Mama, this is how you know God is after your heart… (And a GIFT!)


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This morning I woke swimming in the mystery of life and motherhood…so heavy with burden and responsibility, so light with games of peek-a-boo and spontaneous dancing.  So emptied out of energy and time and space and refreshment, so full of laughter and wonder and silly conversation.  Despite the palpable beauty and the irrefutable blessing, there is a darkness that can cast shadows on a mama’s joy, and that leads us to live a shadow of the blessing intended for us.

There is the feeling of invisibility and having no visible achievement to show for the mothering of the day. There are sleepless nights and impossible pressures.  There are fits and messes, and the hurry of the world clashing with the maddening sloooow of children who don’t see the big deal about putting on shoes. There is the crushing inadequacy, the fear of the dangers and hardships our children could face. There is the tension of being a mom, with enormous influence and utter lack of control over future and faith and safety.

There are the yoga pants and minivans, the feelings of smallness and un-chicness. There is the lack of understanding from the boss or the dinner party host. There is the impossible-to-explain importance of a naptime. There is the intense grind of chores and meals and sports schedules, and endless driving. There is the hopelessness of keeping up, the discouragement of failure, the laying down your life in the most imperceptible ways. There is the absence of instruction or feedback. There are the postpartum hormones and breastfeeding struggles that everyone has but no one likes to admit, and everyone seems to forget by the time their youngest is out of diapers.

Something in me cries out for someone to see, for someone to understand the chaotic mystery I’m trying to live, somehow with intention and purpose.  Maybe like me, you yearn for someone to understand the strangeness of stumbling for coffee and trying to piece together a seemingly sloppy mess of moments into a story leading little souls to the feet of Jesus…shaping the next generation with the same handful of moments that can so easily be shaped by prolonged fatigue, grumpiness, and the inexplicable experience of “mommy brain.” All we’ve learned about life and faith and work seems to short-circuit in days of pure survival with tiny people.

And yet, our lives will be made up of a series of these mostly ordinary moments.  What might it look like to live these moments fully alive?  What might it mean to find God in the mess, instead of waiting for the mountaintop?


The days of a mother are full of things to distract us or keep us from the gift… I have to think that the secret to joy is not in pretending they aren’t there.  I have to believe that a feeling of purpose and fulfillment is not in finding enough affirmation.   I think the joy and peace and purpose we long for are just on the other side of surrender.

The key to unlocking joy and abundance in the midst of this motherhood thing – it lies hidden within our deepest cries and our desperate longings.


I believe God whispers to our hearts in the places that cry out the loudest.


As I open my ears to hear, I begin to notice God’s gentle whisper beckoning me to his heart – into deeper intimacy with Him – through the very things I thought were there to steal my joy.  I invite you to tune in and listen to how God is calling to your heart right in the middle of your mess…

As your human limits slap you right across the face…when two eyes, two ears, two hands are never enough to meet all of the needs… When you crash into bed like a force of nature despite the mound of things you “should” be doing…  When fatigue, lack of control, the inability to “fix it” for your kids overwhelm you… May these things drive you to submit to God’s infinite wisdom and sovereignty.  Through our fleshy and finite humanness, God calls us to know his omnipotent kingship.  God beckons our hearts through our weakness.

As you feel claustrophobic with small people hanging on you or talking ceaselessly, may you feel wooed into the safety and quiet of God’s presence. There was a time it was sheer discipline to remember to seek quiet in my day… it now feels like survival. I think of Jesus with the sick and desperate crowding against him as I feel the constant needs of my children assailing me. I think of newlywed days in a crowd and wishing to be alone with my love. God calls to our hearts through the pressure of our days…may you feel the longing ache to draw away and be alone with Him, the Lover of your soul. God beckons our hearts through the relentless pressure. 

As your sense of identity seems to slip through your fingers…  When everyone talks to your baby as if you are merely a backdrop…  When no one notices that you never got to sit down for the meal… When so much of your life, worries and fears, longings and hopes, service and heartbreak – so much is unseen… may you hear God’s whisper that he sees.  We are drawn into a life of self-sacrifice, before one set of eyes, the eyes of Our Heavenly Father. We are invited into a secret romance with him, and it’s all a dance of worship. God beckons our hearts through invisibility.

For this generation, there is a relentless unspoken law of “good mom.”  When the expectations to do everything right are crushing you, and your constant failure bombarding you…  If you fail to be the mom you want to be, and you are haunted by the thought of sweet little eyes seeing you do it all wrong… may you be washed in the truth that our shepherding is about our imperfection pointing to the perfection of Jesus, our weakness pointing to Christ’s strength.  May you be beckoned by the whisper that says it’s all about grace.   God calls us to security and confidence based not in our performance, but in our identity as His daughter. We are transformed by a keen and constant understanding of our need, and an hourly dependence on our Rescuer Jesus.  God beckons our hearts through our failure.

When you are frustrated by your child’s agonizing slowness and distractibility… may you be beckoned by the invitation to wonder and delight.  When you struggle to get them to focus, may you melt into their intoxicating giggles.  Children are Jesus’ example of the liberation intended for our hearts.  We are invited back to the magic of a butterfly.  We are beckoned by an enthusiastic attitude of “Do it again!” We have a picture of the faith Jesus describes, in which our confidence comes from knowing we’re loved, not by our performance. Accepting grace comes easily, love is assumed.  They move slow, are open to interruptions, are infinitely forgiving.  This posture opens up endless possibilities for encountering the Spirit of God, living in gratitude.  Children delight in every little thing of God’s creation.  God beckons our hearts through our child’s eyes of unhurried wonder.

As parents, we have everything to lose.  Fear of real or imagined danger and loss can be debilitating.  Every time we must let our children go to some new adventure or unknown circumstance, it is as if our hearts are ripped right out and given legs.   We are all Abraham laying Isaac on the alter because we believe God keeps his promises, and have nowhere else to turn (Genesis 22).  We are all Jochabed putting Moses in a basket on the Nile because we have no other choice (Exodus 2).  We could let this feeling trap us and paralyze us from joy-filled living, or we can listen for the whisper that gently says “I set the stars in place (Job 9:9, Psalm 8:3).”  We could tune into the voice that says “I know every hair on their heads (Luke 12: 7).”  We could listen for the One who says “They can never leave my presence, and I am the only one able to hem them in (Psalm 139).”  Though we don’t have a promise for perpetual safety and ease, we have a promise that God is near, and God is good.  God beckons us through our desperation for His covering over our children.

Days and nights full of laundry and dishes and lunch boxes and diapers and driving…they have a mind-numbing repetitiveness.  We could spend them waiting bitterly for a better life to begin, but I’m beginning to see that the mindless tasks can become like repeating a worship refrain. As we build up our muscle memory for folding shirts and loading the dishwasher, we can build a spirit memory of openness and adoration.  We can fold a shirt giving thanks for the one who wears it.  We can pack the lunch or scrub the pot giving thanks for strong arms for our task.  God beckons us with the repetitive refrain of our day, inviting us to sing a song of worship with our hands.  

God is after your heart, Mama. I pray for eyes to see the wild pursuit.








How to proclaim to the world that children are a gift


I’ve always struggled a bit with taking up my space. I’ve never wanted to inconvenience or overwhelm, or bring too much need or heaviness.  I’ve measured my feelings and passions, and most definitely my requests for help.  I now know confidently that God has a sweet obsession with winning my heart and a significant sense of humor…

He gave me five children in seven and a half years. I got a crash course in taking up a lot of space.

Children take up their space unapologetically, with wild freedom.  Though their parents are presumed to be responsible for ensuring that they don’t interfere with anyone else’s space, the reality is that as your family grows, the space you take up in surface area and sound waves and need grows exponentially.

If you have ever walked into a restaurant, a grocery store, a library, or an airplane with children, you know the reactions can be mixed. I’ve seen everything from a joyful exclamation of blessing to an eye roll to an audible scoff. I’ve had strangers question if I know how to prevent pregnancy, or murmur things like “Some people just need to know when to quit.” Our family is undeniably avoided on airplanes and in a variety of other places. And I get it.

We are a lot.   For me too!  But no one needs a reminder that children are a blessing more than a mom!

These experiences with mixed reactions and projections of too-much-ness have highlighted my insecurities, but they have done something much more profound as well.  They have sparked a flame in me, and given me a deep passion to proclaim loudly and proudly that children are a gift. As mothers, we know it, but sometimes we don’t live it that way.  Messages of annoyance or inconvenience can oppress us, if we let them.


In these years with tiny kids, I’ll be honest, most of the time my brain feels like it might actually explode. Life is so sweet and full, but also completely overwhelming. I cry out to the Lord to grant me wisdom, peace, joy, the ability to slow down and soak in the moment, grace for my children, self control to use calm and kind words. I am metaphorically on my knees every second of the day with my utter depravity. I cannot pull together so much as an hour of righteous living, maybe not even a minute. I am stripped down with sleep deprivation and endless chores and prolific whining…and questions.

Oh the questions.

But at the end of the day, I want more! More of my children, more laughter, more of their magically unique personalities and amazing little faces…faces of light and life and freedom. I want to know them more, enjoy them more, drink them in more. I want more of the toddlers running shamelessly after bath time, resisting those confining pajamas. I want more sweet little hands cupping my face and telling me I’m the best mommy. I want more of watching the beautiful mystery of identity and spirit unfolding in my older children. I want more silliness and animal noises and living room dance parties.


Light and darkness are at war over these best of years.


The little old women keep telling me to love every minute, and my friends with a youngest child barely over five-years-old keep telling me to hang on for dear life a few more years. “Long days, short years,” they say. I think the truth and the secret to joy rests in some sloppy mess of both.


We do need to soak these years in. We need to deeply and truly celebrate all the firsts of things and the dependence and the spongy learning and the snuggles and the silliness. We need to slow down and taste it and chew on it and let it change us.


But we also need permission to say that this thing is really stinking hard. I want to tell those little old ladies that they don’t actually remember very well what it felt like not to get a good night’s sleep for a decade. And I want to remind those who look judgmentally at me with my occasionally out-of-control children, that they too were once a child and that my children deserve their respect. And for the love, I want to scream from the rooftops that sometimes moms have to take their kids to the grocery store. We weren’t trying to slow you down or ruin your day or run over your toes with the shopping cart. We just ran out of milk and peanut butter and we can’t go on without those, and this is just when the grocery store had to happen. So be nice. Please.


I have found that I need to be prepared to respond well to the comments and reactions that oppress my spirit.  I need to be prepared to take up my space in a joy-filled, life-giving way.

The most common thing that is said to me throughout my days is “Wow, you have your hands full!” Though seemingly harmless, the constant flow of this message leads me to feel sorry for myself, or to feel defeated under the seeming “too much” of my life. If it constantly looks like I need help, then I must not be ok, right? A sweet friend encouraged me to find a thing to say back that helps to combat the influence this comment was having. So now, every time (usually at least three times a day, depending on how many errands I run or places I go), I say in response “In the best way!” or “Yes, sir, I am blessed!” or “My cup runneth over!”

Cheesy as it may sound, having a positive response transforms these moments of defeat into moments of victory. And it proclaims over my children – to their listening ears – that they are a blessing and a joy.


During pregnancy, it was the continuous flow of “You’re about to pop!” or “Wow, you’ve really gotten big!” These threaten to steal my joy, make me feel frumpy and insecure, and to be honest, make me want to say all kinds of cruel things. I needed an armament for this one too. I came up with a few phrases like “Must be a healthy boy in there!” or “Can’t wait to meet him!” so that these comments didn’t pour self-consciousness all over my blessing.


Last week, a man saw me out and about with my little flock and said to me in real life ”Wow, you must be a glutton for punishment.” Without thinking, I responded: “Maybe…but I get it all back in joy!”
Infinitely more important than the puzzled looks I sometimes get, my children hear me declare that they are a blessing.  And when I am prepared with these joyful “comebacks”, the words that threaten to make me feel overwhelmed, insecure or less-than Do. Not. Stick. Hallelujah!


Today, let’s celebrate our children out loud for the world to see. Let’s celebrate their slow wonder and their unreserved delight. Let’s celebrate their bubbling joy and their shameless freedom. Let’s celebrate their unquenchable curiosity and their endless teachability. Let’s celebrate their enthusiasm and their presence.  Let’s celebrate their incredible courage, resilience, and flexibility. Let’s celebrate the clarity of their love, and the purity of their faith. Let’s celebrate their fearlessness and their reckless abandon. Let’s celebrate their comfort and familiarity with their need, and their absolute dependence.  Let’s celebrate that Jesus said children are worth celebrating.


I want to challenge myself and other mamas to go convince the world that children are worth our celebration and our blessing. They are worth listening to. They are worth our lingering looks of acceptance.  They are worth our smiles. They are worth our patience as they try to figure out how to do things they’ve never done before. I want to embrace them together. If those inconvenienced deliver scoffs and scolds and sharp glances, I want to let them roll off and I want to lean into the beautiful mess of it.


And maybe, as the world sees moms delight in our children, it will be softened towards them.  Maybe we can deliver a powerful blessing over this next generation.
What do you say, Mama?  I say let’s give it a shot.


What to do when you want to be an unflappable mom

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My children bounced out of their rooms, arms spread wide, ready to cover me in their exuberant love …joyfully screaming things like “Breakfast time?!?!” or “It’s Muddy Monday!!!” or just “Mommy!!!”

One heart can hardly contain it.

I grip my chest with the shear abundance of sweet voices and reckless love and youthful life held in a four-foot wide hallway. Waking to this sight and sound is rich and full and beautiful. But today, friends, I wasn’t ready for what would swiftly and inevitably come – what always comes, but can feel wildly different, depending on the state of my heart.


Not ten minutes after our joyful greeting, the needs had mounted, arguments ensued, required items were missing, sweet tones became shouts and whines, nerves were frayed, little hearts were heavy with leaving mom all day. The voices that sang excitement and joy now held frustration, questions, stress, needs to be heard, for snack to be packed, shoes to be tied, all of the things to be done. As words of greeting were pleasant to all of my senses, like delicate harmonies and lovely aromas that bless my soul…. ceaseless demands and questions feel like shots fired from all sides.

Head spinning, I was unraveled with impatience and the urge to run. I feel fickle and shortsighted to allow myself to be given over so quickly from experiencing life as rich and beautiful to overwhelming and wearying.


How is it that these same honeyed little mouths hold the power to deliver me to extravagant delight and crushing strain, to vitality and to exhaustion, in an instant?


The simple answer: they shouldn’t.


My children should not hold the power, with their tone or behavior, to determine the state of my soul and spirit. They were never meant to be the ground I stand on. And if I am to guide them to steady ground, I can’t ride the wave of their emotion with them.


I’ve heard it said that a mother is only as happy as her least happy child.  Of course, our hearts break with a child’s broken heart, we hurt their hurts, and celebrate their victories…

But if I allow my children’s tumultuous feelings to be the driving force of my life, I will be in an almost perpetual state of misery.  From a missing orange crayon, to illness, injury, or friendship struggles, it’s highly likely that someone is in some level of crisis.  At any moment, someone is probably crying, pouting, whining, or otherwise not engaging in the joy that is mine to claim.

If we aren’t careful as moms, we can inadvertently hand the reigns over to the tiniest or noisiest person in the house, and let them determine the state of our hearts, of our day, of the culture of our homes… This is a burden far too heavy, and one they were never meant to bear.  And this is equally important with one child or seven.


My mistake today was simple: I was unprepared. When I’m unprepared…

I react, rather than respond.

I worry, rather than pray.

I feel attacked and inadequate, rather than equipped.

I feel claustrophobic, rather than abundantly blessed.


So today, after learning again the hard way, thankful for a God who doesn’t hold my weakness against me, I am recommitting to arm myself for the battle of my day. Whether I rise for a quiet hour before dawn, or I pause for 3-minutes with children piled on my lap in the chaos of the morning, I am making a commitment to prepare myself for the task I’ve been given.

I see today with clear eyes that I am in battle. Marching onto the field unarmed is a surefire way to get beat up.  There is a way to be stand on rock when the ground around us shifts. There is a way to be stable in the midst of volatility and unpredictability. There is a way to keep peace while the flaming arrows fly.

Mama, you can be unshaken. Unflappable.

The Bible describes for us the armor of God that can enable us to stand firm as lies swarm and darkness creeps in. I’ve always loved the words of Ephesians 6, but I’ve needed to personalize it a bit for these unique days as a mom of little ones…


  • The Belt of Truth is rejecting the lies that make me feel sorry for myself, and proclaiming that my children are a blessing. I find myself complaining with other mamas, comparing horror stories of fits and sleepless nights. I love that our authenticity helps us to not feel alone, but I sometimes strap on a belt of self-pity instead of the belt I want. As I pull on my jeans or yoga pants in the morning, I’m putting on truth. I’m rejecting a complaining spirit and tongue, and claiming my children as pure gift.
  • The Breastplate of Righteousness is owning the beauty given to me by God, and shedding the shame and self-talk that says I’m a terrible mom. I am called “righteous” from the moment I believe in Christ, so I can walk with dignity and regality, as if I am wearing a long flowing robe of righteousness. I reject curses spoken over my body that tell me that I’m flawed and less-than. I can walk with confidence as God’s creative work of art, a temple of the Holy Spirit, a vessel for miracles of new life. As I slip on a shirt, or I zip up a hoodie sweatshirt over my chest, I put on God’s delight in me, claiming that I am pure, righteous, and lovely simply because God says so.
  • Worry and hurry can feel like a mom’s best friends…but they’re not the ones I want. Strapping on Shoes of the Gospel of Peace means that I am ready for the unexpected things… the delays and tantrums, skinned knees, blow-out diapers, fevers and tears. As I put on my shoes, I ready myself with the eternal perspective that brings peace to the momentary struggle. God’s rescue plan is in place.  Nothing can snatch me from the love of God. The pressure is off. God can handle omnipresence. I am free to aggressively eliminate hurry from my days, and forcefully reject the worry that cannot add a single hour to my life, or the lives of my children.
  • Taking up a Shield of faith means that my eyes are fixed on the unseen, choosing to believe in God’s goodness and sovereignty.   “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11: 1).” God is able to hold my everything…my dreams, my fears, my hopes, my people. As I throw my purse or diaper bad over my shoulder, I take hold of trust that God sees the whole story in a way I cannot. I pry my hands open and place my children into the tender loving hands of the Father God. I empty my hands of control and desperation to protect, and grab hold of faith.
  • Motherhood shines a light on my weakness like nothing ever has. I put on the Helmet of Salvation by believing that I am not the hero of this story. I am free to be weak and imperfect. I can refuse to be browbeaten by perfectionism and never being enough. My weakness clears space for my children to look to Jesus to be the perfect hero of their story. As you do your hair today –maybe in a messy bun or a wet braid, like me – put on the belief that Jesus’ death and resurrection was enough for you, and enough for your children.
  • I take up the Sword of the Spirit by readying myself with the truth of God’s word, to fight against the lies that steal my joy. When I feel bitterness bubble up, I know that the last will be first (Matthew 20: 16). When I’m desperate for someone to see all the thoughts and prayers and needs and schedules I’m juggling, I know that my Father in heaven sees me and I store up for myself treasures in heaven (Matthew 6). When the work is hard, and my body exhausted, I proclaim over myself that in view of God’s mercy, I offer my body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, and all things of my day are as worship (Romans 12: 1).   As I face my weakness all day long, I hear God saying “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12: 9). Like it or not, the item in my hand more than any other is my phone. Most of the time, the goal is to put my phone down. But when it is in my hand, I like to take it up as one way to wield my weapon of God’s word. I share truth over texts with friends, proclaim it on social media, look up scripture, ask my friends to share it back with me. Other ways I’m taking up my sword are posting scripture around the house, leaving my Bible out on the counter, keeping scripture memory cards in my car for moments when I’m sitting in carpool lines, or simply saying out loud the truths I know instead of the things I feel. Find your truths, sweet sister, and take up your sword.


When I’m clothed in this armor, my nerves and careless words are quieted, my emotions are stabilized, my pace is slowed, my feet are steadied…and I am held. I believe the unflappable mom I have envied is steadied not by superhero strength, but by the hand of God. Not by greater ability, but by greater dependence. Not by standing stronger, but by setting her feet upon the rock and not the sand.


Amazing Grace when you fear you’re a “Bad Mom”


The baby’s crying and the tot needs to go potty, and someone asks that question again. The same question I already answered four times, that we are waiting to have dessert when daddy gets home. She hadn’t heard me those first four times, and she’s distracted, and chewing with her mouth open, and just got up on top of the table to grab food off of her brother’s plate while he was in the bathroom, and she thought I wasn’t looking.


You know the moments…when it feels like you have a big red button on you and everyone is pushing it.  Something in me snapped.


I launch into lectures about how she needs to use her table manners and, by the way, I’m not answering the same question a fifth time and, by the way, she can’t have dessert anymore because she refuses to listen to me and, by the way, her chewing is driving me crazy.  That line that I held onto all (or most of the) day – I lose my grip on it and come tumbling down with a terrible crash. I grab at everything in my path to take down with me.


Ugly harshness spews. I’m disgusted by the sound of my own voice, but can’t seem to harness it.


Failure and self-loathing blow in like a hurricane, and my mind swirls with the therapy it will take for my daughter to recover from my verbal battering, and how her self-esteem is shot and her identity will be all wrapped up with never being enough for her short-fused mother. And while the torrent of shame sweeps me up and away from reality, another sweet one innocently prances back into the room and asks for dessert.
Does it make you feel crazy just thinking about it? Me too.


Baby is still crying and toddler is still holding herself saying she’s about to pee, and rather than responding to the question, I react and spout more ruthlessness about how no one is getting dessert anymore because it’s all anyone can talk about all day.  I’m swept away. The more ashamed I am of myself, the more I can’t say anything nice.


Friend, have you felt that shame that takes you over, when the sound of your own voice makes your stomach twist up in knots?


The shame says this moment provides overwhelming evidence that I am officially and hopelessly a “bad mom.”


As the stormy moment settles in silence, I look at my little flock and feel this crushing inadequacy and utter failure.


By grace, I manage a long enough breath to jump off the lecture track, and I ask the kids if I can pray. I murmur this feeble prayer about needing God to come in and bring peace and joy and hope and redemption… How we need him to rewrite the story of our night. They all sweetly say “Amen” and look to me for what’s next.


I sigh deeply and say that I’m sorry for losing my cool and I assure them that I’m not angry with them, that they deserve to be honored with my tone, that even if they disobey, I am on their side. I remind them that they are accountable for following rules and listening, but that I know they had long days too, and my heart’s desire is for all of us to speak to one another with kindness and gentleness. I ask if they will forgive me for my harshness.

They do so, quickly and easily.

Oh, if only, I could be more like them. I try to let their tender grace wash over me, but it only makes me feel more undeserving of being called their mama.


Then it hits me that when they fail… all I want in the world is for them to recover quickly. I want them to not be discouraged or let the mistake stick to their identity. I want them to know that they remain a son or daughter of the King of kings, and that being unable to do it all right is the reason Jesus came. I want them to know they are simply loved, to grab hold of grace.

Suddenly, it’s painfully obvious that beating myself up is setting the opposite example. What my children need most…in this moment, and in life, is to see me need Jesus. They need to know how to make peace with brokenness and let Jesus rescue them.

They need to see me forgive myself as I accept God’s grace and forgiveness for my mistakes.


If my children are to cast off shame and walk in broken freedom to be nothing except a child of God saved only by grace… then the best I could do is to show them what it looks like to not be surprised that I’m a sinner, to not be surprised that I need a Savior every day.


Frankly, I need to get over myself.


I was never meant to be the perfect example or the perfect mom. I was simply meant to be a big arrow pointing to the perfect Savior. And the same is true for you, Mama.


I’ve done this wrong so many times. I’ve stayed so often in the cycle of shame, and I’ve beat myself up for all the things. Rather than accepting that my debt was paid by Jesus, I have brought my own punishment by lecturing myself about all the things I should have said and done better.

And let’s be honest, my failures are not exclusive to raising my voice or having a snippy tone. My children need to see me forgive myself for locking my keys in the car, for missing my exit on the highway, or for forgetting my wallet in my other purse. They need to see me laugh at myself and order pizza when I drop dinner on the floor, so that they believe me when I tell them I’m not angry that they spilled their water again. They need to see me apologize to their daddy for not greeting him warmly after work. My children need to see me be radically human in order to learn about authentic grace for authentic life.

I’ve often refused to receive the grace of God, leaving me empty of grace to extend to my children.

But God is tenderly leading me to a place that’s more shattered and more liberated, more empty of me and more full of God’s mercy. He is teaching me to receive grace to give it. He is gently bringing me face-to-face with my grand and sweeping weakness every day, so that I never forget to need Jesus’ rescue.

I pause and let my children’s easy forgiveness wash over me, right along with the blood of Jesus. And I’m clean.  Perhaps they see that their humanness is okay too.


The tone of our homes can be set by the mostly lighthearted apologies and the way we reset the course. Most of the time, a quick “Oops!” or “So, sorry, let me fix my tone” is enough. We accept forgiveness quickly, and walk right out of the cycle of shame and anger and criticism.

Of course, there are mistakes we make that are not at all light-hearted…that leave deep, soul-crushing wounds, and require the sincerest and most heartfelt apologies, and a journey of rebuilding trust. But most of our weak moments don’t have to be world shattering.


If I insulate my children from their humanness and mine, I lock chains around their ankles, and teach them that we should all be perfect.  But when my children see me fail, admit, be washed in grace, they learn that it’s right and good and not-so-scary to take ownership of their own mistakes. They learn to apologize and walk forward in a new freedom and dependence on Jesus.

There’s a truth we get to walk in: that we mess up and our children do too. It’s so simple but so profound in our performance‐based, perfection-worshipping culture, to NOT be perfect. I think being a mama is perhaps the fastest way to a crushing sense of inadequacy, but there’s a sweetness in being beyond ourselves, unable to maintain the perception of perfection.


Freedom comes in owning our humanness and teaching our children to own theirs. Freedom is being weak and then strong with only the salvation Jesus offers. Freedom is bringing nothing to the table, and gathering the gift of God’s grace each morning (or each moment), like manna, without fear that we have enough for tomorrow. Freedom is acknowledging the dirt and letting Jesus’ blood wash us anew each day.


I’m trying to teach my children to get used to making mistakes, and to get used to accepting grace…

Upon grace

Upon grace.


So when you feel like the dreaded Bad Mom, take hold of raw mercy and amazing grace. Take hold of another opportunity to show your kids what it means to be God’s broken beloved child, who needed a rescue, and got one in Jesus.


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