“What if I can’t. . . ?” my student quietly asked as she shed a tear. Fear of the new and next overwhelmed a history of successful progress and solid scaffolding. This is you, Abba whispered to me. Fears and tears. Help my unbelief. Help me do the next thing.


“Have you seen my Auntie Josie? She’s right here. She’s staying at our house tonight.” My most shy niece babbled to strangers in the women’s restroom. Love overcame her fear and made her my personal evangelist. Love is the only true power and reason to evangelize.


The server asked for my name. I responded, “Josie.” “You’re Auntie Josie! Why did you only say your last name?” To my niece, I am auntie. To my parents, I am daughter. To my students, I am teacher. To myself, I am mystery. To my Creator, I am beloved.


“Were you scared?” I asked my nephew after the fireworks show. “Yes,” he admitted. “But I just say, ‘Help, Jesus,’” quoting his currently favorite video, Dave and the Giant Pickle. I have much to learn from VeggieTales and a three-year old.


After repeated calls to breakfast, her mother took away the scissors. “I neeeeeed it!” she wailed. We chuckled, wisely knowing the difference between needs and wants. Suddenly, my spirit checked itself. What wants have I mislabeled “needs”? More importantly, when I did learn to be ashamed of my wants?


“I love you!” Kiss. “I love you!” Kiss. “I love you!” Kiss. “I love you! I love you! I love you!” Long smackeroo on the lips. It was my two-year old niece’s expression of love: simple and repetitive, but never too much. Love doesn’t need to be sophisticated, just sincere.


She wanted it. I wanted to give it to her. She couldn’t ask. Or felt she couldn’t. Regardless, I couldn’t give it to her until she asked. A simple task with simple words. We showed her how, but she wouldn’t say it. Instead she wept.