They spread the blanket out wide by the lake.
Two little girls who have become fast friends laughing free in the cold autumn air. And the fireworks light up the sky, shake the ground. And my heart could burst too. When it's over, the darkness lingers and there is barely enough light to see, but full moon and stars bright and lake shining? It's enough for rich laughter and a few imaginative rounds of Duck, Duck, Goose. Sitting in the grass the one sighs in her mother's arms, "This is the life!" And our only response is, "Yes, sweetheart. You are so right!" Then it's climbing rocks and hide and seek and angels descending and ascending and two little-girl voices reading Scripture off the wall and two women watching, praying for moments to be written on melting hearts, for surely God is in this place. We talk, my precious friend and I, as we watch the girls play. We talk of challenges and struggles and unending grace and stories written and unfolding.
And my little one, she had looked up at the angels and breathed it slow: "It's so beautiful!"
Yes, my sweet girl. Yes! It is all so beautiful. And sometimes, little one, you'll have to look really hard to see it. Because sometimes it's so far from perfect and so close to hopeless, and brokenness can be overwhelming and the battle can feel like it's going to overtake you. But, precious one, remember this: Beauty and Grace will always be greater than the battle. And God? He's always bigger than the chaos and He will fight for you. You need only be still. (Exodus 14:14) And these moments are the ones that echo through eternity. He is always good, child. And you are always loved. I know I said I would, but the truth is, I may not always be able to keep you from falling. It's hard to admit that. We'll fail you, my love, and I'm sorry. But these moments - the running, spinning, dancing, singing, all the Beauty - remember these moments because He is big enough and His arms are wide enough and His love is deep enough to catch you. You'll always be safe because He is the perfect Savior. You'll always be loved. You'll always be wanted. Life is beautiful, my love. He is Lord and King, rich in grace. He is Redeemer, lavish in His affection and generosity, and making all things right. I would know, because I've seen it. I would know, because I've seen you. You've stolen my heart... and His! Truly, He is good. And all this? GRACE. Remember this, little one, and I will too.
We go home far later than we should, because who can count the minutes here? And we will never be the same.