“Joy is always a function of gratitude–and gratitude is always a function of perspective. If we are going to change our lives, what we’re going to have to change is the way we see.”

~Ann Voskamp

My parents’ friend, David, used to stay at our house from time to time while he finished his Ph.D at Pacifica Graduate Institute. He commuted from out of state to Santa Barbara, and we always benefited from the calm perspective he brought to our then-imploding home. The two of us shared a love for the written word, and, honestly, I don’t know what I looked forward to more: his visits, or the thank-you letters he would leave for us afterward. I have yet to come across any more well-written, hopeful, or comforting notes than his (I’m sure I still have a few buried in a box in our garage).

Because David was so well spoken and well loved by our family, you better believe I was paying attention when it was his turn to speak during his graduation ceremony. When the time came to address his parents, he said, “Thank you for always showing me how to see the divine in the simple things.”

The hair on my middle-schooler arms stood on end, and I’ve spent every day since learning how to see God in places no one else thinks to look. It’s why I take pictures of feet and spilled coffee and bathtubs and ordinary days that begin like this:

daddy daughter

When we learn to see God in places no one thinks to look, we start looking like people no one has seen. We become more grateful, expectant, joy-filled-despite-our-circumstances kinds people…but only if we are first willing to approach the simplest, most unlikely place of all and deal squarely with what we see there: our salvation, wrapped in swaddling cloths, and lying in a manger.

The shepherds did, and it changed the way the saw everything—and everyone—forever.

“The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.” Luke 2:20