Calm for the Tempest-Tossed (A Thank You)

July 18, 2011 | 28 comments

We’ve been the tempest-tossed, wearied from the wounds and the worry. Our strength has faltered; our will has failed us.

But not God. God did not forsake, or falter, or leave, or deny, or hide, or fail. God came running.

And we felt His arms stretch out and hold us tight through you. Yes, you … you came running. You are God reaching out to us.

You, dear hearts, were the ones padding up our front sidewalks, or right into our inboxes, or down to the mailbox at the end of this country lane. Your words and prayers and graces have found their way here, emancipating us in the most broken hours, helping calm the storm that rages.

Some of you live right here, just down the road. We worship with some of you on Sunday mornings, or see you next to the milk cooler at the grocery store, where you hold us long and pray right there in front of every shopper.

You deliver love in 9×13 pans, and you nestle joy at the front step —  homemade jam in glass jars.

Others of you? You live far away. I don’t know if I’ll ever meet you this side of Heaven, but you also helped us put broken pieces together. You’ve rejoiced when we rejoiced. And you’ve wept when we’ve wept.

You’ve pinned our prayers to bulletin boards, and delivered hope the old-fashioned way: through the mail.

We’ve read your emails, every one of them. And we’ve wept over the way God loves us through you. (And to you — the ones who stand with us quietly with your prayers but never told us you prayed — we thank you, too.)

This is the beautiful, mystical body of Christ.

 How can we ever thank you?


Four weeks ago, life was upended on an Iowa highway when two cars collided, sending life topsy-turvy. One of my nephews was the driver. Another nephew was critically injured. Two others in the car were hurt. One girl died.

Our family held onto each other, in antiseptic rooms, and we found God in the midst of our embrace. We’ve unwrapped grace in unexpected places, delivered from Texas and Louisiana and Kentucky and Washington.

One of you wrote this: “You are not alone, not ever … Your family in Christ is way bigger than you can imagine.”   

Last night, we found our Running-To-Us God again — this time at the front door, marked priority. 

priority mail

A woman in Louisiana made two prayer shawls — one for my nephew Brennan, and the other for my sister Lynda, whose son was just released from the hospital on Saturday.

In a letter, she wrote of the family of Christ: “Across the continent or around the globe, your extended family has prayed for you and will continue to do so.”

We wrap ourselves up in your words, and your prayers, and your shawls, and your promises. And no thank you is adequate enough for your encouragement — all of it marked high priority. All of it, special delivery from God. 

by | July 18, 2011 | 28 comments


  1. Nancy

    It is a privilege to pray for one another; it is joy to see how deeply our God loves. I do so hope we get to meet this side of heaven!

    • dukeslee

      Nancy … You’ve been such a dear heart through all of this. Your words and prayers have been a balm. Thank you for your continued God-Care in our lives.

  2. Sue Awes

    And I too, Jennifer – after all, I think Iowa is closer than heaven. Thank you for this precious post and reminder of the breadth and depth of the Body. We continue to pray.

    • dukeslee

      Thank you for your continued prayers, Sue. Juliann speaks so highly of you, and I can see why. You radiate Christ!

  3. Simply Darlene

    how can we ever thank you?

    … simply by joining hearts in prayer when we need it.

    … thanks aren’t even required ore expected though

    blessings (and prayers, prayers, prayers)

    • dukeslee

      Right back atchya, girlfriend. Your voice on the other end of that phone today? Just a sacred time to speak with you again. So glad for our friendship. You are a Jesus-sister, and I love you.

  4. Stephani

    I’m finding these days that the prayers of the saints are mighty powerful as I deal with a loved one broken by drug abuse, sick parents, death, etc. etc., But I find too that praying for others in similar or worse pain is powerful in my own life as well. Prayer, I think, is the thread that unites us in Christ.

    • dukeslee

      Prayers right now for you, Stephani, as you walk through your own valley.

      Yes, prayer is a thread. And together, we weave together a tapestry of God’s faithfulness.

  5. Shaunie Friday

    Jennifer, it has truly been a privilege to pray for your family, waiting on pins and needles with you, hoping for good news in each update, and the joy that came with each report of improvement. I am amazed at how technology can be used to connect the Body of Christ in ways that completely bypass little things like distance and the fact that we’ve yet to meet face to face. Big love to you and your family!!

    • dukeslee

      Oh Shaunie … Big love to you, too! You’ve been so good to us, with your prayers and your attentiveness to our spiritual needs. Thank you for your love.

  6. Megan Willome

    You didn’t have to link me, but thank you.

    In an “On Being” interview with Kate Braestrup, she said that, often, the answer to the question “Where is God when tragedy strikes?” is found in the people who show up to help or who bring casseroles or who send encouragement.

    • dukeslee

      I was hoping you wouldn’t care if I linked, Megan. 🙂 Your card came at *just* the right time. So thankful for you … and for the others. And for the people that I missed when I got all link-crazy. 🙂

      (Thanks for that Kate Braestrup tidbit. That’s exactly it, right there…)

  7. Linda

    We continue to pray Jennifer. What a blessing it is to pray and to be prayed for. We touch the heart of God for one another, and He hears.

  8. jasonS

    We build each other up in prayer and encouragement, rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. To truly feel and be a part of that is a wonderful mystery of the Holy Spirit’s work. What a great testimony, Jennifer. Thank you.

  9. S. Etole

    What a beautiful reminder of the covering that God provides in all circumstances.

  10. kendal

    thank you for updating. and for reminding us that we are priveleged to pray for one another. continuing to pray for your family.

  11. amy @ to love

    it’s hard to find words here… just… praise Jesus for this beautiful family He has made.

  12. Bradley J. Moore

    Jennifer- I am so grateful to see the support your family has received during this tragedy. You were in our hearts and prayers, whether near or far. The church came alive for you. I am hopeful for a sound recovery for your nephew and the others, and will continue prayers.

  13. Chris

    And when struggle hits, God uses you to reach out and sends you into delivery mode! God bless you!!!

  14. lisa auter

    Oh, blessed Jennifer, never think you and your family deserve any less. I rejoice in the outpouring of love.

  15. Sheila Lagrand

    Everyone has said what I was thinking about the privileges of prayer and God’s provision and the wonders of living in an age where geography doesn’t bar us from loving on each other.

    I’d also like to send up HUGE praises that your nephew is home! Such excellent news.

    We continue to keep both your nephews and the other families affected in our prayers.

  16. Glenda Childers

    Rejoicing with those that rejoice and weeping with those that weep . . . is one of my favorite parts of the Body of Christ. And who would have ever believed it would also happen on the internet. Very cool.

    So glad to hear one nephew is on his way home. Prayer continue.


  17. Susan Gibson

    Everyone involved have been in our prayers. God is an awesome God and he will bring good out of these circumstances. Right now that is hard to see but I know that he will because we have experienced his goodness. I am a friend of Aunt Joyce and just want you all to know that I care and will be keeping all of you in my prayers..

    • dukeslee

      Oh Susan … Thank you for your prayers and your words in this place. Thank you for praying for everyone involved, not just our family. So many people were involved… So many broken hearts. Grateful that our great big God is big enough to wrap His arms around all of the hurting… Thank you, thank you.

  18. Anna

    What an encouragement to see how Love wraps around you in prayer and in tangible ways!

  19. Ann Kroeker

    So beautiful, the way we all weave together in tangible ways like prayer shawls and cards propped up as a reminder of love, and intangible ways, as the Holy Spirit ties us all together across time and space.

  20. debra

    We are His hands. Beautiful.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest