The overwhelming moments of God hidden in the small


Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

There are moments where God completely overwhelms me. Times breathing is difficult, words are inadequate. These moments catch me by surprise. I’m surprised by my surprise. When will I cease to be amazed that God can and will do whatever He pleases? That God delights to surprise and amaze? That He is uncontainable, unfathomable?

Sunday I sat on the 3rd row of a sanctuary in Georgia and watched my 60-year-old dad baptized. A man who would be considered a “good man” in the eyes of most. Not perfect, but good. A man who believed in God, believed Jesus was the son of God, and for 60 years believed and hoped that was enough to spend eternity in Heaven. I shared his story here in the fall. When his eyes were opened, and he turned to the One who’s been pursuing him all these years, gave his heart and life, and now stands a changed man, not in his power but in the power of the cross, he realized believing in God, going to church, being good, none of those were important. It was a true, genuine, heart changing, saving relationship with his Savior.

Overwhelmed doesn’t describe what I felt. I have no words. 14 years I’ve prayed for this.

Only God. Only God can take the heart of a man who has built a decent life and reveal his need for a Savior. Only God can open the eyes and heart. We must never stop praying for the ones we love to have their eyes opened.


[Tweet “If we opened our eyes minute by minute, we would spend our lives overwhelmed, shaken.”]

If we opened our eyes minute by minute, we would spend our lives overwhelmed, shaken. He never stops working. He never stops amazing. Sometimes God’s biggest moments are disguised as small gifts.

Last week we had 3 days off from school. I’m behind in every way with writing projects. The next few weeks are busy and will put me further behind. Therefore, snow is the last thing I wanted yesterday given the fact I will spend 2 days this week mostly at school with my kids and more snow is predicted. I needed two solid days to work. But God gave me what I needed more than what I wanted. Only God.

I tiptoed down the stairs carefully selecting which parts of the wood to place my weight on so as not to accidentally wake a soul in my house. Coffee brewing, fire burning, I wrapped in a blanket, grabbed my Bible and journal, and sat with the Lord.

An hour later, I felt refreshed and ready to see my kids out the door and work hard for the next 6 hours to try to accomplish about 15 hours worth of work. I began up the stairs when I noticed what looked like white outside. This couldn’t be since I looked when I walked down the stairs just to be sure. It happened. In one hour, a light blanket of snow descended. In those moments, I wondered if I should laugh or cry. So much for writing, so much for projects barely started. So much for anything other than more days inside. So much for MY plans.

God had a plan. God always has a plan. His plans are always better than mine.

I put on my excited face, snuck into Jacob’s room, and delivered the news every child dreams of. No school, you can go back to sleep!

I tiptoed downstairs and settled back into the Lord. Minutes later, Jacob rounded the corner, Bible in hand, a tiny smirk on his face. “Can I join you?”

Only God.

[Tweet “God gives us what we need despite what we want then changes our wants to match our needs.”]

God gives us what we need despite what we want then changes our wants to match our needs. I needed time with Jacob, but I didn’t want a snow day on this day. God gave me what I needed in a way I didn’t want and changed my heart in an instant to want what God wants for me.

Jacob opened up his Bible and shared with me his favorite passage. “Mom, in the entire Bible, this is the one I always go back to. I don’t know why. But it’s the one I find myself going to frequently.”

“Only God, honey. Only God. Only He can direct us in ways we can’t understand. He knows you better than you know yourself. He is always working.”

He opened his Bible to Matthew 6:25-34. And He read to me.

I sat overwhelmed. A little moment no less overwhelming than watching my 60-year-old dad baptized, watching my 11-year-old son discovering how very intricate and personal is His God. Only God.

Not only that, but God knew that verse, which has become much too familiar to me, needed to find a spot in my heart that very minute. Because if I’m honest, it was worry that caused my plans to become more important than God’s plans. Only God.

My eyes opened to see God that morning. I wanted to see His constant overwhelming Presence. Moment after moment, He showed up. In the little ways. Andrew, always first to rise, slept 2 extra hours, giving me extended time with the older boys. A gift. I had conversations with Jacob and Zachary about the awesomeness of God we wouldn’t have had if we’d been on our way to school. A gift. Moments unfolded throughout the day, tiny moments, that caused my overwhelmed soul to thank God for always allowing His plans to prevail.

He is as overwhelming in the small moments as He is in the big. We sometimes don’t recognize His hand at work in the small moments. But the small moments are sometimes the greatest gifts we receive.

I want to love God more. I want to have a love that is careless and carefree.

Days like yesterday make me love Him more. When I see Him, I can’t help but love Him. I just need eyes to see Him in every.single.moment.

Lord, let me not be so busy, I fail to see the small moments meant as gifts to overwhelm my soul. Never let your overwhelming spirit go unnoticed by me, turn me to you, and hold me right there, eyes on you. For I know when my eyes remain on you, I fall madly in love. 

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How To Discipline A Child Who Rebels Discipline


After multiple corrections for tone of voice and what we considered disrespectful attitude, we sent him up to his room. A time of separation was needed for us all to regain our composure. These moments seem to occur when the pressure of the clock silently pushes us forward.

We paid a visit to his room thinking that he would be ready to listen to our instruction. Pride clouded his vision, rebellion took the spot of repentance.

The give and take exchanges began, and his narrowed eyes spoke the attitude of the heart. He wasn’t able to hear the words we shared. He was convinced he was right. He had determined to win the argument.

My husband and I sat with our child trying to guide, instruct, correct, and discipline. We weren’t trying to win, but we couldn’t allow him to be so misguided in his thoughts and feelings either. Our son saw only a battle, him vs us, and he was determined to win.

We tried explaining that our job as a parent is to discipline out of love and obedience to God. He didn’t want to hear. His response back, “When you discipline me, it just makes me angrier at you. You should just send me to my room and leave me alone. When you discipline me, I just get madder and madder at you.”

My husband and I disengaged battle. In that state, no one wins. We told him to get in the car to leave for church and we would revisit this discussion later in the day when our emotions were calm.

Our emotions can cloud our vision, changing how we see things with a tendency towards selfishness and an inability to reason. That is what was happening in our conversations.

Hours later, after Sunday School, after church, after lunch, he tapped my shoulder and whispered in my ear, “I’m really sorry I was such a jerk to you and Dad.” I put my arm around his shoulders and pulled him close, whispering back, “We forgive you. Thank you for apologizing. We do still need to talk this afternoon.” He smiled back, “I know.”

Later that afternoon, emotions no longer changing the issue at hand, the Holy Spirit had softened each of our hearts so we were able to speak through love what needed to be spoken, but more importantly, what needed to be heard.

The earlier narrowed eyes had widened, the lines around those eyes softened, and the sparkle of curiosity had returned. He knew what was coming. It was God’s Word.

Knee to knee we sat on the sofa. He pulled out his Bible, and I instructed him which verses to look up to read aloud to me. I’d call a verse, he’d read. I would explain and let it settle into his soul. Then we’d move to the next.

Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

Proverbs 15:5 A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.

Proverbs 13:18 Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.

Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid

His eyes widened. “I didn’t know that word was in the Bible.” “Honey, God’s Word is surprising. Read it.”

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

“Honey, this is why I can’t just send you away to your room and leave you to yourself.”

Hebrews 12:11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death

Proverbs 15:32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.

Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life

Discipline is uncomfortable in every way. It exposes our weak spots and calls to account our actions. My son found himself in need of correction and discipline, yet he fought it with every ounce of strength he had.

Sometimes I need time to process and understand where my feelings are coming from. And I always need time to pray and allow God to guide me to truth rather than working solely from my emotions.

God’s Word is all we need. All of life can be boiled down into one statement. Know His Word. If we know His Word, we can work through anything. When we know His Word, we know Him. When we know Him, we can’t help but love Him.

The following day he called out, “Hey, mom, the neatest thing happened today. I opened up my Bible and asked God to direct me where to read. I opened up and let my finger fall. It fell on Proverbs  13:18. I read it and thought ‘hey that’s the verse mom read to me.’ So I decided to memorize it so I would never forget it.”

Ya’ll, I don’t share this to get a pat on the back or say I deserve mother of the year. I could tell you 50 stories of the last week where I’ve blown it huge with my kids. I share this so God’s grace and power are magnified over my weakness and failures. I don’t want to magnify my sin, I want to illuminate His goodness.

Lord, let us find satisfaction for our soul through your Word. Let us look to Truth to guide us. Let us cling to you in a changing world that feels out of control. Let us remember you are the Rock of our salvation.

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The Parenting Choice You’ll Never Regret

I’m so excited to share the words of Kari Kampakis here today. Kari is the author of 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know. This is a must-have, must-give type of book. A book for tween/teen girls that holds truths we desperately want girls to understand that are growing up in a culture that is far different from the one we grew up in.

If you haven’t spent time getting to know Kari through her blog and social media, I highly encourage you to. She is a beautiful soul with a passion for the Lord and growing girls with an eternal vision. She is the real deal, and her words will bless you immensely!

Kari originally posted this on her blog, and it touched me as I’d just experienced a very similar situation with one of my boys.


By Kari Kampakis

“Just give her extra love, Kari. Just give her extra love.”

The words were so simple, yet exactly what I needed to hear. Once again my father came through with flying colors, offering advice to ease my anxiety.

It came during a time when I was worried about my daughter. It wasn’t anything major, just a situation that had popped up.

And though I knew better, I made the mistake of getting on Google. It led me on a wild goose chase that served no purpose except to freak me out.

That’s why my father’s words were timely, because they centered me on a core truth. They gave me control in a situation beyond my control. They reminded me that no matter what anyone in my family goes through at any point in time, love is always the answer.

So I took Dad’s advice and showed extra love. It wasn’t anything big and obvious, just a little extra attention directed my daughter’s way.

And guess what happened as I made this effort? I forgot to worry. I got so wrapped up in snuggling more, listening more, laughing more, smiling more, and simply enjoying her company that my concerns soon paled in comparison.

This is when I realized a great truth in parenting: Good things can emerge from obstacles if you let love guide you. Besides growing closer to my daughter during this time, I drew closer to God. Yes, I prayed for guidance, but I also thanked Him. I thanked him for our many blessings and His plans for my child, plans I couldn’t yet see or comprehend.

I started to lie down with my daughter every night to say prayers. This routine was special because having four kids, my husband and I alternate who we put down, so no one has a set “ritual.” I looked forward to our uninterrupted time together. I could tell my daughter enjoyed it, too.

Yet it wasn’t until a few months later, when the situation had passed and everything was better, that I discovered what, exactly, our ritual meant to her. I was putting up clothes in her room one day when I noticed her open journal on her bedside table. Peering down at her sweet handwriting, I saw an entry that stopped me short:

“I love how my mom always says the prayers to me every night. When she does I feel really close to God. I feel like I can really connect with my Father Almighty.”

As you might imagine, this choked me up and brought tears to my eyes. I read the entry again – then again – to make sure she’d really written those beautiful words. You see, my goal isn’t to raise happy kids; my goal is to raise holy kids, because if they’re holy their happiness will take care of itself. So when I see evidence of a relationship with the Lord, my heart rejoices. I breathe a little easier.

And what I’d like to tell other parents is this: If you’re worried about a child right now, or find yourself worrying in the near future, remember my father’s words. Just give her extra love. You may regret getting on Google. You may regret imagining wild scenarios. You may regret the time you waste worrying and tossing and turning in bed at night.

But giving your child extra love? Showing more patience, more smiles, more hugs and kisses? You’ll NEVER regret that. If anything, you’ll wish you’d done it sooner. You’ll wonder why it took you being concerned about your child to make you a better parent, and why you hadn’t made a special effort all along.

Our children’s lives will never be perfect. They’ll all face obstacles that leave us hanging at times. But if we let love guide us, obstacles won’t matter because they’ll only make us love our child more.

As our concern for a child grows, so can our heart.

God has plans for my kids, your kids, all kids. And the obstacles that scare us today are often what prepare them for great things to come. When we parent with that perspective, trusting God to use everything together for good, we turn fear into faith and doubt into hope. We remember how God uses our children to touch the lives of others, just as He uses us.

I may have regrets in parenting, but one regret I’ll never have is showing extra love to whichever child needs it most at the time. More patience, more smiles, more hugs and kisses. And the real beauty here? More loves becomes a habit. What starts as a conscious effort soon turns into our instinctual response not only to the child we’re worried about, but to all our kids.

To me that’s a beautiful thing. It adds meaning to obstacles. As our concern for a child grows, so can our heart. May we all parent with this in mind and remember how any hard thing we face is also an opportunity to give and receive more love.

Connect with Kari on  her blogFacebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram.

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How To Help Our Kids When They Just Want Freedom

How to Help Our Kids When They Just Want Freedom - Square

Night after night he lamented, “Mom, it’s not fair, everyone goes to bed so much later than I do. Why do you make me go to bed so early? I’m 11 years old.”

I attempted to explain the why behind our bedtime policy, though my best efforts failed to ease his frustration. I tried to explain that he wakes earlier than his friends, that his body actually functions better on more sleep, that some kids stretch the truth to impress each other. Wasted words. What he really wanted wasn’t a later bedtime. He wanted freedom.

He felt constrained. He was so focused on the one thing that we withheld from him, he lost his ability to see the abundant freedoms we showered over him daily.

In his 11-year-old world, his vision focused on what he convinced himself he was missing due to the limits we placed on him. Limits for his own good. Boundaries to protect him because we want the very best for him.

The desire for freedom is nothing new.

Would you join me at my dear friend, Jeannie Cunnion’s blog to read the rest of today’s post?

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I’m Leaving the Good Mommy Club


I listened to a Focus on the Family broadcast that I can’t shake. It was John Rosemond speaking on Raising Well-Behaved Children. The title had me.

I don’t want perfect children, but I desire obedient children. I don’t want children who can’t think for themselves or form their own opinions, but I do want children who will not challenge every word from my lips or argue each instruction I speak.

John Rosemond’s words have been scrolling through my mind. He talked about how our generation is more concerned with building relationships with our kids than being leaders and disciples to our children. Considering the fact that I attempt to build a strong relationship with my kids, I knew I had to explore this line of thought.

I love the words of Josh McDowell, “rules without relationship leads to rebellion.” John spoke to this and said he believes Josh would agree that to have a relationship, you need leadership first.

John goes on to speak about the ‘good mommy club’. This is the club where to be a good mommy you spend as much time as possible with your children (among other things). He said, “My mom expected me to pay attention to her.” Whoa!

Here’s where I will take this in a different direction. My mind began to ponder our drive to become intentional parents.

John Rosemond said he wants to liberate women across the country from the good mommy club and restore marriages.

Over the past several weeks, God continues to show me where I need His freedom. I need His freedom in everything. Often I push back and think I have life under control or that I know best. God gently brings me to a place where He shows me that freedom through Him and His strength is what I truly need.

God didn’t ask me to be in the good mommy club. He asked me to be in the ‘love Me with your whole heart club’. Many of my best efforts are attempts to take His glory.

Jesus wants to carry the weight of glory so I don’t have to.

On any given day, I can scroll through Facebook or Twitter or my blog roll, and I can read amazing, amazing, amazing words that encourage me to be more intentional, or instruct me in being a better mom. I see pictures of what everyone else does with their kids, and suddenly I feel what I’m doing doesn’t compare.

It’s not the fault of the words I read or the images I see, it’s what I do with those words and pictures. Often I turn these well-meaning words into commands to try harder. It comes back to me.

The online world doesn’t need to change. The bloggers don’t need to stop blogging. The posters don’t need to stop posting. I need to change what I do with the words and images when they enter my heart.

If I’m not careful about the words I allow to shape and impact me in my parenting, in my spiritual walk, in everything, I can very easily make ready a field of fear in my heart. Fear of failing my kids. Fear of how my kids will turn out. Fear of them making poor choices. Fear over everything in my life.

The words we allow to shape us have the potential to create fear which quietly fuels our desires to become more “intentional”, which could possibly turn into try-harder parenting in disguise.

To be an intentional parent is to be a parent on purpose and to parent with purpose. 

Intentional parenting isn’t merely filling bucket lists, creating memories, going on special date nights, attending every field trip, and playing for endless hours. All of these moments are lovely, but if we aren’t careful, these can add up to a list that will never be satisfied. They will whisper to our soul, “You will never be enough.”

Our world is making intentional parenting something it doesn’t have to be. Something more complicated than it should be.

The harder I try to be a good mommy, the bigger my fear grows. With good reason. My focus is on me, not Him. My eyes need to be fixed on Him, not the world around me that tells me what a good mommy looks like. My eyes need to be fixed on Him, not my children, who at any given moment cause me to tremble at the possibilities I see. My eyes need to be fixed on Him, not the fear of what others think.

If our kids need us to be a leader, which makes way for a healthy relationship, then the best place to start is fixing our eyes on the ultimate leader who came for us.

Maybe when we fix our eyes on Him, intentionality becomes effortless. Maybe intentionality becomes a byproduct.

Today I will release my membership from the good mommy club. Care to join me? I’m taking my eyes off what the world, the blogs, and social media says I should do to be a good mommy, and I’m fixing my eyes on Him. I will let Him make me the mommy He wants me to be. It might not look like the best mommy to the world, but if He is leading me, it will be the best version for the purpose He sets before me.

I think I agree with John Rosemond. I think freedom will feel really nice. Christ came to set us free. He covers us with grace through the sacrifice.  He came so nothing would hold us captive again. Even being a good mommy.

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The 5 Crucial Things A Parent Can Do In The Life Of Their Child


I rested on the edge of his bed and listened to the confusion in his voice. When his narrowed eyes dared move towards mine, they darted away with stealthy speed.

“I’m tired of being good. I don’t want to be sweet anymore.” Silence fell over the room. I thought back to the previous weeks, the previous hours. This up and down swing of emotions, this moving to and from the ones he loves most, the acting out in obvious cries for attention, the pushing away when others drew near.

“I don’t feel like myself anymore. I don’t even know who I am.” He couldn’t articulate all he felt. How could he? He didn’t even understand it.

The words my son began to share nudged a slumbering fear in my soul. The fear began to stretch its arms and mumble its good mornings. Give up. It’s over. His problems are bigger than you can possibly handle or imagine. His faith in God isn’t strong enough for the battles waged against him. Just wait til he’s older. You have no idea. 

The unknowns, the uncertainties, the what-ifs – these are the food fear enjoys most. Right here is where fear tempts me to feast.

I inhaled sharply. These voices of fear needed to stop, but they began to speak louder with each passing second, so loud I could only hear my son’s words in the distance. “I don’t know who I am.”

What I heard was a silent cry. “Do you really love me?” He needed to know if the words we tell him are true. If I act mean, do you love me? If I disobey, do you love me? If I act irrational, do you love me? If I don’t meet the expectations placed on me, do you still love me? If I don’t even know who I am, do you still love me? 

Is unconditional love true or false? This is what our children are desperate to know.

If there is one thing I know, it’s that our children must know they are loved. Unconditionally. There are no bargains on love in this home. You can’t earn more love by being the “good” kid. You can’t force my love to stop when you are too much to handle.

Love is a choice in this home. To my son, I say, “Love is a choice. I choose to love you because of the place in my life the Lord placed you. He chose to love you, and His love is so great, He gave His one and only Son for you.”

When our children find themselves out of control on the slopes of life, it’s the knowledge that no matter what happens, what bumps they hit, what trees they crash, what damage they cause, they are loved. Fully loved.

I looked into his eyes. “You know who you are. You are a child of God. Because of that you know exactly who you are even when you don’t feel you do. You are chosen, redeemed, righteous, known, loved, holy. You are God’s workmanship, you are complete in Christ, you are forgiven, you are a saint.”

“Rarely will you feel like you are the person God says you are.”

God tells us who we are. We don’t need the world to affirm us, we don’t need the world to tell us that we don’t measure up. Because we don’t, we couldn’t, but He could, and He did, and therefore, we live. Praise God.

When our kids hit the hard bumps, what they really want to know is “Am I really loved?” To know they are always loved, they must know who they really are because we rarely act like who God says we are. Our kids must be reminded of truth. Constantly.

Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”


The 5 most important things we can do to help our children when life is rough and confusing:


  1. Thank God. Thank God for the gift of our child. Thank God for wisdom, discernment, and insight. Thank God when He is gracious to reveal those inner struggles of the heart. Thank Him for everything. Always.
  2. Pray. Pray always, pray about everything. Pray they will always know they are known and loved. Pray in the deepest corners of their soul, they know they are unconditionally loved, even in the ugliest of moments. Pray against the attacks of the enemy who seeks to destroy. Pray over them while they sleep. Pray in their room when they are away. Pray as you fold their clothes and clean their toothpaste mess from the sink. Pray without ceasing. No one is praying for your child like you can. God has placed you in the position of strongest advocate for their protection and well-being.
  3. Fight. Don’t lose hope. Don’t fear. Fight fear with trust. Trust God that He uses all things for good for those who love Him. Trust Him that the hard, ugly moments will be used for His glory. Trust Him to love your children more than you do. Fight fear with faith.
  4. Rest. When you pray and when you fight fear with faith, sit back and rest in His loving embrace. Rest in Him. Rest in knowing He will never leave you, He will never forsake you. Rest in Him as you pray and fight fear with faith.
  5. Love. Love and never stop loving. Tell your kids all the time. Don’t assume they know it because you feel it. Tell them that love is more than a feeling, it’s a choice. Tell them there is not a single thing on this earth they could ever do to make you stop loving them. Tell them that every single night when you kiss their cheeks. Hold their faces in your gentle hands, look with fierce intensity deep into their eyes and tell them, “I love you. I will never stop. You can’t make me.” When they are older and have moved on, don’t stop telling them you love them.

Our children will face struggles that make us shudder and want to run away and hide. While we will feel life can be out of control for our kids, there is one thing we can control. We can choose to love them. We can love them right through any wave that tries to take them under. When they come up for air, we are right there. Loving them. Reminding them of truth. The waves that roll them will lie, but when they resurface, we are a constant source of truth and love. Pointing them back always to the One who loves them and knows them in ways we will never understand.

Today, thank, pray, fight, rest, and love.

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When Your Child Acts Unloveable, When No One Understands


I peeked open his door and gazed at his peaceful slumber. I think he is beautiful when he sleeps. His body is in constant motion when awake, so I love to watch him at complete rest.

Then I did what I can only do with him, what would cause my other boys to wake in fight mode. With no warning at all, no gentle back rubs, no sweet good morning whispers, I rolled him fast on his back and dug my chin in hard into the soft of his back, laughing and tickling him with no mercy.

How one can go from the deepest slumber to the deepest of belly laughs, I will never understand. I stopped, and he said, “Again!” We hit the repeat button on this moment each morning. It’s the best way to assure a happy mood from Andrew.

Occasionally, he turns to what we call the “dark side”. It’s a turning of little Anakin Andrew. The good dwells there, but sin lurks and lures with fierce boldness. The good is in constant battle with the dark. It’s there for all of us. We all have a little Anakin in us. Kids just live with their guards down most of the time. We’ve learned to keep our masks on. We all know the good prevails. We must remember good wins in the end.

On my end I had done everything “right” according to all parenting books and best blogs. We had prepared what costume he would wear to school for spirit day. We had it laid out and prepared. We had discussed how the morning would go. I started the morning the way he likes. I gave him plenty of choices so he felt he maintained some control and wasn’t being bossed around. I did everything “they” say to do.

No matter how hard we try, sometimes our best intentions fail us. When a perfect parent day aligns with a perfect kid day, the stars shine bright, the birds sing joyous songs, all looks well in our world. We smile more. We laugh more. The world looks grand. We post it on Facebook. We see the good in the world around us.

There are days one of us brings our A game and the other doesn’t. We meet at the corner of I’m trying and Why Aren’t You. This is the intersection where collisions are common. In my home anyway. That is where I was this morning. Full on collision though I had followed all precautionary rules and road signs.

I heard no birds singing joyous songs. Nothing about this moment would make it on my Facebook page. It was too ugly, and I don’t want to be a whiner. Barking replaced laughing. Scowl replaced smile. The world looked grim, and a 6-year-old looked back at me with defiant eyes that said, “See if you can make me why don’t you.”

Sometimes God gives us what we need the most to need Him the most.

My heavy footsteps marched hard to the whisper, “Lord, help. Lord, help. Please, Lord, help. I can’t parent his personality well.”

A difficult child is a high calling. We must rise up to the challenge. We can’t wallow in defeat. We can’t focus on the difficult task. We must focus on the calling.

Love this child who acts unloveable, which means he needs love that much more. Show this child unconditional love when you feel like pulling back.

This is so hard for me to remember in the heat of battle. My first thoughts are always shameful. My first thoughts are usually the ones that I dare not admit. Therefore, I will confess all the more.

If I don’t take captive my thoughts, they will lead me to despair, self-pity, resentment, and bitterness. I will convince myself that no one understands the challenges I face, the difficult moments I battle. I will say under my breath, or to my poor husband who is forced to listen, “No one understands how hard this is! No one sees how hard I try to understand him and parent him well.”

This is the moment the Holy Spirit intercedes into my negative and sinful thoughts. Yes, there is someone who understands full well. The same one who created you. The same one who created him. The same one who matched you up for my purposes to bring glory to my name. Yes, someone understands.

This is the moment He reminds me that we all face difficult battles and that none of us completely understands the challenges that any of us face. Truly we don’t. But that is what He is there for. He is there to take my burdens and frustrations. He is there to listen to my venting. No one understands our lives fully, do they? But He does.

I release the world from the pressure of understanding me when I realize they don’t need to fully know me because there is One who does fully know me. And He loves me anyway. Despite knowing me full well, He loves me. A mask can’t hide me from Him. My naked heart is laid bare and vulnerable. And that very thought catches the breath in my throat.

In the most difficult moments with my strong-willed child, it’s my own sinful pride that battles hard inside me. It’s that part of me that wants things to be easier, wants things to look a certain way. The part that whispers through clenched teeth to God, “I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do, why isn’t this going the way I want it to?” It’s ugly. So very ugly.

There is no ugly, He can’t wipe clean. There are no words or emotions He can’t redeem.

It’s in the quiet that I understand this all. I rarely see this clearly in the moment. It’s when emotions settle down, when the world begins to resemble calm, when I step back. When I get out of God’s way, I’m able to see.

Filing out of our house, we scrambled late into the car. The trash needed to be moved to the curb, the dog needed to be put up, Zachary couldn’t find his glasses, Andrew forgot his coat. My jaw ached as it had not released its grip just yet.

“Mommy, mommy!” I kept right on moving. Rolling trash cans with Jacob, helping gather missing items. Andrew wouldn’t stop. “Mommy! Mommy! Look, fast!”

With less love in my voice than I care to admit, I snapped, “What Andrew?!?”

“Look, there!”

I looked up, and there it was. A spectacular sunrise. The thing about sunrises, they last but a moment. We must catch a glimpse of the moment and hold tight to the beauty. Faster than I could run to grab my phone, the sun had risen, and the stunning display was gone. I hold onto the beauty I know was there, is there, and will be there again.

Such is this life. Life as mommy. Life as a friend. Life as a wife. Life as a co-worker. Life as anything. The moments come, the moments go, the beauty seems to ebb and flow. It’s an illusion. The beauty is always here because He is always here. We just need eyes to see through the haze. For me it’s usually in hindsight. So I pray each time, Lord, help me see clearer right there in those hazy, crazy moments. Amen.

(Thank you to my sweet, friend, Angela, who let me use the sunrise photo she beautifully captured this morning.)

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