We did something crazy this week and launched a website.
Right in the middle of the frenzy of December we did it.
It was scary and dangerous and risky to pour ourselves for months into a little dream and not know what would come. But when we opened wide the doors on Monday there was dancing and there were squeals as person after person responded with such kindness and encouragement.
I am not being metaphorical about the squeals. Or the dancing.
And we chitter chattered and bubbled both at home and online and it was so bright and shiny everywhere.
Then yesterday morning all fell heavy.
The darkness fell as I read about tiny people, beloved by family and God, ripped from this world.
I couldn't do anything but fall silent and fall on my knees. To feel the fingers of ice, the specter of hopelessness.
I stilled my online words. I grabbed the faces here with all their messy hair, and kissed cheeks. I looked into bright eyes and found my own eyes bright with tears.
Then in the afternoon we went to the zoo. The zoo, of all places.
It was a birthday party that took us there, in the gray December fog, with drizzle threatening. A tiny zoo in the middle of the Texas nowhere, filled with rescued and endangered animals. Our host, the birthday boy, had wanted to see the lions.
We were expected, our small party of homeschoolers, and had the zoo to ourselves. The owner had held off feeding the big cats so we could watch.
The time came, and the lion was ready. Past ready. Meal time is usually in the morning.
The low growl of a lion waiting for food send chills up your arms. You want to step far back from the double fence, to grab your babies and cower.
The zoo owner stepped between the fences with a bucket of raw chicken and made the lion show off by raising the chicken above his head so it had to stand on two back paws. While the lion feverishly crunched through bones, the zookeeper educated us.
He told us how male lions have the hardest life of all animals. How fights are to the death. How they eat people.
The lion was slinking again, low growl saying "more, more." The keeper raised another chicken leg to the fence and it was snatched in a flash.
The zookeeper continued, telling grisly tales that did not seem birthday party fare. Then more growling, more chicken.
And as I listened to the mingle of growls and crunching and horror stories, I heard quiet but strong in my heart:
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. - 1 Peter 5:8
Like a roaring lion.
We can not be blamed for looking at lions and feeling fear. Nor can we mamas avoid the sharp knife of terror for our own babies that is mingled with the devastating grief we feel to our core for the mamas who have lost little ones.
We have an enemy.
To dismiss this is to live a delusion.
It is right to recognize danger.
But we who belong to God must also know this truth: Perfect love casts out fear.
As a tornado of death and lions and bright beginnings and Christmas swirls through my mind, simple words take over.
I remember what Jesus said...
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. - John 16:33
And wouldn't the lion that prowls and brings trouble want us to cower, to hide? Wouldn't he want to chase us into dark corners, to hold close what is dear, to squeeze eyes and not look?
God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. - 1 John 1:5
That which is evil must have light shone upon it. We must shine that light.
You are the light of the world... Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. - Matthew 5:14, 16
The slinking lion darkness and evil is all about, yet we can choose to look to the light. To not cower, to not squeeze eyes. To set our faces firm toward God and be lights in this world.
We are only lights because of Him. All we do is reflect. But we must choose to be open to reflecting. To be alert, to stand firm, to shine back His glory.
Little eyes are watching how we choose. If we speak despairing words little ears hear. If we make fearful choices little hearts wonder.
I am determined to choose love.
I have this one living hope...
Shine, mamas, shine His light in you. Be alert. Stand firm. And shine.
candle photo copyright