What God Thinks of Scaredy-Cats {#RelentlessStudy}


She refused to saddle the carousel horse, and demanded I hold her as we spun around. She ran as fast as she could in the opposite direction when her big sister boarded the baby roller coaster. The rides were not for her, or so she thought.

When I see my two-year-old’s hesitation, I don’t feel angry at her for being afraid. I don’t force her to do the things that frighten her, wrestling her down and buckling her in for a ride her little emotions can’t handle. I get down on her level and see how large and looming everything looks from there. Then, I comfort her and counsel her. I tell her how the ride is slow enough for her, that she’s safe, that this will be fun, that she can look at her brother, sister, mom, and dad, for assurance. Continue reading

On Corsets and Fear {One Word 2014}


Maggie Smith doesn’t wear a corset. She’s the only woman on the cast of Downton Abbey who doesn’t. I heard this bit of gossip at a recent event with visiting writer Jessica Fellowes, niece of Downton Abbey screenwriter Julian Fellowes. Smith says she’s served her time all these years of doing period dramas in the movies and on television. She’s flat-out done with the corsets.

That’s what I want to say to fear, the way it laces me up tense and leaves me gasping. Continue reading

Happy Endings

Tonight it’s the same as every night. We finish up the bedtime games, then let loose as a family quartet, the little ones singing so off melody that it becomes an accidental harmony. After bedtime prayer, we head toward the door to leave Elliot alone in the dark.

“Remind me,” he says, and Daddy starts the script: “We live in a safe city in a safe house with a strong set of walls and a strong roof, and no tornadoes, and no bad guys, and no Fraggle Rock, and no volcanoes, and no abominable snow monsters, and no more cavities, and no sounds, and no little blue monsters, and no bad peacocks, and no wolves.” Elliot knows his fears by heart (and doesn’t hesitate to tell his Daddy if he’s forgotten something). Without the nightly reminder, these scary things haunt in the  absence of light and ambient noise.

In bold daylight his words seem backward. He tells me that nighttime is his favorite. I wonder how it can be with this extravert who prefers not to be alone, this boy who can’t forget his fears. Maybe it’s the extra attention he gets right before bed, the hold-up game and the pillow game and the way we all gather around for the family sing-along. But no, he tells me, he loves nighttime because at the end of it comes breakfast.

On the other side of the county, my nephew asks his dad to read a Bible story, the same Bible story he asks for every single night, the one about Jesus dying on the cross. He is locked in on the story not for the nails and slashes, but because at the end Jesus raises from the dead. Miles is in it for the happy ending.

Sometimes I try to forget that between here and our happy ending is a whole book’s worth of bedlam. In his sermon “Till We Meet Again,” Charles Spurgeon said, “…you hear the thunders roll, peal after peal! You see the vials poured forth, darkening the air, and sun and moon turned into blackness and blood! Earth reels beneath your feet and stars fall like fig leaves from the trees! You are full of confusion and dismay…”

It is us in the dark with just a sliver of light slipping through cracks around the frame of the door and we find ourselves saying, “Remind me.” It waits at the end, this blessing at bedtime, the final word, “The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

Spurgeon continued on, calling the benediction at the end of Revelation “this holy whisper” that makes us brave to say, “Let every star of the firmament fall where it will—the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is with us! Rock and reel, you mountains! Be dissolved, O Earth, and pass away! If the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is with us, we fear not the end!”

The dangers end in new life. The darkness ends in morning’s feast, our seat reserved at the table. With all this in sight, when we look at the hard way history must go, we too can dare say, “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”