If You’re Feeling Small

January 30, 2012 | 22 comments

Every Sunday in January, she stands at the front of this country church, reading holy words to farmers with work-worn hands and mamas who cradle their babies. She steps on a stool, because she is too short to reach the microphone, even on tiptoes.

 This Sunday, she reads about Jonah and Nineveh. She retells the story of someone too scared to go where they’re called to go. I silently read ahead, wondering if she’ll know how to pronounce all the words. She does.

Then the pastor invites the children to come up to the front of the church for the children’s sermon. The reader at the podium, she steps down from the stool and sits on the carpeted stairs.

For she is a child. My child.

After church, the patriarch of our church family catches me in the back, by the mailboxes. Whenever the old farmer talks about the power of the Word, his eyes fill up with tears.

“Back when I was a child in the pews of this church, children were to be seen and not heard,” he says. “I’m really glad it’s not like that anymore. And I’m really glad that your Lydia is reading the Scriptures to us.”

I nod my head.  “And I’m grateful that we worship in a place where she can.”

The old farmer says he’d be too nervous to stand up front and read. After his mama died, he dropped out of high school. He stayed home to help with the farm. He loves the ancient words, but he’s has never been much for reading anything aloud. And we talk about how that’s OK, too. We each have different gifts, after all.

Later, I tell Lydia about what the farmer said. I tell her she’s brave. “Are you ever scared?” I ask her.

She wrinkles her nose. “Maybe a little bit.”

We talk about how Jonah was scared. And Moses. And Peter. We remind each other how we’re all a bit scared whenever God calls us to do something that feels bigger than we are.

“I do get a little nervous, but Mommy, it makes me feel important, because those words are important to God — even the hard words.”


With Michelle today …

by | January 30, 2012 | 22 comments


  1. Kelly Sauer

    I love your girls, Jen. I love how they love God. I love the tears in those old eyes, how tender and open his heart is. Sometimes, I think when you work the land, you are so much more vulnerable to the things of God. There is not so much noise there…

    • dukeslee


      It’s like you know him! He’s such a tender soul. I wish you were here, to photograph him. I know you’d see it. You haven’t even really SEEN him, but you see him. 🙂

      And thank you for your kind words about my girls. They are precious. And they teach me. Always.

  2. Nancy

    Such wisdom in that girl.

    • dukeslee

      I don’t even think she realizes it. But it’s true. She is wise. She has wise words. And her words mean more than she really knows. … To have the faith of a child.

  3. Sandra Heska King

    The hard words. The small words. The old ones. The young ones. Every jot and tittle and the every hair on every head. He knows. He cares. Love your girls. Love you.

  4. Gramma T

    I am one of those blessed by that tiny little Christian reading those big words. She is being called at this young age and she is going to do Big things for God in her life. Let a little child lead them, for sure.The Shepherd uses all kinds of us to do His work. Pastor had some great examples of people that God equipped to do big things for Him. Makes me feel like maybe ordinary me can do some good stuff too!!

    • dukeslee

      Agreed. I told Pastor Rich that I felt like he was speaking straight into my heart! Great message.

  5. David Rupert

    I need to listen to kids more. When adults start to listen, they are more encouraged to express themselves, their honesty and simplicity. Which are closer to God’s heart than anything I can say

  6. Jeannette Duwe

    Love this! A word I needed to hear today. thanks for posting!

  7. Stephen

    Hi Jennifer,

    What a great story about your child reading the scriptures. Jonah is one of my favorite stories. 150,000 in Nineveh repent in one day. Only God is capable of that kind of turn around. Awesome.

    Manifest Blog

  8. Mrs T

    WOW… what an awesome girl.

  9. Shelly Miller

    I thought it was interesting that you and Michelle both wrote about fear in obedience today. And the way you told the story about your sweet girl, I could see her standing there. And she is so wise just like her mama.

    • dukeslee

      I know! I gasped out loud when I read her post today. Thanks for being here, Shelly.

  10. Dolly

    How brave and wise your Lydia is and how precious Helmer is…feeling BIG God-bumps because God has been talking to me something fierce this morning about not walking by fear and then I read your post and Michelle’s post after hearing a similar word elsewhere…Thanks, Jennifer, for being used by God today, and every time I read your blog:)

  11. kd sullivan

    I marvel at the bravery of my daughter. She sings in front of thousands. She acts in a crowded theater, and yet she never seems nervous. I admire her seventeen year old boldness.

  12. Laura

    Thank you. Strong words to encourage my heart.

  13. Carey

    Have to say I agree with her. Sometimes the hard words are scarey to me to…but they are important.

  14. Michelle DeRusha

    I love how this story about overcoming fear is so in sync with my post today about fear and obedience. Love what that kind of thing happens — it reinforces the message for me.

    And your girl…she is brave indeed. Every time I read in church my knees quake behind the podium! And one time I ended the Scripture by saying, “This is the Lord of the Word” (instead of This is the Word of the Lord). How mortifying (although it does kind of make sense to say it that way, too!).

  15. Diana Trautwein

    Every word of this is like music to my ears. A child, a girl child, reading the Holy Book, guiding the congregation into truth. LOVELY. Thanks so much, Jennifer.

  16. Shanda Oakley

    So sweet. What a wonderful thing that she can begin serving and ministering at such an early age.

  17. Katie

    I love this post! What a great opportunity for her. 🙂

  18. Paul Willingham


    I love hearing about your little girls. With those daughters of yours, your blog almost writes itself…

    Paul W


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