Communicating Love

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” Jer. 31:3

(written April 16, 2009)

Rhema and I were doing our usual bedtime routine when I remembered that I had forgotten to put some ointment under her nose (she was very chapped from a lingering cold). I jumped out of her top bunk and headed out the door. As I went out, I heard ‘Iiii yew’ in her sing-song voice.

She had been doing the “vocal stimming” thing all day long. Humming, making noises and intonations, singing sounds non-stop. It had become part of the background noise.

So when she sang, “Iiii yew”, I almost missed it.

Did she just try to say ‘I love you’?, I thought as I ran down the stairs. Nah. Impossible.

I returned with the ointment and finished tucking her into bed. I whispered her verse to her, kissed her cheek, and climbed down. My mind was already on the dirty dishes awaiting me. For the quadrillionth time I said what I always say as I leave her room, “I love you. Night, night.”

Just as I was closing the door, I heard a song, the sweetest song.


“Iiiii luh yew. Nigh Nigh.”


My heart stopped. I was suddenly afraid to hope, afraid to want something that bad.

“Rhema? I love you.”

“Iiiii luh yew.”

“I love you.” I said again.

And just because God is God…. just because He knew I’d doubt the moment… and just because He can sign His name on a blessing so you know for sure it’s from Him…

Rhema looked at me through the slats in her headboard and said it a third time,

“Iiiii luh yew.”


In an instant, every burden lifted, every pain forgotten, every dream realized…

in three 3 precious words.


I closed her door and stood there in the hallway with tears in my eyes, not wanting to ever forget that feeling. The words to the Sara Groves song filled my head, Hope has a way of turning its face to you just when you least expect it…

I did not need to hear it. There are ways besides words to express love, and we have been learning how to do it. It has been so special for us to communicate our love to Rhema – the lack of language requires us to be more demonstrative. We love on her on purpose. And it has been so nice to see her open up in the past year. She will, on occasion, seek us out for affection – sometimes it’s a hug, a touch, a smile, or a gaze from those beautiful brown eyes.

I did not need to hear it, but even still, I’ve been waiting. I have read beautiful accounts from other parents when they heard the words ‘I love you’ for the first time from their child. I have tried not to be envious. Once I thought it happened, but it was long ago and I honestly don’t know if I was just “hearing what I wanted to hear.”

But tonight there is no doubt, and I feel…


and grateful.


For those still waiting, I pray you will hear it and know it… just when you least expect it.

36 thoughts on “Communicating Love

  1. I remember years ago wondering if Erik knew how much I loved him. It bothered me. It was important to me that he know. Then one day I was about to take a shower and was going to shoe him out of the bathroom (he was around 5) and he came near me and grazed my check with a kiss. My heart just melted. Now, I knew.

    What a beautiful memory with Rhema. Thank you for sharing it with us bloggers.

  2. Oh Jeneil! What a hug from God! I wish all parents “loved on purpose” and didn’t just use words…what a great reminder for me to make sure I am doing both on purpose every day!

  3. I found you by way of Beth at A Mom’s Life.

    What a wonderful moment for you! God is so amazing and He will answer all our prayers. It often happens just when we need it the most! Praying that you will hear those (and many other) magical words in the future!!!

  4. I LOVE YOU!!, and just a couple weeks after turning the big 5. So thankful and celebrating this answered prayer with you.

  5. ‘we love her on purpose’

    so incredibly poignant and beautiful.

    doesn’t matter that i’d already heard this story, i couldn’t stop the tears the second time any better than i did the first. i am ecstatic. i feel so blessed just to share your joy.

    oh, and um, that whole 5th birthday ‘deadline’?


  6. What a beautiful story. It brought tears to my eyes this morning. I hope that your little girl continues to have more breakthroughs like these. 🙂
    Visiting you from Beth’s blog…

  7. I posted something very similar about a year ago when my 8 year old said that for the first time ever. I know exactly how it feels, however I did forget at the time that some people wait a lot longer and other people never hear it [in the comments] I found it very sobering that whilst I was overwhelmed with joy myself I had forgotten everyone else. However, you are absolutely right in that even if the words are not spoken they are demonstrated daily in so many other ways.

    I am so happy for you both on this special day.
    Best wishes

  8. what a beautiful beautiful story. I’m so happy for you and for your daughter. You are right, you don’t HAVE to hear those words, but it sure is nice when you do! 🙂

  9. Jeneil, words cannot express the joy I have for you. I remember the prophetic words your Dad spoke – that his granddaughter will sing a song at NHCC. I just ask that God allow me to be a witness to this gift. I can’t wait until Rhema starts to share the Word with others. Keep your eyes on the Lord.

    I love you!

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  11. Wow, Jeneil! I’m sitting here with tears of joy, wishing I was there to give you a huge hug!! What a beautiful experience, I know what you mean about not needing to hear the words, but still being filled with gratitude when they come.

  12. I avoided reading this one for a while because I knew it would get me…and yeah, it did. Lexi and me both! Thank you and thank you Lord!

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