This content was excerpted from JESUS by Lisa Harper

"Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

Matthew 10:29-31

For a plethora of reasons Missy’s transition to middle school was a difficult one. Mind you, she was a positive little trooper through it all. And while we both cried over a couple of situations where her tender heart was unnecessarily poked, I’m the only one who fantasized about walloping the one who wounded her. Sometimes the bear in my mama heart just won’t stay down no matter how many proverbial tranquilizer darts I self-inject!

I’m old-school when it comes to toughing it out because my Dad Harper (My dad’s first name wasn’t “Harper” it was Everett, the reason I refer to him as “Dad Harper” is to distinguish him from my stepfather, Dad Angel!)—who put himself through college busting broncs in weekend rodeos—taught me to always get back on the horse who bucked you off, otherwise fear would begin to own you. Therefore, persevering through hard times is a recurrent theme in our house. One of my favorite pep talks involves the somewhat cheesy if-it-wasn’t- for-the-struggle-in-the-cocoon-the-butterfly’s-wings-would-never-unfold- and-it-would-never-fly metaphor that poor Missy’s heard so many times it’s a wonder her eyes don’t roll right back in her head when I repeat it! But, after one too many negative incidents at her old school, I became aware that toughing it out was beginning to do serious harm to my daughter’s emotional well-being.

After a lot of prayer and consulting with a counselor and other education professionals, I went with my gut and transferred her to a new Christian school. The downside is she enrolled several weeks after the other students began classes, so they already knew the ropes of where each class meets, what the teachers’ personalities are like, and what are the most popular games to play during recess. More important, her peers had established friend groups. My precious kid already stands out because she’s a beautiful Haitian instead of a born and bred American; her English isn’t quite as clear as a kid who was born in the U.S.; she doesn’t have the same drawl as indigenous Southerners because she only spoke Creole until I brought her home to Tennessee when she was almost five years old; and I’m a single, adoptive mom who’s pushing sixty instead of a perky, Pilates-practicing thirty-something with a husband and a minivan! All of which means: it took Missy quite a while to catch up and make friends.

Even those seemingly insignificant moments in our story that appear minuscule to others matter to Him because WE MATTER TO HIM

I know I can’t—and shouldn’t—protect her from every single inevitable bump on this road called life. I know without the grit there’d be no pearl. That the brightest dawns come after the darkest nights. That the best wine is the result of an elongated crushing process. Blah, blah, blah. But all those truisms pale when you watch your sweet child—who’s already endured her first mama’s death, soul-crushing abandonment, potentially fatal medical issues, and abuse in a Third World orphanage—begin to hemorrhage hope. It all but ripped my guts out to watch her spirits sag and her confidence wane.

But God.

At her school’s recent monthly chapel service (which parents are invited to attend), her gracious principal, Miss Amy, announced they were going to start honoring one male and one female student from each class at every chapel who exemplified an aspect of the character of Jesus Christ. I almost fell out of my chair when she got to the sixth grade and announced: “Missy Harper.” I had to bite my lip while watching her walk to the front of the auditorium, grinning shyly the whole way. And a significant amount of water weight rolled down my face while Amy explained how Missy exuded joy in the classroom, in the hallways, at lunchtime, and even in math class.

I know it wasn’t the Heisman or an Oscar or a purple heart. To the casual observer, it was just a small nod, in a small school, to a small girl who’s taking small steps toward maturity. But to me, it was no small miracle. It was a tangible reminder that our Savior cares about every single detail of our lives. Even those seemingly insignificant moments in our story that appear minuscule to others matter to Him because WE MATTER TO HIM. For those of you who feel missed, marginalized, or like you’re standing outside some sort of communal merry-go-round that everyone’s riding except you today, may I remind you that you’re neither alone nor invisible? Jesus will never miss a beat in your life.

JESUS by Lisa Harper

In her beloved, humorous, and relatable voice, Bible teacher and author Lisa Harper helps you do just that: engage with JESUS personally. As you open each page, prepare yourself for a devotional journey of unapologetically gawking at, reveling in, walking with, and worshipping our incredible Savior—and laughing a lot along the way. Because there’s nothing like real relationship with Him in the ups and downs of life!