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Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Wednesday 17th July 2013

#TellHisStory: Let There Be Peace on Facebook, and Let it Begin With …

Anna and I sat on a long bench on the end of a dock, while the sun slid down the back side of the day. If I could have taken a sip of the sky, it would have tasted like an orange smoothie.

Anna swung her legs, and they brushed back and forth against mine. She smelled like sunscreen and grape soda. An older vacationing couple came down the dock, so Anna and I scooted to the left to make room. Another couple came, so we all scooted down some more.

That way, we could watch that blaze of color together.

We all ooo-ed and aah-ed at the sunset, a bunch of strangers on a shared dock.

The clouds pressed down on the horizon, smooshing the light, the way a mother tries to tame her child’s hair with the palm of her hand on a Sunday morning. And I wanted that mother to stop; didn’t want that glorious slash of color reduced to a thin line between earth and sky.

Anna laced her fingers with mine, and she pulled our hands together onto her lap.

I didn’t want this perfect day to end; I wanted to put a comma where the period was being forced to go.

All day long, I had seen the kindness in people: opening doors for one another, friendly greetings in the grocery line, … and now, the simple sharing of a bench at the end of a dock on a little lake in Iowa. Together, we beheld beauty.

Someone might say it’s because we’re all on vacation. That’s why everyone is so happy and kind here. I don’t want to believe that. I want to believe that the kind folks I saw everywhere today were their truest selves. They were simply slowed down enough to remember that we belong to each other, after all.

I worry, sometimes, that we forgot that we really are in this together. Too often, we’re more interested in being right than being kind. We want to have the last word, the final say, and the smug comeback. I see it too often: how we choose vitriole over virtue.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. But I’m less interested in being right all the time. I want to live the right answer to this question: “Is it more important to make a point … or to point to my Maker?” 

I’ve made my choice.

If there’s really going to be peace on earth, the song says, Let it begin with me.

If there will be peace on Facebook,
or on a Florida sidewalk,
or in another blogger’s comment box,
or in a sanctuary,
or in a war-torn village,
or in a family squabble,
or on an Iowa lake,
or in some legislative chamber under a golden dome,
or in a world groaning under its own weight …
if there be peace here, or if there be peace anywhere on earth, then let it begin with me.

Out on an Iowa lake, strangers sat side by side on a shared bench, as the last bit of orange drained from the sky. We belonged to each other, right then. Nobody said it, but I think we all knew it.

We said goodbye, and all of us walked on.

So, what’s your Story? A #TellHisStory is any story that connects your story into the story of God.

For details on the #TellHisStory linkup, click here: http://jenniferdukeslee.com/tell-his-story/. Be sure to find someone (or two) in the link-up to encourage with a comment. Come back on Friday to visit our Featured #TellHisStory, in the sidebar.

Your words matter to God. They matter to people. And they matter to me!

~Jennifer

  • This was simply beautiful! I didn’t want to leave my story after reading this ;( “Is it more important to make a point or to point to my Maker?” Lord Jesus, please help me to remember this lesson…

    • dukeslee

      I’ll look forward to reading your story, Nannette. You handle your “point-making” with grace. That is, you write your points without pointing fingers. I do think that there is a place for people to make their point, and to write articulately and thoughtfully about the issues of the day, but I am just discouraged by the lack of civility in conversations, both online and in real life. And, Nannette, I am discouraged by how often *I* resort to quick retorts with my own children. I need to react less, and count to ten more. Just praying for grace to ease in through all the cracks and broken places. Let there be peace on Earth.

  • The end of a beautiful day. Yes, I find people ready to smile at me and open doors – maybe because I am a senior citizen? No I think we are experiencing friendship in a town that has sorrow as well as joy!

    • dukeslee

      Hi Hazel … I’m glad you live in a gracious community. I live in that kind, as well.

  • This so struck a chord in my heart. “…that we belong to each other, after all.” “Is it more important to make a point… or to live pointing to My Maker.” This is my desire… for my writing and my life… Lord, let it all point to You.

    • dukeslee

      With you, Amanda. Keep writing. The world needs your voice and words, pointing upward.

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  • Great story and this paragraph jumped out to me, and I feel exactly the same! I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. But I’m less interested in being right all the time. I want to live the right answer to this question: “Is it more important to make a point … or to point to my Maker?”

    • dukeslee

      Thanks for being here. It’s a joy to point to the Maker in community, one Body pointing hearts upward.

  • I am so glad your family is enjoying some vacation time together. I think it’ when we slow down that we see it — the frenetic spirit that has sometimes consumes us and destroys our peace. We don’t pause enough — we rush on, and then we bulldoze each other by responding in the flesh. It’s so important to slow down and breathe in the Spirit, to stop and watch a sunset, to play with a child and giggle, to remember that we all bleed red when we are hurt. I am with you, sister. May it begin with me. Amen to that.

    • dukeslee

      ” … that we all bleed red when we hurt.” Ohhh … yes. Thank you, Lyli.

  • Your words are an echo of my heart lately Jennifer. I’ve had lots of conversation with God about it. I couldn’t agree more. Actually, I express that in the last lines of my post I just linked up as I think about it. May God meet you with more beauty from his palette as you wonder into the deep end of rest my friend. Sending lots of love.

    • dukeslee

      Your posts are always a highlight, Shelly. I look forward to reading your words this week. Sending love back to you.

  • yes. yes. yes. This is where I am finding myself more and more. It used to be more important to me to be right. Sometimes, I still get caught in that web–but now, these days, the way He’s stretching me, it’s more about Him. It has to be.

    Beautiful write, Jennifer. So thankful for you.

    • dukeslee

      Praying John 3:30 for us.

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  • Mia

    Dear Jennifer
    Wise words, dear friend! Even when we need to correct someone, and that is NOT often, we should do it with the greatest of love. And I think we can also start showing some love towards ourselves in the proccess and drink the different kinds of smoothies our Pappa God dishes up for us everyday!
    Love to you XX
    Mia

  • LOVE the picture of the girls against a setting sun…and your line about tasting like an orange smoothie. Great opening and very wise words throughout. Thanks so much for the link up, Jennifer. Blessings…

  • you take my breath away with this, Jennifer. thank you.

  • I love it when I feel I have had a glimpse into someone’s day and find peace. You did that here with your words today. And what a great message to focus on. I will carry this today in my heart. Thank you

  • Amen to all that Jennifer. I’ve been learning to be much more judicious with my words and restrain my desire to always be “right.” Being right hardly ever makes a convert

  • Amen….I am thankful God never tires of wooing us to truth and freedom…and I do wonder if some of these truths are seen more clearly with age…as our natural eyes get blurry…our spiritual eyes become more clear…I am reading a challenging book…” The quest for meekness and quietness of spirit” by Matthew Henry …the language is a bit laborious….but oh the challenging truth in these pages….here a couple of quotes…
    “we are in a war, let meekness stand sentinel ,swift to hear,slow to speak,slow to anger,…hear,keep silent,bear.”
    “The tongue beings water or oil to the flame…the tongue is death or life…an antidote or a poison, according as it is used.”

  • Oh! How I would have loved to have been sitting next to you, drinking in that night sky! And, yes, let’s lay woo people into Christ’s kingdom with his beauty and grace.

  • Yet again your words echo so much of what’s happening in my heart.

  • Yes, yes, yes!
    “Is it more important to make a point … or to point to my Maker?”
    Love everything about this post. May we each make a difference today wherever we go.

  • Amen! Your words always speak to my heart. Simply love! I want to carry these with me as I head off to Guatemala next week and every day. Blessings.

  • Wow- this line is my take-away for the day. The week. Maybe for a lifetime! Thanks, Jennifer. “Is it more important to make a point … or to point to my Maker?”

  • Thank you, Jennifer, for scooting over and letting us sit on the bench with you and Anna as you both enjoyed that glorious sunset….and you nailed it…let the kindness begin with me…let us point to the Prince of Peace 🙂

  • BeYOUtiful words (and sky!) Now I’m remembering my mama singing that song, and it played on our record player and it was sung in our church…let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. The only time that it’s best to be self-focused is when seeking to remove the log from our eye.

    Love your heart Jennifer and every photo I get to see of your two darling daughters. I love that top photo!

  • This brings a sweet and somber feeling to my heart. To be at peace in all ways in God’s world is such a key to our lives. Oh, that we would be this way each moment of each day! It is possible with God. Walking in obedience with Him is our part. He does the rest!
    This was a beautiful story with such love enveloping it and all of you on the bench. I felt like squeezing in with you.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

  • “A comma where the period was being forced to go.” I love everything about this post, but this line gets me. How often do I force the period instead of accepting the comma and waiting – just a bit – to see how things end.

    I get this post, I really do…so please don’t think I didn’t but my mind took me in a completely different direction…well, maybe HE took me somewhere I needed to go.

    Thank you, Jennifer!

  • Great post, Jennifer! I think your line, ““Is it more important to make a point … or to point to my Maker?” struck a chord with everyone.

    I also like what you said – “Let if begin with me.” Each one like a candle lighting the darkness ….

  • I gave up on being “right.” It was wearisome. I took up doing good. You know the latter brings God glory and isn’t that what we made for, to shine our lights toward the Maker? Beautiful, beautiful post. So thankful for you.

  • Beautiful pictures! God uses such amazing colors! Thanks for sharing this story. It pointed right to our Maker, and I could imagine sitting on the dock with you all.

  • So beautiful, Jennifer! I love the orange smoothie image! May His peace shine through us. Thanks for the great post & for hosting & God bless!

  • yes! 🙂 i think we all needed this today. 🙂

  • What a beautiful story! “Is it more important to make a point … or to point to my Maker?” What a reminder! We truly are all in this together & together we make up HIS STORY. I loved the photo too 🙂

  • Good golly, Miss Molly… this was delicious. Can’t we all just slow down enough to see vacation beauty every day and share a cup of kindness with everyone we pass?

  • rkrumpe94

    You had me at “and the sun slid down the back side of the day.” Beautiful! I am headed to the beach today. I am going to watch the sunset and watch the people and see good in them and taste and see that His glory in the sunset is good! I am so ready to pack my bags! Thank you for this…..so much!

  • I can’t fix the world. I can’t make black trust white or white trust black. I can’t stop crime. I can’t stop warring tribes. but I can reach out to my brother – my sister and make good with them.

  • What a beautiful illustration of letting that peace begin with me – at my kitchen counter, on the worn sidewalk, behind the grocery cart!

  • Jillie

    Hello there, Jennifer
    I recently had a similar experience, except I was s.h.o.p.p.i.n.g., as usual. Every single store I entered, I was greeted by a friendly owner or salesperson. Especially in ‘Bentley’s’, a handbag/backpack/luggage store up here. A young girl, probably no more than 20 years of age–SO friendly and kind and helpful! That’s a rarity up here most days. Young people are usually detached and bored. I really liked her. Made me want to buy more than one bag! But I didn’t. The whole day, I felt ‘lighter’ somehow, and my faith in humankind was bolstered. (I do prefer it had happened sitting on a bench on a pier, basking in a gorgeous orange smoothie sunset, but I will take what I can get ’round here.) Your story is wonderful, and I do agree–Peace MUST begin with us, wherever we find ourselves. Thanks, Michelle.

  • When you made room for those two couples to join you on the dock, you and your daughters perfectly illustrated what it means to belong to each other. You were accomodating those people, putting their desires above your own. “Let it begin with me,” you pray? You and your family began a long time ago! No doubt a strong ripple effect is resulting as your lives impact others. Thank you, Jennifer, for your inspiration.

  • Hi, Jennifer. I came across your beautiful blog this morning. Been browsing around and have enjoyed reading some of your posts. This one on letting peace begin with me… it’s beautiful. I can relate to your words:

    Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. But I’m less interested in being right all the time. I want to live the right answer to this question: “Is it more important to make a point … or to point to my Maker?”

    I agree.

    Added my recent blog story to the link up. Thanks for a delightful visit.

    Shalom.

    Lidia (from the Philippines)

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