It’s Foster Care Awareness Month. To be honest, I wouldn’t have known that if we weren’t a foster family. But I’m thinking, for those of us living in SoCal, it would be good for us to start paying more attention because Los Angeles has the highest number of foster children in the NATION!
Thirty-thousand kids are currently in the foster care system in LA. I had no idea before I started this journey. Our sweet foster daughter is from LA, and they called us because NO ONE WOULD TAKE HER – This is common. There are not enough foster families in LA, so the overflow calls get sent to Orange County and beyond.
On a side note, she just turned one and we couldn’t be more in love with her!
I’ve had a lot of people ask me what it’s like– if I’m worried how it will affect my kids, and how we’ll feel if she is reunified with her bio parents. I’ve found it’s common for people to misunderstand what foster is and assume we “get to keep her” now that she’s been placed with us. I shared many of the same misconceptions about the system before we started this journey, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on the subject.😊
I’m attempting to keep this non-emotional (not a typical blog post for me!), and as informational as possible. However, this is how I perceive the information based on my personal experience with foster care thus far. Also, when I approached my Facebook Foster/Adoption group with the questions of misconceptions, there was a much longer list than what I’ve included here. This blog is just scraping the surface of a deep and complicated subject. But I will say, for the sake of complete transparency: The system is incredibly broken.
Misconceptions about Children in Foster Care
Foster care means adoption.
I’ve had well-meaning, precious people say, “Congratulations” …not understanding that a kid who has been removed from their bio parents by DCFS, was taken because they were in danger of, or were being neglected or abused. However, the goal of the foster care system (judges, attorneys, social workers, therapists, investigators, rehab centers, parent educators, foster families) is to reunify these precious kiddos to their biological families. Adoption is the last resort and a result of their biological family not being well enough or safe enough to take them back home. For most of the foster families I know, if the adoption took place, it took two to three years to finalize. I have friends who’ve had children living with them for two years, and then they reunite with their biological family.
2. Parents who have their kids taken by DCFS really don’t want their kids.
In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. The court has given them a “case plan” designed (in theory) to provide them with the tools and healing to be the parents they want to be. I’ve heard many foster families say they wish they could take in the biological parents into their home, too. They need love and a family to support them. Unfortunately, with a large percentage of foster youth parents having been in the foster system themselves, that support is usually not set in place. And let’s be honest, no social worker, attorney, judge, or therapist can replace the healing power of a loving family, leading a child to a loving God.
3. Once you have a foster child in your home, you won’t have contact with the biological family besides court dates.
Biological parents are usually granted visitation with their children (even if they are in jail or rehab). We started with seeing our foster daughters’ mama four hours a week, then it was increased to nine hours a week. Some foster agencies will transport and monitor the visitation for the foster family. We, however, have been responsible for transporting and supervising the visitations for baby girls (until recently). The parents have court given time to work on their “case plan” and towards reunification–attending visitations and bonding with their children is typically part of that plan.
4. Foster families are emotionally stronger than other families.
The number one comment I receive is, “I don’t know how you do it, I would get too attached.” Guess what? I am super attached. I’m no different than you, no foster family is. We aren’t stronger than anyone. Surrendered, yes. Strong, no.
If you are a person who would get too attached to children in foster care, then guess what?! You’re the perfect candidate to be a foster parent. Attachment is what these kids need.
Things you may not know:
*Statistics from CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)
It means so much that you’re taking this journey with me.❤ I’d love to send you a FREE SEVEN-DAY DEVOTIONAL: CLICK HERE FOR DEVOTIONAL
I heard the click of his light and waited for the invitation. Silence. Why wasn’t my Eli calling for me?
Maybe he’s praying, or stretching, or reading with a book light? Was something wrong?!
I’ll tell you what’s wrong – my boy is growing up. And I’m not ready.
I crept out of bed and peeked into his room. He looked longer, his jaw a bit wider, with those man-boy feet (now bigger than mine) sticking out from his Star Wars blanket,
“Are you okay!? You didn’t call me to ‘Kentucky’ you in…”
He opened his eyes, cracking a smile. Had he lost all his baby teeth?
“Oh, my goodness! You’re freaking out, I just thought it was too late to call you.” He laughed. Apparently, my mama-meltdown was hilarious.
But something squeezed at my heart, “Never. It’s never too late. You can always call me!”
And just like that, I realized my longing to be understood was much like my Heavenly Father’s. How many times had he sung the same ancient truth over my life- It’s never too late, you can always call on me.
“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer you; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I” (Psalm 145:18 NIV).
Being a mother reminds me I’m made in the image of God. And although the love I feel for my kiddos is a teeny glimpse of His love for us…there’s nothing on earth more consuming and eternal, besides God himself. It’s that big. At times when I’m desperate for my son to hear my words, God confirms -He feels the same way about me. His Spirit pleads, “Why aren’t you calling on me, daughter?”
He’s listening at the door of my heart while I sit in the dark, cold and unsure. Always present, but desiring me to utter His name, to invite Him to turn on the light. But I make excuses- I’ve waited too long, my need is too great, or the most dangerous…my need is too small.
What areas of your life do you hold back from God’s loving comfort? In what space do you prefer Him not to come? Where have you cuddled under the lie, “My longing is too insignificant for Him to care”? Push these things aside; they’re smothering your access to child-like faith. All we need to do is, “cry for help, and He will say: Here am I.”
P.S. I reserve the right to tuck my “babies” into bed as long as they live under my roof. I’m fairly certain it’s in the Constitution somewhere…or a Dr. Suess book. Either way.
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
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
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.
“Let’s baby wrestle! I’ll get on my knees and put one hand behind my back. You can fight normal…but don’t tell Mom.”
My poor big brother; he desperately wished I was a boy. So I agreed, on several occasions, to “baby wrestle.”
Why did I entertain this sibling wackiness?! I’m sure a therapist would say it’s some quirky way of bonding. Whatever. Reality was, I knew- even though he was stronger than me, he wouldn’t hurt me. He couldn’t, or I would tell Mom. It was my chance to “bring it” full force.
God welcomes our desire to wrestle, too. He wants us to run full force into his arms when we’re frustrated. Of course He’s stronger, but He won’t crush us. We can’t hesitate to step onto the mat; where unmet expectations lay sprawled out on the sweaty, sticky floor, and “bring it”.
Listen loves, there’s no form of battle more intimate then wrestling…
It’s grabbing hold; skin to skin, breath to breath, strength against strength.
Reaching out and seizing God – is seizing all that is good. But we’ll never know if we don’t engage in the communion.
Do you want to know God? You must be willing to honestly approach Him. Get in His face. It’s beautiful, steadfast & glorious.
Do you want to know who you are? Accept wrestling with God is part of your refining. Jacob wrestled with God, and afterwards, God gave him a new name. (Genesis 32:22-32 & Hosea 12:4) It was in the wrestling God clarified Jacob’s identity. We could be missing a defining moment if we abandon the arena of connection with our Father in Heaven.
Three reasons we walk away:
We’re full of pride. Deep down we think, whatever God’s purposes are, it’s not valid enough for us. Therefore, we’ve no desire to hear what he has to say. We’re over it. We’re over him. We love ourselves and our plan for life more than we love God. We truly think: he’s not worth the sweat; the conversation isn’t worth our time. Simple as that.
We’re full of misconceptions about God’s character. God’s always good. But if one smidgen of our heart suspects he’s a bit evil…we’re not going to challenge him. We know he’s stronger and suspect he’ll pin us down and punch us in the face. Maybe, we’ve misunderstood what it means to “fear God”? Maybe, we’ve confused loving discipline with punishment? But, somewhere along our journey, we’ve believed the lie, “God isn’t always good.”
We think it’s a sin to bring our questions to God. Nowhere, I can find, is it a sin to communicate freely with God. However, it’s a matter of the heart. God sent his son, tearing down the veil separating us from direct communication with Him. He wants authentic relationship. He formed us in His image…the image that presses in and fights for intimacy. The image so consumed with the desire to be known, he’s moved space, time and history in order to touch us. Believe me: He wants to talk to you.
The majority of “faith heroes” in the Bible, in some manner, pushed back at God when they didn’t understand his plan. Two elements of their wrestling are routinely evident:
They were humble enough to be honest. If you’re reading this thinking, I never question God in my heart, I always accept His plan without a struggle, I suspect you’re lying to God and yourself. If that was true, you’d have perfect faith. You’re not Jesus, sister. And even in His perfect faith, he asked God if he’d be willing to change His plan…three times! (Matthew 26:36-44)
They trusted God’s goodness. They knew God’s love was permanent. Even in their unbelief, anger and sorrow-God’s plan wasn’t to walk away. Instead of pinning them down in His strength, God firmly cradled them until they understood he was not only God, but also loving Father.
If you receive anything from this read, hear this: It’s better to run to God with your frustrations, then to run from Him in frustration. Take the first step onto the mat.
I’ve put together a list of helpful Bible verses to showcase you’re not alone in your wrestling with God’s ways. FREE DOWNLOAD:God’s Word — Marked by Love
I’m writing you these truths because I’ve found myself huddled, in several seasons, in one of the “Three Reasons We Walk Away” camps listed. It’s too much to break down in a simple blog post. I have a heavy burden on my heart for you if you’re in one of these spaces right now. Please message me.
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.