How to make a difference when your hands are full

christian mom blog
The privilege of my life to be this little guy’s mom.
“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”
1 Thessalonians 2: 8

My eyelids were heavy on this Monday that came around a bit too quickly, with it’s dimly lit sky and it’s drizzly rain that says “Stay under the covers.”  Sweet ones were unready for the hurry of the morning, drowsy bodies in slow motion.  But the clock doesn’t wait, and time just keeps ticking on tempo with deadlines of school bells and appointments and naps and To Do lists.

On the days when I’m just muscling through to get to the end of it, I’m a smidge desperate for my life to mean something.  I think we all are.  We’re made with a longing for the things that endure.  We yearn to do something that will be remembered.  We long to be exceptional, to make someone’s day, week, life a little better, to grow God’s kingdom, to offer the world a unique idea or message or mission, to run a family, a non-profit, a school, a company, a church, a country, a home…in a way that’s never been done before.

I want to make an impact on the world, but some days I can barely get my weary body out of bed.  You too, mama?

I was squarely in the Monday grind, and thinking about what it looks like to be a disciple and make disciples when you are so dang tired, and your hands are so dang full.  It is the privilege of my life to be called “Mama” by my little ones, but I wonder how to bring an energy to it that bears fruit?  How do we live a life of purpose, and not just survive our days?

I write today (and most always) about things of which I claim no particular expertise.  I’m humbled and often hesitant, as I have little in regards to earthly credentials.  I am simply compelled to share a thing that God has granted me the great privilege to do, and a work he is doing in my heart.

There is this one thing that I believe is making my life and love bigger than the walls of my skin, and it has nothing to do with expertise or high capacity or doing it all right.  There is one thing that is encouraging my heart to believe that I have a God-given unique and valuable role to play in the body of Christ and on planet Earth.  And you do, too.
A key that God is giving me to unlock purpose in my life is letting go of perfection, control, striving…and stepping into the light, to let the light of the Lord in me be seen.  I’m letting go of trying to make my life look put-together and pretty enough to be worthy of making a difference and I’m giving away the sloppy, messy, sleepy, and redeemed life I’m living.  I’m giving it to my children.  I’m giving it to those who might want to enter in.  And I’m giving it to you in the ashes of a mess of words, in faith that God just might make them into something mysteriously beautiful in you, as he is in me.  What if we don’t hide in shame over all that we cannot do, but give away what we have…a broken and sanctified life, hidden in Christ.   

About six years ago, at the very time logic said I was too busy and too exhausted to have anything to offer — with a fitness business to run, a ministry in Young Life, a husband running for public office, and a toddler and a newborn at home (seriously)— God offered me an opportunity to invite someone in.

A recent college grad was looking for a family to live with.  In the middle of our crazy, we simply said “Yes.”  We gave a whole pile of qualifications about how we were in a wild season, and it’ll be messy, and I have nothing to offer, and I’m not sure how it will go, but she could come in and be a part of it, if she wanted to, and we could just see what God would do.

And you know what?  He did a miracle.  He changed a life.  Several, actually:  ours and hers.  And I began to catch a vision for how God could use my brokenness to pour out his strength. When I give my empty, He gives his fullness.  When I give my weak, He gives his strength.  When I give my story, He gives his healing and redemption.  When I die to my comfort, he gives true, abundant life.  When I give my mustard seed of faith that I truly am an ambassador of Christ, He moves mountains.

I spent too much of my life trying to make the tree of my life look prettier, and more worthy of bearing fruit.  I wanted my impact to come from the tidy and beautiful corners of life.  We can decorate the tree of our lives with twinkling lights and ornaments, trying to impress each other, or volunteering for things we don’t want to do.  We can live ashamed of the behind-closed-doors truth of our lives while we offer a tidy and beautiful corner to the rest of the world, but we’ll end up feeling like a fraud and we’ll mostly leave others feeling jealous and insecure.  

I’m beginning to see that true enduring fruit only comes if we are willing to live authentically, planted and rooted where God puts us, when our roots lie deep in the secret places of intimacy with our King, who gently prunes our branches and refreshes us with the rains of his daily mercy and provision.  His delight shines down like the sun to revive our spirits, and we surrender to being used by him, given away just as we are, believing that Christ’s work on the cross was enough to cover all our splintered places.

Purpose is unfolding in the middle of overfull days when I swing my doors open and let a few come in and watch God at work in my mess – let them watch me apologize to my loves, watch me sweep the same floor and fold the same clothes again and again, watch me fail and be washed anew in God’s grace, watch me hope only in the Lord and soar on wings as God renews my strength, watch me need Jesus every hour.

Friends, though we struggle, God calls us pure and blameless and white as snow, in Christ.  We are free to claim that, as we follow Jesus, we are worth following.

If the Spirit of God resides in us, than we ought to confidently proclaim, as Paul did, “Watch me and do what I do!” (paraphrase).  When we know we’re the worst of sinners, and we boast only in Christ, we have nothing to fear in giving our lives away.  We have nothing to fear in opening our doors.  We have nothing to fear in letting someone walk alongside, and believing we will have something to offer.  We have nothing to fear in letting our light shine.

If we believe the light is in us, as the Bible says it is, then we ought not hide in the shadows.

When your life is messy and your hands are full, you serve as a perfect backdrop for the vibrant and striking life of Christ to be made known.  When you feel emptied out with nothing to offer, you might just have made room for the Spirit of God to pour through you and do something groundbreaking.

I’m beginning to see that as I come out of the shadows, and invite a young professional to spend the day with us or another mama to come and do the real life bedraggled and beautiful mom thing side-by-side or a 20-something to come live with us, we create space to encounter a God who left heaven and put skin on.  Humbly…I’m watching God change lives when I give away my mess of brokenness, and trust in a Jesus who made us his hands and feet.

Friends, I have sat to write this post a dozen times, and stopped short the last eleven because I’m on my face over the thought that you would feel for one minute like there is one more thing you need to do.  Mama, if you are in over your head and dragging your weary, unshowered body to the coffee pot in the morning, I am right. there. with. you.

But even more, I can’t bear the thought that you would miss out on this miracle that I believe happens when we shake off the shame, and share our lives with whoever might want to come along.  It’s a precious treasure, burning a hole in my pocket, and I don’t want even one of you to miss it.

My encouragement is not for you to take on commitments that you don’t have time for.  My encouragement is that you open your door and let someone come in to see exactly what you are already doing, to believe that God could do something miraculous.  And if this is already your habit, then carry on sister!  And never let shame tell you that you’re not enough.

When Jesus invited men to be his disciples, he never stopped his what he had set out to do , he simply said Come along.  Be with me.  Walk with me.  Watch what I do, then do it.  Our example for making disciples is one that says “Come along.”

If you’re like me, it’s hard to imagine that anyone on earth would be interested in spending time with you and watching you change diapers and fold shirts and send small people to Time Out.  This is a step of faith.  It’s a choice to believe that there is something going on in the heavenlies as we serve our families unto the Lord.  It’s a step of faith to believe that, as we trust God with our muck and invite God’s grace into our homes, it is a precious sight to behold.  It’s a step of faith to believe that we are chosen, redeemed, ambassadors of Christ, royal daughters of the King of Heaven.

Maybe there is another mama for whom you’ve been mopping your floor and saying you are loving every minute of being a mom….stop doing that.  Just let her in.  Maybe it’s a colleague, a neighbor, your kids’ friends, a high school or college student (try connecting through your local church or ministries).  Step out of shame, and consider sharing the life you are already living before the throne of grace, not leading from your strength but from Christ’s strength in your weakness.

If you follow Christ, you are worth following.  You’re a world changer.


christian parenting blog
A rainy day at the zoo with my loves.

Living in a Friday World with a Sunday Hope

handmade wooden cross
And “I knew it raw, that my hands hammered the nails and my name was in the mind of Christ as he hung upon the cross.”
 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 
Philippians 3: 10-11

It was one of those warm and drizzly April mornings.  I still feel a bit damp from the vernal kind of rain from heaven that spits right in your eye.  And I’m still marveling at the mystery of a God of Heaven who let his mockers spit right in his.


I still have this fresh and cavernous knowing about where I would have been on that messy, ugly, beautiful, good Friday 2000 years ago because I know where I was a few days ago, on this most recent Good Friday of remembrance.

On Friday, I was a mess of broken.  On Friday, I was overwhelmed by a hurting world, and a hurting home, and hurting kids who didn’t know why they shouldn’t have their way, and a hurting mama who didn’t know why she shouldn’t have hers.  On Friday, I was mocked and disrespected by my own…not in the same as our Lord, but in a way that points to how he might have felt.  And on Friday, I spewed harsh words, and came face-to-face with my own depravity that hung Jesus on that tree.


I’m still carrying some heart wounds from the ugly moment my big-hearted boy and I had, and I’m still mending some heart wounds that I caused.  On Friday, I felt it – the lost and broken and despairing “Not yet” of the world we live in and the fragmented hearts we live with.  On Friday, I felt the longing for Sunday, for all things to be made new, for all things to be set right, and to escape this broken and shattered soul of mine.


On Friday, during the short recess between the altercation and reconciliation with my son, I went to the garage and nailed together a small wooden cross.  I held the hammer and the dark metal nails and the splintered wood, and I pounded it together with my own hands.  I had this holy encounter with the Spirit of God as I engaged the strength of my body in the act.  As I ruminated on the fact that I was right there chanting and accusing, and Christ was right there loving me and forgiving me…I knew it raw, that my hands hammered the nails and my name was in the mind of Christ as he hung upon the cross.


And I wonder how we live with the hope of Sunday morning, remembering that Jesus conquered sin and death lost it’s sting, when we still live in a world that hurts with hearts that malfunction.  I wonder how we keep taking the next step when loved ones die, and diagnoses are given, and marriages wrench and break, and there’s division and hatred and terrorism and an underworld of slavery.


Christ is risen, but I think the earth still thinks it’s Friday.  There is still a broken mess of ash being made new slowly, in the power of the resurrection.  There’s still a kingdom of God coming to earth, that has not yet fully come.  There’s still a Christ who will return and reign, but is not yet here.  There’s still an enemy who is defeated but has not yet been thrown down.  Promises are left not yet fulfilled.  We still suffer and ache and sin and get sick and feel the death and heartache of Friday.

But Sunday is coming.


Almost immediately after my son and I reconciled, he joyfully spilled out a prolific pile of art with crosses and rays of light and empty tombs and hearts.  He made a request for our family to take communion together when daddy got home, “to remember what Jesus did for us.”  He named it and said he was nailing his ugly moment to the cross.  And I said I was nailing mine too.


Once again, our brokenness led us right to the cross.  The more I walk in weakness, the more I’m open to Christ’s strength.  The more I walk in death to myself, the more I’m open to the power of the resurrection.  The more I surrender, the more I’m sustained.


On Sunday morning — Easter, divine and triumphant — our children woke to fun surprises, and we all got dressed in our Sunday best, the kids in their matching outfits and their matching hairstyles and their matching smiles.  But by the time we pulled out of the driveway, their mom and dad felt a bit like frauds, having wrestled mind, body, and soul through the messes and arguments, the pressure for perfection that distracts from the meaning of the morning, the little attitudes that we try to force into a “joyful gratitude” box rather than gently shepherding, the ugliness that bubbles up in our own hearts as we see things going differently than our expectations.  On Sunday morning, we hurt each other’s feelings, and I walked a teary baby through a sermon I longed to soak in.  On Sunday morning, I wiped the remnants of chocolate eggs and a bit of spit up from my Easter dress.  And it was all sweet surrender.  On Sunday morning, I needed to lay down my comforts and expectations, control and pride, and let joy in.  It’s the death of mess and brokenness that open me up to encounter the Risen Christ.


Monday’s gray sky today feels like a stark contrast to yesterday’s bright, hot sun, and the messiness of my weekend stood in stark contrast to the joy of the resurrection.  But there is no short cut to Sunday morning.  There is no Sunday without Friday.  There is no resurrection without death.  The light and joy of the morning must stand in contrast to the night.


So, how do we live in a Friday world with a Sunday hope?  I’m right here in the muck with you, but here’s some truth to which my messy weekend and my gracious God are leading me.

Get low…  If we want to know Christ, we will share fellowship not only in his resurrection, but also in his death.  As we lay our lives down with his, we are raised with him.  As we share in his cross-carrying suffering, we then share in the joy and fully-alive life of his resurrection (Philippians 3:10) .  If we want to bear fruit, we must die to ourselves, as the grain of wheat dies to produce a harvest (John 12: 24).  We have to get out of our own way, and out of the way of a God who loves to fill us when we are emptied out.  We get out of the way of a God who loves to offer us his grace and mercy and provision as we stop trusting ourselves or our resources and start trusting him.  As we decrease and make peace with our emptiness and weakness, Christ increases in us.

Throw an anchor… On Sunday, we swam in a beautiful ocean of posts and texts and proclamations that said: “He is risen!”  My lips and spirit echoed the ravishing truth.  But the rest of what’s true is that it takes an intentional move of mind and heart for those words to make it from my ears or my lips into the mess of my real life and my real quaking heart.  I need to acknowledge the pain of promises not yet fulfilled, pain not yet healed, habits of sin not yet fully broken, and I need to proclaim this truth as a hope that anchors me in the midst of a world that still feels a whole lot like Friday.  To keep walking in these days that hurt, we need to have an anchor of hope to keep our feet secure.  Our anchor of hope is that God has promised to never leave or forsake us.  Our anchor of hope is that God has promised us forgiveness through Christ for our shortcomings past, present and future.  Our anchor of hope is that God has promised us a glorious inheritance.  When the curtain tore after Jesus’s death, God promised us access to deep intimacy with him, that we can approach his throne with confidence.  Our anchor of hope is in God’s promise that we will not always ache, that he is making all things new, that he will bring beauty from ashes, that he will wipe every tear.  Our anchor of hope is in Sunday morning’s risen Christ.

Open your mouth… The Sunday proclamations are still ringing in my ears, and I believe they are a key to unlocking joy.  We have to go ahead and say it:  “He is risen!”  Hallelujah!  It’s the greatest news, the core of our faith, the source of our hope.  We rejoice in what God has done for us, what we believe He is doing, and what we believe He will ultimately do.  Regardless of our circumstances, we have a charge to “Rejoice in the Lord, always.” (Philippians 4: 4).

And when we rejoice that the immovable stone was rolled away, we are given immovable joy. 

So today, let’s get low, throw down an anchor of hope, and open our mouths in praise.

Easter egg hunt
Pure joy.
My little loves.
The sweetest of meals.
real life easter mom mess
On real life Easter, you have to spot clean the outfits between events.
handmade wooden cross
And “I knew it raw, that my hands hammered the nails and my name was in the mind of Christ as he hung upon the cross.”
 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” ~Galatians 2: 20
“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ…” ~Philippians 3:8 
“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” ~Luke 9:23 
 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” ~John 12:24
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” ~Romans 12:1-2
“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” ~Galatians 5:24
“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him…” ~Romans 6:8
“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'” ~Revelation 21: 5 
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” ~Hebrews 6: 19-20 
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” ~Hebrews 4: 16 

Surprising joy when you feel you’ve lost your life -(words for Holy Week – Repost!)


As I reflect on the meaning of the week ahead- this Holy Week- I am struck by the abundance that can only be found in letting go. The filling that we only receive when we’re first emptied out. The power that can only be found in weakness. The righteousness that can only be found in knowing our brokenness. The resurrection that we never would have known without the crucifixion. 

Reposting this one because I needed to be reminded to go ahead and die the million deaths to myself on purpose – to find joy on the other side of surrender…
A seed falls, and we do not weep for the death…but rejoice for the promise of life to come.

There’s a beauty and a trust as we witness a dying that brings life. This is, perhaps, one of those sweet hints in nature that points to a deep truth that echoes throughout the earth and reverberates in our very souls. Nature gives way and, each year as the winter chill sets in, the death holds a promise. We wait. We eagerly expect. We anticipate with full confidence that new life will spring forth in due time. And we know that without the death, the life would be cut short, cheapened, lost. As nature sways with the secret winds of the One who made it, we watch and celebrate it’s majestic beauty.

Life from death.

In the same way, I walk in the hope that Jesus not only died to pay the penalty for my sin, but that he rose and is alive. And because he died, I have life. He came to serve and not to be served, and He leaves an example of a life of sacrifice that brings life.

Research has shown time and time again that the happiest people are the ones giving their lives and resources away to serve others.

But if I’m honest, I think I have had an idealized sense of what a life of service looks like. I’ve imagined that the kind of dying to self that makes us feel like we’re really living can only happen in the big things.

I’ve dreamed of missions and living among the poor. I’ve partnered with beautiful organizations doing beautiful world-changing things. I’ve grieved that I don’t have more capacity to serve now that I’m home with young kids. I still deeply treasure these opportunities to serve the poor and needy, and celebrate all those doing this significant work.

But I have thought less of life as a mom. It often feels small and insignificant. I have fought against the way it shrinks and simplifies my life, and I have sometimes been frustrated by the way it fills all of the spaces and leaves no room.  As we fight against it, and wish for bigger better things, we allow seeds of resentment and bitterness to be sown.

But, in the last couple years, the truth of the life I’m living as a mom has slapped me right across the face. Sometimes, quite literally. The truth is that mamas die a million small deaths all day long. Perhaps the life of service and sacrifice that I’ve dreamed about is right in front of my face. Perhaps leaning in and reconciling with the dying that fills my days could be the key to unlock the life I sometimes feel I’m missing.

Friends, we mamas might have all the worldly comforts that make us feel like our days should be easy.  We might enjoy the comforts of beautiful homes, and minivans, and organic meals, and Starbucks stops. But, there is no peace for the mama who won’t die a thousand times, on a thousand days.

As we are willing to die in every corner of ourselves, we open ourselves up to new and better and fuller life.

Perhaps not whipping my body into shape after giving birth is not a failure, but an opportunity to discover life and joy in the death of my vanity. Dying to self is giving your very body to be stretched and scarred and changed. I give my body.

Perhaps I’m not less-than because motherhood has killed brain cells. I have frantically looked for a child who I’m holding on my hip. True story. But perhaps my distraction and preoccupation is not a sign that I’m now less worthy. Dying to self is giving your mind to organize and facilitate seeing that the needs of everyone else in your home are met before your own. I give my mind.

Dying to self is cleaning the messes that threaten your basic human dignity – the ones that leave you looking for the emergency biohazard hotline.  I give my dignity.

A place in me that once cared about some respectable thing now holds the lyrics to the Wild Kratts theme song. Dying to self is giving yourself to care about the little things…the names of all the dinosaurs, the microscopic boo-boos, the math homework. I give my interest.

I can feel embarrassed by my swift tears or sudden panic when it comes to my children. But dying to self is giving your heart to care about the big things…the illnesses and injuries that make our heart stop, the heartbreak and the grief of watching your children suffer or be in danger. It’s the giving of your heart in a way that you can never take back. The giving to a love that makes your heart beat right out of your chest, and makes you feel wildly alive and wildly in danger of being crushed. I give my heart.

The daily grind of chores doesn’t make my life small. Dying to self is giving all of the in-between moments to launder and clean and feed. I give my hands.

Dying to self is letting your family change and shape your goals and dreams, whether you are working tirelessly juggling work and home, or you’ve given up a hard-earned career to stay home.   I give my dreams.

Dying to self is being the rock against which my children can crash the wild waves of growing up. Dying to self is keeping steady for their uninhabited and unfiltered and underdeveloped BIG feelings to find their boundaries in the safety of my arms. I give my comfort.

Dying to self is looking with grace-filled eyes after being slapped across the face by a tiny person. It’s shepherding in love after being yelled at for some horror like offering the wrong lollipop color. I give my pride.

Only as I lean in and give myself away can I find peace and freedom. If God sees me, and I’m within his call to the life of sacrifice, I don’t need to fight to be seen. I don’t need to resent my husband for his freedom to leave the house, or my children for their ingratitude. There is a harmony in the song I’m singing.

And it all feels like worship.

My spirit gives a resounding “Yes!” to overseas missions and living among the poor. But I long to see us mamas shout a similar “Yes!” over the life of sacrifice that lies before us as we simply open our eyes in the morning (or in the night), with a willingness to do another day.

Nature points to this deep truth that we only find our life by giving it up. I long to see us fall each day like the seed, treasuring the promise that our death will bring new life.

As I talk with my mom friends, we still find ourselves feeling like being a mom is supposed to be easy and fun. The words of little old ladies who tell us with screaming toddler in grocery store line to “cherish every minute” echo in our heads. But I’ve watched my friends give up careers, and hobbies, and personal space, and clean shirts, and the last brownie. I’ve seen them die a million deaths. We get dirty with it.

And yet, somehow the world has us convinced that we’re doing it all wrong. Somehow we feel it doesn’t matter. We feel we need to do more, and better. And get out and serve in a way that counts.

Stepping into motherhood is risky in a ultimate sense. We allow the Lord to rip our heart out and give it legs. Ladies, this thing requires faith! I don’t say any of this out of pride, but to proclaim out loud that the devil, the Enemy of our hearts, has no right to steal the joy that comes from motherhood being a service unto the Lord.

If we are willing to lean into the life of self-sacrifice that is laid out before us, mamas, we can spend our lives in the sweetness of those feet-washing moments. You have an opportunity at every moment of the day to give your life away. And sister, your Father in heaven sees you!

The world fights against this motherhood thing with a force of self-indulgence and self- advancement. While some positions come with power, influence, lofty titles, impressive salaries, something to say at a cocktail party. Motherhood comes mostly with messes, failures and invisibleness. I think this is no surprise to God.

So, let’s let the seed fall. Let’s die the million deaths, on purpose. And let’s watch and wait as new life and joy spring up in your days.

My dining room table is under there somewhere.

What I Never Knew about the Father Heart of God

christian mom blog
To my eyes, nothing but a masterpiece of love

No matter what the day holds, there is something I know to expect as my children climb into bed at night.

There is something about seeing my children rest their heads down on their pillows at the end of the day…  Something about the curves of their faces, and the bend of their eyelashes, the rise and fall of their chests… Something about the way middle daughter pulls a blanket up to her chin… Something about the way my eldest easily pours out all the words for which the day ran out of space… Something about the way my son sighs deep and smiles soft and nestles close, body and soul… There’s something about the way my toddler wiggles in her bed until I tuck her in just so…

No matter what chaos precedes, there is something in this moment, each and every day, that summons a thousand kisses and a tender tuck of the curl behind the ear.  Something inspires me to cup the face and whisper the word of blessing and affection.  Something calls for my fingers to outline the angelic faces and scratch the satiny backs.  Something invites me to forget the offenses of the day, the heaviness of my eyelids, the weariness of my soul…  and to remember only the ferocity of my love, the integrity of my acceptance, the vastness of my gratitude.


And it all spills right out of me.


The impassioned tenderness I would feel for my children is a thing I simply did not grasp before becoming a mother.  I never knew how my heart would enlarge with every miracle of life.


And looking back, I see that before I climbed into the heart of a parent, I had not well-imagined the father heart of God towards his children.


There are dimensions of God’s love for us that cannot be contained in our limited understanding…but, nevertheless, as I feel the kind of love for my children that seems unable to be squeeze into the limits of my heart, the picture I have of God’s love gains new color and contrast, new depth and beauty.


Far more often than I’d like to admit, I see an image of my heart towards God reflected in a toddler who refuses to receive help, or a little one who cannot seem to submit to my authority.  I see how easily I trust my own judgment over God’s, despite knowing better.   I assume God is against me when I don’t get my way.  As I have the parental wisdom that my child should not run in the street, no matter how their little bodies long for the freedom, my God has a higher perspective of the things that will hurt my heart, no matter how I might long and ache and moan.


As I sometimes need to press my little one into her carseat for the buckles she resists, sometimes, the gentle hand of my Father God restrains me, and says “Not yet” or “Not in this way.” And,  I squirm with all of my irritation and assumptions about how He must not be that good.  As parents, we lovingly set boundaries for our children – to keep them safe or guide their hearts.  As my children push and resist and defy, my heart cries out with “Hey, I’m on your team!  I am FOR you!  Trust me!”


In the same way, I feel God’s call for me to trust the depth of his love, the purity of his will.


The first time a child of mine fell asleep in my arms was the last moment I considered feeling guilty or ashamed for falling asleep during a prayer.  As I felt the joy and adoration of my child’s body melting into mine, I saw afresh that God’s heart towards me is exceedingly tender.


The first time I watched my child fail on the journey to learning something new – like the thousand falls on the way to learning to walk – that was the last day I perceived impatience from God towards my weakness.


The first time I saw my child run his heart out and lose, or the first time he proudly offered me a mishmash work of art as a gift specially designed for me… these were the last times I felt from my God that I hadn’t been good enough to please him.  Jesus covered our sin, and God’s heart towards us is pure delight.


I still forget sometimes, but there’s a new truth in me…


As I watch my children stumble into new broken revelation about who God is, and why he made them, I am assured of God’s pleasure as I seek him with my limited understanding, with my confused and often incorrect theology.  In the same way that I love to hear the name of Jesus come out of my daughter’s tiny mouth, even if to say “Jesus is so cute!” or “Jesus is in my sippy cup!,” I see that God simply loves to hear me call on his name.  He delights as I lean my breath of a life and my ephemeral body of dust into his mighty eternal chest.


As I watch my children face life’s brokenness – the kind that is not at all good – I feel God’s heartbreak over the way our sin and the brokenness of the world has brought us pain and suffering that he did not design.  I feel His eagerness to hold me, to bring comfort and healing and redemption, when I face hardship.


Being a mama is changing my view of the father heart of my God.


As I imagine God’s heart towards me now, I imagine the tenderness of His hand as he leads me through life’s broken places.  As I beg my own children to trust me, I am endeared to God’s caring, and my own lack of understanding and perspective.  I know the reality of his higher and broader and deeper understanding.  I feel his unwavering longing for my good.  I sense the weight of the eternal perspective he has on my heart and life.  I feel his wisdom in allowing me life’s trials for the sake of my freedom, for the sake of winning my heart.


My eyes are becoming clearer to see that yes, love is the force that drives me to tell my child not to run in the street, or to allow their little failures for the sake of their growth and refinement…and likewise, love is the force that drives my God.



As I imagine God’s heart for me now, I see him holding out gifts for me to take and open and enjoy, and I hear my childish whines about how I don’t like the color of the wrapping paper.


As I imagine God’s heart for me now, I think of the magic and fun of genetics — how the features of a face, the color of eyes, the shape of cheekbones are passed between generations.  I think of how my husband and I study the faces of our children saying “He has your mouth” or “She has my eyes.” And I feel God studying me, his image bearer, proudly proclaiming: “She looks like me!”


My husband and I go on a date and end up looking at pictures of our kids.  We can’t stop thinking about them when we’re away.  It’s a little embarrassing, but we are fiercely grateful and mildly obsessed with these amazing little people.  How much more does God’s love for us never end, and our name never leave his mind?  As I imagine God’s heart for me now, I think of a father who is beautifully preoccupied with me.


As I imagine God’s heart for me now, I hear his words of blessing infusing me with courage.  When I embark on a new challenge or adventure, I feel him speaking confidence to proceed, and gently warning me not to wander too far.   I can almost hear His voice echoing in my own encouragements and cautions, as I send my sweet ones out on their bikes.  Only His voice is pure love, free from anxiety and fear.  His voice makes me long to rest in his covering.


Though God is the picture of a perfect parent, and I most certainly am not, I find that I can relate to God’s heart in this holy time of parenting young children.


The father heart of God is a beauty to behold.  I invite you to let the tenderness you feel towards your children endear you to the heart of God.  Let your imagination rest on His pure delight in you.  Imagine His eyes exploring the curves of your face, and wondering at the beauty of your soul.  Imagine His warm giggles when you lift your broken works of art to Him.  Imagine his bent knee to lift you from your failures and skinned knees.  Imagine his tears over your heartbreaks, and imagine him gently catching those from your cheek in a bottle.  Imagine his pride when you are his hands and feet on earth.  Just like you pull out a photo of your child to show to a friend, God loves to show the world His glory and goodness in your very face and life.  Soak in his tenderness, and let it change you.  Let it put a bounce in your step, like that of a child who knows he’s loved.


My beautiful friend, today, let your imagination wander to a Father God who is kind of obsessed with you.