Chapter 29: Living with Purpose Each Day, Embracing What is Priceless

Living a normal life, in a small space, with a big family, on a grand adventure, I am understanding the concept that “intentional living” equals a precious, priceless life.

The first time I found out first hand what preciously “priceless” really means, was when I took a series of photographs close to Christmas 2013.  I had just had our fourth child, our son, Caleb, in October.  He is the first great-grandson out of six great-granddaughters in my extended family. We were going to visit my 93 year-old grandpa before going on with the rest of our day.  A nudge deep in my soul urged me to unpack our professional camera and bring it with me.

When we got to my grandpa’s home, he was so happy to see us!  He moved slowly with his walker, but happily insisted on my littlest daughter, who was 3, ride on the seat of his walker all the way to his room.  We had a very pleasant visit. Eventually my time was running out before I needed to gather my children and move on to the next event of our day. Before I did, I asked my grandpa if he would like to hold his great-grandson.  Gently I placed my sleeping 8 week old son in his shaking arms.  I asked my three young daughters to stand beside their great-grandpa and give each other a hug.  I found my settings for his low-lite apartment and snapped four pictures before he was too tired. We hugged and said, “I love you and see you again soon.” Taking my son from him, he looked me in the eyes and told me he was proud of me.  He was proud of the woman, wife and mom I had become.  Those words, honest to goodness truthfully and sincerely said, are…so…incredibly…powerful.  I still get tears in my eyes when I remember this precious moment.

Great Grandpa with Kids-9

Two weeks later my family of six got so sick, we couldn’t attend any of our Christmas plans.  Even Santa brought us chicken soup and crackers in our stockings.

My grandpa passed away four days after Christmas.  I’ll never see him again this side of heaven.

That is why those photographs of my grandpa, with my children, are preciously priceless.  Asking my grandpa to hold my son, 93 years between their two lives.  My grandpa’s aged skin, my son’s tiny frame, my daughters’ relationships with one another. He is happy.  They are happy.  They are physically connected together with their hands. The emotion in their eyes show how genuine their love is for each other.  My grandpa enjoying the briefest of moments with his youngest great-grandchildren.  That is what makes a photograph precious.  Knowing it can never be duplicated makes it priceless.

Great Grandpa with Kids-18

I know this is the reason Ryan and I have had such a passion for photographing weddings these last eight years ( ), and why we look forward to beholding many more unguarded ordinary moments like this in our current boating adventure that will one day take us around the world.

Living with intention helps me slow down and enjoy the journey.  Today as I write this, my children are four years older.  Even though I have been sleep-deprived more years than I can count, I have still intentionally enjoyed each stage, realizing how brief the stages actually are.  I found this poster on pintrest years ago, which helped me to remember to savor precious moments and to intentionally be a mother to my children.


Loving my husband and children with intention, to me, means being mentally present with them while I’m physically in their presence.  Living in a small space forces us to face emotional and behavioral challenges head on.  There is just no place to avoid or run away from certain conflict.  Disciplining and talking through normal family issues is binding us closer together as a family.  Our kids find security in knowing where certain boundary lines are and our expectations for their behavior in different situations.  As our older girls begin entering their pre-teen years, we’re learning how to communicate with each other to keep their hearts open. I choose to slow down and be mentally present with my family. Realizing precious memories are most often the everyday ones, I choose to love my husband and children daily with every ounce of my strength.

Another aspect of intentional living I’ve been pondering at the conclusion of our first winter aboard and the outstretched adventure before us, is The Dash poem by Linda Ellis.

The Dash

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.  He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth and now only those who love her know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash.  What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change?  For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real and always try to understand the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile…remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is read with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?

by Linda Ellis; Copyright Inspire Kindness, LLC 1996;

I want my life as a wife and mother to mean something.  I choose not to live in fear, but to live with loving intention and purpose.





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