A lot of little things have kept me from writing lately.

A little slit — about 2 inches long — allowed burglars to slip a gadget through the screen on my parents’ sun porch, unlatch their door lock, walk into their home and rob them.  They stole a big-screen television, computers, and a few other electronic gadgets.  They stole a watch my dad bought in Germany when he was in the Army.  They stole a pistol my mom gave to my dad on one of their early wedding anniversaries (I don’t think the gift was any reflection on their marriage, but representative of my dad’s cowboy roots.)  They tried to steal faith, hope, and love.  Faith that neighbors, neighborhoods, door locks, and posted Community Watch signs can be trusted.  They stole hope that criminal acts don’t violate ordinary, middle-class, simply minding-your-own business people.  They stole love — that basic sense we all long to hang on to that people are good, that God is watching, and that we can rest in the warm fuzziness of that.

A little look — between my parents — that broke my heart.  Last year before Mother’s Day my dad called me to discuss a plan that he was hatching for my mom for Mother’s Day.  He wanted to buy her an I-Pod.  An I-Pod — a little item to many, considering that most thirteen year-old’s have already owned at least two of them.  To my parents an I-Pod was a luxury, a symbol to garner respect from their twenty-something grandchildren, and proof that they were not trudging over the hill with resignation, but were jogging downhill while listening to some tunes!  I was with my parents when my dad gave my mom her I-Pod for Mother’s Day, and we spent the next two hours connecting to I-Tunes and downloading some of my mom’s favorite hymns, country songs, ragtime piano tunes, and the Bible (King James Version).  I was also with my parents the day after the robbery.  We were standing in the kitchen and my mom’s voice caught as she touched my dad’s arm to get his attention and barely whispered, “Well, they got the I-Pod.”  Their eyes locked for a few seconds, and my heart broke for the injustice of this little loss to people who have given so much to others and asked so little in return.

A little resurrection.  My son and I ate lunch with my parents on Easter Sunday.  We talked about the robbery in between bites of delicious pork roast and melt-in-your mouth homemade rolls.  My mom talked about her frequent nightmares in which she was trying to fight off returning burglars.  My dad vented some frustration at the inaction of the police and the meager offerings of the insurance company.  And then he excused himself from the table.  He came back after a few minutes and said, “I read something a long time ago that Matthew Henry (a Bible commentator) wrote on the day he was robbed of his wallet.  I’m ready to shift my perspective.  Those “guys” (my father is 76 years old and doesn’t use profanity — I would have chosen different words) can have my television and computer, but they can’t have the stuff that really matters.”  And then he read these words from Matthew Henry:

Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before.
Second, because although they took my wallet, they did not take my life.
Third, although they took my all, it was not much.
And fourth, because it was I who was robbed and not who robbed.


A little laryngitis starting plaguing me about 3 months ago.  I have heard a lot of home remedies from across the country as kind listeners have put up with my raspy voice.  Gargle with a litte crushed aspirin in water.  Gargle with a little lemon juice and cayenne pepper (that was fun)!  A doctor finally recommended a little voice rest with steriods, which I thought did the trick until the laryngitis returned full force two weeks ago.   A little laryngitis confirmed to me that I talk a lot and this little malady was invading much of my day, eroding a lot of energy, and starting to make me mad. 

A little nodule on the thyroid.  After several x-rays and cat scans, doctors have discovered a little nodule on my thyroid pressing on a little nerve against the larynx causing the laryngitis.  A biopsy is scheduled in a few days. 

A little fear crept into my heart when I heard the word “biopsy.”  A little loneliness grew into Goliath-like proportions as I pondered all the possibilities.  A little self-pity slithered through my anxious imaginings.  And a little anger started to pick up speed as I thought about all the little sufferings of my family during the past weeks.  It seems we’ve been in a stretch of really hard physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering. 

All of the little things were starting to loom large.

A little package came in the mail from my daughter.  It included a card, a beautiful candle, and a book entitled, Happily Grateful.  The card read, “The truth is, even if she weren’t my Mom I would go out of my way to be friends with her.” The first page I turned to in the little book read, “Never squander an opportunity to tell someone you love or appreciate them.”  A little thing.  I texted my son, “I love you.”  He called to ask if something was wrong because I never text him.  I told him, “No, I just wanted to tell you I love you.”  He broke down and told me how discouraged he had been and asked if he could come home for the weekend so we could talk about some difficult realities in his life.

My friend Elaine invited me to dinner.  She had a tumor removed from her thyroid this past fall.  She asked if I wanted to hear about her experience.  I told her I really just wanted to know if she started imagining all sorts of weird little symptoms after she’d gotten the initial news.  She laughed and told me I could call her with all my imaginings.  I tend to be a little bit of a hypochondriac.  A sister in hypochondriacism is a gift indeed!

A little voice.  I awoke in the middle of the night last night and the merry-go-round in my mind started spinning with wonderings about my parents burglarers.  Were they in my neighborhood tonight?  With anxiety about the little nodule on my thyroid.  I thought I felt it bulging through the skin on my neck.  I imagined it might be this glowing, throbing mass and thought about counseling clients with my raspy voice and pulsating neck.  Therapy with a nudge toward Edgar Allen Poe. 

I turned on the light for a minute and then I turned it off — knowing that faith only grows when we cannot see.  Hope comes when we listen to the silence and as Brennan Manning writes, “become friends with what lies around the corner.”  And it is always and only all of the little things that compel us to define ourselves as the beloved of God.  I mean the little things will either leave us angry, cynical, and a little unhinged or they will take us to the truth we were meant to live by — that we are loved when we are good for nothing and we want to love God even when He seems good for nothing, because our hearts are learning to trust that He is just good.

It’s the little things that make a difference.  A malicious slit cut in a screen window.  A declaration of faith in the ruins of a robbery.  The loss of an I-Pod.  The hope in an exchanged look that expresses years of shared joy and sorrow.  A little nodule on the thyroid.  A little growth of faith, hope, and love between friends and family who offer one another little things.

“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us!  Just look at it — we’re called little children of God!” 1John 3:1