My heart is flooded. Overwhelmed. Longing to weep. Why is it that we can’t let ourselves wail and weep? There are many cultures that actually know how to mourn. No one in those cultures look at a mourning person like they are crazy for wailing, laying on the ground, covered in snot.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”
My close friend, Rich Caldwell, (Flyleaf’s sound engineer of ten years) was like a brother to me. I went to his funeral last year. The strangest thing about the whole experience was how badly I wanted to lay on the ground and wail at the top of my lungs, but how obvious it was, that to do that, would not have been appropriate. And then I thought how strange it was that everything was so very quiet. It sounded like a packed library. So many people moving slowly and whispering.. no one really talking… no one really crying…
But everything in me wanted to just pour out my heart of mourning and questions, out loud, before God. I wished everyone there could have done the same.
Maybe if they had loud enough music and dark enough lights, people could actually have done that. Maybe if they had done that, I would have had the courage to do what I really wanted to do: Put my hands on the casket and boldly and loudly ask Jesus to raise Rich from the dead. I was so mad. I still am mad that he died. It’s like I’m mad at death itself. It just seems like he still has so much more do… like raise his 3 year old son, have more babies, love his wife Katy, and travel the world and see how great he has done impacting the lives of so many people. I’m not complaining about the funeral. It was one of the most beautiful and sobering experiences of my life. I’m just wondering about why things are the way they are.
I felt so sad for Katy because she had to sort of host the funeral. I just think it’s so unfair to expect someone’s widow to meet and greet dozens of people when she just lost her husband… But I suppose Katy didn’t think of it the way I think about meet and greets, where you have to give everyone something… Maybe people were really giving her what she needed. But at the time, I was so concerned about being another person to entertain, that I didn’t know if I should even go hug her. But when I did, it was so very hard for me not fall apart and wail and start yelling at God while I had her in my arms. Even now as I type this, the memories come back… but because my son is in the other room, I have to hold my breath while I weep, so that he won’t be scared of my demonstrative mourning.
I think this was one of my favorite parts about being in a rock band. Being on stage during a rock concert is one of the only places I can think of where you can let all your emotions out, and let the full spirit of what you are performing take over your body. It’s totally appropriate to lay on the ground and scream into the microphone, as the lead singer of a rock band. If I felt like it, I could even skip a verse and spend the whole time on my face praying, with my mourning heart, over the dark audience. I could change the lyrics and spit, with passion and fullness, the truth I wanted to speak into that particular city. I could yell at the top of my lungs about my love for God, or I could scream from the depth of my heart justice and triumph over evil.
Today I was praying. All of the sudden, an understanding came over my heart about how much God loves and trusts us. At the first glimpse of this understanding, my heart broke, like anyone’s would who’s a hard time hanging onto this truth in the face of tragedy. I know God loves us, but I don’t always understand it. I don’t always feel it. My head knows it’s true, but my heart doesn’t always sense it’s truth. But once I started to understand it this morning, I felt the tears welling up. As I kept praying, it was like the curtain was being pulled back more and more. Light was slowly spreading the warmth of revelation across my heart.
The more I understood, the more my heart broke. I found myself holding my breath so I wouldn’t wail. Finally, my heart was just completely melted by this understanding of the love of God for all people. I could hardly sit up. But for some reason, I held myself in check. I would not let myself go. It felt so similar to how I felt at Rich’s funeral. Only I wasn’t mourning my friend’s death and all that it meant. I was simply overwhelmed with the love of God for all people.
The love of God is not something you can simply read about and understand. If you do understand at all, it’s because God has pulled back a curtain in your heart. It’s because you are in such a vulnerable, quiet place that you can hear, and see.. and for some reason you have become open to letting God teach you about His love. It’s definitely something you can pray for. And I think it is one of the greatest prayers we can actually pray. I think it’s one God loves to answer.
“Lord God, who made all people and the whole universe. Help me understand your love for me and for the world.”
But it’s also a prayer that can wreck your life. You start to realize how wrong your priorities have been. You start to realize how your idea of love is so puny and not anything like true love at all. You start to understand how little you value yourself compared to how valuable you really are, and how silly the things we complain, worry and fight about are. All of this understanding can happen in an instant. This is one of the reasons it’s so overwhelming to begin to understand the love of God. This is one of the reasons why some people cry when they worship God. They are not singing a song about nice ideas. They are singing to and about the living God of all creation who is Himself Love. He is the very purpose we were created.
Every time we turn our whole heart towards Him, there is a the very real possibility of having a true encounter with the God of the universe who made you. We start to realize, in that moment, how we can do nothing without Him, and that with Him all things are possible.
True moments with God can be so overwhelming that we absolutely must let go of everything we are holding onto, in order to really grasp it. That’s why the whole affair can become quite undignified. There is a part in the Bible where King David is so taken by the joy of the Lord that He took off all his clothes, except his underwear, and danced before the Lord with all his might.
While King David was dancing, his wife looked out the window and saw him. She immediately despised him in her heart. As soon as he came inside to greet her she commented angrily about how ridiculous it was for a king to be dancing, half naked, in front of slave girls, like a vulgar person.
King David’s response was:
“I will celebrate before the Lord and be even more undignified than this!”
There was a moment there where King David could have heeded to this demonic stronghold of ‘respectability’ that demands we care more about what people will think than we care about giving our whole hearts and lives to God. But instead, King David refused to let the opinions of people quench the fire in his heart for God. He wouldn’t even put His own wife in front of His relationship with God.
I’ve recently heard the phrase many times, “Praying something through.” I read a book on my plane trip to South Africa called ‘Remarkable Miracles’ It was about this man who had seen so many miracles happen in his life, he couldn’t even fit them all into his 300 page book. But the basic idea was that no matter what he was praying for, he always allowed time to ‘pray it through’. If he went to pray with a person, he would make sure they got ‘prayed through’. Many times, for some reason, they would all end up on the floor, wailing. But by the end of the ‘praying it through’, which took anywhere from a few minutes, to several days of only praying (not even eating), there was always an amazing miracle that would happen. I don’t think many of us are willing to spend the time or risk the embarrassment of what may happen during the process of getting our breakthrough.
I think when Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” He may be referring to people who are facing life for what it really is, and letting themselves go… to the point where all their reservations about being honest before God and man are gone. I think He is referring to people who are willing to take the time and the potential mockery from others, to truly mourn and also worship. He wants genuine relationship with us, not a respectable religious stance. He wants our hearts, not our lip service or our respectable works. He wants us to be real with Him. And when we are real, then he can really comfort us. When we cry out to Him with our whole heart, then He is able to respond to our whole heart with His comfort.
A year ago, Jack was rushed in an ambulance to the ER after hours at home with a cough. He began to struggle for breath. The doctors said we made it there within minutes of losing him. I remember cringing when the doctor told me she wanted to put my little Jack on an IV. I prayed, asking God if this was okay to allow and He spoke a clear and peaceful ‘yes’ to my heart. “Yes, Father. He belongs to you. I trust You.” I am so bewildered as to how people can go through such trauma without faith in God. I know I would have cussed out every doctor and nurse in that place when they tried to poke and prick my little one year old. I know it sounds irrational since I came to the hospital so they could fix him… but I certainly would not have had the strength to be rational without my faith in God, holding my heart still, while I helped hold my boy down so a large jaded man could shove the needle into Jack’s tiny hand. The man couldn’t find the vein while Jacks whole body went purple with screaming, which, at that point, was only in horrific half-second bursts. Then, without a breath in or out for the next very long five seconds, tears fell continuously out of his huge, agonized, searching little eyes. They seemed to look at me like, “I don’t understand! What is this pain?! Why are you letting them do this?! Why are you holding me down?! Please rescue me, comfort me! Pick me up please! Help me, Momma, help me please!” I thought about how two of my brothers must have looked at the Lord that way as they suffered through addiction, withdrawal, depression, and self loathing as they would fail to beat their demon again. “Why won’t you heal me?! Why won’t you set me free?! Where is the Spirit that released all these people I hear of, in an instant?! It seems like I’m crying out to closed, iron curtain in the heavens! I believe! Help! Please! Why won’t you help?! I’ll die without your intervention… Don’t you love me like you say?! Have mercy, oh, God, have mercy!!”
I cried at this look in his eyes, while I sang a lullaby prayer of mercy in tongues softly in his ear. I called him by his full name, Joshua Lewis, so I could bless him with the meaning it carries. God saves famous warrior, be strong and very courageous. After it was finished his color went back to normal while I defied the nurses instruction and allowed him to nurse like he was frantically trying to do with or without my help. His eyes relaxed, rolling back with relief, as he relaxed in my arms. He fell asleep almost instantly. I ran my fingers through his hair that was now drenched with sweat from him trying with all his might to resist being held down. I blew a stream of cool air over his face and wiped the beads of sweat off his nose, cheeks, chin and forehead. I loved him intensely as I watched him finally rest from all he had been through that day. I prayed for my cousin who had recently lost her five year old after a two year battle with cancer… I cried for their sweet family who had seen so much unimaginable agony, and lost their faith in the process. There is no silence like the unanswered prayer for relief for your hurting child. I hoped my boy wouldn’t misunderstand me while I held him down for the doctors to torture him. I hoped he wouldn’t push me away and stop trusting me. Thankfully he is not old enough to be unforgiving and hold a grudge. He clung to me like he knew I was still a safe place. I was so thankful he let me kiss him and rock him and nurse him.
I don’t know why God seems to hold us down sometimes and let us be tortured. I know that afterwards it would be so lonely without a Heavenly Abba Father to cling to. I imagine my hurt for my boys pain and my relief for his faith in me after I let things he can’t understand happen to him, is just a drop in an ocean of these kind of feelings God must have for us as we go through the painfully unexplainable things we go through. I’m not making God in my image, I’m made in His. I love because He does, and I must hurt because he does too.
I notice that lately I have begun to think in tweets and facebook posts. My eyes are welling up with tears as I write this. I have no idea why this feels wrong, but it just feels so wrong and defeating. Since I was little I have always thought of my life as a movie with other people watching. Maybe that is because The Neverending Story was my first favorite movie that I watched over and over. The concept was presented to me as early as I can remember – that the character Atreyu was being watched and read by Bastian, and I was a character watching Bastian and Atreyu and somewhere someone else was watching me, Bastian and Atreyu. So maybe this warped my thinking a little bit. And maybe it helped me to do some things in a better way. Maybe it made me take more opportunities to be heroic in my life.
As I learned in Flyleaf, to have people always watching you as if you are on a stage, can totally warp your identity and way of thinking. Not everyone is always ready to be on a world-wide stage where what they do, say and think has the potential to be documented forever on the internet. I know for me this was the heaviest weight about being in Flyleaf. I knew people were watching, listening and learning from the smallest things about our lives.
There are things I remember about my Aunt growing up that are so small and insignificant to her, but to me they are as clear as day, because she was my hero. My heart was set on learning all I could about her and about how to be like her. I recognized this same heart in some of the people who watched us.
In seasons where my heart was in a terrible place and I couldn’t figure out left from right for my own self, the weight of others trying to tell right from left by watching my life almost crushed me to death. I had condemned celebrities in my heart for their carelessness in leading people. So now that I was carrying a platform, and falling into my own hell and all of the sudden had the potential of leading others to damnation with me. All the condemnation I had passed onto celebrities, was falling on my own head. I thought, “They need to be stripped of that platform that they are abusing” and when it was me I thought “I need to be stripped of my life that I am abusing.”
With fame, there also comes a weird paranoia that is rooted in a wise idea. The idea of being guarded is beautiful wisdom on so many levels. The idea of wearing different hats for different situations is important and keeps you sane. To be able to know the difference between someone who is: 1. talking to you because they care about you and your life and are genuinely interested in you, verses someone who is 2. talking to you only because they have something to gain or benefit from talking to you, verses 3. someone who you are leading, verses someone who is your family, verses 4. someone who is waiting for you to fail so they can crucify you. This is a great wisdom and there are different hats to wear in front of each person in order to guard yourself in a healthy way, but if you aren’t careful this can lead to crazy paranoia that you can never trust anyone ever. You can become so guarded and compartmentalized that you don’t know who you are anymore. It’s important not to lose the real you. It’s important to find out who the real you is and to love that person. That person is God’s great idea, His work of Art, His beloved masterpeice… that is you.
A lot of times we emphasize maximizing every great thing we think we have, using it for favor with people, to teach people, to market and make a name for ourselves, but I think this mentality can begin to squash the sacred, intimate, uniqueness of who we truly are. How can we know who we are when no one’s looking, if we are in the mindset that everyone is always looking?
Once I was laying in the grass in my backyard on a hot day in Texas. I was in the middle of the yard where I hardly ever stepped. As something tickled my hand I lifted it up to my face to find the most amazing iridescent, tiny bug. The colors on its body where phenomenal. He glowed with colors I had never seen before and the glory of God’s divine fingerprints were all over this creature. It occurred to me, (in that moment before twitter existed) that God had made something that would cause people to have a sense of awe over Him that no one would ever see. This tiny, living creature would probably live its whole life forging the terrain of my backyard and die here. It probably had family members that we just as phenomenal and no one would ever see them hidden somewhere in my backyard. Then I thought of the ocean and how amazing and unexplored it is. God makes things beautiful that no one will ever see and to him I don’t believe it is ever a waste.
It reminds me of what I heard Beth Moore say about Jesus when she was talking about how people were encouraging him to show His powers to everyone so they would worship Him and praise Him as God. She said, “What they didn’t understand was that Jesus’ goal was not to be a public figure, but to be a personal Savior” He wants relationship with us that is deep, genuine, abiding and sacred.
Like that moment I had with God in my backyard, marveling over the wonder of a bug.. a moment that wasn’t stolen by a snapshot, caption and posting, then being sucked into another world full of people’s A.D.D. chatter. I got to be still and spend that long sacred moment in wonder of our mysterious, loving, beautiful, artistic God.
I’ve noticed lately, that I have begun to experience beautiful moments through my camera lens, instead of with my naked eyes, for the sheer purpose of “blessing others” by putting the image or video on display for the world to ‘like’ and comment on. Something about me being present in the moment gets lost. I’m already in the future, scrolling down to see who saw it and what they will think. There is an eternal moment in the present that I miss when I do this, a connection to eternity, to heaven, to God, that we miss when we are staying in the future (or past) instead of being truly and fully present.
That’s why it makes me cry to think that I am thinking in tweets and facebook posts. I have come to a shallow purpose and short sighted end to revelations and magical moments that could otherwise be explored, marinated on and actually change me for the better. These are moments and revelations I could spend with my family being fully present and fully in love with them, or that I could spend with God riding to the boundaries of my understanding with him as I just sit still, think, imagine, learn, and grow.
What does it mean to be a woman? A wife? A mom? A daughter?
I laid down with my son today and let him nap in my arms this afternoon. This is something I haven’t done in a long time, because I wanted to teach him to sleep on his own. I cried when I first left him to himself, knowing that a season was changing in our relationship that would never come back. He was only going to get older and more independent from here on out. I have been so proud of him maturing in his little heart as he painfully learned that he and mommy are actually two separate people. I love to discover certain things that make up his little personality. He has such a great sense of humor. He is witty, quick and surprises me all the time with his compassion and affection. I am amazed that someone who is not even two years old yet, can be so clearly defined in his heart already, by his own personal passions. He is definitely a passionate little guy.
But today, as we came home from the hospital where we welcomed my new Nephew, Levi Zigmund Sturm, into the world, Jack fell asleep. When I carried him upstairs, I cherished his head on my shoulder so much. I wanted to stop and let myself be present, as Jack’s mom in that moment, to enjoy being his mom, knowing that he is growing so fast. I realized, as I held my 6lb nephew, Ziggy, that it was less than two years ago I held my newborn son for the first time in that same hospital. And yet I could barely remember what it was like to hold someone so new and delicate when I picked up Ziggy. The awe of his little mouth and tiny fingernails seemed brand new to me. Jack has grown into a toddler before I knew what happened, and those moments of awe over him as a newborn seemed a million miles away for some reason, as I marveled over little Zigs.
So when we got inside, instead of laying Jack in his crib I laid down with him and helped him to fall back asleep with a grateful patience I hadn’t felt in a while. A little while after we laid down, he began sleeping deeply. This is usually my cue to slide my arms out from under him and sneak away to take care of things I can only take care of when he is sleeping… and that list is at all times a very long one. But something made me stop and just be grateful for that moment. So I didn’t move and I talked to God. I prayed that He would teach me to be a better mother, so I can help Jack’s heart become all that God intends for his heart to be.
As I was praying, Josh came in and quietly laid down beside us, wrapping his arm around the two of us. I felt the deepest sense of gratitude for my family. All four of us, Jack, the new baby growing in my belly, Josh and I all fit comfortably in our warm bed. After a moment of meditating on how beautiful this was to my heart I whispered to Josh, “I love our family.” My exhausted husband was already asleep. But my words hung in the air above us. My heart ached with love for my family, in a way that I would have missed if I didn’t just wait in that moment to be present with them, to appreciate them and thank God for them.
My heart was overwhelmed with gratitude. The kind that makes you want to say “Thank you God” over and over like a crazy person. The kind of gratitude that makes you long for renewed commitment to priorities. I longed to give my life to my husband and my son and new baby in that moment, like I longed to do in the moment when I said yes to Josh’s question, “Will you marry me?” The love and invitation was a match to the well of kindling in my heart… just waiting to burn for that purpose.. to pour my heart, life, and energy into loving my husband and my children. To give everything I am to them with the greatest joy… a joy I could barely contain without bursting in to tears and weeping with confessions and commitments that sound insane… “Forever I will live my life to love you and to love our children however I can. It is the greatest joy I can imagine in life to love you this way.. with all that I am and have to offer.”
As I laid there with these feelings of joy, gratitude, commitment and overwhelming love renewing in my heart for my family, I realized a picture of a wife, and a mom was glowing in my heart. Something so breathtakingly noble, shockingly selfless, and absolutely humble and beautiful. Something I can hardly explain, for fear the words will pale in comparison and not do it near the justice the picture of this phenomenal woman deserves. She is someone that I long to be with all my heart, and someone that I forget I love. She is someone who gives out of true love. She does not give out of guilt, coercion, force or threat.. not out of competition, religious weight, compulsion, ritual, or a desire to be righteous.. but she gives out of desperate, humble, awe and gratitude for the priceless gift she recognizes that her family is. She gives out of the joy of loving, with her eyes totally set on the highest good, and well being of her loved ones. All of this founded on the fact that she has been given a miraculous gift by God, to be called to be a wife and a mom to the extraordinary people in her life.
Oh, God, keep my eyes on you and your heart for the people in my life. Don’t let me get tired, lazy and start to drift my eyes to the selfish advertizing my society bombards me with, trying to steal my pure heart away, by accusing me, my God or my husband of being oppressive in order to explain my deep, complete, giving away of myself. Let my eyes stay on yours, You who alone know my heart and its joy to love my family. What an amazing thing.. to be called by God to do the thing you love most in all the world. Thank you for the grace you always have in hand, to supply me with sufficient grace, to be a wife and a mom. Help me to make my God given priorities and commitment to my family more serious in my heart than if I joined the mob. Let me know what it is to find my true self, my true life, my true joy, in laying down my life for what you have called me to do, in being a wife to an amazing man, who blooms into something more phenomenal every day that I love him well, and to an amazing son, who learns from every little nuance of my life, and to a the new baby I’m growing inside my belly, who is the closest person to my Spirit besides you right now. Thank you Jesus for honor, and nobility, and goodness and selflessness and how you have taught us to love… by laying down your life, so that we could truly live. Thank you my Lord and my King.
Kairos is the greek word for God’s perfect time. It’s like an eternal moment in our chronological experience here on earth. It’s what I like to call a Flyleaf moment… A moment of clarity.. A moment where we somehow touch eternity and the eyes of our hearts open up to something beyond our earthly human experience. It’s funny to think my husband was in a band called Kairos before he knew who Flyleaf was. We were both in bands named after a moment with God.
My husband Josh and his brother Jason realized something while playing in a local band a few years ago. Many times, when you’re in a local music scene, you see another band play, and immediately thoughts of comparison and competition flood your thinking. If you can’t relate to this, then girls, we know how this happens when we get ready to present our pretty side to the world at school. We finally arrive on campus, after all our hard work, and immediately begin to judge the appearance of the first girl we see. Even ones we call our close friends.
There is a great line from John Mellencamp’s song ‘Wild Nights’ that I think of whenever I’m getting ready to go out with girlfriends..
‘All the girls walk by, dressed up for each other.’ he sings.
Its true. A lot of our presentation has to do with the fact that we know we will be judged by the girls. But of course there is always that wildcard girl that no one really understands. When you talk to her, she has this mysterious ability to just be herself. You know she is not concerned in the least with your opinion of her. She doesn’t notice your disdainful eyes staring at her weird shoes. If you make a comment about them, she laughs and says something like, “Yea I guess they are kinda weird.” Then she looks up like she is proud of her weirdness. She either has a lot of random friends from every click, or she doesn’t have many friends at all and doesn’t seem to mind. There is no judgement in her for others, so she has a hard time receiving judgement from others.
In the music scene, you rarely come across a band brave enough to be themselves. But when you do, as an artist you are either intrigued, inspired and convicted, or you are condescending and critical, calling your criticism contructive… “If they would only stop twitching like that, and change that stupid shirt then maybe I could listen to their music.”
When we started Passerby as a local band I was always haunted by these words from Jesus:
“You will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” (Matthew 7:2)
I always thought, “If I trash talk a band, somewhere there will be a person trash talking us.” So I always tried to find good things to think and say about the local bands in our area.
Josh and Jason saw all the competition in their local music scene. They had it in their hearts to start a group that would foster local unity and inspiration. They would call the group MAP, the Music Alliance of Pittsburgh. MAP would commit to going to each others shows, supporting each other however they could, and meeting together regularly to be build relationships. When their band broke up a while ago the idea sort of fizzled out. But recently we have picked the idea back up and started a similar version of this calling it MAAP, the Music and Art Aliance of Pittsburgh. We meet once a week, have a meal together and talk about what God is teaching us as artists and musicians. We pray for each other and have become a sweet little family. I’m so proud of the artists in our group and I can’t wait to see all that God will do with these talented, humble leaders.
For the past ten years, Flyleaf music has connected many of us in the deepest places of our hearts, emotionally and spiritually. I hope this website will help me to keep in touch with you, and also to talk more about the questions I get asked the most- questions about life, pain, God, faith, doubt, love, and truth. The music communicates in a very mystical way and allows you to let it mold to your own situation and state of being. I think that is so important. But I also think it’s important to talk to you directly in response to your questions for me about these things. I’m not here to try and make you believe one way or another. I’m not trying to sell you anything. I only want to be available to share what I have been through first hand, so that maybe it will help you feel less alone and hopeless… maybe it will give you courage and new vision. I’ll leave your response up to you.
Most of all I want to communicate honestly and openly. I hope that despite anyone’s background, belief, religion or lack of religion, that we can find common ground as human creatures traveling to the grave together. I long to touch those points we can connect on, despite any differences, without having to hide my own complete and utter dependency on Christ, and my absolute belief in the breathtaking, soul-saving gospel message presented in the scriptures. This is the message that saved my life, and if I told you any different I’d be lying. I was not judged or condemned by God, because Jesus was judged and condemned in my place. So I will not judge or condemn anyone else. Let truth do whatever it does, but Christians must remember, condemnation is what we are delivered from as believers. It is this deliverance we must bring to others also. My hope is that this website will let you know where I will be speaking or singing, share with you what I have been learning and writing, answer your questions and help us to stay in touch.
I have a sacred place in my heart that only two people can see: My husband and my Lord. I am setting those things apart for true love’s sake. But the outskirts of this sacred place, the open fields of many revelations, has been set on a public stage and put in front of thousands of wide eyed searchers of truth… a hungry generation that never feels satisfied… Dear one reading this, Please know that you are worth more than you could ever understand. Your purpose is so profound that the whole world will begin a fresh type of healing as you accomplish it. The truth is your sleeping breath moves the air for all eternity and there is nothing untouched by your existence. Imagine the impact of your words… your actions. You are already changing the world. Please. I beg you. Realize this: You are already changing the world.
I have been changing the world for 30 years now. It was dangerous for my mother to have a second child. She was only 16 and my older brother was only 10 months old. Her petite frame had been through so much already and it was against the advice of the doctors to let me live. Thank you mom for not listening to them. Thank you God for the miracle of saving both our lives.
I’m looking at a puddle of tears on the desk in front of my keyboard. I think there is something of heaven in this puddle. My husband just told me that a couple hours ago a boy fell into the african painted dogs exhibit at the zoo and was mauled to death. Immediately I thought of the one time I remember sitting my son Jack up on the ledge of that exhibit so he could see down into the pit of dogs, since he couldn’t see unless he was up there and I wasn’t tall enough hold him him above it without letting him rest on the ledge. Immediately it went through my head in that moment, that if jack began to squirm he could jump right out of my grip and would fall right into that pit of dogs. I pulled him down and thought, I guess he won’t really be able to see this exhibit because it is too dangerous. When my husband came in and told me about this boys death I covered my ears for some reason as if it would remove the truth of it out of my perception, out of reality. And yet it sunk down from my ears into my heart and immediately I began to sob, and loudly cry bitterly over this tragedy. I’ve heard stories like this before and felt absolutely nothing, feeling only shock and concern over my own lack of feeling.. so disconnected from the world around me… and maybe it is the fact that I am now a mother, or maybe it is that I know the exact spot where it happened very well, in a place that I have visited more times than I can count… maybe it is because of healing that God has done in my heart recently to help me to feel emotional things that I became numb to over the past 10 years… or maybe the God of the universe lives in my heart, and I felt a faint tinge of his grief, his compassion, as a Heavenly Father who had a Son die a gruesome painful death too… Whatever it was, I cried like it was Jack that had fallen. Finally I was able to speak over my emotions through sobs and pray for His glory, “Receive this boy into your Kingdom, Jesus. Comfort these parents and let them know that you are with them and that you are close and real and powerful and loving and compassionate, and that they can grieve in your arms, and know that you understand. Don’t let the enemy steal anything more from this family. Remind us that we aren’t garanteed tomorrow and each day of our lives is a gift. Teach everyone affected by this to make the most of every opportunity that they have with their loved ones, as if that time really were a gift, and to love deeply and love well, to not take each other for granted and enjoy life for the fullness of the gift that it is.”