Please include me …

May 22, 2009 | 24 comments

Dear Elizabeth,

The sun had yet to rise on your day when you spilled your heart into
Ann Voskamp’s comment box. You were comment number 8.

Your words, written on the front edge of dawn, reached my eyes when noonday sun illuminated Iowa.

We had both walked through the door of Ann’s comment box, which is openly only now and then. We stopped there just in time and long enough to share a bit about finding grace in hard and hidden places.

On that day, Ann announced a book giveaway for Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places written by the gifted L.L. Barkat. A random drawing would determine who would get the book.

Thirsty for grace, you were. Me, too. Our thirst found us both there, in Ann’s comment box, eight hours apart.

When I dropped by, Elizabeth, your pain stopped me. Tears tumble as I recall the words you wrote, and the words you didn’t write.

You wrote: “Please include me – I would love this book. I just am hurting to much at this time to comment beyond this… “

Number 8, why were you awake so early? Did the pain wake you? Or maybe you always wake before the dawn …

Meanwhile, at 5:10 a.m., I rested peacefully as Earth spun on its axis.

Eight hours passed. That’s when I met you in a comment box. I am Jennifer, number 38. I was 30 comments away, and eight hours late, but closer to you than you know.

I know what it means to long for inclusion, to cry out: “Please include me ….”

Elizabeth, maybe your words — “Please include me” — were really just about the book drawing. But maybe your words asked for something more.

We weren’t meant to do this alone, you know. I think you do know. Perhaps that is why you tapped out 21 words — a string of 82 letters reaching toward the Giver of Grace and “Christ’s Love-Body,” as Ann calls it.

We all want to belong. Since the time we enter the world — gasping for our first breath — we want to belong. With reckless arms reaching for the sound of our mother, we cry out: “Please include me.”

We enter the elementary playground, and find that we’ve been picked last for the kickball team. Or perhaps we find ourselves alone by the swingset, when whispering girls circle up on the merry-go-round. We call out: “Please include me!”

Then we grow into womanhood, and drop back in the shadows as the light shines on the talented and pretty ones. We whisper: “Please include me.”


“Please include me …” you wrote.

I sat on my back deck tonight, Bible open, listening for God, praying for you.

I heard the bellowing of cattle, the raspy cry of the pheasant. I watched the sun go down over my church on the western horizon. On the edge of dusk, I opened the Gospels to John 11:41.

A Word for you:

“Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me…”

He hears you and me, Elizabeth. Even when we can’t hear Him, He hears us. And He knows our names.

You, number 8, Elizabeth.

And I, number 38, Jennifer.

Here, in the grip of His grace, we are included.


Photo: God’s grace breaking through humanity’s broken soil in my backyard — creeping up between the hard places.

by | May 22, 2009 | 24 comments


  1. christy rose

    Your tender heart is so revealed in this post. Allowing someone whom you don’t know at all to touch you with their hurt, that can only be the manifestation of the work of the Spirit of God within you bearing the fruit of compassion and love.

    Just reading this made a lump in my throat thinking how being included is so much a part of my life as well. Thank you Father that you have included us. Thank you!

    This was beautiful!


  2. Denise

    There are so many moments in this life that we aren’t included – some for our benefit (we know) and others, we may never fully understand. It is the latter that causes such aching dark nights. In these moments, these dark nights when we feel like we walk alone, we hunger to be heard.

    You did that. In the confines of a comment box, you heard. Even better, you came along side to walk with. Even if your prayers are never heard by Elizabeth in comment number 8, God has.


  3. Red Letter Believers

    We all so desperately “need to be included” in grace – admist the pain and suffering and disappointment, we need to belong to Him.

  4. isumom

    Everyone wants to be included, but sometimes, once in awhile, I wish I hadn’t been…life would be easier if, at times, I was just forgotten. I offer myself to those in need and this time, just this once, I wish I hadn’t been included.

  5. God's Not Finished With Us Yet...

    I started tearing up again….dang it. That is one thing I DO wish I could push the ‘easy button’ for; so I wouldn’t have such a gushy heart and feel the urge to cry all the time. Every time someone in my church gets saved publicly I cry; every time we sing a certain worship song; I freakin’ cry! I try to fight the tears; but they just come. Just as in reading this post; I agree I thinik we all went through those stages of being the girl (or boy) left out at some point.

    Loving, heart felt post! I pray also for Elizabeth because whatever her hurt is; I know that God is feeling it with her and that Jesus is beside her. I pray that she gets restoration and amazing comfort for whatever it is she may be suffering.

    Thanks for sharing Jennifer!

  6. mom2six

    Beautiful words from a beautiful all – all by the grace of God.

  7. elaine @ peace for the journey

    One of the most creative “writes” I’ve read lately. One of the most touching. Thank you for reaching out and “including” us all in the pause.


  8. Billy Coffey

    Jennifer, your words both break my heart and make me sing.

    Here’s to Elizabeth, who is not as alone as she believes…

  9. L.L. Barkat

    I am… quieted… This is… love-filled… lyrical… like a poem. Yes… just like a poem.

  10. Warren Baldwin

    You are a good writer. I like this statement: “”Father, I thank you that you have heard me…” That is a statement of faith, not only in the heart of Jesus, but hopefully in ours as well. Good post.

  11. Lyla Lindquist

    Jennifer. Oh, my.

    I’m not going to screw this up with words.

    For Elizabeth, for you, for me . . . for all of us. Thank you.

  12. Jennifer

    Hi all,

    Thanks for dropping by, for your prayers for Elizabeth. Like Denise said, if Elizabeth never reads this, we can all lay her at the feet of Jesus.

    {We need to be needed, we long to be loved.}

    Isumom, I sense the hurt in your words, and then over at your blog as well today. I pray that you feel God’s peace and promise … He hears you, too.

    Again, thanks to all …

  13. Robin

    Jennifer your words flowed with love and compassion…it is amazing if we open our eyes and ears there are many in our world saying, “please include me.”

    Love to you Jennifer

  14. Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend

    I have enjoyed reading your blog.
    I am new to the blog world, but have seen the miracle of the blogging community and prayer in the last two days. Hope you will stop by my blog and pray for little Maggie.

  15. hope42day

    And out of turmoil and pain, always and ever rests the hand of God, gently on our hearts and on our lives.
    Thank you.

  16. mm

    Dear Jennifer…

    Now I am the one left wordless…

    So powerfull.

    Thank you for including Elizabeth, and me, and all of us here.


  17. Carol

    You are too cool. I enjoy “meeting” friends in the blogosphere. I do feel connected to some, you being one! You are amazing to reach out to #8 from a little spot in Iowa. Love, Carol

  18. Linda

    I am here via Ann’s blog – and so glad I came to visit. What beautiful, poignant thoughts – from your heart. You speak for us all – yes – include me. How we want to be loved and accepted – and there He is, with open arms. If only we will run into them.

    I am one of those who seems to stumble and bumble around as I journey on this path. I have known Him nearly all my life. I am a grandmother now, but still such a slow learner. It is often one step forward and two steps back. However slowly, I want to keep going…

  19. Tea With Tiffany

    Beautiful to know God includes our sister Elizabeth. And even me.

    Deep. To the heart.

    A gift for many…

    Thank you.

  20. Jennifer

    Jennifer–how precious are your words. Isn’t it amazing how God can soften hearts towards those we’ve never met? Your post beautifully reminds me that God uses all things for good—even the Internet which can be used for such evil. Thank you for listening to His Spirit. I will join you in praying. Jennifer in Louisiana

  21. Laura

    Your goodness humbles me…brings me to my knees. That we would always hold each other up so. This is my prayers.

    You bless.

  22. sharilyn

    beautiful, jennifer. it moves my heart so very deeply, as my deepest heart-issue has been that of “belonging” (or not). we do cry out “include me”… loudly, silently, fervently… i am so very grateful that the sacrifice Christ made does include me…that the amazing love He gives does include me… that He shouts to me in my heart-language “you belong!”…to Him. He includes me. and for that, i am grateful beyond what words could ever express.

  23. Kim Anderson

    lovely and provocative. Where is the tipping point between poetry and prose? and yes, beauty brings us together, including everyone with ears to hear or eyes to see.

  24. travelmom

    Thank you for this beautiful post. What a wonderful reminder that we are our brother's keeper and the importance of heeding the Holy Spirit when He calls. Thank you for your thoughts and your blog -they are a treasure to read.


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