November 17, 2017

The One Word Vocabulary Shift That Profoundly Changed Me


I don't have to, I get to
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. I wrote about this earlier in my Easy Berry Pancake Post. Scroll to the bottom to see a live periscope video I did sharing  this perspective shift of mine.)

Yet, as my son 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.

Easy Blueberry, strawberry, raspberry pancakes

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

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 _________.”

(I shared this over at (in)courage where many joined in sharing their “Get to” moments.

“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}

I shared a bit about this journey on video. Feel free to watch below.


  1. Tammy Hudson says:

    Thank you for this reminder of the precious things we often complain about.


  2. I get to go to the gym tomorrow and continue to work towards health and physical wholeness, when so many of my friends are fighting injury and disease and all manner of difficulty – I GET TO make the choice to go to a gym I can afford, where I can find the help I need. This is a massive privilege that I need to stop taking for granted.

    Thanks for this, Jen!!


    Jen Reply:

    Oh friend – I am right there with you on this “Get to” moment!! I guess that means I’ll get my bootie off the sofa 🙂 oxox


  3. My 8yo son has Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) as a result of early childhood trauma he experienced before we adopted him. I don’t “have” to handle and manage his reactive outbursts; I “get” to handle and manage them and be a parent to him and show him what unconditional, forever love is. Thank you for the perspective change…


    Jen Reply:

    Becky – yes, yes…in those moments that I’m sure are the wear you down something fierce momma kind of days, I’ll join you in the “get tos” of the day.


  4. Lisa Bunch says:

    I GET to volunteer at HorseFriends Therapeutic Riding Program! Even though it’s a cold and rainy day, I GET to work with some amazing volunteers and bring joy and strength to those participants through our terrific therapy horses. God is good!

    Thank you, Jen!


    Jen Reply:

    Lisa – I didn’t realize you volunteered there. What an amazing ministry. Thank you for heading out on this miserable, rainy day. They are fortunate to have you 🙂


  5. This is such a wonderful post. I love where you say “Tragedy opens our eyes to perspective changes”- this is an unfortunate truth, but a blessing if you do open your eyes. In a light-hearted view, the very first example you set was the same that I was thinking of at the moment that I read your words regarding the laundry! I don’t have to___do laundry…I get to…and in my own home, and with a working washer! I do NOT miss the days of having to go to a laundry-mat, and I am so lucky to be folding all those (many) little clothes. It IS perspective. Thank you~


  6. Thank you SO much for this post and your video. I needed to hear this today!


  7. Thank you so much for this wise and timely reminder. Again, God has given you words to reach the hearts of many. Praying for your friend and you as well. You are so appreciated.


    Jen Reply:

    You are so sweet, Misty. Thanks for your words of encouragement. 🙂


  8. Jen, I really loved this post. Learning to just love life and appreciate the details and find joy in all things is an ongoing effort and goal for me. The simple words “get to” will be within my sight in some form from now on so I will not forget!


  9. Great post. It is sooo easy to live in a victim mentality of what you deserve or are missing in you life. I get to look after an energetic toddler throughout the day and be up throughout the night with a newborn!


    Jen Reply:

    Oh yes, those days are sooo long and even though I’m in the “years are short” phase now, I remember them well. Hang in there, sweet momma, you’re doing an amazing job!


  10. Jen, this is a beautiful post. I think that everyone could use the meat of this.

    I do have one correction though. You both still have three stair-step boys. Your friend’s son is still her son and will be forever. My heart grieves for her. I will pray for her.



    Jen Reply:

    oh yes, Kara, yes!!! We still do have three stair step boys and when people ask her how many children she has, she includes him. Thanks for the wonderful reminder. xoxo


  11. Thanks for great post and video, Jen, It is very important for us to express our job not by “I don’t have to” but by “I get to”



  1. […] me.”  In light of the recent events in our world, this blog really touched my heart.  The One Word Vocabulary Shift that Profoundly Changed Me via Balancing Beauty and […]

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