how we love

Written by Sandra Heska King

PRAY EDITOR "Once a nurse, always a nurse," they say. But now I spend my days with laptop and camera in tow as I look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. I'm a Michigan gal, mom to two, grandmom to two, and wife to one. My husband and I live on 50 acres in the same 150-plus-year-old farmhouse he grew up in. I love this quote by Mary Oliver, "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." That's how I want to live. And I'm still learning how to be. Still.

November 5, 2013


Lillee bounces down the aisle and slides into the pew like she comes to this church with us every week. She pulls a hymn book out of the rack. When time comes for the children’s sermon, she beats everyone to the platform steps and takes a seat next to Miss Jeannie, then stands up on the top step.

“I love you, Nama!” she yells.

Lillee is my littlest grandgirl. She’s three. And almost a half.

Miss Jeannie reads from Joshua 24:15.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

“We all have choices,” Miss Jeannie says. “Like when someone says something mean, we don’t have to say something mean back.”

“I’d just walk away,” declares Lillee.

“And maybe,” Miss Jeannie goes on, “if someone is sick or needs our help . . .”

Lillee leans into the microphone. (She may even grab it). “My great-grandma fell in the bathroom, and I had to help take care of her.”

(Afterwards, some people ask if I’m okay. I reassure them it was Lillee’s GREAT-grandma who fell.)

“Okay,” says Miss Jeannie. “Let’s say a prayer.”

And Lillee jumps up again, closes her eyes, folds her little hands and exclaims, “Thank you, God for loving me. And I love you, God!”

(I’ve reconstructed Miss Jeannie’s quotes because I’ve totally forgotten her exact words. I’m pretty sure her “sermon” didn’t go exactly as planned. And I know she didn’t expect the “help.” But I remember how I smiled big and wished I was as uninhibited in expressing my love.)

How I wish I could grab hold of that childlike faith. How I long for a heart so full it bubbles with uncontainable, unashamed love.

The kids trot off to children’s church.

And our pastor speaks on loving even our enemies.


Thank you, God for loving me.

And I love you, God!

Jesus, love through me.


May you be comforted by the burning

protective strength of your Father’s strong and stormy love . . .

May your heart thrill at the awesome God

who held nothing back that He might hold you close,

who poured on His Son what He never deserved

that you might receive forever

what you would not have desired

but were created for.

Then may your own heart become an altar

aflame with fiery love and exclusive zeal

to bring Him glory and expand His praise

among all peoples and nations–

among your friends and enemies, too.

~Timothy J. Stoner in The God Who Smokes


  1. Patricia W Hunter

    I LOVE this, Sandra. Your Lillie is adorable and she knows and proclaims that Jesus loves her because He has loved her through you and her mama and the other followers of Jesus in her life. Lillie. xoxox

    • Sandra Heska King


      So last night while I was upstairs trying to write and her mama and Grace were warming up outside for basketball practice (well, Abby was only coaching), and Abby had just checked on Lillee who was playing nicely in the backyard… I came down to discover the cat’s water fountain full of pet food, the bowl of cat food swimming in water, and both full bins of cat and dog food well sprinkled with water. Lillee had slipped inside. One saucer-eyed look from me and an “Oh no,” and she fell apart. LOL. Poor girl.

  2. Sylvia R

    Beautiful, Sandy. I was seeing my own granddaughter, when a couple years younger, in this–greatly! Kids’ love is so beautifully spontaneous! But in the hard love that comes later in life,*doing* it all comes down to that phrase in your prayer, doesn’t it? “Jesus, love through me.” That’s the only way I can really love, especially my enemies. But what a “heart thrill” when He answers that prayer! Sylvia R @

    • Sandra Heska King

      Exactly, Sylvia. I can’t. He can. And He can through me if I’m doing the “being.”

  3. Thomas Mason

    Beautiful story, Sandra.

    • Sandra Heska King

      Thank you, Thomas. She’s an amazing little girl–three going on ten.

      • Thomas Mason

        Or like my daughter – ten going on twenty! 🙂

        • Sandra Heska King

          Ha! Now you’re talking about Lillee’s older sister. 😉

  4. pastordt

    PERFECTION – so sweet. It’s fun to read about Lillee a little bit more, Sandy. As always, you recreate the scene perfectly.

    • Sandra Heska King

      Thanks, Diana. 🙂

      Wouldn’t it be fun if our Lils could meet?

  5. DeanneMoore

    I thank God for Lillie, and my Naomi and Livvy (my grand dolls) and all the little ones who lead us who live in the assurance of the Father’s “strong and stormy love.” No matter if they know it’s strong and stormy…how precious that a three “and almost a half year old” uses the word love with such abandon…

  6. lindalouise

    She is amazing Sandy. Yes – to be that uninhibited in expressing our love. Life seems to knock that right out of us. This made me smile – big!

    • Sandra Heska King

      Sometimes we adults just think too much, I think–of ourselves.

  7. marthaorlando

    Your Lillie sounds and acts so much like my granddaughter! Full of life, full of truth, full of faith. No wonder Jesus told us to let the little ones come unto Him. In their innocence and acceptance, we can learn how to approach the throne of grace with confidence and joy.
    Love and blessings, Sandy!

  8. Jen Ferguson

    Unashamed and uninhibited love. Yes. That. I want that to be about my God but even more for His people around me. I want to let myself love them recklessly and with abandon. Like He does.

    • Sandra Heska King

      Amen, Jen. But can we love others with abandon, like He does, without first loving Him?

      • Jen Ferguson

        Oh, I didn’t mean to imply that at all. I’m just saying it’s easier for me to love God with reckless abandon, fully trusting. Much harder for me to be that way with people. Thus, my desire to love God that way is already there, but I want my desire to love people grow in big ways, too.

        • Sandra Heska King

          I know you know that, my friend. I think those words fell out of my fingers at myself. Because most days I’m not sure I love God that way. I want to, but I still think I think too much of me. 🙂



  1. how we love - Sandra Heska King | Sandra Heska King - […] to try to take over the children’s sermon. What does she do next? Read about it over at…

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how we love

by Sandra Heska King time to read: 2 min