We are what we notice

Tattling is a serious crime around our house. I have always had the rule that both the tale-teller and the wrongdoer will be punished. “Work it out! Unless there is blood. Then you should come get me” has been my parenting mantra for over a dozen years. And I can never understand why that Mother of the Year award just keeps eluding me?

With three boys constantly bumping into each other around here, there is always one who needs to tell a tale. And right behind him is the angry one who feels the need to call that boy a tattletale. And I am a terrible referee. Work it out! Unless there’s blood — then come get me!

After all these years, however, I realize that my youngest has misunderstood this rule. He seems to believe that every time he gets in trouble another person should suffer the consequences too. You see, he thinks that his brothers are constantly telling on him. He has no idea that my “things little boys do when I’m not looking” instincts are second to none thanks to his brothers. I don’t need tattletales. I just know.

He has learned, though, that he cannot use the word tattletale around me and get away with it. So lately, every time he gets in trouble for something, he hisses at one of his brothers, You’re such a Noticer”.

Since he isn’t using the dreaded word, I ignore it. Until this starts.  “Mom! He called me a Noticer again! Mom! It’s not a nice word! Make him stop!”

A Noticer? I’m not even sure it is a word. My spell check keeps telling me to fix it.

So I ask the pouting little guy what he means when he calls his brother that. “I mean that he notices and tells everything. He’s a Noticer!” he sputters and spits the words from his timeout seat.

And like the super awesome always in control parent that I am. I laugh.

A Noticer. One who notices and tells. One who pays attention and points out what he/she sees.

Actually, I think I want to be one of those.A Noticer. One who notices the way the sunlight dances shadows on the kitchen floor, the way the trees bend gently in the breeze or the clouds streak hazily across the sky. One who notices the quiet smile of a friend or the downcast eyes of a tired traveler. One who notices the love of order in the way a person does his job or the love of life that exudes from a laughing companion.

A noticer who sees the beauty and the lovely in the world right in front of them. A noticer who stores those beautiful things and holds them as treasures; gifts from a God who is present in whispering wind, glowing fires, twinkling eyes and unraveling melodies. Noticers see him, hear him and learn to recognize his voice. And Noticers tell of these things.


In reality, these are not often the things I notice; not the things of which I tell. Instead, I zip through my day noticing people in my way, slow drivers, ominous clouds in the sky, dirty floors, handprints on the wall and whiny voices. I notice these things without even meaning to. And I tell of them. All day long.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Jesus teaches the people this during his Sermon on the Mount because he knows they need to change the way they see. And I love the way Eugene Peterson puts it in his translation of the Bible, the Message, “You’re blessed when you get your inside world — your heart and your mind put right. Then you can see God in your outside world.”

I notice, though, that those words sting a bit as they roll through my head. Because if I am being honest, my inside world can so often be more like that of a tattler. I can want justice for the wrongdoer and credit for work that needs to remain unseen.

And I can want to be the one who gets noticed instead of simply being the noticer. 

And that’s how I miss it. I miss seeing the glory of God in the land of the living. I miss noticing the way that God is with us here, where we actually live. I miss him in the words of my friends, in the eyes of my kids, in the sunlight and dusk and crazy dinner conversations. 

“And surely I am with you always…” (Matthew 28:20). Jesus speaks it gently to my tired heart. Open your eyes and notice. I AM all around you. 

Yeah. I want to be a Noticer. But sometimes it takes a timeout for me to figure how that works.

I ruffle my little guy’s hair and release him from his punishment seat. “Hey buddy,” I whisper as I help him find his shoes, “try to be a different kind of noticer — one who notices good things — for the rest of the day, ok?”

“But, can I tell if I notice something good?” he asks looking at me like I might have lost my mind.

“Yes, my friend, you can tell, ” I answer him, “Noticers of good should always tell.”

And with a smile, he bounds down the stairs and out the door.

So here’s to being a noticer; to seeing God in unexpected places … and to telling on Him. May we learn to do this well.


2 Comments on “We are what we notice

  1. Love this Leigh. Try to be a noticer of good things. Imagine how the tone in our homes would change if we had positive tattling. Try saying that with a whiny voice kids! Thanks for sharing your noticing with us.

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