Beneath the Surface

The other day my 22-year-old son Thomas said something he hadn’t said in years. Our grown daughters say this sort of thing all the time, but somewhere around age 15, Thomas stopped saying …

“Mom, come look. You gotta see this.”

So when he said those words, I left my computer and followed him outside to our little koi pond. I couldn’t wait to see what he had to show me.

Just like when he was a little boy.

Is it a frog? A snake? A shiny rock?

We have two koi ponds. The big one has koi in it, but the only thing in the small pond is murky-looking water.

Or so I thought.

(I blogged about the little pond here–“Sometimes You Wade Through Sludge Together.” I wrote about my husband building our koi ponds here for Guideposts.)

When Thomas and I crouched by the water, Kitty Thelma hurried over to check out the situation.

“Look what my new camera does,” Thomas said.

I didn’t even know he had a new camera, something called a GoPro.

He showed me what he’d filmed beneath the surface.

I saw splendor in something I assumed was useless.

As sunlight lit the darkness I spotted lily pads yet to bloom,

Green plants I couldn’t name,

Rocks and hills and valleys formed a magical underwater world.

Even fish darted by.

Maybe the pond holds a life lesson for me.

I thought about people and situations I’d judged–opinions I’d hurriedly formed–times I hadn’t bothered to ask God to help me see beneath the surface.

But God …

He sees the unseen. Past. Present. Future.

He knows no limits.

He creates beauty from ashes–life from dry bones.

And He understands every heart.

Thank You, Lord. You see beneath the surface.

“…even darkness isn’t dark to You.” Psalm 139:12 NIV

Can anyone relate?











  1. Anna Haney says:

    Oh, how He knew I needed to hear this message this morning. I have been struggling with stuff here lately. “Hormones,” I said. I don’t understand why my spouse won’t stop playing on his computer and get real stuff done like organize the upstairs of the house and take stuff to the attic. I need patience with my coworker whose past is oh so different from mine. “Lord, why have You placed this woman in my life? I don’t know how to reach her.” Her life is one drama after another and I am worn out. But I know that He had our paths cross for a reason. He sees what is there. And if I have a part in it, He will reveal it to me. He probably has and I am too preoccupied to see it. With hubby, I am so annoyed with him and the fact that he doesn’t do things as I do them that I woke early and slipped out of the house to work leaving him asleep. My hormonal mind regrets that. My heart is asking God to help me to deal with all this, to see what lies beneath. Thank you dear friend.

    • Ohhhhh, Anna. I’m hugging you from here. And what about the huge revelation that He knows what’s under our surface? He understands our hearts. And He cares.

      I can tell–your heart is so sensitive and tender. He’s talking to you. I just know it!

      I’m praying for you. XOXOXOXO

      Thank you, thank you, for letting me know this post meant something to you.

  2. Sherry Dunn says:

    Thank you, Julie, for this gift today. I love your insights and the simple straightforward way you present them. And I love this video. Today is my birthday and this is the first gift I opened today!

    • Happy Birthday, Sherry!!!

      And the video–my son put it together initially with a song, “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath, but I’m pretty sure we can’t do that–with copyright laws. But boy, it was glorious.

      Thank you for letting me know this touched your heart. Keep celebrating your birthday today! All week long. 🙂

  3. Love, love, love this. How comforting to know God sees what we can not. Catching glimpses of His majesty is always reassuring to our fragile faiths. May we trust in His vision for all of us whether we can see it or not. So wonderful, thank you Julie and Thomas!

    • Thank you, Tom. It was such a huge revelation to me when Thomas used his GoPro and I got a glimpse of another world–things I never knew existed. Whew! Blew me away!

      Blessings on your writing!

  4. Great insight. In our encourager training, we share that everyone has a story and it’s important to invest the time and effort to go beneath the surface and discover who he or she really is. As with your little pond, what we discover often changes our thinking and how we see this new part of the world. And we are better able to love one another an encourage others. Good job!

    • Exactly, Chuck! That’s what the murky little pond revealed. So powerful when God shifted my understanding in the unseen.

      Thanks for reading (both you and Beverly) and for being encouragers. Keeps me writing. 🙂

  5. Patricia Martin says:

    I think that koi ponds kind of represent human society. Underneath all that water fish ( people) must live together and wonder about life outside the pond. My family loves koi ponds and feeding koi fish! Hope you had a wonderful and restful vacation, Julie!
    Patricia ((((:

    • Yes, I agree, Patricia! Don’t know why I was so slow to figure this out. 🙂

      We did have a beautiful vacation. Good family time and no rain at all!


  6. I love Thelma’s small paw pat on Thomas and his camera. Almost like she’s saying, “I love you, too.” Aren’t children just the sweetest thing ever? At 22 he still amazes you, just like mine, at 40 and 41, amaze me. Got a call yesterday, “Mom, expect a package. I sent you something.” How sweet! UPS pulled up at 6:20 last night. I eagerly opened the box and inside was a sign he knew I would like: “My dog winks at me sometimes…and I always wink back in case it’s some kind of code.” Gotta love grown children and how they keep us young. Thanks for sharing your moment with Thomas. A beautiful soul indeed. That’s what I see under the surface of your now-grown Thomas, and my now-grown Rick: soft, nurturing, beautiful souls.

    • I know, B.J. Isn’t Thelma’s sweet little paw wonderful? Wish I could have used the video the way Thomas originally set it up. We had music going with it, but I decided we better not run it that way (copyright), but at the end, Thelma did her little thing at just the right moment in the song.

      Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I understand about surprises from grown children!! He knows your heart. I can tell. Such a “B.J.-type gift.”

      You’re right about “our” men.

      Love you.

  7. okay…I enlarged the video and just watched, absorbed at what was going on underneath and above w/ Thelma! I love the life lesson…and I pray when I’m quick to judge that God would help me see beneath the surface…wonderful Julie and Thomas! ox

  8. marci says:

    I love the way you can always take the little things in life and find those God Lessons. You help us all to see those things in our own life.
    My husband dug a big hole in the back yard years ago, then didn’t get back to it for a while. In the meantime it filled with rain water, had turtles frogs, and even fish. That amazed me, especially that it had fish! . The Lord took a hole in the ground and filled it with living things.
    I like the reminder of what God can do with even Dry Bones. .. And, as you pointed out, we never know what may be under the surface.

    God Bless

    • Marci, I can’t tell you how grateful I am for how God seems to speak to me this way. I taught Sunday school for about 20 years, and every week I wondered if I’d be able to relate the lesson to my life. He always, always has been faithful. He shows me the simplest, most ordinary things around me and how to apply them. Maybe it’s a gift from Him. I hope so.

      I love what you just shared. Filled it with living things. What a beautiful way to see this new….hole in the backyard. 🙂

      I know–as I was writing this, Dry Bones came to my heart. I wasn’t sure if it fit–exactly–but I felt a strong desire to include it.

      Thank you. How was the wedding? And how’s your father doing?


      • marci says:

        My Dad celebrated his 95th birthday this past Sunday. His last Doctor visit my Dad said his doctor told him that his cancer was ‘inactive’ which I am taking to be a good thing. He was still getting around with a cane, and I am grateful for every day that he is here with us,

        We did not get to go to the wedding, sadly, but were with the family in spirit. I had a fall a few days earlier, and some other problems kept us from being able to go. I let the bride and my sis in law know, that it was with regrets that we could not be there. I got a very nice response back from the bride. I was grateful that though I was ‘stationary’ for a while, I did not break anything and realize the fall could have been a lot worse. I thank God for that, and I am getting around fine now.

        Seeing your posts each week– and others that comment is such a joy to me and feeds me each week.

        I am praying for Anna H. as her writing struck a cord with me. Don’t we or haven’t we all had some one close to us that is a challenge? Some of what she said, said exactly how I have felt at times. Very recently I began a list, since I have had some struggles with one person.. I am trying to list all the things I have learned from that person. This is my “test drive” so I will see how making such a list works for me. When I vent or complain (even just in writing it down)some times it can snowball and I don’t want that to happen. I am trying to stay friends and have peace.

        Dry Bones, I find it interesting that you started to leave that out, as that so grabbed me. Maybe I was one of the the ones it was there for?

        One of my greatest admirations I have for you is how you trust God each week to provide what you are to write. You don’t store up things ‘just in case’ and I think that is awesome. It is easy for us to say we trust God, You actually live it! Thank you for that lesson also, by your example.

        Bless you!

        • Jus sitting here so thrilled for you about your father–what great genes! And so sorry you didn’t get to make it to the wedding. 🙁 But what a blessing that you didn’t break anything.

          I know–I love the comments and hope we’re forming our own little community here. That’s so sweet that you’d pray for Anna. Who says we can’t make friends online!

          You’re a wise woman, Marci. To be able to look for good in ANY person, in all people–must be so freeing. One time (after I’d been through something sort of difficult) I remember coming to the place where I could say, “What can I learn from this?” It helped me move past it. I understand what you mean.

          Your kindness makes me tear up–and also He’s put me (or at least it seems He has) in this spot for “such a time as this”…to blog, to get to make new friends, to reach out and hopefully use my gifts, and right now it’s Friday at almost 5 p.m. and I have no idea what I’ll write about next week. Help me, Father….

          Thank you, Marci. xoxoxo

  9. Eileen says:

    A life lesson we all need! I know that I can tend to judge without looking any deeper and I try hard not to be that way. When I find myself doing this, I pray. And, I am so very thankful that God continues to forgive me too! Lovely post, Julie. I look forward to these every week. xxxooo

    • Eileen, I just love your sweet spirit. And your gorgeous eye for beauty!! Thank you for reading and encouraging me. Keeps me writing.

      You have the most tender heart. I can tell. Wish we could meet!

  10. Wow! What an amazing video and an unforgettable life lesson!

    • Thank you, Elizabeth. I responded above in a couple of comments….originally Thomas set the video to “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath. INCREDIBLE. SO POWERFUL. But I don’t think we could use it–not without permission. Just imagine that song with this video. 🙂


  11. Sue says:

    What a beautiful video. It was just what I needed at this particular moment. I know I need to remember in times of discouragement and when I feel that God does not hear me that I should
    “look beneath the surface” .

    Love to you and Thomas!

    • Sue, I’m so glad! You made my day. Keep peering beneath the surface!!

      xoxo And I’ll pass the message along to him.

  12. Shelley Elaine says:

    Oh, WOW!!!! That is just AMAZING…Thelma included…LOL…how PRECIOUS! And, I had read that very verse earlier this wk-it caught my attention then but your post really brought new meaning to it-illuminated it for me! Thanks Julie!

    • Wow, oh, wow, right back, Shelley!! Love it when He works that way. Thanks for letting me know.

      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  13. Tricia says:

    Love it Julie- thank you for sharing

  14. Kathryn Richardson says:

    This was ironic right now. I’ve been watching the airplane that was shot down over the Ukraine. People are jumping to conclusions about who did it…President Obama says to wait until all the facts and investigations are in, which is the way to think.

    • Very timely, Kathryn.

      And my mother once told me that, “Silence can’t be misquoted.” So sometimes the best thing to do is to be quiet, wait, and pray.

      Thank you!!

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