Bible Study and Bumper Boats

As the school year begins, many of us church-going-folks are signing up for small groups, Sunday School classes, and Bible studies.

How are you feeling about all that?

Excited? Ready to dig in and learn?

Or are you feeling overwhelmed? Discouraged? Maybe even disinterested? I’ve been there.

If that’s how you feel, this episode of Expect Something Beautiful is *just* for you. 🙂

When I felt stuck regarding Bible study, I learned a thing or two from being stuck on a bumper boat. (God uses the most surprising things!) Click the steering wheel on the bumper boat to listen.

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On June 23, 2013, Nik Wallenda set out to cross the Little Colorado River Gorge near Grand Canyon National Park on a tightrope. My husband and I were watching it from home. I was sitting on the couch in my bathrobe. The camera panned out to reveal the breathtaking depth of the canyon and the daunting length of the wire stretched from one side of the canyon to the other. It zoomed in on Nik’s tiny feet, which were snugly tucked into shoes that looked like black ballet slippers. The wire under his feet looked like twine. This is crazy! I thought. He’s never going to make it!

Nik began to place one foot in front of the other, inching his way along the wire. The wind was billowing Nik’s shirt and ruffling against his microphone. I couldn’t help but look down at the giant hole gaping below him. I felt dizzy.

“Do you think he’s going to make it?” I asked Ryan, hoping he would say that Nik was secured by hidden tethers or that this was an optical illusion.

Instead he said what we were both thinking, “I don’t see how he can make it.”

It was too intimidating. We expected him to fall. We expected a terrible end.

Skeptical Expectations Replaced with Hope

You and I can have a similar posture toward God’s ability to finish what He has set out to do in this dark world. We look upon life with skeptical discouragement. Politics, our health, the environment, the economy, national security, culture, our jobs, our churches, and our families seem destined to a terrible end. Circumstances intimidate us like vast gaping holes in the ground. We imagine the worst. We mutter, grumble, complain, and criticize. How can God possibly be up to something good when things look so bad? How can He win when it’s so obvious that He is losing?

I wonder how our negativity—particularly our distrust of God—affects us? I wonder if our negative forecast affects our children? When we shake our heads and speak about the terrible state of the world, are we missing an opportunity to create hope in the people around us?

What if we expected God to save the day like He said He would?

What if we expected Him to help us no matter how dire the circumstances or powerful the temptations?

What if we expected Him to be as powerful in the future as He has been in the past?

How would it change us? How would it impact our children and our world?

For the answers to these questions, let’s take a deep dive into Scripture. Read the rest of this post at!

Posted in Discipleship, Faith | Comments Off on What if We Expected God to Do Something Beautiful?

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Proverbs 25:11

It was one of those afternoons with a thousand commitments. The kids and I loaded the van with the snacks and bags and strollers we’d need in order to make the most out of our trip into town. The first stop would be to drop off our 13-year-old at ballet. We’d swing back around at the end of our excursions to pick her up. She was bringing a change of clothes, so she could go right from ballet to attend a volleyball game with our church youth group. After the little ones were buckled into their seats, she climbed into the passenger seat, squished her ballet bag between her feet, piled her clothes on the center console, and stashed a brush and a handful of hairpins on her lap. She’d fix her hair into a ballet bun during the 20-minute drive to the studio.

I had a million things on my mind. It wasn’t until we were a solid 10 minutes down the road that I finally exhaled and settled into the stretch of country road connecting our farmhouse with town.  I glanced over at my daughter. The visor mirror was open, and she was gathering her hair into a pony tail, holding a few hairpins between her teeth. I asked if she had everything she needed for ballet and money for the game. “Mmm hmm,” she mumbled through the hairpins. Then, I looked at the clothes that she brought for the game.

“That’s what you’re going to wear to the volleyball game?” I asked with disappointment in my voice. “With those shoes?” I added. “They don’t match very well.”

Read about the important lesson I learned by heading over to the enCourage blog…

Posted in Discipleship, High School, Motherhood | Comments Off on The Importance of Wisely Timed Words

Our pastor was dying of cancer. On weekdays, we’d receive updates about his treatments and his suffering. We’d beg God to heal and sustain him. Of course, we trusted God’s sovereignty and knew that He would do everything in love, but we also lamented that things were not as they should be.

In the dark days leading up to our pastor’s death, his preaching seemed supernatural. A thin, frail man would approach the podium, but as he opened his Bible and taught us about Jesus, he’d transfigure before our eyes! He’d become a young vibrant man, full of vim and vigor, with glowing cheeks and a strong body. At the end of his sermon, he’d pray, close his Bible and slowly—carefully—shuffle back to his seat as the transformation dissolved.

Halfway Healed

One particular week, our Bibles were open to Mark 8:22–26. We read that:

Some people brought to [Jesus] a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

I wish I could remember what our pastor said about the passage, but I can’t. I wish I had written some notes in the margin of my Bible or saved the sermon outline. All I can remember is that at the end of the sermon—after expounding on Scripture in all of the right ways and teaching us that, most importantly, Jesus came to heal our hearts that are blinded by sin—our pastor looked out at us and quietly said, “I do not know why Jesus did not heal this man completely the first time.”

His painful honesty settled over us like a blanket. Of course, we knew that he was actually saying, “I do not know why Jesus hasn’t healed me completely . . . and I do not know why Jesus hasn’t healed you completely.” We sat in silence, grappling with the mysterious ways of an all-powerful God.

Please read the rest of this powerful story on the True Woman blog by clicking here.

Posted in Discipleship, Ministry | Comments Off on Your Suffering Is Not the End of the Story

You’ve tucked your child in bed.

An hour later, you hear those familiar little footsteps…

What you do next could have a big impact on our child’s heart.

Last year, our 7 year old son went through a long season in which he couldn’t fall asleep at night.

He would try, honest.

Yet every night, when the old farmhouse was quiet for the night and his siblings were sleeping peacefully, our son would climb down from his top bunk in the boys’ room, come find us and say, “I just can’t fall asleep. There’s too much on my mind.”

Some nights, we’d just send him right back upstairs. “Keep trying!” we’d say. On our better nights – when we were miraculously patient – we’d listen as he talked about his fears, his joys, his wrestlings with God, his questions about faith. Then, he’d say, “The worst part is that once I start thinking about these things, I realize that I’m not sleeping yet and it gets me really upset!

God meets us in our sleeplessness.

And then, one night, something dawned on me that changed everything. I wrapped my arms around our son and savored the inner thoughts of a boy not unlike King David, not unlike Samuel in the temple of the Lord. When they couldn’t sleep, David and Samuel discovered that God Himself was pursuing them in the quiet of the night.

I told him so.

Son, you remind me of King David. Do you know that he would toss and turn in bed? He wrote many psalms from the joys, tears, and wrestlings that would come to his mind when he’d lay his head on his pillow at night.

We read Psalm 6:6.

“I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.”

and Psalm 63:5-8

“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.”

Psalm 16:7

“I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.”

and Psalm 4:4

“Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah”

Maybe the quiet time before sleep is a holy time when God has our kiddo’s full attention.

Sweetheart, your sleeplessness could be a blessing from the Lord. What would happen if you accepted it? What would happen if you turned toward our Heavenly Father to pray, rejoice, cry, repent, and thank Him?

I contrasted this option to that of stewing, worrying, and over-thinking things.

“Try not to think too hard”.

Hot Air Balloons, Evening Moon, Cappadocia, Turkey

I told him this story about a guy in a hot air balloon:

Did you know that there’s actually a phrase, “Try not to think too hard?” It’s referring to those times when people fixate on something so intently and then freak out. Imagine someone up in a hot air balloon. He has waited his whole life to ride in that balloon. The weather is perfect and the balloon sails through the sky peacefully. But while he’s up there, he begins to notice how small and fragile the basket is. He notices the fire being torched above his head over and over again. He thinks about how dangerous this is. He looks at the thin silk of the balloon and the manmade ropes that are holding everything together. He looks down and notices that the earth is many, many feet below him. These thoughts begin to crowd in on him. He’s afraid he’s going to fall and there is nothing he can do!

And then, he freaks out. I mean, really, freaks out!

Imagine how dangerous it would be for him to lose control way up there in a hot air balloon. Imagine what would happen if he cried, screamed, kicked, or jumped out of the balloon that was peacefully saving him. Imagine how his opportunity to sail across the sky would be ruined by his fear and overthinking.

He needs someone to calmly say to him, “Try not to think too hard about this”.

He needs to take a deep breath and to be strong in his mind.

He needs to trust God.

To notice the beauty all around.

To relax and enjoy the ride.” 

A few months later…

Sometimes a child’s once-intense struggle will suddenly disappear… and we don’t even notice. That’s what happened with this. Weeks had passed without those late night footsteps creaking down the stairs, without the calming conversations, but I hadn’t even noticed the difference.

Then one night when I was tucking the children into bed, making my rounds with songs, prayers, lotion, and cups of water, that sweet and strong 7 year old boy lifted his head from the pillow and said, “You know, Mom, I never told you how much our conversation helped me. Ever since, when I lay down to go to sleep, I always think about that hot air balloon. I tell myself not to think too hard and I decide to spend my time with the Lord instead of getting so upset.

How comforting to be a human in the care of our ever-watchful Heavenly Father.

How deeply comforting.

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

Posted in All Posts, Character Training, Discipleship, Motherhood | 2 Comments

Three years ago, I felt called to start a Women’s Ministry at our local church. I dog-eared a stack of Susan Hunt’s books and studied the material on the Committee on Discipleship Ministries website. I prayed and talked with other women about it. I presented a thoughtful proposal to our elders: they were enthused and supportive. Everything was moving forward… until I got pregnant with our fifth child. By the time I entered my third trimester of the pregnancy, I humbly told my husband and our Session that I had to “push pause” on the whole shebang. I didn’t have the energy or drive to continue. They were understanding, but I was disappointed and discouraged.

This wasn’t the first time I had to modify my commitments to the local church in order to tend to my life at home. In fact, it seemed like every time I offered my gifts to the church, I inevitably had a baby (wonderful!), or got sick (not wonderful!), or the kids got sick, or my husband traveled, or we moved, or we needed to visit family.

I felt doomed to inconsistency and undependability.

Being a daughter, wife, mother, and friend seemed diametrically opposed to my calling to serve the local church. Because my life ebbed and flowed so much, I believed that I was disqualified. I struggled with cynicism. Why should I volunteer when I know I’m just going to have to back out in 6 months?

Have you ever felt this way?

Head over to to read the 3 principles that have transformed the way I see my calling to serve the local church. I hope it encourages you as you pray about how you may use your gifts for the Lord.

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We want to share the good news about Jesus, but we are so self-indulgent.

Every morning, we gather at the breakfast table and thank God for our opportunity to learn and to develop our gifts for Him. We ask Him to use us in His world. Little by little, we want to learn how to love God and how to love people. Little by little, we want to share the good news with our friends and neighbors, near and far.

But I’ve gotta be honest with you: it’s hard! It’s hard to keep our eyes on Jesus when we are prone to focus on ourselves. It’s hard to offer our time and talents for Him when we have so many opportunities to indulge ourselves and to pursue our own pleasures. When I scan our schedules and budget, I’m alarmed by how consumed we are with ourselves. Even in our homeschooling, I’m tempted to make much of ourselves, while relegating Jesus (and the people He loves!) to the sidelines.

Lately, I’ve been asking God to give me more love for Jesus. I’m asking Him to help me guide our children toward living for Jesus, not for ourselves. 

May our prayer be, “More of you, Jesus. Less of me.” 

Here’s an Opportunity to Make Much of Jesus!! With Our Kids!! 🙂

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

Most days – during this season of our lives – the kids and I stay within the borders of our home, our town, our county. Every once in a while though, we get an opportunity to jump the hedges and reach out to the larger world.

This week, I heard about an awesome opportunity for us to share the gospel in India… and YOU can join us!

(This comes at such a wonderful time for us because our friends have recently adopted a precious child from India. Our kids have already been caring about India for the long haul of that adoption process. Now that they’ve met their newest friend – and are smitten – they will be even more invested in this opportunity.)

Did you know that 4 out of 5 people who believe in Jesus do so because of something that influenced them by the age of 14? In India alone, 22 million kids will turn 15 this year. Our family believes God has called us to do all we can to reach these kids before this great opportunity is missed.

A Free Opportunity to Learn about India Together

Would you like to join us in partnering with Mission India and Sonlight for a campaign called “Experience India“?

During the month of October, we can all learn how much people in India – especially kids – need to know Jesus! Over 400 million people there have never even heard His name. So, let’s do something about it!

Once you sign your family up, you’ll receive a FREE Adventure Pack (includes a free virtual reality headset) that will allow your family to walk in the footsteps of children in India – almost literally – through virtual reality! And once your experience begins, expect powerful videos, engaging devotionals, memory verses, special activities, and transformational stories from India that will captivate your family!

An Invitation to Raise Money for Year-Long Children’s Bible Clubs

There are no strings attached to the awesome opportunity to learn about India through “Experience India“.  But there is an additional opportunity!

In November, we’ll all have the opportunity to then raise money for Year-Long Children’s Bible Clubs, where kids sing songs, get homework help, and best of all, learn about Jesus. Let’s get creative in raising money – the kids can save their spare change, sell crafts, and earn money through odd jobs. We can ask friends and family to join us in supporting these Bible Clubs through a fundraising page.

Just $24 enrolls one kid, and Sonlight is matching gifts given by November 14, up to $100,000!

Join us in telling kids in India about Jesus!

Sign up for “Experience India” anytime until September 28th. Click here to learn more about it!

You and your child will learn about the children in India through the Virtual Reality Experience through the month of October. 

Then, you and your child can raise money to fund the Year-Long Children’s Bible Clubs from November 1, 2018 – November 16, 2018. 


Posted in All Posts, Discipleship, Family Fun, Sonlight | Comments Off on You and Your Child Can Share the Gospel in India this Fall

Have you ever played the Cooking Mitt Game at a party? The gist is that each person takes a turn unwrapping a gift that is hidden under layers and layers of wrapping paper. To make things interesting, when it is your turn, you don cooking mitts.

Each contestant clumsily gropes at the wrapping paper through the thick mitts – sometimes illegally using teeth – just to get one layer closer to the hidden treasure.

The simple task of opening a present is transformed into an epic adventure. You need grit and determination just to get a good handle on that wrapping paper, let alone give it a rip. Every time I play it, I get quite hilarious. My adrenaline gets pumping and I jump up and down like a little girl until I take my turn to thump around the box with my big, padded hands.

Lately, I feel like I always have cooking mitts on my hands.

Every day feels like a clumsy struggle: as if the good life is hidden in an overly-wrapped box and I’m trying to unwrap it, but can’t begin to get a good grasp on it.

(It should go without saying that when it comes to real life, figurative cooking mitts are not nearly as invigorating as the padded ones in the party game. Instead of feeling exuberant, I feel cloudy and distracted.)

I want to live a meaningful life for Christ, but I feel hampered by my sin. I embrace the day, but quickly feel encumbered by cultural demands, interrupted sleep, laziness, selfishness, the tyranny of the urgent, the daily grind, and an uncertainty about what I really should do with my time, energy, and gifts.

I find that all of this thumping around is a waste of time. We are only given one life. God doesn’t want us to clumsily grope through to the end.

How can we know that we are stewarding our lives well before the Lord?

How can we feel satisfied that we are obeying and honoring God from day to day?

Recently, I felt so disheartened by the distractions that blurred my life. I cried out to God for help, “Please help me out of this blundering! Must I wear these cooking mitts??”

That’s when I read “Tyranny of the Urgent,” in which Charles E. Hummel writes, “Not hard work, but doubt and misgiving produce anxiety as we review a month or a year and become oppressed by the pile of unfinished tasks. We sense uneasily our failure to do what was really important. The winds of other people’s demands, and our own inner compulsions, have driven us onto a reef of frustration.

Hummel wonders how Jesus made the astonishing claim, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17: 4).

“We wonder how Jesus could have talked about a completed work. His three-year ministry seemed all too short.” Hummel writes that Jesus’ “life showed a wonderful balance, a sense of timing.”

Nothing inhibited Jesus from doing the things that mattered in light of eternity.

Nothing distracted Him. He didn’t clumsily bounce around from idea to idea, He wasn’t pushed-and-pulled from one urgent need to another, and He wasn’t laden-down by sin.

How did Jesus live free of the encumbrances that I know all-too-well?

The answer is found in Mark 1:35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

Hummel writes, “Jesus had no divinely drawn blueprint or schedule; he discerned the Father’s will day by day in a life of prayer. Because of this he was able to resist the urgent demands of others and do what was really important for his mission.”

These insights to Jesus’ focused and obedient life give me hope that I, too, may daily seek God’s guidance and empowerment to do (only) the work that God wants me to do.

When it comes to pursuing the Kingdom of God, cooking mitts are optional. In fact, they are highly discouraged. In Hebrews 12, we are compelled to,

“…throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

One thing is certain: Jesus did not wear cooking mitts.

So, off with the cooking mitts, my friend!

Life is not a blundering, silly game. We don’t have to grope around for the hidden meaning in each day.

Life is an intentional walk with the God of the universe; with the One who orchestrates all things, who doesn’t do a single, clumsy, misguided thing, the One who wants us to live with precision, focus, and intentionality.

That’s why we imitate Jesus, completely depending upon God.

We pray every day, asking our Heavenly Father to guide us through our day.

We ask Him for power to be and do the things He wants for us.

In the asking, we are putting ourselves in a posture of faith. God graciously grants our request.

When I begin my day by seeking God’s guidance and power, I can look back over the day and see that God did, indeed, guide me. He orchestrated work for me to do. He provided opportunities for me to obey Him, glorify Him, and love Him.

My life is freely His own.

This is just what I’ve always wanted: in my open hands is the gift of a God-guided life – one day at a time.


Posted in Discipleship, Ministry, Motherhood | Comments Off on Getting Your Hands on the Good Life: with Instructions for a Hilarious Party Game and the Most Important Daily Discipline of Your Life.

Our Morning Time is beautiful and dangerous…

Every day after breakfast, the children and I gather around the table for “Morning Time”. We light a candle and sing the Doxology.

Before you get any visions of sublime halos on our little homeschooling heads, let me give you a glimpse of how it really goes. This will pretty much sum it up: my son accidentally lit his hair on fire TWICE. Both times, he was leaning over his morning time binder when smoke began ascending from his head.

Although it looked like Pentacost, it didn’t smell like Pentacost.

An uproar of blowing, flapping, hooting, wailing, and laughing ensued.

Yes, we replaced the banquet candlesticks with a jar candle whose flame is less exposed. Ahem.

Also, you should know that when we sing the Doxology, all of the kids stand on their chairs with their arms upraised. I’d love to think that this is their outward display of passionate worship. It is not. They are competing to see who can be the tallest. I am forever mingling my worship of God with fear that one of them will topple over… into the candle, of course.

Nonetheless, Morning Time is a blessed time. I love the candle because it reminds us/ me of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our home. I love the Doxology because it reminds us/ me of God’s grandeur over the whole world. I even love that the children have created their own little traditions around Morning Time because it makes it something bonding, humorous-at-times, and special.


  • pray together,
  • sing our hymn-of-the-month,
  • read a devotional (currently, The Jesus Storybook Bible), 
  • memorize our poem-of-the-month,
  • memorize our Scripture passage-of-the-month, and
  • play a brain-warm-up-game like Spot It or Memory.All in all, it takes about 25 minutes.

My hope is that we’ll cycle through the same series of truth, goodness, and beauty every year so that by the time our children leave our home, they have these pieces firmly established in their hearts and minds. May they become the soundtrack, the mother tongue, the fabric of our family life.

Now that it’s April, we are moving on to a new poem, hymn, and passage of Scripture. Last month, we memorized Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43, sang “Holy Spirit Living Breath of God” and prayed/ read Psalm 23 and The Lord’s Prayer.  We’ll review them from time to time this year, but we’ll come back around to spend deep day-after-day time with those beauties next year, and the year after that.

“Thou, my best thought by day and by night…”

This month, we’ll be memorizing Gerard Hopkins’ “The Grandeur of God”, singing “Be Thou My Vision” and memorizing Romans 12 with its convicting and inspiring description of the Christian life.

Three free Printables for your Annual Memory Work…

Would you like to fill your soul with goodness, truth, and beauty? If you don’t know where to begin, consider coming right along on our annual path through 12 Hymns, 12 Poems, and 12 Passages of Scripture. These printables will take the guess-work out of  that looming question: “What should we memorize next?”

Enjoy this variety of pieces that build the human soul for life’s various trials and triumphs. These gems are also well-respected place in literary and/ or Church history.

All you have to do is download and print these beautiful PDF’s (designed by my friend, Ashley Munn).

Select one piece from each path.

Simply read or sing a portion or the whole of that piece every day for a month.

(Oh, and to make life even easier for you – and for “future me” – I already created direct links for each piece. Click here for that.)

    Submit your name and email below and I'll send these pdf's to your inbox, pronto!

    Posted in Discipleship, English Literature, Morning Time | Comments Off on What Should We Memorize Next? An Annual Cycle of Poems, Hymns, and Scripture.

    Is there anything worse for a mother than to feel like her child doesn’t love her?

    I think it’s one of the big silent aches of motherhood. We don’t talk about it often because it feels so personal, so humiliating.

    But it’s not the end of the world. I promise.

    In fact, it’s an invitation to hope, to look for redemption, to grow.

    There was a time when one of our children didn’t love me.

    Whenever I would tuck that little one into bed and kiss those soft baby cheeks, my child would stare at the ceiling, ignoring my affection. I’d say, “I love you, Sweetie,” and hear nothing in response.

    This happened night after night.

    During the day, I sensed a distance, a chill, a separation.

    It hurt so deeply that I tried to ignore it for a while.

    But ultimately, I had to face reality. I had to admit to myself, “Your child doesn’t love you right now.”

    As I lay my head on my pillow that night, heartbroken, I asked God what I should do. He showed me that I was causing the problem.

    When things began to turn around…

    I had recently had a newborn baby: I was exhausted and stressed. When I’d finally get the baby to sleep, the toddler would throw a massive ear-splitting fit. In my exhaustion and stress, I’d grab that toddler by the arms and harshly whisper, “Stop it!” (That, of course, was 0% effective.) The Holy Spirit revealed to me that every time I mistreated my toddler during the day, I was driving a wedge between us.

    I’m ashamed to admit that this is why my toddler didn’t love me and why my expressions of love seemed to fall on deaf ears. In a gush of tears, I repented of my sin and asked the Holy Spirit to strengthen me, soften me, and give me wisdom to win my child’s heart.

    I got to work the next day by sitting face to face with my child and apologizing for my impatience and harshness. I explained why I kept losing my patience, but ultimately took responsibility for my actions. I said, “I have been wrong to treat you this way. Will you forgive me? I’m asking the Holy Spirit to help me grow in patience and gentleness. You watch and see! He’s going to help me grow.”

    Miracles happen when God leads us to love…

    I’ll never forget how my sweet child looked at me in the eyes, nodding with all the understanding in the world. Throughout the next days and weeks, the Holy Spirit helped me to work hard to connect with my toddler. I apologized immediately if I ever lost my temper. I intentionally reached out for my little one through the day and committed to extending tangible, vocal, and physical love regardless of my child’s response.

    God impressed on my heart to never ask for a hug, to never demand an “I love you.” He led me to give, give, give. No strings attached – not even in the privacy of my own heart. That’s what the Holy Spirit was requiring of me, and enabling me to do.

    I learned that when our children treat us poorly, we are invited to imitate Christ: to love without expecting anything in return. We can treasure His example for us – for us – in Scripture.

    “Be ye kind, one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

    Savor Reconciliation…

    I’m glad to say that it wasn’t long before the chill dissipated and my bouncy loving toddler was returning kisses and hugs, making eye contact, and even initiating “I love you’s”. I’m glad to say that our love has been strong for years since and that we’ve never had a chilly season like that again.

    What I learned from that experience is that as parents, it is always our privilege to love unconditionally.

    As far as I can tell, children begin trying on “the prodigal son” role when they are 2 years old, easily finding reasons to reject us, to reject our love. Around that time, we too have a role to try on. When our children push back against us, our Heavenly Father invites us to emulate Him, to try on the love that He has always extended toward us: He invites us to be the prodigal’s father, ever loving, ever welcoming.

    I propose that in real time – as real humans – it looks like this…

    1. Searching for our contribution to the relational rift; asking God to help us see what we can do to win our child back.
    2. Confessing our sin and asking our children to forgive us, as often as necessary.
    3. Retelling the story of God’s grace toward us – and toward them – through Jesus, our Savior.
    4. Pursuing them, spending time with them, smiling at them, laughing with them, showing them that they are a delight to our hearts and that they are safe in our home.
    5. Forgiving, forgiving, forgiving them – sometimes confronting – but always forgiving.
    6. And loving tangibly, loving verbally, loving without demands as God, through Christ, has loved us.

    Ours is a call to lay down pride and put on humility, to exchange our hurt feelings for His forgiveness, to take our child’s anger to Jesus, instead of taking it to heart.

    In so doing, we will be obeying our Heavenly Father, who sees our obedience as us reaching our arms back to Him in love. “I love you, Daddy.” He hears. How deeply sweet.

    Then on top of that, per chance we will win the heart of our children and cry in relief that love has triumphed once again.

    “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3: 12-17

    (P.S. In this post, I’m speaking of young children here because I am not experienced with teenagers or young adults yet. However, I have a hunch that the process is similar. Moms of older children, we’d love for you to add your insight in the comments. Would you?)

    Posted in Babies, Discipleship, Motherhood, Toddlers | 5 Comments