It was during the car ride home from school last week that I found myself readjusting my rear view mirror at that perfect angle so I could meet two sets of little eyes in the back seat, while also keeping half an eyeball on the traffic behind us.

Our conversation had suddenly veered into deep theological waters, and I needed to see my children’s faces as we talked about Jesus and choices and consequences and being loved absolutely, unconditionally.

And, as quickly as it came, it was over. The conversation returned to our typical driving home banter about the favorite parts of our days, complaining about the broccoli I had planned to steam for dinner, and trying to decide who is faster — Jonny or The Flash.

As I enter my sixth year of parenthood, I’ve learned that the most profound teaching moments almost always arrive quietly, unexpectedly, and are fleeting.

When I wait and watch for those precious moments, I find that my words absorb faster and sink in deeper than at any other time. I’ve learned to hit those moments hard — and then let them go without a fight and without trying to pull them back.

I’ve discovered that I cannot create those moments by sheer force of will — and that some of my very favorite memories in life are made of those small, fleeting moments, the ones that happened quite by accident.

In fact, somehow, the more I plan and scheme and try to prearrange events, the more likely it is that my best-laid plans are going to careen off into a disastrous puddle of tears and frustration and disappointment. I create unrealistic expectations and then find that reality, with its rough spots and bumps, just cannot live up to my perfect vision of what my plan ought to look like.

This week, this month, this year, I am going to focus less on planning out future events (that won’t look like anything I imagined, anyway) and a little more on catching those fleeting moments.

Lord, help us to live in the moment — so that we can capture and enjoy those fleeting moments instead of letting them pass us by. Thank you for unexpected joys and beautiful memories made from the unexpected, unplanned moments in our lives. Amen.