Stretched, but Not Broken

Last night I warned my daughter that time moves quickly…so quickly…for grown-ups. Of course, she whined about that being unfair — because life moves so slowly for children.

If I close my eyes tightly, and breathe in deeply, I can see and smell two-thousand and twelve. Two-thousand thirteen is still paper thin, and I could reach through and touch the past if I tried to — maybe. There are seasons in our lives when someone rips the vacuum seal on a lifetime of thoughts and experiences; newness explodes in an instant. It’s inexplicably fast, this bursting, yet it contains moments that are tangibly slow. In these seconds you can hear your heart thump — slow…slower…like it’s falling asleep and you’re listening from underwater.

Budum. Budum…budum…bu-dum…

It was Sunday morning, late two-thousand and twelve, and my eyes were blood-shot from study. I hadn’t slept the night before. I stood on the stage in a floor length dress, and I held my great-grandfather’s violin. The pastor called my name, and that snapped me back to reality. I’d been back at home tucked under covers with my coffee and my Bible.

“Sarah,” he said confidently and kindly, “God has spent the past several years teaching you to hear His voice. Now He’s leading you into a new ministry…”

I’d be lying if I said I could quote the rest. I stepped back to steady myself with my bare heel; I blinked away tears, and I smiled. “What if that means I can’t stay here?” echoed over and over in my mind as I gazed out over my family. “Will you still trust that I can hear God?”

In the winter of 2011 I was inspired, compelled by joy, to write the book I am presenting you today. I believe God told me to write what would be a kind of Christianity 101 geared to parents of young children and meant, at least in part, to be a conversation starter for families. As a parent of five little ones, and a thirty-year veteran of Evangelical Christianity, I thought it sounded like a cinch to write. I sat down and began typing a rough chapter outline within five minutes of hearing His voice. I smiled from ear-to-ear and typed like the wind; then He interrupted softly with, “…but not yet”.  I was crushed…and a little offended. One thing was made perfectly clear in that dictated pause between inspiration and execution: I was not yet equipped to write this simple book.

Over the next two years, God has wrecked me — in the very best sense of the phrase. By the end of two-thousand and twelve I knew exactly why He had delayed me that night. More than that, I was grateful. I fell fast into a love affair with my Savior like nothing I had ever experienced. I began to drink Scripture like before I’d been swallowing sand. I was so thirsty. I opened my mind to anything the Bible had to offer; and as I saw and learned things I’d never seen or learned before, I taught them to my children as we walked along the way.

From December two-thousand and twelve to December two-thousand and thirteen I’ve logged over one-thousand hours of study, and I’ve poured them into a book. In my quest for truth I held nothing sacrosanct but Scripture, and I held no one sacred but Jesus. At that moment when the preacher’s daughter allowed herself to question, the bag ripped open. The seal broke. The room spun.

“The morning! The morning!” I cried, “I am caught by the morning and I am a ghost.” ~ C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Two-thousand and thirteen was both rapid and steady — faith-testing and awe inspiring. I stretched all sides of the bubble of Christianity, straining from fingertip to fingertip. It transformed into something at times unrecognizable, but it did not break. I’m still here; I still believe. I still teach my children. Only now, I know I why I believe.

And as if any more ado could be possible, I present: Little Children. Big God.

[click the photo for purchase details]

Little Children. Big God. is an intricate weaving of deep study and childhood wonder as told by Sarah Hawkes Valente, a mother of five young children. Each chapter introduces essential doctrine through beautifully concise narrative—simplifying sometimes confusing scriptures while still preserving their integrity. Sarah challenges us to diligently teach our children, to be continually taught by the mouth of our Father, and to apply His eternal precepts to our everyday lives. This book is for anyone in search of renewed, child-like eyes with which to more clearly see the heart of our great big God.







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