Pull your husband close and dance barefoot in the kitchen.
Cradle your littles and kiss those chubby cheeks.
Hug your tweens and tell them they’ll always be your baby.
Grab that teenager and tickle those stinky feet.
Pray in the car.
Point to Jesus.
Serve when it’s hard.
Choose love when it hurts.
Gather your family for meals every day.
Speak life every chance you get.
Choose worship over worry.
have a mother’s courage.
and teach your children
Give honor to the One who created your family.
Fall in love with Jesus by falling on your knees.
Courageously pour hope into your home.
Stand your ground, mammas.
have a mother’s courage.
💗It means so much that you’re taking this journey with me.❤
Drop your email for a FREE SEVEN-DAY DEVOTIONAL: CLICK HERE FOR DEVOTIONAL
Our bird mamma is back. Penelope- the one that’s decided our rotting patio cover is the perfect place to build her nest. I love this crazy, determined, cutie-pie bird.
The irony is not lost on me. I feel like I’m observing a bird version of myself. All the hopes of my heart to adopt over the past five years seem overshadowed by the decay that surrounds them. Five years of broken expectations. Four failed adoptions — one international, three domestic — chipping away at the strength of my spirit.
But here I sit, day after day, choosing to knit my nest together with God’s promises, while everything around me threatens to cave in.
what do you believe god’s promises are for you?
What is your nesting egg? The desire of your heart that you believe God planted? Have you asked God to remove it if it’s not his will? I have. Over and over. Yet it remains. And even when the lies of the enemy are crudely constructed, attempting to cover up the promise that God’s plans are to prosper me and not to harm me (Jeremiah 29:11a), His truth still is not obstructed. I can still feel it.
Besides, “hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24b–25 ESV).
I may have to grope clumsily in the darkness for a season, but it’s there. Because God is eternal and God is hope.
What is eternal cannot be extinguished.
Did you know the biblical word for hope, tiqvah, literally translates to cord, hope, and expectation? It’s used in the story of Rahab. She’s instructed to tie a scarlet cord (tiqvah, hope) in her window to remain unharmed. (Joshua 2:18). Hope protects us. It’s a holy signal to the enemy that he can’t touch us. It’s the scarlet cord we unabashedly display over our doorframe that cries out, “I belong to King Jesus!”
Grasping it like a rope, I’ve tried to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23 ESV). I still struggle, asking God, Why are you making us wait so long for the desires of our heart?!
hold on tight to God’s promises. it’s worth it.
In all transparency, my hands have grown weary and calloused from clinging to the rope for so long. It hurts. My hopeful waiting has been seasoned with suffering. But isn’t this part of the blessing? Callouses give us the ability to endure situations that would naturally tear our hearts wide open. It takes time and endurance for callouses to form.
In high school, I cursed the callouses that formed while trying to learn to play the guitar. However, the first time my fingertips were tough enough to press on the strings to play a worship song, I was flooded with understanding. The momentary discomfort I’d endured made it possible for me to sing a new song of praise. I don’t know all the reasons we’re asked to wait. However, I do know there is a perfectly holy reason for every situation. We are called to hope (Ephesians 4:4), and that means we are called to wait. Not just to wait but also to look.
In fact, the Hebrew root of the word hope is ka-va, meaning to wait, to look for. Faith-filled hope is active. When I find myself wrestling with discouragement, I’m really wrestling with my passivity. Hope requires that we’re eager watchmen on the tower of our days, scanning the valley for signs of life.
Just like Penelope, who is oblivious to the rot around her because her eyes are on the tiny, yet wildly adored, promise beneath her. She waits. She watches. She constantly tends to the hope among the decay. Sweet Jesus, teach me to do this!
The idea of becoming foster parents was like realizing there was another egg in the nest we’d never noticed! It’s only through the sustaining grip of God’s love that we kept diligent watch over the ragged nest perched in our hearts. I praise God for the gift of hope. I thank Him for reminding me that hope is my protection, my courage, my confidence, my calling, and my strength! I raise my hands in praise, calloused as they are from clinging to hope, to the one that gives life to His promises.
“But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)
God’s word is always the best source of encouragement! Click here for a beautiful printout of verses celebrating hope in Jesus:God’s Word-Marked by Love-Hope
I was a cheerleader. Not the cool kind. When a routine called for the splits, I’d lower my skirt to hide the fact I was several inches away from nailing it. I couldn’t do a toe-touch. I’d routinely jaunt across the quad with my skirt unknowingly tucked up under my backpack. Yeah.
One of our important cheerleading jobs was painting the “run-thru” for the Friday night football game. This was serious stuff. We had to make life-altering decisions like: What should it say?! What colors should we use?! If we use too much paint, will it be too hard to tear?
A stampede of sweaty teenagers ran through this thing before they’d compete. It signaled the battle of Friday Night Lights had begun; they were ready to face their opponents and build a legacy.
God asks us to do the same thing at times. He’ll require we charge towards a stronghold before announcing, “You’re ready to step on the field.”
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…A time to tear down and time to build” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,3b).
Sometimes we must tear down before we can build up. The Hebrew word for ‘tear down’ in this verse is parats. In the tense used it means, to break or burst out (from womb or enclosure). So another way to understand this is, there’s a time to burst out from whatever you’re stuck inside of.
We’ve got to break-through in order to build.
I found the same Hebrew word used nine other times in the context of increasing blessing or territory.
“The little you had before I came has increased (parats, break or burst out) greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have been” (Genesis 30:30a)
There’s a blessing when we press past our comfort zones into new territory.
What’s stopping us from making that phone call, having the hard conversation, going to the adoption seminar, applying for that job, taking the first step towards healing our marriage? Maybe we’re too busy staring at the daunting banner in front of us, forgetting we have a banner over us. Moses declared, “The LORD is my Banner” (Exodus 17:15). We are to lift up His name and bravely march forward.
Perhaps we’re too prideful thinking we can run through the banner by ourselves? Listen, it took a herd of sweaty young men to burst through our epic signs. Call the counselor or friend. Get in a small support group or Bible study. If you have a stronghold or complacent spot in your life, gather some people around you and address it. Life is moving forward with or without your participation.
Maybe we’re unwilling to put effort into breaking through our fears, selfishness, insecurities or haunting grief.
It’s a shame really.
Because there’s an epic battle going on among us, and we weren’t made to stand on the sidelines. God can heal and equip, and he passionately desires to do so.
Let’s do the hard work of identifying the banners holding us back. Let’s be brave and learn to run full force at them, knowing on the other side is where we’re called to be living our lives. On the field, with our brothers and sisters, co-laboring with Christ to build things that are “true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (Philippians 4:8-9 The Message)
We’ve got one life on this earth. One. Get in the good fight for the kingdom. Ask God to show you which areas you need to have a breakthrough and CHARGE!!
The Southern California rain surprised all humanity this year, giving my kiddos a false sense of hope, “Mommy, do you think they’ll close the schools because it’s raining?!”
Um, no. That’s not a thing.
The brown hills by our house have exploded into yellow flowers. They press on their tippy-toes waving hello. Maybe California should cancel school, offering a day to admire the new life with neighbors. Because when it comes to new life, we really go out of our way to celebrate it don’t we? If we desire the company of new life, we’ll find she always brings a guest.
Life and death sit side by side. So often we shoo the experience of grieving to the “obligatory guest” table. No one wants him at the party…but sooner or later, he shows up. I photographed weddings for years, and I promise you, there’s always a wacky relative in attendance (psssst… it’s your uncle). One wedding reception, the exuberant uncle was on the dance floor, flat on his back, pretending to look up the bride’s dress. Yeah. Sometimes grief acts like that guy. Meaning- he has no sense of social awareness. We find ourselves asking, who invited him anyways?!
But it’s not his fault. When we shove the process of grieving far into the burrow of our lives; he’s forced to rear his head at the most inconvenient times. Can you relate? The checker at Vons asks if you have bags and you burst into tears because you left them in the car. If grief wants your attention, he’s ruthlessly successful. I’m finding that depriving him the attention he craves, only makes him fervently jump up and down.
let your grief take a seat
I’ve decided it’s best to offer him a space to be heard.
Learning to set a place for grief at our table is a grueling and powerful act of faith. But it needs to be done. Joy is painfully birthed out of sorrow. When we pull the chair out from under him and ask him to leave, we’re telling him he’s not important to our story; that he has nothing of value to add to the conversation. When in reality, God often uses our grief to scoot our chair closer to joy. God wants to speak to each of us through our sufferings.
Many believers experience guilt over admitting they’re sad. The idea of feeling guilty for grieving is not biblical! We’re taught we should rejoice in our sufferings, to always be happy because we have Jesus. There’s truth here. However, the rejoicing does not negate the suffering- it accompanies it.
allow your grief to usher in joy
God has filled me with inexplicable joy over our new journey to be foster parents. But honestly, it’s the grief of failed adoptions that brought us here. It’s impossible for me to separate my new joy from my concurrent grief. They’re powerfully intertwined. Have we forgotten that Jesus wept three times in scripture? Each time, coupled with an occurrence of great joy: before the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:35); right after the triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Luke 19:41); and in the garden before his own death and resurrection leading to the salvation of mankind (Hebrews 5:7).
It is possible to sit next to joy and grief at the same time. It’s healthy to look grief the face and “talk it out” or “cry it out” or slap him in the face. Whatever you need to do to acknowledge they’re times he’s going to come to dinner and you can’t ignore him. We’ve got to deal. But we’re not alone. God’s table is big. It may mean we pull up more chairs for counselors or sisters in Christ to help us mediate the conversation. Or, maybe we need to excuse ourselves for a “prayer break,” or take a moment to wash our wounds in The Word.
As we become more intentional in setting a place for grief, we can’t lose sight that where God allows sorrow, he assigns great joy. “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b)
p.s. If the voice of your grief is consistently louder than the voice of your loving Father, you may be experiencing depression. They are not the same thing. Please feel free to message me and I would be honored to help you find a counselor.
Last week, I had a –how did my walls get this dirty?! – kind of day. Our adoption social worker was coming over to redo our home safety report (because they LOST the original. Yup.)
I can’t even. I found myself, knees pressed to the wood floors, scrubbing off fingerprints…or maybe they’re toe-prints? I don’t even know.
One smudge rallied so hard against my efforts- it was like a caveman painting fighting to not be erased from our home history.
So how did my walls get so dirty? Because people live here; little dirty people and big dirty people. This is our safe place; our “come as you are “place.
Let’s be real- Our safest walls are always the messiest.
When they walk through the doors of this house, I don’t demand they clean up right away. I don’t insist on showers the second they burst through the door from hours of bike-riding, or soccer-playing or middle-school surviving.
I let them rest a bit. Breathe a bit. Eat a snack. Grab a drink. I let them just…be. And although this is a picture of grace, it’s still not excusable for them to intentionally wipe a muddy cleat on my hypothetical white rug, or smudge a happy face on walls with their grubby fingers.
Our home parallels our relationships. The more intimate the relationship, the messier it can get. The safer we feel, the more careless we can become. There are days my hubby comes home and I soil his spirit with careless words, sarcastic comebacks, and hurtful eye rolls. All the junk that’s clung to my shoes and wedged under my skin from the day, I carry straight to my people.
It’s OK…but it’s not OK. We have to take responsibility for checking the condition of our hearts when we enter our safe spaces. We can’t treat our people like it’s their job to stand still and let us wipe our junk all over them.
When my kids come in stinky and tired, it’s true, I let them rest. But eventually, they’re getting in that shower y’all! It’s the same with our attitudes and spirits.
The home is where grace and discipleship should be profoundly weaved together. Healthy homes cannot have discipleship without grace, and grace is not effective without discipleship.
I try to hold my tongue when someone spills in my home. It’s simply human nature to mess up, but even more so, to sin. There’s no value gained by verbally ripping into my family, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues” (Proverbs 10:19).
However, I don’t allow them to walk away without taking responsibility to clean up. When the mess is dripping off the table, soaking my rug, I’ll snatch another towel and jump on the floor with my kiddo to help. At times, the stain is so tricky, I’ll need to explain how I know white wine gets out most anything. Our kids are still kids. We need to guide them on how to clean up the messes they make.
This same model of discipleship can be used when our kiddos verbally smear their siblings. I’m struck by The Message’s version of Matthew 18, “But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments…”
As parents, don’t we get it?! I know I struggle to remember this! It’s not the words we should be scurrying to mop up- it’s the “vomit” collecting in our hearts. We offer astounding love when we help our kids notice there’s a well from which they draw their words. Harsh words and attitudes don’t pollute the heart; they ooze from a polluted heart.
We all have days that leave our souls caked with mud-like frustration. It’s expected we’ll need a safe space to wash up. But showing someone our dirty hands is different than shoving it on them.
It’s my instinctual reaction to yell, don’t you dare say that! or apologize right now! But I’m praying for patience and wisdom. Maybe the question I should really pull my kiddos aside and ask is, why do you think you just said that? And instead of demanding a flippant apology, challenge them to think, why do you think I’m asking you to apologize?
If we don’t teach our kids, (and ourselves!) how to ‘heart check’ in the midst of bubbling emotions, we’ll be spewing all over our beloved home asking, how did our walls get so dirty?!
God’s word beautifully reminds us that our words have the power to give life. Check out these Bible verses for inspiration: God’s Word Marked by Love
Lord, search my heart, show me who I am without you.
I imagine picking up a pen…
Today, I lost it with my kids. Yesterday, I wished I had a bigger house. Sunday, I blamed my husband for my big mess up.
I quickly realize, there aren’t enough hours to visit all my failings. My mental scribbles expand:
Wanting More. Ignoring God. Nasty Words.
My mind runs out of paper. But just as well; paper can’t hold the weight of the words. I imagine writing on massive stones: Envy. Disobedience. Complacency. Arrogance. Selfishness.
I see my desk covered with papers. They’re tumbling off, pressing against the walls and pouring out the windows like an avalanche. The stones have shattered my mirrors and cracked the tile floors.
My heart is sinking from the pull of my words; from the burden of my sin. But God shouts through the condemnation:
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”(Colossians 2:13-14)
A man is coming. He’s collecting my papers…one by one.
A man is coming. He lifts the heavy stones, balancing them on his back.
There’s something else on his back too.
He leaves my house and painstakingly searches for my neighbors. They have a collection of papers and stones… just like me.
Not everyone lets him in. They sit atop their stones clutching their mass of papers and weep.
It breaks my heart. I know it breaks His more.
Now the man begins his climb. I know the story. You know the story. He carries his cross. I imagine him bearing the stones and crumpled papers scribbled with black sin.
He doesn’t drop anything. Not a single thing.
He grips my written sin; the soldiers hammer nails through his hands.
Flesh pierced. Paper torn.
My selfishness: Nailed to the cross. My arrogance: Nailed to the cross. My apathy: Nailed to the cross.
Blood flows, drenching the papers in his hand, havingwiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against me.
I watch every sin of my life nailed to the cross.
He took it all away, having nailed it to the cross.
He took it all away.
He took it all away.
He took it all away.
I have baby onesies with no pudgy legs to fill them. I have space where I hung dresses for a job I didn’t get.
Having empty space in our lives, doesn’t mean we’re called to endure emptiness. Once a woman wept outside an empty tomb and was met by the hope of the world.
Remember Mary, the shamed woman whose heart was seen by Jesus? In Him, she was most likely cherished for the first time. Then she witnessed the desire of her heart mocked, beaten, and nailed to a cross.
Mary’s new identity was mercilessly pinned to a piece of wood. Her hope was in Jesus. And now it hung lifeless for the whole world to see.
Our desires may be holy and epic! For me, wanting to adopt is that one desire I feel I’ve been watching die a gruesome death. It’s out of my hands. All I can do is stand aside and feel the fool for believing. Have you ever felt this way; that God entrusted you with a longing but it seems it’s a no-go?
I’m guessing Mary may have felt this way. She proclaimed the hope of the world had come, and the next day they rolled a stone sealing His grave.
Still, she knelt outside the tomb, where her unmet expectations lay buried and dead.
Dying to self is a true death. And it’s OK to treat it that way. As long as we don’t forget: We worship a God of resurrection!
Mary went to Jesus’ tomb, terrified and confused to find it hollow. She pleaded with the angels, asking where they’d taken him. (John 20:11-18). It’s not that she wanted Jesus to be dead, but it’s what she expected.
Sometimes, we’re so busy focusing on the hollowness of a situation…we miss the hallelujah!
We’re so much like Mary. If we’ve watched a desire of our heart be abused and buried, we visit the grave expecting it to stay that way forever.
We forget what hope looks like. When this happens, we can miss it staring us in the face.
Hope looks like Jesus.
Hope is Jesus.
Mary didn’t even recognize Him when he appeared to her outside the tomb. She mistakes him for the gardener! (John 20:15) She was seized by the fact things didn’t remain irredeemable. The world was whispering, “What’s the point? What you hoped for is still dead.”
But the world lies. There’s always a resurrection! Whatever’s lifeless, looks different after revival.
Jesus looked different. He was glorified. (Philippians 2:20-21) I think it’s why Mary didn’t recognize Him right away.
It’s the same with the desires of our hearts. It’s not that they aren’t lovely, but God has something planned to take our breath away! Something we haven’t considered. Something impossible.
This. Is. Faith. Standing outside a graveyard and believing resurrection will come.
We’re completing our Foster Certification. Something mind you, we said we’d NEVER do. God, through the past five years of loss and frustration, has been tirelessly crafting our powdered dreams into something completely different than what we expected to see. The idea of becoming Foster Parents was our equivalent of Mary mistaking Jesus for the gardener. We initially flipped out, “Where have you taken our dead dream?!!” I just wanted to remain face down, ugly crying like Mary.
Sometimes, it’s easier to sit in disappointment then to step into the unknown. This is a big unknown for us! But I know the sweet face of hope. I refuse to mistake Him.
We’re approaching a desolate space and expecting the impossible to happen.
We’re expecting God to resurrect all that was lost.
We’re expecting desires to look different.
Standing right in front of us, could be the glorified, holy, resurrected will for our lives.
Once, I swung open the front door of my mini-van, jumped inside, heard a growl, peeked over my shoulder and found myself face to face with two black dogs.
Seriously, who the heck put their stinkin’ dogs in my mini-van?!
Um. Yeah. Not my mini-van.
It’s a bit terrifying how long it took to realize my mistake.
No one in the van was happy…and somebody definitely peed a little.
Here’s the deal: Don’t climb into someone else’s mini-van uninvited. It doesn’t matter how much it looks like yours. Same goes for our lives. Someone may appear to have a similar life, outlook, circumstance, parenting triumph or woe – but until you’ve entered in, you’ve no clue what’s really going on inside.
Never assume. It’s a waste of time. And don’t barge in. It’s too risky.
Wait to be invited.
This can be so tricky. Especially if the door of their life appears wide open. Dusty goldfish are pouring out, the leaking juice box under the backpack has puddled next to a runaway credit card. You just want to offering a suggestion…right?! Stop. There could be some snarling teeth in there. Someone’s going to get hurt.
I can’t tell you how many friendships in my life have been strained because we’ve felt judged by one another. It makes all of us shut down and pull away. Ask yourself two questions:
Have I established mutual trust with this person?
If you haven’t known this person long, and you get all up in their business, it can feel like judgement. It may not be your heart! But remember, they don’t trust you yet. It’s not fair to expect them to know your intentions. Be wise and hold your tongue. But love them like crazy. Be a constant in their life.
Has this person indicated they want your opinion?
I have friends who I know don’t want my opinion- even though they love and trust me. Bummer is, I’m still prone to give it. We’ve got to know our audience y’all. It’s hard for this Italian/Irish girl to shut it down! I’m learning at the speed of molasses – I need to discipline myself in this area.
Does your friend let her kids watch rated R movies at the age of nine…guess what?!
That’s not your mini-van!
Or maybe a friend doesn’t believe in vaccinations, or home-school, or private school, or public school, or any school!!
Yeah. That’s not your mini-van either. Get out girl!
It’s hard to be a mom these days. Everyone and every book out there hisses, “You’re doing it wrong” or, “You can do it better.” Our generation has trouble trusting God can equip us properly.
We turn to the next, “How to…” book, before we turn to God’s book.
We ask Siri before we ask the Spirit.
I believe the enemy’s in this; undermining our God-given instincts to parent our children well. He uses social media, articles and most aggressively- he baits us to tear each other down. We don’t need to be another blasting horn of judgement towards our sisters! God’s heart is for us to, “Encourage one another and build each other up.”(1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Don’t know how to do this? I think it starts with less worrying about getting into someone else’s life, and inviting them authentically into your own. Living out grace is a powerful witness and gift; loving people regardless of their parenting choices. If a friend does ask your opinion, it’s a safe place to practice honesty. Any fiery pups in her mini-van should know you well enough not to snap.
We call it, “The Dark Hole of our Marriage.” I was thirty and had birthed three kids in 2 ½ years. Everyone around me was a total jerk. Everyone. Other mammas, my mirror, the mailman, and especially that speed-walker dude on Kellogg. Trust me – but don’t trust me. I hadn’t slept and each day was a blur of diapers, feedings and potty accidents. It wasn’t until I was thirty-three that I began to feel a bit human again. Kids were sleeping more; playing in the toilet less. I finally understood; maybe everyone around me wasn’t really a jerk. Maybe the honking lady in the Sprouts parking lot truly cared my baby was rolling away with my shopping cart. Maybe.
Perhaps, they were just offering an oxygen mask to a suffocating girl.
Life’s truly a canvas of mountains and valleys. One of the greatest dangers for extreme mountain climbers is lack of oxygen to the brain. When this happens, they get disoriented and can’t think clearly (Hello, motherhood!). They become incapable of ascending or descending the mountain alone. A fellow climber must place their own oxygen mask over the climber’s mouth and physically help them down.
This is how God designed fellowship to work. Because we all have ‘mountains’ to climb, dear ones!
On some mountains, you’ll be stronger than me. Your faith won’t falter. You’ll have a week when all the kiddos are healthy, and you’ve had bunches of quiet time with Jesus. Your oxygen tank will be 100% full with a backup in the mini-van.
On other climbs, I might be honking at your kiddo in a runaway shopping cart.
But what is our spiritual oxygen tank filled with? Encouragement? Wise words? Dinner on the doorstep?
All of these are precious and certainly loving. But we’re talking about our sisters SUFFOCATING!!! I don’t care how epic your baked pasta dish is, it’s not going to cut it.
Two things are made from the breath of God in the Bible: Mankind (Genesis 2:7), and God’s word (1 Timothy 3:16).
This is no coincidence. When our spirits are gasping for air, we need the breath of God’s word poured into us. But what happens when we’re too worn out to lift relief to our lips? You’re not the only gal who struggles to find time to read God’s word. But you don’t need to collapse on the trail and declare it hopeless.
Look around for other climbers – other believers. Use what’s left in your lungs to cry out, “Someone, please speak the word of God over my life right now!”
This is not shameful. This is brave.
Your life, your children, your marriage, your sanity, in some way, depend on your ability to recognize, you’re too exhausted to ascend higher by yourself. Some days, we’ll need a sister to hoist us up, press the word of God upon our lips and carry us straight to Jesus.
And if this isn’t you right now, get ready for a search and rescue season! I guarantee there’s someone with an empty oxygen tank on your trail. Scoop them up, speak God’s truth into their life and take them to the King.
Sometimes Mamma’s need help. But all the time, they need grace.
Once upon a time, at Trader Joes, I allowed my three angels to push their own mini-carts. So…they decided to play bumper carts down the aisle of wine bottles. Smack in the middle of the horrific scene, another mom sauntered by, her two children peacefully pushing one cart and said,
“You know, it’s really not the best idea to let each of your children have a cart.”
I don’t remember what I said. But I did not say,
“Wow, that’s such wonderful advice. You’ve helped me feel like a non-idiot. You clearly care about me and the six shattered Merlots I’m about to pay for.”
Yeah. I did not say that.
Moments later, a heroic Trader Joe’s worker, rushed to my side as I confiscated the horrid mini-carts. I was attempting to balance all three on top of my big one. She gently offered the kiddos a sucker while I completed my mission.
I look back on this day and ask myself- Which character in this embarrassing story do I want to be? Our words and actions, even well intended, are pathways.
Here are key questions I’m learning to consider:
Is what I say or do, leading someone down a hallway to God’s love? Or, is it a route to my own self-validation?
Will this help them feel better, or me feel better?
Which corridor am I nudging people towards when I come to their aid?
I don’t think the mamma at Trader Joe’s had a heart to help me. She wanted to make it clear, she knew more about this parenting thing than me. I’m super guilty of behaving this way, too. We all struggle with insecurities when we seek validation outside of God’s love.
Once I shamed a mamma for packing her daughter marshmallows as a ‘healthy snack.’ Not my finest moment. But advising her how not to feed her children, validated the way I chose to feed mine. It was vain. God’s word makes it clear, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
Holding my tongue is just as hard as the Bible says. God’s shown me, sometimes I don’t really want to help, I want to be heard. If being heard by others becomes more important than loving them, we’ve missed the mark big time. This is true in our friendships, marriages and everyday encounters.
Jesus didn’t say, the greatest commandment is, “Love the Lord your God with your heart…And the second is to give judgmental advice to all the tired moms on your street.”
Nope. He said, “‘Love the Lord your God… And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’(Matthew 22:37-39)
How did you feel loved when you were in this bleary-eyed stage? Consider those things…and then do them for others. Next time you see a crazy mamma balancing mini-carts in Trader Joe’s, help her get the third one up with a smile. She doesn’t need your advice, she needs your grace.