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  • Writer's pictureRachel Thornsberry


One Mississippi...


Two Mississippi…


In the time it took to speak the above, a speck of light, somewhere in the universe, leapt 372,564 miles. It raced past asteroids and moons, whisked through the iridescent rings of planets, and came incredibly close to being the fastest thing there is. But unfortunately, that poor speck of light, that magnificent, glittering, dashing speck of light will always claim second place behind the speed of my thoughts.

My mind tears through 372,564 separate ideas (or 372,564 separate catastrophes) in about the time it takes for that speck to leave the starting gate. In some cases these ideas merge into beautiful creations. Somehow the jumbled, seemingly unrelated concepts, come together and build works of meaning and delight to be shared for a common good. Other times, the thoughts send me spinning into the proverbial ball of confusion until I’m nauseous.

It’s astounding to me how much influence a thought can hold. In essence, thoughts are quite small. They are no more than invisible, weightless notions lasting mere moments at a time. However, when planted in the proper conditions, they take on great gravity. It’s in the secret places of the human heart beliefs are born, identities are established, and purposes are concluded. When built upon each other and given time, memories, and emotions to feed on, seemingly insignificant thoughts become incredibly significant values.

I am reminded that sometimes a person must truly consider the small to truly discover the great.

Importance is not measured in matter alone.


They fell. One gray speck and then another from the trembling dead limb. The other two clung tightly to their mother’s back as she raced down the trunk, past my father, and into the tall grass. Like any rational person, that was the moment I began screaming.

“Wait! Wait!”

My dad, running chainsaw in hand, peered down from the ladder with a look of panic in his eyes. I screamed more,


He jumped down from the tree and quickly assessed the situation.

“Are you hurt?”

“No!” What a foolish thing to ask. I immediately began scouring the ground around me, searching through the grass, saw dust, and foliage for any sign of them.

“Then what’s wrong?”

His voice was stressed and frustration flushed his cheeks. I was too preoccupied to care that moments ago he believed I needed an ambulance. My voice can be quite loud, and quite dramatic, when it needs to be - blame it on the vocal primary in college. Regardless, that conversation could be had later, I needed his help for the present cause.

“Two baby mice fell off the tree!”

In my mind, this was an emergency situation. Sirens were blaring. Lights were flashing. The police had been called. In my father’s mind…it was worth the stopping, but the screaming warranted reconsideration. Nonetheless, he joined me in gingerly combing the area until finally, a bit too close to my foot, we found them.

They were odd looking things. Their heads were far too big for their bodies, their feet were gangly and long, but they were soft and they were vulnerable. At that moment I knew:

I was a mother.

Or at least temporarily. I would keep them warm, consult the vet, find out what they needed to eat, drink, how to best protect them and -

“I wouldn’t take them home.”

Ah, there it was, wisdom. Tender, fatherly, entirely unwanted wisdom.

“I can’t leave them, they’ll die.”

“No, they won’t. Their mom will be back for them. It’s best to leave them.”

It irritated me how rational my dad could be. Rationality and anxiety mix like oil and water, add a dash of strong emotion and… whew. It’s worth mentioning we weren’t at our house. We were helping a friend who lived far out into the country. A country with snakes and birds and cats… How warm did they need to be? Surely this weather wasn’t warm enough. They were small and easily stepped on, their eyes weren’t open, they couldn’t run, but above all else, they were scared.

Their little mouths, no bigger than a pencil eraser, opened in small panicked cries for their mother. With tiny anxious puffs the pink bellies quivered, up and down, up and down, inconsolable until the comforter returned. But that comforter had run deep into the field, perhaps abandoning them forever.

While they cried my own parent patiently consoled me. It was a tennis match of sorts, Dad listened, I talked, I listened, he talked…I could easily fill a page with the conversation, but what it amounted to was an “agreement.” In this “agreement” it was established that dad was right and I would leave them for their biological mother… However… what dad did not know was that also buried in this agreement lay a finely printed clause. A clause stating I had every right to return in twenty minutes, or less depending on my emotional state, and sneak the babies into the house whether he liked it or not. With said clause in mind, I “agreed”.

So we finished the task, packed up the tools, and I hesitantly laid them against the tree trunk. Then, I. PRAYED. Yes, say what you will, call me overly emotional, but so help me I prayed hard for those little mice. Every ounce of me bucked at the idea of abandoning them, but I was too upset to try further persuasion tactics. Regretfully, I climbed into the truck’s passenger seat and we rode home. As the minutes passed dad tried to explain how all would be fine, he mentioned something about nature and other kind, reasonable, things that should have helped. But I wasn’t reasoning then. I had no desire to reason. I was thinking. Thinking about how in that moment some predator just snatched them up. Thinking about how they were freezing to death in the June air. Thinking about how I could have put them in my pocket…

When we arrived at our house I immediately secluded myself. The clock ticked away and I questioned when the proper time would come to escape. While waiting I painstakingly pleaded with God to spare their little lives. I begged him to find compassion towards what could easily be seen as a nuisance, a common disease carrying pest that some would prefer dead. My thoughts were racing and the speck of light was falling dreadfully behind… The more I pondered the importance of two tiny mice, the crueler anxiety became. What cause would God have to pity such small things? How could the lives of mice possibly contribute to a greater purpose? Soon my stomach turned sour, my eyes watered, and I had convinced myself the mice fell into God’s “insignificant” category. My pleading didn’t matter. His attention turned elsewhere. The world was being torn apart by war, people were dying every day to senseless violence and entitlement, those were the matters worth his time. Mice certainly were not, and my caring about them was an embarrassing disappointment…

But unfortunately, I still did care about them…very much…

The clock was forgotten, it didn’t matter how long it had been, the conclusion was reached - GO.

“I’m going to the store.”

That was the elaborate, inconspicuous excuse I found to leave the house. However, my dad, who had been a police officer for 25 years, with a knack for interrogation, didn’t buy it. But he didn’t stop me either. Instead he smiled, a soft understanding smile,

“Alright, “ he said, “go back out there so you can see they’re okay.” Then he sighed, “And if they’re still under the tree bring them here.”

I can’t be sure, but in that moment I remember having a sudden ability to fly. Instantly I swiped the car keys and hit the highway with a shoe box in tow. Miles flew under my wheels as my mind raced through every scenario A - Z’. And with every scenario came a petition to God, perhaps persistence alone could bump the mice into a “slightly significant” standing. At last the fateful moment came when I threw the car in park and shot out towards the tree.

And they. Weren’t. There.

My stomach dropped. Again I scoured the familiar ground, but this time there were no gray specks. No sign, no trace, and no hope. My heart began to crumble and I kicked myself as an eruptable anger built towards my dad. If I couldn’t find them this would be his fault. I circled the tree, digging through places I had not thought to check, and cautiously making note of what lay under my shoes. While becoming so fixated on my feet I temporarily lost track of my head, thus the hollowed trunk came as a surprise. If my eyes hadn’t snapped at the right moment I would have knocked straight into it, and subsequently, I would have knocked straight into them.

All of them.

All four, perfectly cuddled, perfectly safe, sleeping baby mice tucked away in a tree.

It was like stepping into a dream. A beautiful dream where there were no anxious squeakings, no fretful squirmings and shrieks, no “catastrophic conclusions” mercilessly gnawing at my imagination. There was only warm sun and sleeping mice. Suddenly, I was at peace.

In that moment God’s heart reached gently towards mine and the two touched. He used no words, but no words were needed. I knew what he had said.

“I care about the small, Rachel.”


I understand the argument for “nature being nature” is valid for this story, but for me, the experience surpassed a natural cut and dry observation. It soaked into me and I hope this retelling can stand as witness. Seeing the mice safely cozied together not only challenged me to rethink God’s tenderness- it slowed my mind. When I saw them sleeping, I stilled. The world became quiet, my thoughts froze in the midst of time and space, and the speck of light rightfully hurdled past me to bathe the earth. The curtain of doubt was pulled aside and I held goodness. It was because of that goodness, rest was a safe decision. And from that rest a new flood of questions spun.

How can it be? How can it be that a GOD could have a hand so gentle it is capable of cradling the forgotten ones? How can it be that he would choose to patiently comfort a teenage girl, in an entitled first world country, losing her mind about mice? How? Or perhaps more importantly, why?

Yet, he DID. He did. And the experience was so clearly imprinted that years later the peace can still be felt. The girl’s idea of “insignificant” is still tested and her mind still holds a memory to cling to when the world begins to shake. Because truth be told, there was faith in leaving the mice a second time. They were still small. They were still vulnerable. There were still predators. But now there was trust, a belief in his goodness, in what before had been a defensively jumbled heart.

God did not overlook those babies. He did not overlook me. And friends, if He found it worth his energy to be present with mice then is it not certainly worth his energy to be present with us? Not because he has need of us, but because he has want. He has want of these nearly 8 billion specks living on his earth.

He still cares about the small.

We can be quick to misunderstand God’s passion. God is passionate about this world he has created and he is unbelievably passionate about the humans planted within its borders. His heart beats for his artwork and he is determined to restore the corruption gnashing at the spaces meant for his goodness. Even the smallest of those spaces. But believing this goodness of God requires trust, and trust is a risk I’m not claiming to have perfected. There are still tender, vulnerable, pockets of my spirit that hesitate giving him my treasures, especially, and ironically, when the treasures come in the form of people.

I become fiercely protective of the ones I love. I want their good, I fight what

goes against their good, and typically I don’t care what that takes. But truly, overwhelmingly, above all else I have a desire for them to fall in love with Christ. To know such passion is a gift. I cherish the capacity of loving deeply. However, sometimes this passion blurs the vision of my discernment and it can bring me to meddling. I possess the ability to come on strongly and I know it.

Now please do not mishear me. God’s children are called to love. Love as in action not simply feeling, though I realize that too is important. Even in the midst of rejection and slander, for some of us physical attack, we are called to do good because God had a right to crush us and he didn’t. We - are - called - to - do. But sometimes my “doings” are bred out of panic. If I see someone I love choosing separation I run. I plead. My thoughts begin to tumble and I do whatever I can to make others “see.” In those moments I have more than once heard the following response,

“I get what you’re saying but please stop. I’ve made my decision.”

Instantly I began deconstructing my own decisions. What did I do wrong? Was everything I said true? Was I honestly approaching them out of care?

There have been times after the questioning God has led me to quiet places to reveal I had made a mistake. Here’s my confession world, I have misspoken! I have reacted in prideful retaliation! I have been human and I am sorry! But there have also been times when God has led me away not because I acted incorrectly, but because the time for space had come.

Oh friends, that is difficult. Because God does love his creation. So much so, that he will honor their decision to say “no.”

Loving deeply also means hurting deeply.

I find it painful to wrestle with that fact. My heart shatters. But in those moments I am reminded of the mice. If God considers mice, how much more so will he consider his treasured creation? How much more so will he consider the ones created to be children? He did not deem my caring about the mice insignificant. On the contrary he thought it a potent enough opportunity to speak. Because it is in the small, secret, vulnerable places of the human heart he chooses to reveal himself, and that secret space only holds room for two.

The decision to believe God, what’s more the decision to trust him? What’s more, the decision to join in a relationship with him? Is entirely personal.

I can love, I can act, but I cannot change a human heart. It is not my right to do so. I, we, must choose to trust the God of the small to such a great feat. We must choose to trust that his category of “insignificant” is not nearly as subjective as ours. We must choose to trust that his love of our treasured ones is far greater than ours.

We must choose to trust that he acts justly. Because He is good.

My prayer is that he would continue to reveal his goodness to us in small spaces. May the experiences breed patient mercies within us capable of weeping with those who hurt. May we find compassion for those who have been demolished and betrayed as well as those who have been nicked and bruised. May we be slower to assume “insignificances.”

And my friends, may we take time to live in the slow and quiet. It is in those places we discover how much he treasures his small ones. How much he treasures you, small one.

How incredible it is that the God of Jupiter created a way for fleeting lives to be called his everlasting children? May you never believe the lie that you are insignificant. Though you are barely a speck in the realm of existence, this does not lower your importance by any means. You are a speck created to bear the image of the ultimate. You are a small thing created to know love in great ways. Importance is not measured in matter alone.

And to whoever is reading, I pray the secret place of your heart is ready to hear the ultimate’s voice when he speaks.

Even if he chooses to speak to you in the smallest of ways.


One Mississippi…


Two Mississippi…


The speck of light has once again raced throughout the edge of existence.

I wonder, in the time it took the light to reach its place of rest, how many thoughts have raced through God’s mind? And I wonder how many of those thoughts concerned you?

For he does care about his small ones.

Written under the wisdom of Matthew 10: 29-31

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