privledge.

    Blessings to all,


  • lhamer

    I love the one word shift. I don’t have to go to work, I get to go and enjoy all these wonderful students and feel God’s love for them.

  • Beth Williams

    May God surround your friend and her family during this time! I pray they feel His loving arms around them helping them to grieve!!
    You have an amazing friend! She has a great faith! Oft times when we go through tragedy that brings us closer to God than before!
    God is telling me the same thing! I get to stay home & do more Church work. I get to be more available for my aging dad. I’m blessed beyond measure and need to grumble less and show more gratitude!! I want the world to see Jesus in me and through me!!

  • Veronica

    Hi Jennifer, deepest condolences on the passing of your friend’s son. May His loving Presence surround you all on the hard days.
    I don’t HAVE to clean our home, I GET to wash, scrub and beautify the home the Lord gave us. Thanks for the reminder to appreciate all the good things He so graciously gives us.

  • Rebecca Jones

    I really like ” I don’t have to, I get to. ” I don’t have to love you, I get to love you. It really is all about perspective. As Jesus died, He must have had thoughts like, ” I don’t have to die for you, but I’m getting to keep you forever. I don’t think we could ever imagine what was on His mind except us. Thank you for the idea, I will put it into practice. My condolences also.

  • Trish Mull

    This is WONDERFUL…I made a long list of things I DON’T HAVE TO DO BUT CHOOSE TO DO…and added “BECAUSE I ____________________”
    I wanted to add the reason behind my choice…thank you so very much for sharing this with us today. Praise & Blessings on your ministry!

  • Ana Brooks

    I don’t HAVE to get healthy, I GET to get healthy.

  • Missing Mickey Mouse

    Thank you for this encouraging post. I now realize that I should be thankful for more of the “everyday” things that I am responsible for, instead of being aggravated. I also am also seeing how valuable my loved ones are.

  • Joylynn Rasmussen

    Because I had just finished feeding my baby girl before putting her to bed, the very first thought that popped into my head after reading your article was, “I don’t have to nurse my baby who is causing me some pain with her two top teeth (arg), I get to nurse her her – and we’ll get through this phase.” I’m going to try to incorporate “get to” into my vocabulary as much as possible from here on out and see how it changes my attitude. Thank you for the perspective shift:)

  • http://www.Theflawedtreasure.com Kristi

    What a fantastic reminder! Thank you, Jen.
    “I don’t have to go grocery shopping. I GET to go grocery shopping.” – it means we’ve got enough money to buy what we need for our family.
    “I don’t have to wake up and help my fussy 2-year old… I GET to.” -it means he is here at home with me instead of spending a night in the hospital.
    “I don’t have to take my preteen daughter clothes shopping. I GET to.” -it means she is growing healthy and strong and praise God we’ve got the money to buy her the necessities.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us, Jen.