High School

My last two years of high school I attended Bethel Regional High School in Bethel, Alaska. It’s a bush town out on the tundra. The only way to get there is by plane, boat, or in winter, via snowmachine or the ice road. When I was living there the population was somewhere around six thousand. I moved from tropical Haiti to frozen Alaska and it was quite a shock to the system. I walked around in a heavy coat the first summer, but eventually I got used to it. It was the first time in my life that I did not have any tan lines. I’m sure my skin appreciated the break. 

I remember my senior year a girl I knew called me and asked me if I would be willing to tutor her in geometry. I was surprised and a little confused. Umm. I’ve never tutored before, I’m not sure how helpful I would be. Then the girl assured me that our math teacher, Mr. Guffin, had been the one who told her to call me. Oh. Ok. (Mr. Guffin thinks I can tutor someone??) Well, sure, I guess I could tutor you. 

The tutoring went well, she was able to get her grade where it needed to be, and the next semester another girl called and asked me to tutor her for Alegebra 2, also saying Mr Guffin had suggested she call me. I tutored her as well and she was able to pass her class too. 

I would have never thought that I could tutor someone in math. I would never have volunteered to do it. I would have never thought myself qualified to do it. But my teacher saw that I could, pushed me in that direction, and my confidence grew and I learned how to tutor math. 

I ended up writing for the school newspaper. Another thing I had no previous interest in and didn’t really think of it as something I would be capable of doing. A teacher pushed me in that direction and I ended up learning how to conduct interviews, and do layout on a computer. 

My gym teacher declared that everyone in his class would do calisthenics and running and become competent in a long list of sports. I did not think these were things I could do. But, it was required so I did it. And learned that I was actually capable of these things and could even semi-enjoy them. (Ok, maybe I didn’t quite become competent in all the sports, but I definitely made improvements!) 

I was not signed up for band class because I did not play any band instruments. But the band teacher learned very early on that I could play piano. He volunteered (voluntold) me to be the band accompanist. I accompanied several ensembles for their competitions and performances and I ended up accompanying every single student who performed a solo for band competition. And one time, when they were short somebody, I played the timpani. All things I did not think I could do. But the teacher said yes, you can do this, here’s the music, get busy. 

My best friend pushed me to be a class officer. Did I want to do this? No. Did I do it anyway? Yes. Did I learn a lot in the process? Yes. 

When I look back, I think of these last two years of high school as the golden years. I was learning who I was and what I was capable of doing. I made some great friends. My teachers were supportive and involved. My classmates were friendly enough. I was good friends with some, acquaintances with others, slightly nodding recognition with a handful. But no bullies. No kids that I felt the need to avoid at all costs. 

This is what I want for my own children. I want school to be a place where they are pushed to try new things, pushed to excel. Pushed to be more, do more. A safe environment with at least a handful of friends. 

We are looking at making some changes for next school year when we have a junior and freshman in high school. While our local high school was a great experience for our oldest daughter, a reasonable experience for our son and a decent experience for our other daughter, we’ve reached a place where it is not meeting the needs of our fourth daughter and we have concerns for our upcoming freshman. And while I struggle because I want to support our neighborhood school and I believe in their vision and I applaud the efforts of many of their staff, I can’t help wanting my kids to have the same thing I did. And right now it looks like we will have to branch out to find it. 

I’ll write more about this later. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s Thanksgiving morning and my heart is bubbling over with contentment and wonder. The last several days my mind has been taking a walk down memory lane and I’ve been really focused on God’s protection over me over the years, and how he used specific people in every phase of my life to offer me that protection and care. 

I think about past teachers who offered me friendship and encouragement…a certain Ms Iutzi comes to mind, my English teacher in Bethel, Alaska. She genuinely loved her students, opened her classroom as a hangout place, was always handing me new books to read, laughed at my jokes, and has continued to be an encouraging person in my life, even now, twenty-five years later. 

I think about my dear friend Louima who became my big brother in college and still is someone I count as family and someone I continue to learn from as he shares his wisdom in his writing. 

I think about my dear friend Telena who became my friend and mentor when I first moved to Tennessee. We’ve shared a lot of life together and her wisdom and common sense helped me a lot as I first started on the path of marriage and motherhood. 

I think about my dear friends Francie and Rob whose ministry has led me to a place of wholeness and healing in my life. 

I think about my pastors at our church who have offered counsel, prayer, and a helping hand over the years. 

My parents and my husband’s parents who have continued to be there for us through thick and thin. 

My friends on Facebook who take the time to write encouraging notes that brighten up my day. 

Strange as it might sound, those friendships represent to me God’s care for me. His protection. His sovereignty that knew I needed those people at those times to help carry me through. 

This is only the tiniest sample of people that have blessed me. I’m thankful for all of you. I’m thankful for God’s care for me. I’m thankful that we have this day to stop and name what has brought joy to our lives. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May you have a blessed day!

God Comfort Us

This past week a very dear friend of ours passed away unexpectedly. It happened right at the same time that my dad was fighting for his life in a covid unit. My dad is now much improved and we are giving thanks to God for saving his life. But, that opens a giant can of worms. How do you give God glory for saving someone, healing them, and then at the same time have an incident where God did not save. Did not heal. 

I have had quite a few Christian friends who have lost loved ones during this pandemic. And it seems like we have to be really careful how we speak. Saying that God really loved your sick family member and that is why he healed them and they got better…it just seems to imply that God did NOT love those who died. And we know that is not true. 

And so I sit here and wonder, how do we give glory to God for the times that he has healed, without inflicting wounds on those who did not get the healing they needed. 

I feel like I need to pull back a bit and look at the big picture. The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks the question, “What is man’s primary purpose?” and the answer is, “Man’s primary purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” I think we have a hard time holding onto that purpose. 

If we are honest, we would say that we are here to enjoy our families and friends. We are here to enjoy and explore the earth. We are here to serve other people. We are here to enjoy the pursuit of happiness. I don’t think glorifying God and enjoying him forever are something we think about a whole lot. If we’re being honest. 

And if you look at the reasons we think we are here: loved ones, adventure, service, happiness; then death does not make sense. It cuts all of that off. It is the end of all those things. It’s also the end of us enjoying the person who has died. And that just sounds horrible. 

Death was not part of God’s original Garden of Eden Plan. Death entered in with sin. And it wasn’t until Jesus came and made things right that we really had anything positive to say about death. Now death means that we are present with God. (Spoiler alert: Revelation tells us that one day Jesus will bring an end to death too.) 

When a believer dies they have fulfilled their ultimate purpose. They are now with God, face to face, glorifying him and enjoying him forever. When we mourn, we are mourning for ourselves. Our loss. We are the ones suffering. Not our beloved who has passed away from this life into a glorious reunion with Jesus. Knowing this does not diminish our pain or shorten our time of mourning.  But maybe it can change the way we talk, the way we view healing versus death. 

Death is not something we seek after. After all, God has put us on this earth for a period of time, and he has things he wants us to do while we are here (Ephesians 2:10). God is the only one who knows when that time is up. And according to Psalm 139:16 the number of our days were decided long before we were born. While healing prolongs our time here on earth, so that we can fulfill God’s plans for our lives, death ushers us into our ultimate purpose, to glorify and enjoy God. 

Despite all this head knowledge, it doesn’t make it easier to accept the loss of my friend. And I counted him as a close friend, and I think most people who knew him also considered him a close friend. It was because he was genuinely interested in every person he talked to. He gave his full attention, asked questions, remembered past details. When he talked to you, you felt seen and important. I can’t imagine our church without him and all the creativity and imagination he brought to any project he tackled. 

While I know that he is in heaven enjoying God, I know that his family and friends are without him. And that is a tragedy. And while I know that one day, it will all make sense. I know that it doesn’t today. And I’m angry at the suffering. And I’m heartbroken at the pain. And life seems upside down and backwards. 

Blessed are those who mourn. For they will be comforted. 

God comfort us. 

It’s a Place Worth Fighting For

I went jogging in my neighborhood this morning. I looped around and went over some sections of the road twice. I finished running and started walking towards my house. An elderly woman came rushing as fast as she was able, out of her house. She had a big grin and was holding a cold bottle of water. She called out, I’ve been watching you! And handed me the bottle of water. I’m Karen! And then she turned to go back to her house. 

The other day I was jogging/walking and I had hit my walking stretch and another lady called to me from her porch, wanting to know if I got out at a regular time every day, wondering if I wanted to join her on her morning walks. She also wanted to know if I needed a drink of water. 🙂

This morning, as I was running down a familiar road, I realized that I had a nodding acquaintance with almost all of these neighbors. My kids had played with a lot of their kids. I passed another lady out running and we waved at each other. We met last summer when a different neighbor held a block party. Her kids bring their dog to come greet my dog pretty regularly. 

Our next door neighbor has a little girl who is best friends with my foster daughter. That friendship, and their willingness to have my daughter over to play regularly, has been a life-saving thing for us. 

I ran into another neighbor at the grocery store last week. I testified at the trial of the murder of his son. He came up to tell me how the family was doing now that the trial is over. 

One of our elderly, very civic minded couples that live in our neighborhood has started a text chat with as many neighbors as they can add. I think we have forty people on the chat right now, and they are always looking for more people who want to join. They talk about the monthly neighborhood meetings, a community garden that we have down at the park, congratulations to the new parents on the birth of their child, does anyone know who this stray dog belongs to? (pictures attached!) 

Neighborhoods are great things. Our neighborhood has had a rough year. Lots of gun violence, deaths, craziness in our high school. At times I have had the thought, we should just move. This is ridiculous. We talk about it. Where would we want to live? (Definitely the country!) Wouldn’t a small rural school be better? But so far, every time I think about moving, I have a check. No. Not now. This isn’t the right time. 

And I think we don’t give enough thought to what we would be giving up. We have lived in this community for almost seventeen years now. And it’s taken us a long time to establish all these connections. But they’ve been established. They are here. This is our neighborhood. This is our community. And it’s a good community. Lots of good people. 

And I guess this is part of the  answer to the question a lot of people think, but don’t come right out and ask..Why do I live here? Why haven’t I moved? Because it’s home. It’s a good home. And it’s worth staying and fighting for the changes needed to make it a safer and better place. 

Adventures with Friends

We just spent a long weekend with our friends down on the coast of South Carolina. We’re driving back to Tennessee now, car full of kids, favorite music playing, kids counting down the minutes before we can stop at McDonalds for lunch and get a Happy Meal. We’ve got the three youngest sitting right behind our seats, my husband is driving with earplugs in because the high shrill voices of small children wears him down. 

We had a wonderful time playing, kayaking, visiting the beach. As we were talking with our friends, we realized that we have been friends for seventeen years. That seems unbelievable. We met when we were all newlyweds with babies. We were remembering the first camping trip we did together. I was very pregnant, it rained, we set up a canopy and cooked under it while we threw all our kids into our van which happened to have a tv in it. 

Over the years we have done life together, in a very real way. Together we’ve figured out parenting challenges, marriage challenges, career challenges. We’ve encouraged each other in our spiritual walks. We’ve babysat. We’ve crashed at each other’s houses. We’ve taught each other our favorite hobbies. 

Our friends have moved around while we’ve stayed put, but we still manage to see each other a couple times a year.

And the old quote comes to mind,

 “Make new friends, but keep the old; Those are silver, these are gold.” Joseph Parry

Yesterday our friends took all the little kids to a playground while my husband and I took some of the older kids on a bike ride. It wasn’t until later that I realized that I had given my friends zero instructions on how to take care of my children and I had given my kids zero instructions on listening and obeying. Because it wasn’t necessary. I already know they can handle my kids. My kids already know these adults and respect their rules. These are people I don’t have to give backstory to. These are people that I can not call for months, and then send a random text about a random topic and I know it won’t be a problem. 

Gold. 

Friendships are funny things. They ebb and flow. They aren’t something we have a lot of control over. Sure, we can choose to be the best friend possible, but it has to be reciprocated. Sometimes it is, and it’s wonderful, sometimes we just change and grow apart. Sometimes we reconnect later, when our lives and interests intersect again, and sometimes we just remain a fond memory from the past. Whatever the case, long-term friends are rare and precious things and I am very thankful for them. 

I would post some pictures of our trip, but I don’t have any because I was too busy having fun. All I have are a couple pictures of kids squinting into the sun. Ah well. My son asked me today if I had taken a “mind picture” of something, so I could remember it for later. So, yes. I’ve got a whole album of Mind Pictures and another chapter added to our Adventures With Friends. 

Revelation at the Park

There is a park about two miles from our house. I know that it is two miles because we have all ridden our bikes there before, the small ones being pulled in a bike trailer, and after such a feat, the kids wanted to know just how far they had gone. 

We’ve been visiting this park for fifteen years. My kids call it Dragon Park. That is not it’s name. But, there is a large plastic dragon head that kids can climb on, and from the very beginning that is how it has been remembered. 

We just spent two hours there this afternoon. It’s one of my daughters’ birthdays and that is what she wanted to do for her special day. Some of the kids took their skates and skated on the walking track while I walked two miles as well. Afterwards the kids played on the playground, while I sat on a bench watching the action. 

One of my girls found a classmate playing and they had a great time together. The four year old found other kids his size and they all ran around squealing together, playing who-knows-what. A dad with a little tiny girl, maybe 8 months old, walked past, he was holding her hands to help her walk,  and the little one stopped and stared at me. Dad, embarrassed, nodded hi and apologetically said, “She likes to stare.” I grinned back, said hi to the sweet little thing, happy that she happened to walk past me. She was adorable. 

More families showed up while I was sitting and watching. Dads with toddlers. Grandmas with grandsons. Hovering moms. All colors. All sizes and shapes. 

As far as parks go, it’s really not a big park. There is a walking track, about a quarter of a mile round that circles the park and a green field. There is a small pavilion with four picnic tables and bathrooms in the back. It usually has a nice water fountain with a place to fill water bottles, but Covid seems to have shut that feature down.  There is lots of fun playground equipment, and on one end, a rock garden with some young trees and a tall metal post that, in the summer, lets off a cooling spray when you press the big silver button. 

It is wide open, not many trees, and I always feel the presence of the sky when I am sitting there, face turned to the sun’s rays. 

Today, while I was walking the track, I turned on my Bible app and listened to the book of Revelation being read out loud. And I’ll tell you what my impression was, as I walked in our quiet little park, the sound of children’s laughter everywhere. The main thought that ran through my head was, This is All Too Big For Me. Throne rooms with mystic creatures, judgements, a march of events that cannot be stopped. The awesomeness of being in the presence of God. I felt very small and frankly, quite content in my smallness. I like my life here. I like my family. I like the routine I have carved out for myself. I like life to continue in the patterns that I’m used to. I love Jesus, but today, the thought of being in front of his throne, in front of his Holiness and his Majesty…that felt overwhelming. 

And then there are all the judgements. Do I have to figure out when and where and how? Cause honestly, it all sounds baffling. 

As I was sitting on the bench in my little park, the last chapter of Revelation came through my headphones. And one section stood out to me.

“10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

Revelation 22: 10-12

I know for certain that Jesus is going to return and when he returns, there will be judgement. And I can rest in knowing that everything that happens here on this earth, now and in the future, is in God’s hands. But, in the meantime, let the righteous continue to be righteous, the holy continue to be holy. And our righteousness and holiness come from being in Christ. And while there is a sense of urgency to fulfill The Great Commission, to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all the world, after all, judgement is coming for everyone either at death or when Jesus returns…despite that urgency, I also felt peace. I don’t know when all these things are going to happen that Revelation speaks about. I don’t know what it is really going to look like. But I do know that today, I will enjoy being at the park. I will love my children, love my neighbor, do the work that is put in front of me. Live the life that is given me today. And that is enough for now. 

It’s Been Rough on the Kids

One of my little kids just came inside and told us that she heard gunshots. THREE SHOTS! REALLY FAST! I looked at my husband, he said, tell the kids to come inside. I called everyone in. They didn’t want to come in. The gunshots were far away! They weren’t close! Yeah, well, what if the person shooting the gun is in a car and he drives this way? Lets, just come inside for a while. They were disappointed, but came in, and within minutes were distracted by some new game they were playing. 

Such is life in our neighborhood.

Tomorrow the kids won’t go to school because our entire district has gone “RED” due to covid numbers, and so we will have a week of virtual school before Christmas break starts. My kids were not happy about this news. My daughter’s best friend in her class does not have internet in her home. They are an immigrant family, the little girl in my daughter’s class has been diligently learning English this year, and it’s possible that she speaks the best English in her family. Our district is offering help for families to get internet, but some extenuating reason is keeping this family from getting connected to help. My daughter cried and cried because virtual school means she doesn’t see her friend any more. 

Such is life in one of the poorest schools in town. 

We walked down to the park this past Friday afternoon since the weather was nice. There is a Children’s Museum at the park that we used to have a membership to. Covid shut the Muse down and then when they finally opened it was with so many restrictions and weird hoops to jump through, that I decided to not renew our membership until it gets easier. One of my kids saw the Muse, Can we go there???!! No sweetie. Not right now. WHY??? Covid. It’s just made things too difficult. But, we’ll go again as soon as things get easier. 

Such is life with a pandemic.

My three year old informed another sibling that he had friends. What’s their names? I don’t know. But I have friends! He is remembering last year when we were at a homeschooling co-op once a week and he would play with kids his age. I decided to not do the co-op this year, mostly because I didn’t know how Covid was going to affect my public school kids and how often we would be home or in quarantine. Fortunately, my elementary kids have had a good run, no quarantines, been in school all semester till now. But, we didn’t know that in the beginning of the semester, and we have been pretty isolated this year. My three year old is blessed to have lots of siblings who play with him, but he doesn’t see many other children. 

Such is life with social distancing.

It’s been a rough year for our kids. I’ve had a couple kids who have been struggling with depression, anger, frustration that life is not going like it’s supposed to. And it’s really hard to see my kids struggle. It weighs me down. I feel like I’m working overtime to keep my head above water, keep my outlook positive, focus on the good, not the bad, and I finally get into a kinda-good place and then my kids start falling apart, and I start the mentally strenous journey of trying to help them see the good in life, help them focus on the positive, help them get to a kinda-good place…You know, we are supposed to preach the Gospel to our children, well, I would say this has been my most prolific preaching year yet. God’s in control. We need to count our blessings. Let’s talk about the good things that have happened. Let’s pray about it. God has promised to help us. One day at a time. 

We’ve got Christmas coming up, typically a stressful time of year as we try to add celebration preparations to all the other things we have to get done every day. We, as parents, are already running on empty. And with kids being off of school for the holidays, needing time and attention, I am trying to remind myself just how much grace my kids need. 

I have decided that I am not going to take this next week of virtual school too seriously. Sure, we’ll give it our best shot, but if we miss something, or accidentally skip something, or get really confused about something, I’m not going to give it a lot of weight. Oh well. Let’s move on. I’m also not going to try and be super strict about anything this Christmas. You want to watch tv? Sure. Go ahead. We’ll still do our regular chores, and I hope I can keep the kids interested in playing outside, reading books, playing games etc, but if everyone is in meltdown mode? Well, I might pull out some candy canes, or just turn the tv on for several hours. This is not the time for rigid rules or really high standards. We are all mentally exhausted, including our kids. Let’s be as kind as possible to each other. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

On this beautiful fall day in East Tennessee, I sit on the porch with a full stomach after feasting with my family, watching my children run around in the outdoors. And I am thankful. Thankful for family, home, God’s provision for all our needs. I’m thankful for friends and church family. I’m thankful for my online community and all my readers that make this blog fun.

May you be blessed today and full of the joy and peace that comes when you take time to be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!

Birthday Memories

Today is my birthday. Yay me! I am feeling happy and relatively peaceful and relaxed. My day has been pretty ordinary, but I don’t have any errands to run. No appointments to go to. Lots of projects to work on, but no urgent deadlines. My husband is cooking supper tonight and I will probably guilt trip my kids into cleaning the house as a birthday present for me. It’s been a chilly morning and I am so happy that Fall is progressing as it should, unlike last year when summer went over several months more than we wanted it. I even lit a fire in our woodstove. 

This morning I had a sudden memory of my fourteenth birthday, and it was a fun memory to re-live. 

We were living in the North of Haiti. I was attending a little mission school at a nearby Baptist Hospital Compound. There were five of us in high school that year. We all came to school every day, sat at our little cubicle/desks and worked on our own correspondence courses. We had a grown up in the room to help us if we needed it, but we were all pretty much working independently. There was one other girl besides me, Olynda, who was a senior while I was a lowly freshman. Except, in that school, it really didn’t matter. We were all friends. 

As my birthday was approaching, Olynda and I started talking about birthday wishes. What would be the best birthday ever? I said something along the lines of being kidnapped by my friends, and then we’d all skip school and go to a nearby waterfall to play for the day. We laughed and giggled as we elaborated on the guest list and all the things we would do. 

I didn’t think too much more about it after that.

The morning of my birthday came and our family did the normal birthday tradition of getting up early to open presents. Afterwards I was getting dressed, getting ready for breakfast. My brother surprised me by asking if I had brushed my teeth yet. What? Why are you telling me to brush my teeth? That’s weird. I’ll brush them after breakfast. He was very urgent, telling me to go brush my teeth now. Good grief. Irritating older brother. 

I was standing in the living room talking to my mom when I saw her eyes flicker over my shoulder. I glanced around and there was one of the volunteers from the Baptist Hospital, an American nurse named Kristy who offered tutoring help to the highschoolers on occasion. I started to turn around. What is she doing here? It’s early morning. What on earth? Then she rushed up to me and stuck a pillowcase over my head.  I think I went into a bit of shock cause the next couple minutes were a blur. I heard Olynda’s voice and a lot of giggling and I was pushed through the house and into a car. I can’t remember exactly, but I was probably saying something along the lines of, I can’t believe you actually did this!! 

The really funny part was that this all happened during a time of political unrest, and we had to drive through a police checkpoint on our way to the Baptist Compound. Before we got there, Olynda yanked the pillow case off my head. Sorry, we can’t drive through the checkpoint with a pillow case on your head. We all smiled and looked as normal as possible as we drove through, then Olynda stuck the pillowcase back on my head.

When we got to the Compound I discovered that Olynda had arranged and prepared a birthday breakfast with our friends. And while it wasn’t hooky from school or splashing in a waterfall, it was definitely one of the best surprises I have ever had on my birthday. 

Thank you Olynda (and Kristy!) for the great memories!

You Don’t Belong Here

You don’t belong here. 

This has long been a theme in my life. As a white American child growing up in Haiti, I felt it, You don’t belong here. Even in Haiti among the different missionary groups, each group keeping to themselves, You don’t belong here. 

Living in Eastern Kentucky, attending a small country school with the name Esther Picazo. Every time my name was called to take roll, it was there, as the teacher stumbled over how to pronounce Picazo, You don’t belong here. 

Maybe the only time in my childhood that I didn’t feel that singling out was when we lived in Bush Alaska, in a town that was about half Y’upik Eskimo and half white Americans. Somehow, the culture of that little town made me feel welcome, even if it was only for a couple years. 

But then college, as I walked past a group of tall, tanned, blond girls, all talking about fashion and their latest dates, I felt it radiating out to me, You don’t belong here. 

My time in Chile was more of the same, as I struggled to communicate in my very poor Spanish, a look of surprise and then, Oh, You don’t belong here! 

Moving to our little city here in Eastern Tennessee, everywhere you go, there are pre-existing groups of friends. Polite, but still holding up the invisible sign, You don’t belong here. 

And over time, you learn how to make your own groups of friends, you carve out your own little niche. Create your own little cliques. A fortress where you can stand and say, This is where I belong! Though sometimes the walls of that fortress are a little shaky. Sometimes they don’t withstand time. Sometimes those friend groups dissolve. Sometimes the cliques reform and suddenly you are not on the inside, but are left out in the cold, You don’t belong here. 

And sometimes I forget. I think it’s just me. I’m the only one that feels this way. Everyone else belongs. I’m the only outsider. 

Except. If you listen to enough people. Really listen. You find out. Most people feel this way at some time or another. 

Many years ago, during a worship service at our church, God gave me a vision. I was standing in heaven, before the throne of God and my knees were shaking and I was overawed. And God spoke in this thundering voice and he said, What right do you have to be standing here? And I almost panicked. Surely this was the end. I had no right to be here. I was so sinful and imperfect. But then, I looked at myself, and I realized that I was entirely covered, head-to-toe in a white gown, all my imperfections were hidden underneath this gown. And I spoke boldly. I said, I can be here because I’m covered. I’m covered with Jesus’ righteousness. And I showed off the gown. And God smiled his approval. And my fear went away. I knew everything was ok. I could be there. I was welcomed. I belonged. 

The last verse to the hymn Solid Rock has been going through my head.

When he shall come with trumpet sound,

O may I then in him be found,

dressed in his righteousness alone,

faultless to stand before the throne. 

And maybe that’s just another reason I love Jesus so much. He claimed me. He paid the price for my sin. He opened up a way for me to be with him and he stands with open arms and says, Come, this is where you belong. With me.