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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Tuesday 7th July 2015

#TellHisStory: Let There Be Peace on Facebook

mother teresa, peace

9303188439_f423d2e915_z 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 pressing; I 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 in the sky.

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 in another blogger’s comment box,
or in a sanctuary,
or in a war-torn village,
or in a family squabble,
or in the midst of protest rally,
or on the yard of another burned black church,
or on an Iowa lake,
or in the aftermath of a Supreme Court decision,
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.

And I think we all had a bit more hope than we had before.

9306026764_843d970801_z mother teresa, peace


Hey Tell His Story crew! It’s always a joy to gather here every week. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great. And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there! Our featured writer this week is Lisa Appelo. She is sharing lessons she prays her daughter will take with her as she moves on. Find Lisa here. To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. 🙂 )

xo Jennifer

  • Marcy Hanson

    A comma where the period will be. Yes. Those are the best days, and they do foster that feeling of belonging to each other, and we all so need to belong to each other more. Beautifully said, friend.

  • I have often said that I am glad FB was not around when I was younger…when I felt it was my “Christian duty” to right the wrongs in the world… When my arrogrance would have engaged in the rhetoric… And before I learned and am still learning to ask myself this simple ….but at times difficult question…. “What does love require…ask me to do… How do I bring …. Show…the love Christ has given to me… To a situation or a person… I am encouraged… I hear the church asking itself some good hard questions… And maybe just maybe we are seeing our belonging more through the lens of His Love!!!!

    • So many of the debates happening online right now, are the kinds of conversations we should be having face-to-face, voice to voice, around tables, in living rooms …. One on one. I have a lot of strong opinions about a lot of things, but I don’t know what it serves for me to soapbox everything I think.

  • Well you know how much I am A-mening this. Well-done, Jennifer.

    • We may not all see eye to eye, but it doesn’t mean we can’t stand together, hand in hand. Scott and I always say, “If we had to agree with everyone in the Church about everything, in order to be a church, there would be 3 billion single-member congregations.” Even Scott and I don’t agree perfectly on everything. If we had to agree perfectly on everything, in order to worship together, he’d be having church in one room of the house on Sunday morning, and I’d be in another.

  • MB

    But but but I like being right 🙁 Thus speaketh my foolish pride.

    • I TOTALLY get that. I’m preaching to myself, MB. Thanks for reading along.

  • “Is it more important to make a point. . . or point to my Maker?” Oh how I want that question to guard my mouth. I’m hoping by the time the Lord takes me home, my family will see real progress from God’s continued surgery on my heart! Thank you so much for featuring my post. I appreciate your words and your hosting!

  • Jody Ohlsen Collins

    The only words that went through my head over the last week or so were, “why can’t we talk about what we’re FOR rather than what we’re against?” Jesus, help us be for you and for each other.
    A to the men on this post,my friend, (as Diana T. would say).

  • Oh, this is good.

    I think so often I’m striving for Peace more within myself than in the outside world. I’m busy looking for quiet streams and soft music in my heart rather than bringing about the Peace that God wants in the world. (A post that really opened up my eyes towards some hard-won peace — http://ahomecalledshalom.blogspot.com/2015/06/in-season-peace.html )

  • Mary

    Truer words were never said! I want peace to begin with me too. Sounds simple and shouldn’t take people vacationing to feel love for others. Praying that as I take this simple step with you that others are pointed toward embracing the same.

  • Oh, Facebook has been so noisy lately. We just need a quiet {{{{{ group hug.}}}}}

    • I had to just back out of Facebook for awhile, Sandra. As I said to someone else here in the comments, I tend to hold a pretty traditional view of Scripture, but that gives me no right to publicly lambast someone who holds a more liberal view. Those are conversations better had in person. So much of the social-media commenting is pure posturing and the hope that one can make his or her point. The last 50 years has proven that this is not an effective strategy for the Christian message.

  • I’ve learned this week that hasty words steal peace from all involved… and that only God can restore it by our humbling ourselves… your post has come along right on time Jennifer, kind of uncanny.

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  • I really love your creative writing, Jennifer. I could almost taste that “orange smoothie.” 🙂 Thanks for the peaceful smiles as you described the sunset. And what important points to reflect on. To let that peace start with ourselves. To point to our Maker. Thank you, and God bless us all with peace and help us to be concerned more with our Maker’s honor than our own.

  • Thank you, Jennifer, for hosting the link-up, but much more importantly, for sharing this beautifully written truth. This nailed it for me: May we all strive to live a life that demonstrates the right answer to this question! May I want to live the right answer to this question: “Is it more important to make a point … or to point to my Maker?”

    May God continue to fill your cup to overflowing, my friend!

  • Kristi Woods

    Hitting straight to hearts with this one –> “Is it more important to make a point … or to point to my Maker?”

    I have to stop and think, where am I pointing today?

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  • Thank you for your words today, Jennifer. So important to point to our Maker rather than prove our points. So appropriate after that Supreme Court decision, Charleston, so many things. And it makes me think back to Crystal Paine’s post last week.

    • I’ll have to check out Crystal’s post. I adore her.

  • Just beautiful, as always! I am going to join you in this >> “Is
    it more important to make a point … or to point to my Maker?” Perhaps if more of us are pointing to our Maker, many more will discover Him. Yes, let it begin with me.

  • Yes, and I think that God is greatly honored when we find grace to live peaceably — whether it’s on a bench watching the sunset with our dear ones or on the internet making a comment to a total stranger. Thank you for your peaceful reflections.

  • “We belong to each other.” Love that. 🙂

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  • Lisa

    “…make my point or point to my maker…” YES, this is where I stand as well.

  • such a beautiful reflection! I think we all need vacations to slow down enough to remember who we really are, what love God has poured into our hearts, and bring that back into the world. I love how God has shaped and formed you to want only love and peace, a sure testimony of God’s grace! Thank you for such a lovely, sweet, precious post!

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  • Jennifer,

    Beautiful post. There is way too much anger … too much wanting to be right instead of kind. Sometimes the intensity of social media opinions makes me want to hide under my covers. I’m posting a link to your post on Facebook for sure!

    I loved the line “I didn’t want this perfect day to end; I wanted to put a comma where the period was being forced to go.” It gave me goosebumps!

    Thank you so much for hosting #TellHisStory each week!
    Blessings and smiles,

  • We truly are all in this together, Jennifer, and peace does begin in our own hearts. May virtue trump vitriol every time! Blessings!

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  • Good word. I hope to love like Jesus, even when I may disagree with others here in the online world.

    • Me, too, Elizabeth. People on both sides of issues believe — quite strongly — that they are right and that they are reading the Bible correctly. I tend to take a pretty traditional view of Scripture, but that gives me no right to pick fights on Facebook. Those conversations are meant to take place in places like living rooms and backyard patios. So much of what I see on social media is posturing. I so appreciate you, Elizabeth.

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  • saltshakmk@msn.com

    Beautiful story, Jennifer. Loved your imagery. Could eat that sunset with you! I love when the beauty of God’s creation soothes the savage beast in us all and brings us together in awe and wonder. I expect Heaven will be somewhat like that.

  • Arabah Joy

    I’ll be honest. This post troubles me. I agree with the need for kindness (oh yes, please!) But does that mean we can’t speak truth? Truth that is hard, even offensive? Truth that, by it’s very piercing nature divides the intentions of the heart and exposes our need for repentance…even our SIN? When a prophet called a nation to repentance did he not point to our Maker? How can we say “easy” messages and “peaceful” messages and messages of acceptance are the only ones that point to God and Christ? Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your intent here but I am disturbed by how quick many bloggers are to shush voices of truth up in the name of Christ. Do we really want the salt of the earth to lose it’s flavor?

    • Amen, Arabah! I will add that I think the heart attitude and intent of the Truth-teller is very important. If my aim is to prove my point, then my Truth-telling is in vain. But if my aim is to point people to my Maker, then Truth-telling is the highest form of peace-making.

      The thing is, attitude is not something we can always discern in each other. Certainly, if there’s a sarcastic tone or an unkind word, we can make judgments in those cases. But if there’s no proof of an ungodly motive, I think Christ-followers do well to give the Truth-teller the benefit of the doubt. We’re inundated by voices of deception in these times; let’s not silence the few kind, sincere voices of truth.

    • I am very confused by your comment. I feel that you’ve known me long enough to know what I’m about, friend, and how seriously I take the Bible. My trouble isn’t salt and light. It’s the vinegar. I am sorry you are troubled by the post. Truly sorry, and saddened.

      • Arabah Joy

        I think the fact there is so much ambiguity in this post is what troubles me so much. I found myself wondering exactly what your meaning is, which is why I asked so many questions. I think readers may take your post to mean standing for truth isn’t the Christian thing to do if it offends people. Given the context of recent events especially, I wasn’t sure how to take this post.

        More and more I find little room within the online Christian community for the voice of the prophet. We love the poets…but we silence the prophets. This post was ambiguous enough to make me wonder if you support that view. I am very concerned for an online world that spreads a message of peace but does not care to listen to the watchmen on the wall. I am sorry if my questions seem unfair given the fact we’ve blogged side by side, I truly am. I did not mean to be offensive or hurtful. I was, however, asking for clarification because I’m really hurting over the stoning of the prophets.

        • I am hurting over the stoning of the prophets, too. I would have assumed that would be clear, given by years of emphasis on Scripture here. As you likely know, I take a rather conservative, traditional approach toward Scripture. Any reader here would likely know that, and my faith statement makes that clear. My concern is the stoning of all — the prophets and the poets. I’m deeply grieved over the vitriol. I have friends on both sides of these issues who have been attacked publicly. This was a post about living peaceably in difficult times … I simply believe what I said here in this post: We belong to each other, and we’ve got to find a way to live peaceably in the midst of one another, without tearing each other apart.

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  • J Stults

    I want peace, yes. I want kindness. But I also want a church that will stand on God’s Holy Word and a gospel that is true. And in my local body, decisions are being made in favor of “peace-making” that will forever alter the course of that church and possibly our small community. Would it be more peaceful for my pastor husband to resign quietly? Certainly. But doing so covers up sin in the leadership of the church and leaves the flock without a true Shepherd. I know it’s a tough balance, especially on social media! And I don’t want to be led into sin by righteous anger, either. Grace must be tempered by Truth and likewise, Truth tempered by Grace. Let’s be careful not to swing the pendulum too far in either direction. 🙂

    • So sorry to hear about your husband. It breaks my heart.

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