About a month ago, I announced I would be attending Wheaton College in the Fall, and God has confirmed the calling there in a number of ways. One of the ways was through writing a certain application essay. I was still deciding on schools at the time, and this essay for some reason gave me a lot of peace as I typed because it taught me as I wrote. I thought I’d share it here with you.
Some of you reading may know the story of blankie, but I enjoyed going a bit more in-depth about it here. It’s my favorite story to tell, and I’m posting it now because I think it’s the one I want/need to hear again at the moment.
It’s no accident I became a Christian at age five, close to the same time as my blanket’s story. It’s no accident because God knew the timing of things would matter to me in the future. It’s no accident God later placed a joy in me I never knew I could find, doing childcare at my church in Virginia. If I’d never watched the kids there and had so many silly, sweet conversations with little ones, I would still be dismissing the idea of writing and illustrating children’s books. I would not value and really comprehend what it means to take joy in small things like the sky, colors, and funny faces. I wouldn’t fully understand what it means to walk in faith without fear. The lesson of childlike faith is not an accident. Childlike faith allows me to trust when God is working in my losses. The stories of my blankets are no accident.
When I was five years old, I lived as a missionary kid in Lithuania, a country in Northern Europe. I used to carry around a small blanket with me almost everywhere I went but doing so was more than a quirk. I had the habit because my “blankie” was my familiar, secure, soft, and colorful token I could hold onto while winter and post-communist, Lithuanian culture felt unfamiliar and chilly.
At one point, my family didn’t have a car and had to take a taxi to get places. Thus, when we went out to eat one night, I clambered into the cab with my blanket, swaddling a tiny stuffed animal. In my childish reasoning, I thought the same cab that dropped people off places picked them up, so not wanting to get food on them, I left both the stuffed dog and blanket on the leather backseat. I thought nothing more of it until I returned to the taxi to find my blanket lost forever. According to my parents, I came home and cried over the loss for a solid two weeks (Eons in a five-year-old’s mind). Instead of chiding me, however, my parents understood the magnitude of my loss and began praying for and with me.
The two weeks passed full of tears and prayers before we received a care package from someone we didn’t know (possibly from our church in America). The first thing we found when we opened the cardboard box was a small, homemade quilt with animals printed on the fabric of one side, a scene of an elephant family walking the savanna on the other side, and a ruddy brown border. Of course, we didn’t hesitate to see it as an answer to prayer.
To this day, 14 years later, “Blankie” hangs over the frame of my bed. For different reasons over the years, I’ve received several other blankets and recently realized they’re becoming “Ebenezers.” They remind me of God’s faithfulness in the middle of overwhelming emotions and circumstances.
My grandmother gave me my favorite blanket from her house the day we left for Slovakia, so I could remember her during our distance. That same blanket comforted me when I needed something soft and familiar, leaving Slovakia after 10 years overseas, to come to the U.S.
This Christmas, I received a homemade quilt in the mail from a woman in Virginia, covered in owls and stitched with all the love a Southern grandma could put in it. She didn’t know about the stuffed toy owls I sewed and sold at age ten as my first commission, yet her quilt encourages me to keep pursuing my love of art.
Again and again, these small reminders take me back to the feeling of being a tiny child, secure and joyful. The Ebenezer blankets mark significant points in my life of loss, faith, and the God of all comfort.
Although I still wrestle with fear and the temptation to doubt the fullness of God, I find myself to be His child every morning, recognizing how vulnerable and small I am. I’m reminded I’m small in the best way. I’m enabled to be courageous and enabled to encourage others because He provides reminders of Himself. Whatever I’m doing, Ebenezers of childlike faith manifest themselves and push me forward, despite every goodbye I say to a blanket, a country, or a person. The goodbyes are not accidents in God’s hands. The intentionality is there, in His showing me I can trust Him.
The Ebenezers are never accidents.
- Psalm 46 – Soak in it.
- “Still” by Amanda Cook – Also her entire House on a Hill album. Especially that title track. Oof…soooo good.
- The “Everything” Lifehouse skit – An oldie but a goodie. I saw this a couple times performed in different settings as a kid/young teen. It never fails to make me stop, reflect, and be wowed.
- “You Might Find Yours” a song/poem by Tom Rosenthal – I’ve always loved that his videos and music seem to have a childlike, yet insightful feel to them. This one gives me courage.
I have many emotions and thoughts about yet another life step, but even if change wasn’t happening in the next few months, my heart needed this preaching-to-self.
He hems you before and behind,