The Observer

She stood in the middle of the room. One finger in her mouth, one hand grasping the rhythm stick with a death grip.

Dance class for two and three year old’s had begun. The instructor enthusiastically led eight little girls in pink leotards and white tights around the room. Each little one swished the ribbons on the sticks to and fro.

She stood and watched. Now and again, the teacher would glide by the Observer and grab her by the hand. “Jump!” “Jump!” the leader would call out merrily. Happy for the hand, she would try with all her might to jump. I saw a little smile creep across her face.

But when the teacher would drop her hand, she stood alone again.

Finally, after thirty minutes, she’d warm up enough to join the class. The teacher was passing out stuffed animals now. Each student got a little partner. The teacher showed them how to sway around the room, cradling their bunny, bear or monkey. It looked like prom night at the zoo.

After class was dismissed, and the Observer was home for a few hours, a funny thing happened. She would spontaneously burst into fits of dance, running around the first floor of the house, stopping for only a moment to jump.

“Did you do that at class today?” her Daddy would ask. “Yeah!” the Observer would joyfully respond. And off she’d go to find her dance partner among the stuffed animals in the corner.

I see myself in her.

I got overwhelmed when I decided to start volunteering. There were so many choices. I could spend time with groups in the town, church or local schools. The opportunities were endless.

I would look around at all the people who gave so much of themselves to others. Like the dancers the Observer saw, they forgot themselves, moving and twirling to the music of love of neighbor.

I really wanted to join them. I just couldn’t figure out how.

Friends would invite me to join in on a project. I would tag along and work really hard, grateful for the direction. But as soon as the project was over, I was back to square one. I loved the experience, but I was still unable to pinpoint what I wanted to do.

Finally, I decided on helping at a homeless shelter. I would be there for over ten years. I had come home in that service, and found my joy.

No longer an observer, I danced with my partners who volunteered at the shelter. We all had a love for the work and had fun serving. No longer just watching, I became a part of the dance.

The Observer is on her way. She found a place to dance in her home too. Right now, it doesn’t matter where she dances. She’s learning. Just like I did.

Just keep watching, Little One. And keep up the good work at home. You’ll find your place in the class.

Just keep dancing.


I’d love to see you over at the Facebook page for the blog. I hope you’ll ‘like’ it too!





74 thoughts on “The Observer

  1. Ceil, this post is especially timely for two friends of mine who have lost their husbands in this past year. They both are at a loss as to how or where to get involved in ministry. Before they always had their dance partner. Now they are alone and must learn a new dance. It’s hard for them. But your words offer such encouragement. Thank you my friend.

    • Hi Pam! That must be so hard. I am sure that losing a partner is so confusing. My Dad says that “It’s a couple’s world.” I am sure that it is so overwhelming at first.

      I pray that they will find just the right place, the place that’s waiting for them. They’ll find other people to lead them, and new partners in ministry too.

      You are a good, caring friend Pam. I know you must be a huge blessing to them.
      Have a good Monday 🙂

  2. This post is beautifully written and heartfelt. It could have been about me both as a child and adult…Sometimes it takes time to find just the right place to serve but God had a plan all along and will show the way if we are patient and listen……

    • Hi Nancy! Thank you for you supportive comment about the post.

      It does take time to find the right place, and I think it’s a good thing. I have ‘jumped’ into ministries that I shouldn’t have and it’s not fun.
      Waiting for God’s timing is everything, isn’t it?

      Patience and listening are key, you are so right. I need to work on those every day.
      Thank you for your visit today! Have a good Monday 🙂

  3. My 2 yr old granddaughter has been going to the library for a kids reading and fun time. My daughter says she does the same thing – watches and then does things at home (last week it was a snowman dance). She’s beginning to participate a little, instead of just watching. After reading this, I can see that I too am often an observer, but I do have my niche as well!

    • Hi Mari! Your granddaughter sounds adorable, and so like mine! They are just little sponges, aren’t they?

      We all have a place in this world and good works to do. I think waiting for the right thing is good. I have done things that are really good, but just not for me. Finding the right ‘home’ was just wonderful. I hope everyone finds that home 🙂

      Have a good day my friend!

    • Hi Karen! I love that idea of trying and trying. For my granddaughter it was sticking with it. And she loves that class! It’s so funny. She can’t wait to go, and then just stands there, soaking it all in.

      I can learn a lot from her about taking my time, and then joining in the dance. I’ll have a better chance at it being the right one!
      Thank you for your visit today 🙂

    • Hi Jackie! Thank you so much, you have no idea how much I appreciate your telling me that. I just never know how the writing will effect the reader.

      I’m giving you a big cyber-hug back, because you made my day 🙂 and I’m so happy we are connected. Maybe you can relate to watching your children/grandchildren make little steps out into world? It’s so fun and so heart-breaking too. We just love them so much, don’t we? And we see ourselves in their little steps.

      God is good!
      Hope you’ll have a peaceful evening my friend,

  4. It’s sometimes the biggest leap in life: jumping from observer status to full participant. But once we step over that threshold, there’s no stopping us and no limit to the blessings that flow as we give of ourselves and receive from God and from others.

    • Hi Ali! You are so right, it is a big jump. I pray that I don’t fall back again. I think God wants strong, brave people to get out and show his love and care. It takes time to get there, but once there…

      It’s show time!
      Thank you for your visit today 🙂 We’re getting the beginnings of another 5″ of snow. Does your neighbor travel?

    • Hi Joyful! I think what you said is the whole post in one sentence.

      But I also don’t want to slide back, so onward I go!
      Hugs right back my friend! So good to see you today.

  5. Dear Ceil
    Isn’t it just great just how it doesn’t really matter which dance we dance as long as our dance partner is our Lord Jesus who takes the leading role as we dance on the dance floor of life!
    Blessings XX

    • Hi Mia! Oh my yes. I only want to do what he calls me to do. Sometimes that takes a little trial and error, but I’ll get there. And it will fit me perfectly. I don’t know about it, but he’s planned it from the beginning of time.

      What an awesome thought, isn’t it?
      Blessings to you too my friend,

  6. Dear Ceil, I think I may need someone to hold my hand!!
    I am not sure if I can find my jump, It seems like I do not have the go juice as I once had. I am going to think of this sweet picture for quit awhile. It feels like such a different season anymore. It takes so much more to just keep the home fires burning.
    I hope you have a wonderful week Ceil… You’re so inspiring WORDS- DANCING!
    I can do this :o).
    Blessings to YOU, Roxy

    • Hi Roxy! I think we all need a bit of a hand, don’t you?

      Your understanding of your dance is really great. We all have our times and seasons, and you know your place now is keeping those ‘home fires burning’. What a beautiful calling! And you have such a passion for it, who could it be that calls you but the Lord?

      Yes, you can dance! I’m glad you are inspired to do that (but of course, you already are), and God is even happier 🙂
      Blessings my friend,

  7. Hi Ceil,
    we really do have to do what we are called to do don’t we. When I look back over the thirty odd years I have been born again, it is then that I can see that what the Lord called me to do, whether prison visiting or out on the streets, was all arranged by Him, and I would never have known how lovely it was without Him leading me. Most times it was both my friend and I together, and still is when we meet up since I have moved.
    God bless

    • Hi Brenda! I think my vision gets a lot clearer looking back than forward too. Seeing all the places the Lord steered me to, all out of love…it’s kind of overwhelming, isn’t it?

      You have done some amazing works for him, no question. (You really do inspire me.) And what a beautiful thing that he brought you a partner to do it with…after all, he sent his disciples out two by two didn’t he? So you have something in common with them too.

      I’m glad you can still meet up with your friend from time to time. Maybe you can look in those store windows again 🙂
      Blessings to you my friend,

    • Hi Monica! Are you! What fun that must be 🙂 (at least I hope it is!)

      I think we are all Observers for a time. It’s difficult to know what to join, or how to use our gifts. But we have a gentle leader who will show the way, if we will listen.

      Best of blessings on your new ‘dance’!

  8. This is beautiful encouragement to me, too, Ceil. Since both my daughters have left home, I’ve been experimenting with different ministries to see where God could best use me. It’s been exhilarating and scary at the same time. But I think I’ve settled in more and more with a food pantry (of sorts) that helps the poor and homeless. I actually look forward to going each time, so I’ve taken that as a good sign. 🙂

    • Hi Lisa! My children are up and out too, and it is a very weird time. You miss them so much, but you know you have to do something else now.

      You have written (beautifully) about your new ministry. It’s so wonderful to find just the thing that warms your heart, isn’t it? And it’s not that easy to find sometimes. I know I had to look around and try things first before I figured out that great place for me.

      Of course, the Lord knew all along. He brought me slowly but surely to the right place. Just like he did with you.
      Blessings my friend,

  9. This is so beautifully and sensitively written. Yes, there is a place for all of us in the service that God expects us to offer to others. He will help us find it once we make an effort! I’m glad you found yours among homeless souls who need compassionate advocates.
    For myself it has been animal welfare organizations. I have made lifelong friends from the gentle, compassionate people who are attracted to this ministry. And I have received much more than I have given!

    • Hi Joyce! Thank you for coming to visit today!

      Thank you for your kind comments about the post. Isn’t it just great to find the right place? You have such a tender heart for animals, and you were led to Animal Welfare. God is so good! I wonder if it took you a while to find it, or if you just knew that was the place.

      As you know from the post, I had to search a bit. I think that’s pretty normal. It’s good to know what’s out there. Even better to find the right thing 🙂
      I look forward to getting to know you better!

  10. prom night at the zoo? i love that, ceil! i tend to be an observer, too. us introverts are like that. and it can work to our advantage as we soak in the scene … and find ourselves available to listen and be present for others …

    i guess i’m more comfortable venturing out in the company of 1 or 2 kindred spirits. i feel safer, more comfortable in my skin.

    a cord of 3 strands, yes?

    thanks for listening to my musings, friend. i always feel affirmed here …

    • Hi Linda! That was a cute line, wasn’t it…I liked it myself!

      I think your description as an observer does help you with counseling…you have to wait for people to open up to you. And then to be able to relate to them too. I really admire your work.

      You know, Jesus sent out his disciples two by two, so I think your feeling of wanting company is not a new one. We all feel a little more secure with a buddy. Or a co-worker. Someone so we don’t feel like we’re out there ourselves. And God with you makes the 3 strings!

      So glad you feel affirmed here. I always love to read your ‘musings’. We are kindred spirits 🙂

    • Hi Lynn! There are times when we do have to ‘dance’ through pain and sorrow, you are so right.

      Confusion about what to do can be a real sorrow…but to learn patience and keep looking is the virtue that comes from that. God never wastes anything.

      So nice to see you here today 🙂

    • Hi Deb! Thank you for your kind words about the post.

      I don’t think there can be a greater joy than to know your place in the world, as God sees it. And serving others is always involved in some way. Beautiful!

      Blessings on this Monday,

  11. Ceil, this is such a sweet post, yet filled with wisdom. I can just see that little dancer, longing to participate, yet fearful of the first step. Aren’t we all like her at times? With God to hold our hands, though, we can all dance beautifully to His eternal music.

    • Hi Nancy! Thank you for visiting here today!

      I’m so glad you liked the post today. She is adorable isn’t she? Well, it is my granddaughter, so I am totally biased.

      I agree that with the Lord, we will succeed by finding our place. It can seem like a daunting task, but I think the looking part is important too. “Dance beautifully to His eternal music.” I LOVE that! Thank you 🙂

      I look forward to getting to know you better,

  12. Thanks for reminding me of the wonderful three years I spent volunteering one day a week at a local crisis pregnancy center, where we encouraged women to choose life, and we helped them on their journey. It was a passion for me and I hope to return to it at some point in time.

    • Hi Dayle! Oh my gosh, that is wonderful work. And if it was a passion, then you know it came from God.

      What can be more lovely than advocating for life? I really admire you, and how you found just the right place for you. It truly is a blessing.

      I hope you do get to do it again. Sounds like you still have a love for it!

  13. I loved reading this! I love my shy, but observant, little dancer too. This post reminded me of the song, “Life’s a Dance.” The chorus is as follows: “Life’s a dance, you learn as you go. Sometimes you lead, and sometimes you follow. Don’t worry ’bout what you don’t know, life’s a dance, you learn as you go.” It’s very catchy and I recommend looking it up on you-tube if you get the chance. But I feel it fits with your post- sometimes we feel we are leading our lives, and we are leading our lives for our little ones to watch and follow. We are leading our lives by His example, and we hope that our observant little children will follow our lead. But sometimes we are following, whether we are following the lead of our spouse, friend, or someone who calls us closer to God, and we are hopefully always following God himself!

    Loved it 🙂

    • Hi Dear! I will check out that song on youtube, because it doesn’t ring a bell with me. I like the model of dance, and it lends itself to your song, leading and following too.

      We sure do have models of faith who can lead us to our place in the world, or at least the right path. In the end, it’s up to us to choose, and hopefully we all choose well. I think if we ‘love it’, that is a pretty good sign that it’s just the right thing.

      Oh yes, let’s always follow God in where he wants us to go. It’s the only way to be truly happy, don’t you think?
      Just loving the snow…not!

  14. Oh man… This made my heart sing! We are like those little ones. We just need to find the comfort in the habit of taking action… and then we dance.

    Awesome, sister. Awesome!

    • Hi Floyd! Thank you so much for your lovely comments about the post today. I loved watching my little granddaughter.

      And what a great lesson too. Like you said, get comfortable, and then the dancing can start. Can’t wait, can you?

      Have a peaceful night my friend,

    • Hi Natalie! Well, come in close and I’ll tell you a secret…

      (it’s mine too…)

      Thank you for your comment. It makes my day 🙂 Thank you for your generous blog-friendship, and your love for God’s Word!

  15. I have always been told (thank you Grandpa) to sit and will learn tons. That saying has rung true as I have gotten older/maturerrrrrrr (that is a hard word to say). My grandpa was a people watcher, however, as time went by, he found his niche..and I am begininning too as well..Thank you just has to sit and watch, listen and let God lead the way. Blessings

    • Hi Linda! Your Grandpa is so wise, no surprise there!

      Waiting for God to lead can make anyone get a little itchy, but it’s the maturity that makes it easier. (You can say it, it’s ok!) And finding that place where you belong is just priceless.

      How lovely that you are finding your place. It just brings so much peace, doesn’t it?
      Blessings to you my good friend 🙂

  16. Ceil, this was beautiful. I teared up, as I recognized myself in The Observer. I’ve never been bold, and yet, always wanted so desperately to join in the dance somehow. Lately, I’ve wondered what God wants me to do up here in the mountains. Am I missing something? Some part of me does not want to be a wallflower anymore. But, I’m not sure of the tune of the music of my song.

    Your post was inspiring. I am glad to know that God led you to the right place. I’m sure, in just the right timing, He will *tango* me into mine!


    • Hi Sharon! I think we are all observers first, don’t you? How can you figure out what you want to do if you don’t check things out first?

      I remember wanting desperately to join in the dance, and I just couldn’t figure it out. So it’s the same with you in the mountains. You’ll find it. God will speak to you in his own way. Waiting is the hard part though, isn’t it?

      It’ll be worth it though. You and the Lord will make an awesome Tango Team. Look out ‘Dancing with the Stars’!
      So nice to see you today Sharon,

  17. I love that Ceil! Just keep watching and dancing, you’ll one day find your place! It is such a liberating thing isn’t my friend, to finally be walking in your purpose and calling! My heart, like yours, grieves for those who haven’t yet, for we were once in that very same spot. Praying that those who haven’t yet, will seek God and have Him reveal it to them. Have a blessed week my friend!

    • Hi Michell! Oh my, what a peace comes over you when you know you are in the right place. And it always involves love in some way, doesn’t it?

      I will join you in your wonderful prayer, that all of us will find our place. That will be heaven on earth.
      Have a peaceful night my friend,

    • Hi Susan! I’m glad you like it here! It was a challenge at first, but I feel much more at home.

      I am glad that I have a path to travel, that is true! It took a long time for me to take the call seriously, but I’m glad I landed here. As I wrote in the “About” page in the header, I thought I was supposed to write a book. Hah! I don’t think so. Well, at least not now.

      But thank you for your confidence in me! And thank you for your visit today. It’s nice to see you 🙂

  18. This post made me fall in love with your writing once again. I sure am blessed that we have connected. and look at all these comments. wow. What wisdom and lessons you give us all. Thank you!!

    • Hi Jean! I feel blessed too my friend. You really helped me out so graciously when I needed to change platforms, and now we have such a lovely friendship too. God is so good!

      I’m so pleased that you liked the post today. It means a lot to me because the Observer is my grandchild. She is just such an inspiration to me.

      Half of me wanted to jump in the class and lead her, half of me knew I should stay put. Staying put won!
      Have a great Tuesday, and thank you so much for your support and encouragement. Hope your computer issues calm down soon 🙂

  19. Hi Ceil, What a thought provoking, beautiful post! My husband and I are empty nesters with no grand-children at this time…….where God leads, we will follow and dance! Blessings~~~Roxie

    • Hi Roxie! If anyone can dance, it’s you and your husband. I think you are dancing in your new house, using your gifts and talents to make if your own.

      Now that’s a fun dance 🙂
      Always fun to see you here my friend!

  20. How inspiring and well written.
    I saw my almost three year old son being goofy and fully engaged in life as I read your post. I want to be fully engaged in what God has called me to do. I want to dance and not care how I look. I want to live for Christ!

    • Hi TC! Thank you for your encouraging comment. It’s a pleasure to meet you today.

      Good point about dancing and not care what you look like. That keeps so many from joining in the dance, don’t you think? If God has called us to the work, we can do it with joy 🙂

      Have a peaceful evening. I look forward to getting to know you better.

  21. That little story was much deeper than I originally thought. Now it has me wondering if I am like that little “observer”…oftentimes sitting on the sidelines of life watching others run to and fro and wondering just how I fit in and where I ought to be. But then I come home and “just dance” in place where I feel most loved and accepted…and somehow I find my place and am content. Thank you for these thoughts. It has stirred me up to dance again…

    • Hi Dancer! No matter what you do, as long as God has called you to it, you are dancing. It doesn’t have to be anything ‘extraordinary’ in everyday life terms. It’s a gift to God for what opportunities he gives.

      And that is a wonderful thing. So dance at home and soak in the contentment that God wants for you 🙂


  22. I could see myself in the “observer”, Ceil. I’m also the type who works her way into cold beach water gradually rather than plunging straight in. I’ve always been like this. Some of us need to get a feel for things I guess! Great post! It reminded me of my niece who has been dancing for ten years now – she was afraid at first but soon grew to love it! Now she helps teach toddlers dance 🙂

    • Hi Mary! I don’t dive in either, believe me.

      What a lovely comment about your niece. She overcame her ‘observer’ status and dove in. Now she helping others do the same. Isn’t that beautiful?

      Thank you for you kind words about the post. I appreciate your encouragement 🙂

  23. My nature seems to echo the observer but God keeps calling me to dance – and there is such joy in dancing isn’t there? Blessings to you Ceil – lovely post.

    • Hi Mindy! There is joy in dancing, you are so right. But I know I have to find the right thing. I don’t want to dance in the wrong place.

      But once you find that right place? It’s so great. I hope you find just the right dance floor my friend. And thank you for your lovely comment on the post too.
      Happy Wednesday 🙂

  24. I love this! So beautiful! I am grateful that you found your place, your home, your ministry. How wonderful! I felt like the Observer after my Mom died. We’d been so close through the years, especially since she was a single mom and I was her only child (my siblings are on my dad’s side). For many years, it was just the two of us and then when she was gone I felt like a huge part of my identity was, too. So, I stood and observed and had to find me, to find my place again. It has taken time, but I finally feel like I’m at a place where I’m comfortable in my identity.

    • Hi Anne! Wow, you have had a real journey, haven’t you… I can’t imagine how devastating it would be to lose your Mom under those circumstances. Of course, you would be lost.

      How wonderful that you feel ‘found’ now. You do so many wonderful things Anne. So many ministries and works of mercy. And to comfortable with yourself? That’s the best thing, isn’t it?

      Hugs to you my friend,

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