david and i are in the smoky mountains

trees stand straight up and tall limbs tower over us

the water rumbles over big rocks and we marvel at the way God has crafted His creation.

this world is a work of art.  this world is a work of God’s heart.


one of my favorite things about east tennessee…

the small artisan shops where skillful hands shape something new out of raw material

we know the price tag on those hand-crafted treasures cannot compensate the artist for the amount of time and care it took to create their piece.  to craft something beautiful and original where there once was only a empty canvas, a shapeless piece of metal, or a clump of potter’s clay.

we gaze at each creation with a sense of awe as the artists’ peek from behind their workbenches.

this is their work of art, this is a work of their heart.


in the middle of our wanderings, i spot a metal cross with a richly-colored turquoise flower placed in the center

i call david over.

“that cross, the one with the blue..that one is for my aunt hannah.. oh, the joy it would bring her.”

he nods.

“yes, that one is for her..”

there is no need to make a purchase because she is no longer receiving earthly things. she is seated in the heavens next to her favorite love…the God that carried her through many seasons… the God whose words she poured over, the God she spoke so endearingly of…she is with that God.

so, in the middle of the store i speak right out loud.

“this cross is for you, hannah. it’s just for you. and please remember, i love you so.”

i clear my misty eyes and we move on to other pieces and eventually other shops.


earlier this morning i woke up remembering something that she had told me as she observed the way we parented our children several years back.

“jenni, you may never understand the ground you have gained, introducing your children to God so young.

the praise music you listen to, the Christian cartoons, the way you speak so freely of the LORD in your home.”

i knew she was proud of me. i knew it meant something to her. but, it did not feel extraordinary. after all, i was sharing the God i love with the ones i love.  we share the things we love.

parenting includes, among many other thing, sharing the things we love.

parenting is a work of art.  a work of our hearts.

it seems like quite a challenge, to shape and inspire young minds to reach for a faith that is hard to grasp.  a child’s mind is geared to reach for the tangible…what they can touch, and what they can experience.  instilling God-centered values can be tricky.  but we pursue it because we want to share what we love with those we love..  the God that will carry them beyond any place we can carry them.

i am sure that most would agree that the world is not intentional about raising children who turn to the LORD. and on the television, there is a lot of talk. of division. of detours from traditional values and God-honoring teaching.

we who are parents, are also artisans. we cradle children in our arms as we begin to support and shape the life that God has created. we provide the foundation for trust and unconditional love, and we lay out the markers for success.  we teach our children how to talk and we model what it looks like to communicate. we monitor what they hear and we clearly articulate what is appropriate to say and what is not. we lay spiritual bricks and work skillfully to protect their minds and brand our values on their hearts.

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