“Jesus says to love everyone, but…

…Mommy won’t let me play with my friend Lance anymore,” he said, his voice quivering. Owen was such a kind and gentle boy.  I’d never seen him be less than polite to anyone. My “adopted” grandson ran to me for comfort.  I looked past him into the kitchen to see his mom shake her head in frustration.  Then she mouthed “Good luck” as I winked to assure her we were okay.

As I drew him close, I assured him that his mother loved him very much and that she loves Jesus, too.  But we would try to find a way to understand. “Did Mommy say why she didn’t want you and your friend to play together?”

“She said they weren’t very nice,” he said haltingly, still trying to talk between sobs.

“Do you think she meant your friend or his family?” I asked.

“I don’t know.” he moaned as he leaned into my arm, sobbing again.

“Did anyone at their house do something they shouldn’t have?”

Owen became very quiet, looking at his hands now,  not knowing what he should say.  I waited, letting him form his thoughts uninterrupted.  Finally, he said, “Sometimes his big brother is there, and he says bad words and yells at us.  And sometimes Gilbert says them, too.”

“Hmm,” I said thoughtfully.  “How does that make you feel when you hear them doing that?”

Again he grew quiet, swinging his leg nervously.  He suspected we were heading toward his mother’s point of view. “I don’t like it.  But they don’t do it all the time.”

“Did anything happen today that made it worse?”  I hoped he could make the connection.

“Me and Lance and Gilbert–Gilbert’s nine–were out in the back yard when Gilbert hit Lance and called him a bad name.  Then he told me not to play with him.”  Owen understood more than he really wanted to.

“I bet that hurt Lance’s feelings when Gilbert told you not to play with him when he’s your cousin,” I noted.

Owen looked up at me.  It seemed there was more.  His large brown eyes held mine as he continued.  “And one time Gilbert had his big brother’s knife.  He showed it to me and told me not to tell anyone.  I didn’t like that either, but I didn’t know what to do.”

“Oh, I see.  It sounds like being Gilbert’s friend can be a little hard.”

“Yeah,” he sighed.  “How can I know who’s nice, and why can’t I just be friends with everyone?”

“That really would be a nice world, wouldn’t it, buddy.”   Indeed it would be a lovely world.  But at the tender age of 6, Owen was encountering the truth about the world around him.  Not everyone is nice, and being friendly doesn’t always produce friends.  “You know, Owen, Jesus wishes everyone would be His friend, too, just like you’re feeling right now.  But some people don’t like Jesus or the way He acts.  So Jesus knows just how you feel.”

“What does Jesus do when someone doesn’t want to be His friend?”  Owen couldn’t imagine anyone not wanting to be Jesus’ friend.

“He lets people make their own choices.  He doesn’t worry about not being good enough for them.  But He is sad  because He is the only one who can ever be our real best friend forever, and those people will miss out.”

“But I don’t want to miss out on being Gilbert’s friend.”  His situation still stung.  Having older friends can be a challenge for a young boy.

“Jesus does tell us to love everyone as God does.  But that God-love means to be kind to everyone and always do the right thing for them.  It doesn’t mean we have to be friends with everyone, just be kind to everyone.   There were some people who Jesus treated with respect who were NOT His friends.  He stayed away from those people and even told the disciples to watch out for them  because they were dangerous.”

“Who were they?” Owen asked.

“Well, some of them were important people in the town and their soldiers.  And there was one man who pretended to be His friend but got Him in trouble instead.  His name was Judas.”

“I don’t know anyone named Judas,” Owen said.

“And one time, Peter tried to talk Jesus out of doing what the Father in Heaven told Jesus to do.  And Jesus told Peter to stop talking that way. Jesus wasn’t afraid to say ‘No’ when a friend wanted Him to do something wrong.”

“But if I tell Gilbert ‘No,’ he gets mad at me,” he objected.

“Are you afraid of Gilbert, Owen?”

“A little bit.  Just when he gets mad,” he said hesitantly, embarrassed to admit fear.

“You know, Owen, I think maybe that Gilbert is someone you should be kind to, but play with other friends.  Maybe Gilbert will see you being like Jesus and decide to be a better friend.  But ask God to give you good friends, and then watch and wait to see who you meet.  Besides, you still have Lance, and I bet he’ll be so glad you can play together again.  Good friends never ask you to do any wrong things.”

Owen nodded his head. He remembered something from Bible class. “Yeah. Good friends help you be good, not bad.”  He smiled at me.  “Nannygranne, do you want me to get you a cookie?”

As I said, Owen is such a sweet boy.  I prayed God would grant him wisdom, and to learn to love with God-love.  Then I prayed that God would protect his gentle spirit and strengthen his soul.


Additional study:  John 3:16;  Matthew 7:21;  John 14:15;  John 15:10-14; Matthew 10:2-4; Matthew 26



Why can’t my best friends stay friends?

We were FaceTiming.  I could hear her disappointment and remembered the crushing frustration I’d felt at her age.  I could also relate because this question applies to any of us at any age.

“Uh oh,” I said.  “What happened?”

“Every time I have a best friend, something always happens, and then I don’t,” she wailed.

“How many best friends should we have?”

“Everybody else has lots of best friends.  I don’t have any right now.”  She was unable to move past her disappointment.

I sensed I needed more information. “What’s the difference between a friend and a best friend, do you think?”

She looked away for a moment, then down, then shrugged her shoulders.  “I don’t know.  I guess if you’re best friends, then you don’t go to be best friends with someone else.”

“Oh, I see.  Then your best friend went to play with someone else, and you feel left out?”

“Yeah. And they didn’t invite me to play.”  Her lip began to tremble and she wiped unwanted tears from her eyes.

I had to remember things from her perspective and understand how much pain she was feeling, though I knew the answer lay in taking a needed step in growing up.

“Feeling unwanted hurts really bad, doesn’t it,” I said.  “I’ve felt that same way.  And Jesus did, too.”

“He did?” she responded.

“Yes, He did, several times.  Sometimes it was His brothers.  Sometimes it was His neighbors.  But the saddest was when His best friends, the Apostles, ran away when the soldiers came and arrested Him in the middle of the night.  And when He was crucified, John was the only one that came near.”

“I didn’t know that.”  Now she felt unsure that her problem could be solved.

“But Jesus loved them anyway, and forgave them after He rose from the dead.  Sometimes we just have to forgive our friends, especially when they didn’t mean to hurt us.  I don’t want you to lose your friends, either.  Do you?”

“No.  But what do I do?”

“Maybe we can share our friends with a smile, and a smile always makes people feel better around us.  Could you go get your Bible and look at something with me?”   As she ran to get her Bible, I quickly did a word search and found our help.  When she returned, I told her to find Job 16:20 and asked her to read it for us.

My friends scorn me, but I pour out my tears to God.

“So, who can we talk to when our feelings are hurt?” I asked.

“We can talk to God,” she answered.

“Yes, it’s better to talk to Him about it than to speak badly about our friends to other people.  That’s called gossip.  I’m glad you and I are talking to God about this.  Now find Proverbs 27:10.”

Never abandon a friend.

“So, God says, let’s don’t give up on a friend just because they hurt our feelings accidentally.  Can we hang on and still be friends through disappointment rather than throw them away?” I asked.

“I guess so,” she conceded.  Then when I waited and smiled at her, she smiled and said, “Yes, I can hang on to my friends and not throw them away.”

“Okay.  I have one other verse, and I’ll read it for you, and you tell me what you think God is teaching us. Is that alright?”

She nodded.

I turned to Romans 12:3b.  “God told the Apostle Paul to say to us:

Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you.

“How do we know we’re important?  Is it because we have lots of friends, or is it because we know we are important to God?”

“Because we are important to God,” she answered.

“Does that make you feel better?  It does me.”

“Me, too.  And so are my friends important to God?”  Her tone had changed.  God’s viewpoint does that to us.

“Yes! Good call!  That’s the way to think like God!  You’re growing wiser, and being wiser makes you feel happier.  I’m proud of you for saying that.”   I genuinely felt impressed to see the effect of just a few words from God in a few moments.

She said, “I’m going to let you go and call someone to see if she had fun.  I still want to be friends. Talk to you later.” She ended the call.

I prayed I would be as quick to respond to the Lord’s correction.  We adults can learn so much from children and their unfettered trust in God.

I Don’t Know What I Am

Finally, a group of church friends got to go camping!  Venturing out of our COVID cocoons for the first time in a month, we hoped social distancing and fresh air would keep us safe.  We sang, laughed, and visited, but each family tended to their own meals and air-hugs were the thing.   It felt so good to feel the fresh air and warm sun.  I’d never again take things like this for granted.  At least I hope I’ll never forget.

The big kids had been on a hike and now returned thirsty and ready for a rest.  Some went to their tents. Some grabbed their phones.  But one of the young teens joined her baby brother on the quilt where he lay sleeping.  My lawn chair and I stood sentinel for the baby’s parents who had gone fishing for a couple of hours.

“Which trail did you guys take?” I asked.

“The longest one!  We ran a lot of the time, but it took the other girls longer to get back than it did me.  I  beat the boys back, too.”  Strangely, her tone didn’t match her words.  She didn’t sound happy about her accomplishment.

“I don’t hear victory in your voice,” I said.  “Did the guys get mad at you?”

“No.  They didn’t get mad, but they acted weird, that’s all.” She’d picked up a twig and was absent-mindedly breaking it into short sticks.

“Boys being weird?  Imagine that!”  I got up from my lawn chair and joined her on the quilt.  “I get the feeling they said something worse than weird.  I get the feeling they were unkind somehow.”

“People are always telling me I’m a *%@#.”

“Do you think they know what that means?”  I was hoping that the kids were just using a term they’d heard, not understanding it’s a vulgar word meaning “lesbian.”

“Everybody knows what that means.”  She threw down her sticks now and propped her head in her hands in frustration.

“I’m wondering if they mean it as an insult.  What do you think?”

“Well, some girls at school say they are.  The other girls hate them.  And sometimes girls ask me why I act like a boy or if I’m really a boy.”

“What do you say to them?”  I hoped she’d been able to come up with a response, but had an idea she was sitting here hoping she could figure out what to think or say.

“I just tell them it’s none of their business, and then I walk away.”  She was definitely feeling overwhelmed.  Adding to her pain was the fact that these kids were supposed to be family.  As “soul family,” this was the worst kind of friendly fire—and, sadly, it was part-and-parcel of any family of broken people.

She covered her face with her hands.  I knew she was hiding tears.  “I don’t know what I am.”

“Well, my feeling is that nothing is wrong with you.  What is wrong is that somewhere, somebody else mixed up what it means to be a girl or a boy.  Tell me what people say a girl is supposed to be like.”

She was silent for a moment, wiped her face, rubbing the tears on her jeans.  Then she shrugged her shoulders and offered, “I don’t know.  Girly, I guess.  You know—scared of bugs,  giggly, fancy clothes, boy crazy.”

I laughed. “Hearing that, I’m not sure I’d qualify as a girl for that crowd. Anyway, I’m more interested, really, in what one of God’s girls would be like.  How could we describe a godly girl?”

She looked up at me, unsure if this was a Sunday school test or if she should say what she was really thinking.

“I’m just looking for an opinion here,” I said.  “I’ve got those, too.  You go first.  How would you describe a godly girl?  Then I’ll see what you think of my opinion.  Fair enough?”

She took a deep breath and sat taller, tilting her head back a little. “I think God’s girl would be kind and helpful, moral and honest.”  She tilted her head the other direction and continued.  “I think she would do whatever God made her able to do, whether it’s running fast, or going to another country to help others.  Maybe she’d adopt ten boys and teach them how to fish!”  Then she looked at me for my reaction.

I smiled, raising my eyebrows in pleasure.  “I think you’re on a roll.  You go, girl!”

“Well, in the Bible, Deborah was a judge and even led an army even though she had a husband.”  Her eyes were sparkling.  She was giving voice to her heart! “And Priscilla was a tentmaker.  That would have to be hard physical work.”

“Yes!” I chimed in.  “And God had another woman named Huldah who took God’s message right to the King to tell them they’d stumbled across God’s word in the temple.  She even told them they hadn’t been doing what God said and were in trouble.  God also had her answer King Josiah’s questions for God.”  I loved talking together with her about Bible women.  “And there was Lydia, a business woman.  We don’t know that she was married, but she managed a good-sized household.  And you’re right!  Priscilla and her husband worked side by side in their business and in teaching and supporting young preachers.”

Suddenly she grew quiet.  I knew she’d thought of another question.  “But what if you don’t want to get married?  What if you don’t like boys that way?”

“Well, that’s something that could change as you grow older.  Some people don’t date or get married for a long time.  And I know some awesome women who never got married because they just don’t feel the need to live with a man.  You know Jesus never got married, and He did alright.  He also said that some people don’t even need to be married.  Besides, getting married is just one way we help people get to heaven.  Husbands and wives help each other and help their children.  But most women in Jesus’ life were not married.”

“No kidding?”

“No kidding!” I assured her.  “When God called Mary to do her job for him, she wasn’t married.  Also, Mary and Martha never married, and they and their brother, Lazarus, were Jesus’ close friends.  Mary Magdalene traveled with Jesus and the apostles, and she even followed Him to the tomb and was the first one to see him alive again.”

“Yeah, but I’m not pretty, and I bet all of them were,” she muttered, lowering her head dejectedly.

“Hey.  Pretty is as pretty does,” I drawled like Forrest Gump.  We both giggled.  “Besides, I’ve never seen their pictures, and the Bible doesn’t say they were all beautiful.  In fact, Jacob’s wife, Leah, was downright homely.  But she’s one of the grandmothers of Jesus, not her beautiful sister Rachel, and she’s the one that Jacob loved to the end.  You know that even a pretty face becomes ugly when the actions are ugly.”

I got quiet until she looked up at me again.  Leaning forward, I studied her eyes.  “God looks on our hearts, Baby Girl, and that’s where He puts His light.  When you were talking about godly girls earlier, I saw that light in your eyes.  You are one beautiful person, my friend.  And you are definitely God’s girl.”

“So what do I say the next time they call me that?”

“You tell them they don’t know what a real woman is.  But God does.  And then smile because you know the secret.  Then walk away.”

“Supper time!” called her mom.

“I’ve got to go, Nannygranne.  Thanks.”  She stood up and raised her elbow for a bump.

“Yeah,” I said, answering with my own elbow.  “Hug ya later, girl.”

She smiled and nodded before she turned to trot back to her camp.

I sighed a prayer for all of God’s girls.


Additional Reading for parents: 

Spiritual nature, Gal 5:22-23; Deborah, Judges 4-5; Priscilla, Acts 18; Huldah the prophetess, II Kings 22 & II Chronicles 34; Jesus’ teaching not marrying, Matthew 19 (also I Corinthians 7:14-16, and Ephesians 6:4);  Unmarried Mary, Luke 1; Mary and Martha, Luke 10; John 11-12; Leah, Genesis 29 & 49:31; God looks on the heart, I Samuel 16:7;  Light, John 1:4

For an in-depth presentation:  “How Can I Know My Gender?” https://youtu.be/2Kaex8EA2y4

Mommy, are we all going to die?

Her question shook me.  The child’s mom called to get an idea of how to answer this question.  “How do I answer a question like that!” the mom pleaded. She was looking to me for an answer!

“Well, honestly,” I began, “we all are going to die unless the Lord comes first.  Why do you think she’s wondering about that right now?”  I needed to know why a six-year-old was worried about death.

“I think it’s because of the news on TV about all the dying and concerns.  COVID-19 is all that is on TV!”  I could hear the frustration in the young mother’s voice.

“How long is the TV news on for her to hear?” I asked. I wondered if that could be the source of the child’s concern.  Also what a child feels is often a reflection of how parents are coping.  Since you have to face facts, it was possible the parents felt on “the edge of the knife” regarding the virus.

She admitted, “My husband is working from home, and when he’s not working, he’s listening to the news constantly.”

“Have you talked with him about how this might be affecting your daughter?”

“Well, I haven’t told him about her asking me if we’re all going to die.”

“That might be an important conversation you could have after she’s asleep.  And it might be better to watch the news after she’s asleep, too.”

“I’ve thought about that.  But where do I start in answering her question?  She’s out in the back yard right now, but she’ll ask me again before the day’s over.”  I could hear the apprehension in her voice.

I ventured, “Well, children tend to absorb the emotions of the adults around them, so let’s start there.  Would you say you’re feeling a little scared yourself?”

“I know the chances are good that we won’t get the virus if we’re really careful.  I’m mostly worried about her catching it or my parents getting sick.”

“Concern is absolutely justified regarding COVID-19.  And at my age, I’ve had my share of shaky moments.  But then I remind myself of God’s truths.  I can tell you about a time when my own children were concerned about us all dying when the Mt. Saint Helens volcano exploded back in May of 1980.  I know now what I wish I’d told them at the time.” I laughed. “Hindsight is always 20-20.”

“I’m up for anything,” she sighed.

“Well, for weeks, the news had been warning us of an imminent explosion on Mt. St. Helens.  We were in Beaverton, Oregon, only 60 miles away from the mountain.  Naturally, we pretty much downplayed the whole situation.  Then that Sunday, May 18, we walked out of the church building after worship, and there it was!  A mushroom cloud that looked like we could just drive up the road and touch it!  The news said the ash was heading our way!  It was dangerous to breathe.  It could destroy our car engines, stop up our air conditioners, cover everything with grayish-white, never-melting flakes.  Nobody knew what to expect.”


“Wow, I’d never thought how scary that could have been.  How old were your kids?”

“Our oldest was finishing 2nd grade, and our youngest was in kindergarten.  I think I know how you are feeling.  Our youngest was the questioner.  When he saw the northern lights one night, he asked if Jesus was coming!”  We both laughed.  “So naturally, he was the one to ask if we were all going to die.”

“What did you say?” she asked.

“I have to admit that I don’t remember, but I know what I’d say now.”  Then, as if changing the subject, I continued.  “Do she, by any chance, enjoy cooking with you?”

“Oh, she loves it!”

“Okay.  Do you have a package of crescent rolls and some large marshmallows?”

“What?  I think so, but I don’t understand.”

“Oh, there’s nothing better than an object lesson.  You’ll see what I’m getting at.”  I had her attention.  “Roll the marshmallows in melted butter, then cinnamon sugar. Then wrap them in the crescent rolls, sealing them tightly. As you do so, remind her that God makes us in two parts1:  Our bodies (the dough) and our souls (the marshmallow).  I usually call our souls our “selves.”  Kids seem to comprehend and accept that their thoughts and feelings are different from their arms and legs.  Then explain to her that when our bodies die, our selves—souls—don’t.  Our ‘selves’ go to be with God, and our bodies stay on the earth for now.  Then put the rolls in the 350-degree oven and watch them until they are brown, 10-12 minutes.  When you take them out, let them cool for about 20 minutes.  When you open them, the marshmallow will have disappeared—much like our souls do when we die.  Our bodies are left on earth until Jesus comes back to put us back together again—only with new bodies that will never die again.  Then we’ll all go live with Him in His new heaven and new earth forever.”2

“What a nice way to explain it!  So you’re saying to help her not be so afraid of dying.”

“Yes.  But also tell your daughter what you told me.  That most people don’t get sick if they are careful.  And if someone does get sick, they usually get well.  But no matter what happens, we’ll all end up together with God anyway.  But for now, let’s eat dessert!”

“Oh, that sounds great!  Thanks!  I’ll save you some of that recipe.”

“Oh, that’s not my recipe.  They’re called ‘Resurrection Rolls.’  I read about them on Facebook the other day.  But have fun!!  Let me know how it turns out.”

After I hung up, I thanked God for that Facebook post coming across my feed just at the right time!


1Matthew 10:28; 2 I Thessalonians 4:13-18

Parents, “Resurrection Rolls” are perfect for teaching the story of Jesus’ resurrection as well.  You can find the recipe and the story if you go here:


Since there is only one God, does God get lonely?

Now in the third week of social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, Nannygranne’s young friends had taken to email, FaceTime, and texts to chat, giggle, and share what’s on their minds.  Today even adults agree that loneliness for friends is becoming harder to ignore.

“Thank you, Nannygranne, for playing FaceTime games with me.  Mama says I shouldn’t wear out my welcome.  Did I wear out my welcome, yet?”

“Oh, not at all.  You are very welcome.  I promise that if I need to hang up and do something else, I will let you know.  In the meantime, I’m having fun, too.  But tell your mom I said thank you for being so considerate.  Playing with you helps me not be lonely since I have to stay home all the time.”

As they continued, suddenly Jenny said, “Since there is only one God, does God get lonely?”

Nannygranne smiled and said, “Jenny! What a sweet question!  Not many people worry about how God is feeling.  More of us need to love God like you do.”

“But God doesn’t have any friends.  I feel sorry for Him,” she added.

“Well, I have some news for you,” Nannygranne said.  “God isn’t alone in his world.”

Jenny, switching from games to funny faces, opened her mouth in surprise. “Who!  Who else is there?”  Then just as quickly, she thought she’d answered her own question. “Oh yeah!  All the people who have gone to Heaven are with him.  That’s right.”

“Oh, but God wasn’t alone even BEFORE he made people.  You want to run grab your Bible and look at some things with me?”

“Ok.  I’ll be right back.”  Nannygranne was pleased Jenny was willing to switch activities so quickly.  Jenny was growing up and becoming more confident with her Easy English Bible.  She soon returned to the screen, ready to look up verses.  “Ok, what’s first?”

“Let’s look at the very first book of the Bible.  Could you start reading Genesis 1:26 out loud?”

Jenny carefully turned to Genesis, found the first chapter, and ran her finger down to the 26th verse.  “God said, “We will make man.  Men and women will be like us…”

Interrupting her, Nannygranne said, “Stop right there.  Look at it again.  Who is God talking to?  He said we will make man.  He said men and women will be like us.”

Jenny looked up in surprise.  “I don’t know.”

“Ok, Jenny.  Jesus talked about who is there and who God is.  Now look way over in the New Testament.  It’s the last thing Jesus told his disciples before he went back home to Heaven to be with the Father.  Find Matthew and go to the last chapter, the last two verses.”

Again Jenny checked the index for the page number for Matthew.  Carefully she located the last chapter and ran her finger to the end.  “Matthew 28:19-20?” she asked.  Nannygranne nodded, yes.  “Go to the people in every country.  Teach them how to become my disciples.  Baptize them by the authority of God the Father, his Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

“Ok, Jenny, who all does Jesus say is the authority, or is in charge?”

“…authority of God the Father, his Son, and the Holy Spirit.”  Jenny still wasn’t sure she was understanding.

“Who is the Son of God?”


“Jesus told his disciples once that if they have seen Him, they have seen the Father1.  The Apostle John said that everything was made by Jesus. And in that first chapter of Genesis, it says that the Spirit of God was moving around on the earth before it was complete.”

“But I thought the Bible said there is one God.”

“There is.  It’s so different from our world. It can be confusing.  But God is sort of in three pieces.  There is the Father God, God the Son–Jesus like you said–, and the Spirit of God.”

Jenny grinned suddenly and laughed, “Oh!  So it’s kind of like God is their last name?”

“Sort of…but is still different.  I can’t explain it. We just have to imagine the Father, the Son, and the Spirit is so close that if we could see them, they would look like one person.”

Laughing, Jenny added, “With three heads?”  Then she shook her head and said, ‘I’m just kidding!”

“Oh, and God made the angels and other creatures that work for him in Heaven3.  But do you know what the best part is?”

“What’s the best part?”

“God very much wants us to be his friends.  He made the earth and everything in it so we’d have a special place to live.  Then God became a baby, then had to grow up and live in our world, showing us the best way to live.  Then Jesus died on the cross to pay what we owe for sinning against God.  When we go to God and give Him our whole life, God the Spirit comes to be with us and helps us get ready for life in Heaven.”

Jenny, listening quietly, responded, “Wow.”

“I know.  Jenny, could you read one more verse for us?”

“Sure.”  As Nannygranne gave her the verse, reminding her of these words Jesus’ words, she turned to John 15:14.  “And you are my friends if you obey me.  You must do what I ask you to do.”

“What do you think, Jenny?  Do you think God gets lonely?”

“No, He doesn’t.  He’s too busy!”

“And you help me be busy, too, Jenny!  But even when we hang up, we can remember we don’t have to be too lonely because God is always here.  And He’s probably got some angels working around us, too.”

Jenny smiled broadly, then switched her face comically.  Nannygranne followed suit, and once again, smiled at the thought of God’s ways in a child’s heart.   Quarantine time was plentiful and was turning out to be an unexpected blessing.


1 John 14:9; 2John 1:1,3; 3Job 1:6, Daniel 3:28, 4:35, 6:2, 10.