Move

The good old college days

The good ole college days

One dark, starry, windy night—not unlike tonight, with temperatures drastically dropping, warning of winter storms approaching—I crouched alongside dozens of my campus ministry friends during the week of final exams as a college student, creating Christmas cards for shut-ins and hospital patients, humming along to familiar Christmas carols. Suddenly That Still Small Voice rang out clear as a bell.

“Go see her in her dorm room right now.”

I kept humming and coloring and designing my card. I also began arguing with That Still Small Voice. It made no sense to stop what I was doing—because what I was doing made perfect sense—to go make an unannounced visit to a fellow student whom I had barely befriended. This particular student knew my name, and we joined the same student organization simultaneously, but in truth, we barely knew one another. To show up at her apartment uninvited seemed not only rude but also a little nuts, quite frankly.

“Go see her right now, I said.”

I felt my heart pounding this time. I capped the Sharpies and stood up, pulling my best friend, Kelly, aside. I felt slightly irresponsible about leaving the card-making party since I helped plan it, but what could I do? When you get The Call, you answer.

“Kelly, I think God just told me to leave and go do something. I have to go.”

She looked at me quizzically but didn’t inquire about the details. Having lived with me for one year at that point, I guess she’d grown to accept that my brand of spirituality was untraditional, at best.

“Okay—is everything okay?”

“Yes. I’ll see you later.” I zipped up my grey wool car coat and headed in the direction of the student’s room, the wind whipping at my back.

When I arrived, I knocked on her door. A scruffy-looking male answered. I immediately attempted to bow out, apologizing and offering to come back another time, but she asked him to leave.

So there I was.

“I don’t know why I’m here. God just told me to come see you.”

And then her tears fell.

And her truth came rushing out in waves. And I listened.

Mostly, I cried. And we hugged one another.

And she told me that she felt she was on the verge of death, and that God must have sent me to her that night.

And ever since, we’ve remained friends, even when we aren’t able to see one another for long periods of time.

A few weeks ago, I reread 1 Samuel 3 in the Bible. It reminded me of my own life, of the many opportunities—just like this one moment in time when I made a choice to listen to That Still Small Voice—to either listen to God or to blow Him off. I wish I could say I’ve always listened, but I haven’t.

It reminded me that each time I’ve chosen to listen and take action—particularly when what I’ve heard from God requires me to take action—I have NEVER regretted it. I am always the beneficiary or witness of some type of miracle.

What if I had kept foolishly, stubbornly, and selfishly coloring Christmas cards that night? Well, I guess a few more shut-ins would have received Christmas cards that year.

But my friend—MY FRIEND—might be dead. Or she might have struggled for a longer period of time, feeling more isolated and alone, knowing that not one person understood or knew about her pain. My faith in That Still Small Voice would not have grown tenfold that night. I would not have shared in her sorrow and later in her joy when God renewed her spirit. I would have missed a miracle. I would have missed out on love.

Let me never refuse to move when That Voice moves me.

This little light of mine

Our little light

Our little light

Since my daughter’s name, Margaret, means “daughter of light,” and since my 2013 word of the year is light, almost every night while nursing her, and other times during the day when I spontaneously break into song-and-dance (happens often, folks), I sing her a sunny compilation of light-themed songs. You Are My Sunshine. Shine, Jesus, Shine. And of course, This Little Light of Mine.

Maggie was named after both sides of our families. Margaret is her great-great grandmother on her father’s side of the family. Jacqueline is my mother’s name. When selecting her first name, I was torn between one name I absolutely loved the sound of. It was more trendier and cuter, really. But its meaning fell flat for me, even though I tried to repeatedly convince myself that it didn’t matter.

It did. Meanings matter to me. Words matter to me. So names matter even more.

When I learned that Margaret means “daughter of light,” I was sold.

My life’s love story has been one of Light piercing through what seemed at times to be impenetrable darkness. Over and over again. The passionate pursuit of Light, in search of my muddled soul’s heartbeat. Never thwarted by layers of stagnation, sadness, or sin, the Light has searched me out. It has found me. It loves me.

Maggie's room and her life verse hanging above her crib

Maggie’s room and her life verse hanging above her crib

As I painted the sign for my daughter’s room with her life verse on it, I had no idea that a few months later, I’d read the book Praying Circles Around Your Children by Mark Batterson and that I was setting into motion a master plan, orchestrated by Someone much more omniscient,  to pray meaning and purpose into my daughter’s life.

“Arise, shine, for your Light has come. And the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” -Isaiah 60:1

That she would glorify God. That His glory would rise upon her. That she would reflect the Light her entire life.

She already does. My mom, not knowing at the time about her life verse, commented a few weeks ago that her smile lights up the room so brightly that there’s no need for electricity. Of course, this is a grandma speaking. But it’s true. Through bouts of illness since becoming pregnant, she has brought light and joy and hope to me countless times. I see her father’s countenance change, too, when their eyes meet.

And tonight I got to take my little light to church for the first time. Even though she wasn’t a fan of the music and also seemed to be missing her teething toy, Sophie the Giraffe, there was one brilliant moment.

As I swayed with her in the back of the room, hoping to soothe her, I noticed a woman crying. Not weeping softly. Crying. Sobbing. Holding onto her husband and shaking from sorrow. She reminded me of my stepmom, Jodi, a recovering addict whose health problems related to her addiction cost her to lose her life a few years ago.

I caught the woman’s eye. And that Still Small Voice reminded me of my daily prayer over my daughter.

“Let her be light.”

Sucking it up and overcoming my germaphobic tendencies, I slowly walked up to the woman during the worship music with my four month-old daughter and hugged that woman close and whispered words of encouragement in her ear. She stopped crying and touched Maggie and smiled. And of course, Maggie smiled that smile that wins everyone over who is privileged enough to witness it.

Maybe Jesus wants some of us for sunbeams, but Maggie’s the moon, reflecting Light in even the darkest moments.

That little light of mine shone bright tonight.