Ode to a World Changer

I recently listened to a pastor share a story about the day he walked into a conference workshop and found his seven-year-old daughter praying over the instructor. It was the same day she would be found marching in a corner, praying loudly and boldly for the conference attendees. The day she would defy her father’s wishes to stay out from underfoot because she felt compelled to lay hands on individuals in the crowd.

It was the day her father realized that God had great things in store for his little girl.

He choked up as he told that part of the story. Tears blurred my vision and I was acutely aware that there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. But then, there never is at the funeral of a ten-year-old girl.

And I imagine that, at that point, most everyone was thinking what a tragedy it was that she was taken from us so suddenly. Because she was a little fireball with so much potential. The kind of girl who might have changed the world one day.

That’s where we went wrong. Not with the tragedy. Not with the fact that our hearts were broken. But we were wrong to assume that her potential had been cut off at the knees. Wrong to assume that she might have changed the world one day.

Maggie HollifieldBecause Maggie Hollifield did change the world. Those great things her father predicted? She fulfilled them in a mere ten years of living. From the time her daddy recognized her potential until the day she breathed her last, Maggie did mighty things.

Maggie believed in small encounters. She never sold herself short. She never saved anything for “one day.” She lived in the moment, dancing her way into the hearts of those around her. And that’s how she managed to change the world in ten, short years.

And I’m a little ashamed to think that I could live a hundred years and not touch half as many people as Maggie Hollifield did during her tragically short lifespan.

Because I have a habit of getting so caught up in the someday that I forget to live in the now.
I forget the monumental impact the smallest encounters can have.
I forget that changing the world is done one day at a time.
Just one day at a time.

I’m thankful for the way this child turned my world upside-down in the brief eight months I knew her. I’m thankful that she left me something of her to carry—a song I can dance to, a legacy I can live, a road map to changing the world.

And I hope we all can learn to live so freely, love so extravagantly, and dance so passionately as Maggie did.

I hope we learn to leave the somedays in the future as we embrace the now.
I hope we remember to make room for the small encounters.
I hope we determine to change the world one day at a time.
Just one day at a time.

How to Cradle the World

I fell apart with a five-year-old boy in the middle of a classroom. And by “fell apart,” I mean I maintained that calm exterior that is necessary in a room full of preschoolers, but my heart completely ripped in two.

He said he was hungry, and maybe he was, but it wasn’t the kind of hunger a handful of Cheese Nips could solve. And I wish that it was because it’s so much easier to conjure up a handful of Cheese Nips than to piece together the splintered remains of a broken heart.

So there I am, with my box of unwanted snacks, simply staring at this boy with his thick, long lashes that are laced with tears and longing.

“He wants his mommy,” one of my students sagely observes.

I’ll bet he does. I’ll bet he does. And it would be so much easier to see him cry if I knew he had a mommy to go home to. But he doesn’t. Because he was transferred to my school at the same time he was transferred to a new foster family.

He’s five years old and he has nothing to cling to in life.

He mentioned a brother, but I didn’t dare ask if they were placed in the same home. I was afraid of what the answer might be.

Can I confess something to you?

Sometimes I feel so small.

Sometimes I feel helpless and useless and completely overwhelmed by the world around me.

And while I’ve never been one to doubt that one life can make a difference, sometimes I wonder if we make difference enough.

Because my arms aren’t quite big enough to rock the whole world close to my heart.

And I realize that my presence in the life of this child is temporary. Just a few, short weeks until school is out and he passes from my life forever—gone just as quickly as he came.

It’s almost enough to make me question the purpose of giving him all I’ve got.


There’s a reason Rebekah means “Devoted.” I don’t know how to love with anything less than all I’ve got.

So I’m sitting there looking at this child, asking God why. Why would He give me something so fragile to hold for such a short time? Why would He give me the desire to nurture and mend and create wings for this child when such a task cannot possibly be done in a mere handful of weeks?

And what does one do with an untouched pile of Cheese Nips on her table and a steady stream of tears creating a puddle on her floor?

You let them stay just as they are, and you draw that child close to your heart, and you make him your world for a moment.

Yes, you make him your world, and you’ll see…

The world fits quite nicely in the curve of your arms.

You’re big enough to cradle the world, after all.

Yes, that’s how you cradle the world.

How to Cradle the World

Foolish Enough to Change the World

If you all haven’t heard of Hannah Brencher, you should check out hannahkaty.com right now. …Or maybe you should wait until after I finish my introduction. I think Hannah is me in a more poetic form. I think she’s me if I were living freer and dreaming bigger and daring greater than I ever have before. Hannah believes in beauty and wonder and sacredness.  She believes in living with her heart wide open and loving deeper than most would dare to love. Hannah is my inspiration. Because Hannah reminds me that I’m not the only one foolish enough to believe she can change the world.

You know what our problem is? We try to make sense out of life. We try to rationalize things and define things and pretend we know exactly what is going on all around us all the time. We like to be in control, and we content ourselves with living an illusion of control because we will never actually have a handle on our lives. Never.

And we call ourselves “realists” ~ say we’ve “grown up” ~ when really we’re just control freaks who don’t want to imagine that there could be more to life than what we know. We’ve forgotten that Jesus commanded us to be like little children. We’ve forgotten that our sense of wonder is something we were never meant to lose.

We clench our fists around the details of our lives and watch them pour like sand through our fingers when, all the while, God is asking us to live with open hands and watch His will unfold. It’s so much easier to cradle sand in open palms. But in our desperation to control our lives, we forget to cherish the moments. As God’s perfect design explodes into being around us, we forget to stand and gasp in awe like a child on the 4th of July.

And we quietly live our infinitely small lives, never dreaming that something better could be out there. Never hoping that maybe we were meant for greater things.

Well I, for one, will not go gently. I’ll not remain silent as life passes me by. I would rather fail believing I was meant for world changing than live knowing I wasn’t brave enough to risk it. And in the words of Hannah Brencher:

“If I have only one quality for the rest of my life I hope that it is foolish… Foolish enough to think that I can make a difference in this world and then go out and do the things that others say cannot be done..”

May God make us all foolish enough to believe we can change the world.