On Friday, August 4, 2017, a beautiful, godly woman was embraced in the arms of Jesus. Fern Frick, thank you for inspiring me to write Imperfectly Brave. Dear sweet reader on the other end of this screen, please spend a few minutes letting the life of this women inspire you as well. And may it pierce your heart just as much as it has mine.
(an excerpt from Imperfectly Brave and the story of Fern Frick)
I didn’t wake up one day wanting to be brave, nor did I ask God to ever redefine bravery for me. I had a holy ground moment and I will keep running back to it, hopefully for the rest of my life.
I hope that at some point or even better – points – in your life, you have had holy ground moments. Moments that have moved your heart so much that you practically felt like you touched God. If you have, please put it in a great big treasure chest and store it safe, but don’t ever leave it locked up. Locked up treasure does no one any good. If you haven’t, I am praying for you right now that you have a burning bush – holy ground – take off your sandals moment at some point while reading this book.
Oh, Lord Jesus, would you speak to your servant girls?
I recently had my second baby, Carter, and quickly understood that two babies under the age of two is a game-changer. Carter wasn’t the easiest baby, either. The girl has a voice on her and it can pierce straight through the skin into the heart. She kicked and screamed while nursing. She did all the newborn things that are so incredibly darling, but also leave you longing for your bed. Regardless, we celebrated her little life because never has there ever been so grand a miracle than life itself.
Now with two babies, the biggest change for me was getting out of the house. I still break a sweat while getting into the car, and I feel like there should genuinely be a cheering section for all moms who have slammed a door with one kid safely secured in his or her seat (Notice, I didn’t say a well-dressed, fed, happy, clean kid. I said a child who is alive and well-secured. Basics are good for survival).
While I was figuring out how to get out of the house, I decided that the girls and I would take a trip to visit Fern Frick, a dear widow who attends our church. I put a phone call into sweet Fern, and she said she could hardly wait to see the girls.
A little later, we made it out of our home and down the dirt road to Fern’s home.
The best part about visiting Fern is that when you drive up to her front door, you already begin to meet with Jesus. You take a left onto a gravel road, and rows of corn begin to sing sweetly to an overwhelmed soul. Trees wave hello and point to the right way, the slow way, the best way of life.
We pulled in and Fern was waiting for us. I could tell she had already been with Jesus. Her face radiated. Jesus does that. He radiates from the hearts that meet with Him. Since we had called earlier to say we would be stopping by, Fern spent the morning making sweet tea and getting out toys. Oh, to be a widow with a generous heart.
As I stepped out of the car, I didn’t know my feet actually were treading on sacred places. How do I know? Because now I can see that the conversation that transpired between Fern and me led to my very own burning bush. So here I am sharing it with you because it was never meant to be locked away. Rather, burning bushes are meant to be gazed upon and unleashed until God is glorified most completely.
Fern moves slower these days, so the girls and I walked patiently behind her as she led us into her living room. I laid Carter on the floor next to wooden blocks and a pretend wooden telephone. Collins, my oldest, went to town playing with the plastic animals. I sank into a chair near the girls just like I used to at my grandma’s house.
Fern offered me a sweet tea. How could I resist the generosity? After the pour and the the clanking of the ice, Fern placed my cup on a coaster near the chair and she proceeded to sit down beside me. We sat in silence for some time while we watched the girls play.
Fern broke the silence first. She looked at me and said words that began to rattle my soul.
“How did we get here?” she asked, looking at Carter.
I actually was a bit confused by her question at first. I couldn’t catch up to her thought process. But then I realized as Fern gazed at Carter she was asking questions concerning our world. Fern knows that during the day, I work at a pregnancy support center, where we are about grace and love and mercy. We let beautiful women, of all ages, see the little lives forming inside of them. And yet, we live in a culture where life is dispensable and abortions are happening everyday. So what are we doing about it?
Again, there was more silence. How do you answer such a heavy question?
As I sat and let her question sink further into my bones, I realized that it went beyond a “pro-life” standpoint. Her question went deeper into our world, actually questioning how we have walked so far from God. Her question was one that you could tell she ponders while sitting on her couch reading her Bible, talking with God. Her question left my heart beating in short spurts, wading through the thickness of silence, longing for a God-answer.
Here we were – generations apart – but one question hung in the air that united us.
All those longings I have for the church that I spoke about earlier have led me to the same question, “How did we get here, church?”
Where, church, have you been when the one nation under God has walked wildly away from such a proclamation? Were we too busy building our places and our spaces to get outside our walls? Have we been too scared to figure out how to fight in love? Have we deemed ourselves unnecessary to the current ways of our world? When have we been brave? Worse. Have we been brave?
Then Fern looked at me, knowing full well the answer. With her face still aglow, she said words that overwhelmed my soul. “We didn’t fight hard enough. We weren’t bold enough. We just weren’t brave enough.”
I don’t think I will ever forget this moment. I stared at this Jesus woman; this woman filled with wisdom in every crack and wrinkle of her beautiful worn skin. As I looked into her eyes with lines down the side, I saw a woman whose purity of heart came from the depths of her insides. Fern didn’t point fingers at anyone else. She didn’t say it was Mr. President. She didn’t say it was all those hippies. She didn’t blame it on a broken system. She didn’t throw around explicit advertising.
She pointed the finger where it hurts the most.
She pointed it back to herself.
“I wasn’t brave enough.”
After more silence, the words finally broke from my mouth, “What do we do? What can my generation do?” I almost pleaded, because somewhere this has to end. At some point we have to step into the battle. At some point we need to start being brave.
And then she said it, the words that still echo in my heart:
“We have to love Jesus like crazy.”
Yes, of course. It is the most simple and the most challenging sentence I have ever heard in my life. This is what happens on sacred ground. Sentences become mandates and mandates become passions and passions become calls.
The babies stirred as we continued to talk. Carter’s little fingers pierced through the crocheted blanket and big sister cowered over little sister still not understanding her strength over the baby. We watched them play again as our words spoke about loving greatly again and being strong and courageous. We talked about Jesus being more than an addition to our Sunday mornings and our love for Him running deeper than absolutely anything in our lives – our kids, our jobs, our husbands, our homes.
Our love for Him radically redefines our lives. A redefined life radically changes certain places. A whole army of redefined women can quite literally change the entire world.
I want in on this kind of life.
There is only one way to get there, though. This battle starts and ends with loving Jesus. We are brave because we love Jesus. The solution is a radical love for a precious and perfect Savior. In a battle you have to love the one you are fighting for, or else it all just becomes strategy and rules. If you don’t love the one you are defending, the fight will lose its impact. And maybe that’s what has happened – maybe over the years, over the generations – our love for God has weakened and our fight for Him has lost its punch.
The good news is that we don’t have to come up with a separate rulebook to start fighting again. We don’t have to sit at round tables to create new strategies for how to be brave. We don’t have to yell and argue and fight with one another, because the One we are defending has already told us the way. The only way – the greatest way – is loving Him.