The sky filled with dark, billowing smoke. My car sped closer as I realized the smoke rose from the direction of my house. Not again, my soul whispered.

Logic told me it was just a controlled burn, a way to manage the density of trees & shrubs and restore new growth. It was, after all, that time of year in the Midwest.

My heart, however, didn’t accept that logic. It stirred up memories from ten years ago, back to the day I came home to find my house on fire. A fire that destroyed all we owned and snatched away the life of my youngest daughter.

 
 
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there’s a ratty old hoodie i think about throwing away. the cuffs are stained from bleach spray. the sleeves no longer reach my wrist. more than once a kind soul points out the small stain just right of the zipper. i’m quick to explain its origin, and just as quick to dismiss the notion that it shouldn’t be there in the first place. the hem is fraying and it no longer holds its original shape. i’ve had it for more years than i can remember and while i know black sweatshirts are easy to come by, i just can’t get rid of it. why?


 
 
She stood among the sea of people, eyes closed, arms lifted high. The music swelled and her arms stretched farther, higher, as if trying to touch heaven itself.

My eyes drank in the sight: this brave woman who stood alone even though she was surrounded by others. Drawn to this tender example of a heart turned toward the Father, I witnessed her boldness and courage, her strength and her faith. She stood alone, but that’s not the reason I noticed her. It was the life she lived as she stood.

She chose to worship even though her child was dying.