#TellHisStory: How To Really Shine (Even If You’re Feeling Small)

May 8, 2013 | 32 comments

The stars twinkle outside her bedroom window, like glitter.

Or maybe they’re more like diamonds strung on a necklace, dangling over our roof and our farmfields.

It’s spring now, and the nights seem clearer, the stars brighter.

So my oldest daughter and I lie on her bed, on the inside of the glass, with the lamp off. We curve into one another, watching stars perform some magic — making this dark universe a little bit brighter.

It’s a school night, and we stay up far too late talking about how those  impossibly small stars can cut a million holes over our farm, and over our neighbors up the road, and even way down over our friends’ huts in Haiti.

We talk about other stars, too. We talk about the “people stars” — especially the ones who want to be supernovas with microphones, light-years ahead of the competition. They are the ones who are heard and known and noisy. They are winning the game and making the name and getting the fame.

And the rest of us? We might be tempted to sit in the bleachers with stars in our eyes.

Outside the window, we can hear two farm cats hiss in a late-night squabble under the stars.

“You know,” I tell my girl, “we really are like stars, and we really are made to shine. But we weren’t made to shine so we can be seen better, Lydia. We were made to shine so others can see God better.”

Lydia nods. She’s 11, still young enough to listen to her mother when I yank an object-lesson down from the night sky.

I pull Lydia in tighter, and tell her about the book I’d been reading, the book about idols that battle for a person’s heart. I told her how idols can dress up in clever disguises, wearing virtues we value in our home. Virtues like having goals, working hard, doing your best.

Yes, daughter, success can be an idol. 

Even when you’re a kid, the idol of success can begin to make you think that “doing your best” really means “being THE best.”  The allure of prestige and power and awards carries far too much value. (You don’t have to look far past the soccer field or the spelling-bee stage to see that.)

And I see them there … two of Lydia’s speech trophies sitting next to the glass, on her windowsill.

And my, how proud we are of her.

But we pray she doesn’t keep score of her own life by her trophies, or the number of visitors she gets to her blog.

On this night, I don’t tell my daughter what I did months ago. I turned off the technical-thingy that tracks how many visitors come to my blog. I’ll tell her someday, when the time is right. (And I don’t tell you that here now, because I’m feeling proud or super-righteous. Nor do I think every blogger should shut down their stat-counter. I tell you only because I admit that my emotions can be manipulated by numbers. Someday, I’ll tell you more about that. )

On this night, I do tell Lydia about the book I’m reading. In “Gods at War,” Kyle Idleman quotes a study that examined the predominant message of TV shows that are most popular these days with preteens. The TV show message of this age: “a successful life is all about finding a way to be famous.”

While my girl and I star-gaze, I ask her if she thinks the book is right about all of that.

“Oh yeah. For sure, Mom,” she says, then counts off the TV shows on her fingers–

Outside the window, those luminous stars shine like fireflies.

And right then, I’m thinking about stepping up on a soapbox, telling Lydia more about how stars don’t exist for their own glory. They point to a Creator. And they always light up something else. She’ll know it — sure as daylight in the morning — when our own star rises over the eastern horizon…

I stay off the soapbox. It’s late, and I suppose she knows more than I’m giving her credit for anyway.

We pray instead.

Then I lift myself from the bed, up into the darkness toward the door. But before I leave the room, she wants to tell me something.

“Mom?” she says.

I’m standing in the starlight by the window.

“Mom, I do know what the Bible says. I do know why we’re really made to shine.

Right then, I can feel a lump rising up in my throat, and my voice catches:

“I know you do, honey. I know you do. I love you, dear.”

Then I pull a white cord to close the blinds.

Photo credits: (1) (2) (3) Sourced via Flickr, through Creative Commons.


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. Be sure to find someone (or two) in the link-up to encourage with a comment. Come 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!


[badge url=’https://jenniferdukeslee.com/tell-his-story/’ title=’#TellHisStory – a community of God/’s storytellers’ image=’https://jenniferdukeslee.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/tellhisstory-badge.jpg’]

by | May 8, 2013 | 32 comments


  1. nasreenfynewever

    Thank you for reminding us to shine.
    Thank you for reminding how to shine.
    Thank you for your words and piece of your world, yet again, in this post.

  2. Mia

    Dear Jennifer
    What a wise child your daughter is! We often need a heart check-up, for that fame and prestige idol has many tentacles always trying to get us in its grip. The love between you two is beautiful!
    P.S. I must have done something wrong with my link for I see there is a red star twinkling on your blog. Sorry!

  3. Dawn

    We just went through this material on a marriage retreat last weekend. We now want to read this book at the dinner table as a family. We did that with Not a Fan. Kyle Idleman knows how to cut straight to the heart of the matter, doesn’t he. My daughter loves to lie in her bed and moon gaze. It often shines right through her window. The angle and timing are perfect many times. You make me want to crawl in next to her one of these days soon, stare at the moon and talk with my girl. Thanks for that nudge.

  4. Kim

    Thanks to our Creator God for teaching moments pulled straight down from the stars and translated into our everyday lives, and thanks to you for sharing them. Blessings to you and yours, Jennifer.

  5. Lisa notes...

    You’re being a good mom to all of us with this story, Jennifer. Love it. I’m also encouraged by you turning off your stat counter. We look at the numbers for validation (or discouragement) when we should be staring into the Light for love.

    This is so good!
    “But we weren’t made to shine so we can be seen better, Lydia. We were made to shine so others can see God better.”

    Thanks for helping me see God better this morning.

  6. ro elliott

    beautifully sweet…those treasured moments…us with our children… together wrapped in the loving arms of God….sacred moments….stars that shine…thanks for letting us peek in on this gift.

  7. Jennifer Camp

    Jennifer, my heart is in my throat right now–you, with your daughter . . .her nodding, her listening. I am so thankful for you–for your tenderness and wisdom. I am so blessed by your heart. I can become some paralyzed–I become lost and forget who I am and want to hide–when I compare myself to others and feel success depends on me shining, in the world’s eyes. I wrote about that today. Much love to you, friend.

  8. Rebekah@asoftgentlevoice

    Sweet words before sleeping under those stars. Shining small here under the very same expanse of the heavens that declare His glory.

  9. Beth

    This is simply beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your evening under the stars with us.

  10. Michelle DeRusha (@MichelleDeRusha)

    This, Jennifer, this is my daily prayer: But we weren’t made to shine so we can be seen better … we were made to shine so others can see God better.” Amen, amen, amen.

  11. monicasharman

    Oh! Ah! This reminds me of… well, do you mind if I just type an excerpt here?

    From Michael Card’s Scribbling in the Sand: Christ and Creativity:

    “If you turn around and face north you will see a very different sky, a relatively dark one. No bright stars shine there, and few interesting nebulae or galaxies. Because of its position on the celestial sphere, this same set of constellations (the circumpolar constellations) rotates around an exceedingly dim, slightly green star. Polaris is its name. It is also called the North Star.

    When sailors or even astronauts are lost, they look for this dim little star to regain their sense of direction. . . . People who don’t know anything about the stars usually say, when it is pointed out to them for the first time, ‘Oh, is that the North Star? I thought it would be brighter.’

    People are sometimes described as stars. We look up to them, at their apparent brilliance, and feel ourselves small and insignificant by comparison. They move across the sky of life, luminaries, attracting most of the attention and admiration. Like the moon they constantly change their faces to suit the season. Like the sun they often burn hot. Like meteors they usually burn up quickly.

    If you or I have any choice in the matter (and I am convinced that we do), I would like to campaign for the idea of our becoming North Star people. Sure, we might not seem as bright or as interesting as some. Seldom will people point their telescopes at us. And when they do they will no doubt respond, ‘Oh, I thought she was brighter than that.’

    But as North Star people we can serve a deeper purpose. When people need us, we can be there for them, pointing the Way. While the world is spinning at a dizzying pace, we can remain grounded to the same spot, less dazzling but unmovable.

    After all, Jesus was a North Star person. . . .” (pages 71-72)

  12. 3dLessons4Life

    Shine on, my sister. Your light is bright and beautiful. 🙂

  13. Alicia Bruxvoort

    Oh, you have stirred so many things in me.. idols that need to be dismantled, love for a Savior who invites me to be His, hopes for my own children to shine for Him. Those bedtime chats are the sweetest. Thanks for letting me eavesdrop in Lydia’s room. Wish we could curl up on my couch and talk about all that you touched on here!

  14. Shelly Miller

    I love how you are raising your girls to think and to know Christ. It inspires me. And we are kindred when it comes to the stat counter. I just want to follow Christ and pray that others will see a glimpse of Him in me.

  15. Nacole

    Oh, my Jennifer, this brought a lump into my throat too. I love you, and I love that little Lydia. You mentor here, my wise friend. What a wonderful, wonderful mom you are. That still moment, how attuned you are, how close the bodies and the whisperings–I can *feel* it and it inspires me. Beautiful story–beautiful relationship. xo.

  16. Caryn Christensen

    And you are that bright star Jennifer…you are one that uses your light to point people to Jesus ~ to your daughters and to your sisters 😀

  17. Eileen

    “We were made to shine so others can see God better.” I love that answer.

  18. Diane W. Bailey

    I love the lessons you are teaching your girls. The value of being a woman faith over being a woman of fame. These pictures are stunning. Here is to turning off the thingy that counts hits, and begin counting stars. I wish I could have a do-over with my children. Love you, Jennifer – star gazer extraordinaire!

  19. Dea

    I REALLY saw the stars in all their glory last summer up in Minnesota near the Canadian border. I know, I live in rural America but still there are too many lights. I was undone by the glory they reveal about our God. (I happened to be up in the night to make a trip to the outhouse–long story LOL). Anyway, I took Luke (16 at the time) and my honey out in the middle of the night the next night. So much of what you shared in this post swept into my mind as we laid out there under comforters. Sometimes we want to be big in the world, but in reality it not even possible, not even for the famous. This world is so big, so vast and only One shines bright. So overwhelmed by His love and His plan to let us be little lanterns in this great big universe. Have you read “Embracing Obscurity” by Anonymous?? Interesting read.

  20. Dolly@Soulstops

    What a tender moment with your girl, and how you are modeling for her and teaching her…it is such a daily battle, at least for me, to keep my eyes fixed on Him alone…Thank you, Jennifer, for how you keep shining for Him by pointing back to Him 🙂

  21. Karmen

    Such a sweet beautiful moment between mother and daughter. I could use the “slowing down long enough” time to do that. Thanks for the reminder.

  22. Kelly Greer (@Playsonpurpose)

    What a beautiful starry night and what a lasting impression on both of your hearts. You really are a good mom. Raising your kids to know and trust Jesus is the sound foundation for a life that is free and daring. Thank you both for letting your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
    PS Ten years ago today I had brain surgery to remove a brain tumor. It has been a long road home in recovery. To commemorate Brain Tumor Awareness Month, I have decided it’s time to write my (His) story. I will be writing every day on my blog for the remainder of May, Lord willing. I will share here as I can, and ask that you all share as you are lead. Maybe my story will encourage someone out there who feels all alone in their recovery from brain injury. And we we can offer hope. Because you are teaching me that our story matters, it really, really does. Jesus was my light in the darkness and rescued me from the edge of insanity. He is more than worthy of the glory! Thank you for giving us a place to share.

  23. Kristin Hill Taylor

    This is beautiful. Thanks for letting us take a peek inside these precious moments with your girl.

  24. Laurie Collett

    May we always reflect His light, to His glory! Thanks for the beautiful post and for hosting, and God bless!

  25. Nancy Ruegg

    Your post brings to mind one of my favorite Bible passages: “Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe.” (Philippians 2:14-15). Genuine stars, shining continually from deep within where the eternal Light resides. Praise God!

  26. Michelle Eichner

    I so understand turning off the counter thing! In fact, I’ve started a post along those lines – just haven’t finished it yet. I so appreciate you. Thank you. Hugs, Michelle

  27. Amy Hunt (@grace_full_life)

    What stood out to me most is the truth that our children are His. Not for our glory or know-it-all-ness. He’s got them. And yes, they know more than we need to tell them. His grace is that big. Amen.

  28. Helen Murray

    This is just lovely. Precious time, just you, your daughter and Jesus. Wonderful.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  29. Lisa @ four simply living

    Ummm… this is yummy, right down to my soul I feel nourished. And that book, a must buy in print so I can highlight and chase after thoughts that I need to implement in my inner core. I’m a numbers chaser too, idol worshiper, and I MUST BREAK the cycle. (I haven’t even thought about stats on my new bloggy… totally a God thing!) And oh my daughter, who is perfection right to the core, so perfect she feels she has to be perfect all the time… “Gods at War” might just be the perfect book to read together. Thank you for being who you are!

  30. Lorretta @Dancing On The Dash

    Bless you shiny one. “We might be tempted to sit in the bleachers with stars in our eyes”. Fear kept me silent for too long but I don’t want to trip over my freshly released self-ishness either. Oh, that I may shine only as the light enough…combined with the others…to lead the one to the ONE. It’s enough.

  31. Mary @ Woman to Woman

    Jennifer, these beautiful words make me miss bedtime cuddles with my sons before they had the audacity to turn into men. How wonderful is the star time you still have with your wise Lydia. Thank you for teaching her and reminding me that everything I do is to illuminate our awesome God.
    Thank you for shining!
    Blessings to you ~ Mary

  32. Sandra Heska King

    Well goodness. I thought I’d already commented.

    You shine bright, my friend. And your girls, they’re going to have beautiful memories. Treasures pieced from ordinary moments.



  1. Where I lay myself down - [...] Sharing this in community at #TellHisStory. [...]
  2. Finding faith, all over again | Eyvonne Sharp - [...] Linking today with Jennifer [...]
  3. #Concrete Words – Road | Pour Cette Temps - For This Time - […] Connecting with Nacole for #concretewords, with Emily for Imperfect Prose, with Jennifer for TellHisStory […]

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