Dear Jill Pole: A Letter to the Fearful & Thirsty

“It must be a dream, it must, it must,” said Jill to herself. “I’ll wake up in a moment.” But it wasn’t, and she didn’t.

The Silver Chair

Dear Jill,

Few fears are ever confined only to our dreams. We’d like for them to be, wouldn’t we? To be able to open our eyes and realize that where we are, this wonderful world, was safe and filled with delightful calm and security. But more often than not, our worst fears are very true. More true than Louis Armstrong’s beautiful ballad, unfortunately. Our world is writhing in pain and fear, and it is in this broken world that we wake up.

I’ve been you before, Jill. I wake up, terrified, and chant to myself, “It must be a dream, it must be a dream” to will away the darkness. But it wasn’t a dream and rather than awaking from the terror gripping my mind and body, I find I am already awake. Then I do the same as you or any other fearful and lonely child would do, I cry.

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What We Need to Know

Imagine you are a middle aged woman living in Holland on the brink of World War II. Each day, the radio brings news of yet another series a catastrophic political events. Uncertainty is the air people breathe, fear the pillow on which they wake and drift off to sleep on. The world seems as if it is at last unraveling and the predictions, dreams, and guarantees of what lie ahead causes everyone’s stomach to turn.

There is potential that your nephew and niece could be killed for resisting tyrannical leaders. Your father is too old to survive an arrest should it occur, and your sister, whom you love more than any other person, is running headlong into the effort against the evil, putting herself right in harms way.

Horror. Chaos. Sorrow. That’s what seems to lay ahead for Betsie ten Boom.

She doesn’t panic though. She doesn’t hide underneath the watch shop counter and weep for fear of what may come. She cooks meals, she smiles, she makes tea, she folds laundry, she keeps going on with life as the changes swirl around her. She’s not coping with Netflix binges, or alcohol, or fluffy novels, or social media or food. There’s one simple truth that every atom of her body is clinging to that brings a peace and joy–dare we even suggest a happiness–that surpasses all human understanding.

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Not Even His Shadows

Yesterday, I allowed myself to take a trip with nostalgia back to a day that is now a mere memory.

I could smell the dogwood flowers blooming, feel the creaky wooden swing holding up my frame, and feel the wind rustle through the trees onto the porch and through my hair. I was fifteen years old again, on the front porch of my childhood home, laughing. Old friends were seated around me, and conversation centered on new sunglasses, books we were reading, and things we’d heard about through mutual friends. We were little, though we didn’t think so then, and I wish with all my heart somedays I could just go back, be there, be the girl I once was, with the friends I once knew, in a world that didn’t seem so big and scary.

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Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

When I was a little girl and the thunder would crash outside my window rattling the panes and wooden shutters, I would pull my covers up over my head, tightly squeeze my eyes shut and try to imagine that it wasn’t storming. I hated night and I hated storms, and both were closing in around me. No matter how hard I tried, the storms wouldn’t go away with even my most earnest imagining, so I would lay there in the dark listening to the skies bellow and roar, and I’d sing to myself, Jesus loves me, this I know.

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What Isn’t Can’t Change What Is

I was suppose to be at my Mimi’s house tonight. My Aunt and Momma would be leaning on the counter in the kitchen talking about their kids. My Dad and Uncle would be in the living room with my brothers and sisters and cousin catching up and laughing. My Mimi and Nana would be laying out the final plans for tomorrow, when to put the ham in and take the rolls out, etc. Place cards and table linens would be set aside and ready to lay out before we left for church tomorrow so that when guests started to arrive for lunch, everything would be ready. Poppy would be doing dishes and I’d be drying. We’d be talking about books and theology. He’d say something like, “You sure are pretty” and I’d tell him he was a blind old man. We’d laugh. We’d all be together, and it would be wonderful. It would feel like home. It would feel right.

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Monthly Treasures

March Treasures 2020

I’ve wanted to do this for awhile now. I absolutely love short lists of fun, helpful, (and sometimes purely delightful) things from other writers, and thought it would be fun to start my own. Maybe you’ll enjoy them as much as I do, or maybe, it’ll just be a fun way for me to find joy in crazy seasons and intentionally take note of them. Either way, here are some treasures I found helpful, smile-inducing, and delightful in March. (A few weeks late, because that’s how I roll.) This month’s edition consists of one of my favorite authors reading me his books each night, laughter in suffering, a tool for more intentional prayer, a recipe for a s’more/Oreo treat that will change your life, a movie to watch, an article reminding us where we ought to focus our minds and hearts, and more.

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I Love You From Over Here

The door bell rang yesterday afternoon, which startled me, because as with most of you I’m certain, it’s been weeks since anyone came over. On the front step, there was a package addressed to me. I didn’t remember ordering anything or winning any giveaways, so I was puzzled. When I opened the box (after Clorox wiping it down of course), I cried a few tears of joy. The packing slip inside listed my address as the delivery, but my sweet friend as the one who ordered it. There was a box of sleepy time tea, a candle, a chocolate bar, and a face mask.

My friend who sent this knew that I struggled with anxiety and sleeping most of the time, and also knew it had gotten worse with all of the uncertainty in the air the last few weeks. She knew that I’d been at an emotional low before any of this started and was well aware of the things heavy on my heart and mind. She’s the kind of friend that brings you flowers and has you over to watch a funny movie when life’s tough, because loving people for her is second nature. She sees the need in your eyes, and then sets aside her own desires and needs to help you. She’s really good at loving people, and not just when it’s easy.

When there’s a pandemic and she can’t come hug you and bring chocolate and flowers like she usually does, she mails you a little treat in a box and texts you pictures of yellow tulips every morning instead. She doesn’t let the social distancing and difficult circumstances get in the way of loving people. She just replaces her normal “I love you” with “I love you from over here.”

And we all should be doing the same thing.

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Of Wonder & Gratitude

The window beside my desk is open just now and the spring breeze rustles in. The soundtrack from Little Women is playing in the background and combined with the song of the birds just outside, it is a rather magical atmosphere. It’s easy to be thankful in this moment, where beauty and peace seem to swirl around me canceling the chaos and confusion of the broken world. It is in moments like these where my heart responds with glee to the command in 1 Thessalonians, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

But it was not easy last week when I was frantically reading the headlines. It was not easy when my job was canceled, several trips I’d been anticipating were delayed, and the question mark was placed on the calendar for the next time I would see my church family in person. It was not easy when my Mom got sick and was quarantined in her room for five days (just to make sure whatever she had wasn’t serious and it didn’t spread, she is better now). It was not easy last week. It will not be easy in the future. But all things considered, it should be. Because, as a Christian, I’ve been given so much. But I forget it so often. I think many of us do.

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When He Becomes All Our Hope & Stay

Panic attacks, nightmares, and anxieties surrounding conflict or change have long been large parts of my life. I remember when I was little, I would dream that my Dad would be mortally wounded by an escaped evil warrior with an undetectable poison disguised as a Reese’s cup while traveling. (I’d like to take this moment and thank my vivid and rather eccentric imagination for that.) I would wake up sweating and seek to find comfort in the normalcy of life. My little brother would be sleeping beside me, his steady breath and toddler hands clutching his blue blankie brought me comfort.

Everything is okay. Dad is okay, because life is still the same. Evil warriors with Reese’s poison aren’t real.

I’d roll over and go back to sleep, comforted by steadiness that was found externally when internally I was overcome with a dreadful sense of chaos and confusion.

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Hope for Broken Hearts & Pandemics

Life is short, it’s true. But boy, it can be hard sometimes. We are living in strange and confusing times. Universities are closing, borders are locking down, and everyone seems to have the answer to all questions regarding the pandemic. The confusing part is that everyone’s answers are different and while we all think we’re experts, the truth is that none of us are. We haven’t ever dealt with something like this, and can’t pretend that we have. What we can do is the same thing we ought to be doing in any uncertainty or trial: praise God and make Him known among the nations.

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