Choosing the Significant Over the Short-Lived

Me and some of our “Founders.” Having a bit of fun in Des Moines, Iowa,
at the 74th Convention of the P.E.O. International Sisterhood, September 2019.

Are you choosing what’s significant over what’s short-lived?

Alright. It’s a loaded question. And I bet you’re caught for a second – not sure if you want to read on.

Hear me out.

I spent a good portion of the last week in Des Moines with 6,000 of my sisters from the P.E.O. International Sisterhood celebrating the 150th anniversary of our founding. We hail from across the U.S. and Canada and every year give out millions in grants, scholarships, and low-interest loans to women pursuing higher education. We also have our own college – Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri – which we’ve owned outright and supported since 1927. Formed in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, in 1869 by seven bright young ladies at a time when women’s education was hardly a foregone conclusion, we have never forgotten to be grateful to God for opportunity. We are drawn together by the core values and virtues to which we adhere: faith, love, purity, justice and truth. Check us out at

Officers are chosen from among our sisterhood of 258,000, and Friday evening, I was standing with one of Iowa’s past state presidents who had been charged with the enormous responsibility of bringing so many women together for 4 days of meetings and parties. Though she had done a brilliant, brilliant job – she was, of course, exhausted – and still considering all the ways that each day could have gone better.

No matter how much goes right (and there was an overwhelming preponderance of excellency here), you will always catch wind of every little thing that doesn’t.

So I encouraged her.

“Look around,” I said. “Just look at all these women enjoying one another and making meaningful connections. Real connections. That’s what matters. You did this. Well done.”

I wanted to elevate the reality of the situation for her, because too often we lose the significant as we chase the ephemeral.

If you are like me…

  • you’ve got a to-do list a mile long
  • you haven’t called your best friend this week
  • you haven’t connected with that new friend you promised you would
  • but your phone is almost never beyond arm’s reach
  • somehow, you have found time to look at Facebook or Instagram…and you think you know what’s going on in acquaintances’ lives….and that matters to you….

Consistently, we are choosing the short-lived over the significant.

Where are our priorities?

Four days of deep, eye-to-eye contact with women I love from all over the country – some I know very well, some I would give anything to know better – reminded me that THIS IS WHERE IT’S AT.

Working on a long-term vision together.

Revisiting our ideals.

Or just sharing the day-to-day aches and pains.

Breathing new life into one another.

A quick text or a “your kids are so cute” comment on social media is no substitute for longer, substantive, and yes – face-to-face conversations.

We do not intimately know one another until we sit in the same space, hear the tremor in one another’s voices, watch and clasp each other’s hands, and see the crinkles at the corners of our eyes as we speak – or don’t speak – of love, woe, and everything in between.

We use the excuse that we are busy and can’t “get it together.”

We wear it like a badge of honor.

But c’mon. We know better.

We know small efforts yield big results.

So let’s just start.

Let’s get together. For coffee. For conversation. For the sake of love. And life. Women’s education and a sisterhood that endures. The future of the planet. Some other lofty goal that God has put on your heart.

For all that we know is good.

Choosing the significant over the short-lived.

For real.

9 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Beautifully written! I was in Des Moines also. It was an experience of a life time for me. It was wonderful!
    So true we get lost in the “everyday” that some really beautiful moments pass us by.Thank you for saying it so well!
    Becky Walters AF/NC

    1. Hi Becky,

      Yes – wasn’t Des Moines fun?!? I had a blast. Every day, I was trying to soak up tons of information and talking nonstop with women from all over the country – not an easy feat for an introvert like me! And I was thankful to be there at such a special time as well – our 150th anniversary.

      Like you said, sometimes beautiful moments pass us by, but if we stop to look for the grace that’s present, our hearts become so very full. It’s one of the things I write about a lot. If you’d like to hear more, you can receive my blog posts by email. Just subscribe on the sidebar on my home page at: Thanks for considering it, and for writing!


  2. Sometimes stating and internalizing the obvious, what’s right in front of us, is hard. Thank you for this. I’m so glad to ‘discover’ you. I was privileged to spend a membership goal-setting weekend with your mother here in Georgia in July. I’m so happy to call her my sister and friend. I sense her inner strength and sweetness in your writing.

    1. My mom is my #1 mentor and guiding star in so many ways. She is the epitome of what a P.E.O. sister should be to all of us.

      Thank you for your kind compliments. I hope you’ll consider becoming one my “subscribers” by putting your email address in the sidebar on my homepage: Then, you won’t miss any future posts!

      Thanks again!

  3. Your words have moved me. Thank you! CIC in Des Moines really was exceptional! It was P.E.O. friends who came to mind when you mentioned, “hearing the tremor in each other’s voices, and clasping hands…” Thank you, thank you, thank you for this.

    1. Oh, Mathilda – I’m so happy to hear that you could relate to this piece! CIC was indeed very special. I adored having the opportunity to just bask in the presence of so many wonderful women. And we need to make time with people we cherish a priority in our lives on a weekly basis. Deeper relationships where we’re really listening to one another and holding one another’s hands (if only from afar) are what we all desire. Thank you so much for writing to me! Please consider signing up on my sidebar to get more blog posts by email.

      Many thanks again,

Tell Me What You Think...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.