Spiderman, butterflies and you

It was a perfect day for a spider man party. We all met at a park with a newly reopened playground. The sun was bright, the sky blue. The nearest pavilion was packed full of people so the birthday boy’s mom and dad set up a nice spread in the shade of a tree. Another pavilion was open across the way, but it would have been a hike for all the little ones to go back and forth to the playground.

We tossed around the idea of setting up the whole party under the tree – in the shade and close to the playground.

“I don’t know,” his mom said, worried. “Jude really wanted a party. I’m afraid it won’t feel like a party to him if we can’t decorate the table.”

“Well, let’s ask him,” his dad said.

They called over their little man. “Jude, would you like to stay here close to the playground or go over there to the tables and decorate one of them?”

Jude pointed. Definitely the tables. Definitely the decorations.

His mom smiled, “I knew it! I know my Jude…”


Her words stayed with me. I know my Jude… 

Such a sweet parent. Jude had been wishing and dreaming of his birthday party for weeks. His mom and dad knew just what he longed for and delighted in giving it to him.

I felt like God whispered to my heart – That’s how I think.

I forget that sometimes. That God loves giving good gifts. And not just random good gifts but gifts that matter to our heart. In this season, it’s hard to see the good. It’s easy to miss the sweet gifts as our minds focus on all that’s wrong in the world. All that hurts. All that doesn’t work right now.

But then.

On Sunday I walked into the backyard to see a yellow butterfly. Yellow butterflies always remind me of my dad. It seems like every time I think of him, I see one. On this Father’s Day the butterfly seemed to linger, dancing through the air as it passed. It’s been over ten years since my dad’s been gone and I miss him.  It brought tears to my eyes.

It was a little thing, but almost immediately I heard that still, small voice in my thoughts. I know my Elsa…

A little gift. A God kiss. Just because he sees and he knows.

I want to do a better job of seeing. Not missing those gifts. 

I want that for you, too. The next good thing that comes your way – the song that touches your heart. The sunset. The flowers blooming in an unexpected spot. The words of a friend. The kindness of a stranger. The good movie, the great read, the perfect piece of chocolate after your workout. Whatever good gift, think of the giver.

He’s happy to give it.

As he thinks of you. Knows you. Loves you.

I know my child…


But then…

I stood beside my mom as the young couple talked to me. They greeted her and then barely glanced her direction for the rest of the conversation.

 She’s 84, she’s my mom, and as an elderly woman – she was dismissed. 

But then our neighbor down the street came by our house. He is a police officer. It was at just the start of COVID19 and he knocked on our door. “I noticed your mom lives with you. If you need any help, here’s my card. Text me. I can get groceries for you, keep you informed on what’s going on. Whatever you need. I’m here.”

He saw her and he served her.


The children didn’t see me watching out the window. We had some friends over and their young son played with our kids out on the trampoline. The boy pushed Lovence hard onto the trampoline. Lovence is special needs and non-verbal – older, but without his own voice. This child knew and took advantage of the moment. 

It’s scary. Without a voice, he became an easy target.

But then the teachers at Lovence’s school came by for his birthday. The parade included a firetruck, an ambulance and a slew of cars decorated for his special day. They honked and yelled and cheered for my sweet boy.

They saw him and they celebrated him.


I was an overweight teen. A heavy teenage girl who thought tube socks were a fabulous accessory to a plaid skirt. I also bore the most embarrassing last name (Kok). The kids had a field day with my awkwardness, and I withdrew into myself.

I didn’t fit and I knew it… and so did everyone else.

But then there was the valedictorian of our high school class – years later he lost his life in the 9/11 attacks. But he was kind to me. He didn’t seem to notice my oddities. He saw me as a human being. He talked with me. He joked with me.

I was seen and it stays with me today.


My Haitian girl was mocked for the color of her skin – dark and glowing and beautiful – but different to those in her circle. She took in those words and for weeks hated the color of her own skin, wishing she could change it. 

It’s heartbreaking, such beauty dismissed and demeaned.

But then there was the Kenyan runner in our community – a future olympian who won a 10 mile race with incredible speed and athleticism. My husband approached her and introduced her to our daughter. Her dark skin mirrored our girl and her strong spirit matched her own. In the midst of a busy running career, she took time and loved on our girl.

She saw her and our daughter reveled in it.


I don’t want to cry victim, for even the wrongs brought change. As a result of her heartache, my mom started calling others who might feel invisible – reaching out to the lonely. Lovence is brave, standing in the face of the pain. I grew in my love and compassion for those  who feel like misfits. And my Haitian girl has grown a strong sense of pride in her heritage and in justice for the offended.

But I wish it were different.

It’s not.

And so for me I want to be part of the BUT THEN movement. Pain comes, but then a tender soul brings healing with their kindness. Riots destroy, but then a community comes together to clean it up and help each other rebuild. Racism demeans but then a nation chooses to live and love and see in new and honoring ways. 

And my BUT THEN is to see the people around me. See their uniqueness, see their value. See their beauty. See their strength. See their gifts. Just look them in the eyes and see them, period. 

I can’t fix the whole world, but then I can see the people God sets in my path today – be in the moment, look them in their eyes and love them well.

What is your but then in the face of your injustice?

Let’s start a movement.