She was only 10 the first time I met her.
The same age as my second oldest daughter now.
She and her little brother attached themselves to me and as we tried to figure out ministry and family and the combination of the two, she kept welcoming me in.
Her dad had passed away before I knew her, but even with a broken heart, she had a smile that lit up the places around her…her little brother would spend hours each weekend playing in our yard.
There were a couple of years in middle school where joy was replaced with anger – those rough years that my two older daughters are now entering into. There were about two years where we rarely saw her and when we did, brooding silence was broken only with profanity.
She’s almost 17 now, this young woman who decided one day that Jesus was worth following and Thursdays are her favorite because it means Older Girls Bible Study and getting all of her questions answered.
I stood yesterday at the counter in the kitchen at Madison House with a rag in my hand, wiping up the last of the dinner that was served; our newest volunteer standing at the sink. She had reached out to one of my daughters who’s heart had been hurting, and I thanked her for her tender words.
She looked up at me and quietly told me how her only child had passed away, how there was just her now.
And as we closed up the kitchen and she prepared to leave, she told me how this girl I’ve known for almost 7 years stayed behind last week to help her clean, when no one else did.
And I don’t think that either one knows the loss that the other carries with her, but instead of retreating and pushing others away, both reach out – and in the reaching out, they ministered to one another with the love and mercy of Jesus.
These are the moments that speak the truth and beauty of Jesus in the middle of loss and brokenness and overwhelming pain – that a life surrendered to Him isn’t protected from the horror of sin, but it is made to look more like Jesus in the journey through it.
36. choosing the walk and the bakery rather than staying cooped up
37. parking lot gardens and sweet conversations with strangers
39. the fight to focus on Jesus when our hearts are overwhelmed with sorrow
40. there is hope for restoration in the midst of families walking away
41. Tony’s wisdom and discernment and leadership
42. Luke 6:43-45 and the healing revealed in these words
43. the tender rebuke of the Holy Spirit
44. Lyla buying a new book
45. Elias’ awe over his car magazine
46. sunlight on water
47. Zee sitting at the kitchen table writing me love notes
48. Liv and her heart that loves BIG
49. coffee shop prayers
50. the tender way Tony encourages my heart