Parenting: A God-Sized Task

I’ve said it before and I’m sure this won’t be the last…

Parenting is hard and no one fully prepared me.

Noooooo one.

No one sat at my baby shower and told me the hard-fast truth about the difficulties that my womb-dwellers would eventually cause. No one stood up and grabbed the proverbial microphone and shouted warnings about the painful sacrifices and the scary unknowns that would accompany the precious moments of parenting. No one handed me a gift, grabbed a muffin, and then looked me square in the eyes and said, “Listen mama…some day this baby in the belly is going to be screaming at the top of his lungs, ‘I hate Adam and Eve,’ while simultaneously questioning the sovereignty of God at age eight, and you’re gonna stand there shocked with not a clue as to how to deal. NOT A CLUE.”

No. One. Did. Any. Of. This.

And ya know what…that’s okay. Because had they, I would have probably either not believed them, refused delivery, or lived in fear until age 8.

Friends, parenting is hard. REAL hard. 

Sure, there’s the difficulties of sleepless nights, feeding, reflux, and helping your children not bite the arms of others. And yes, there’s the struggle of deciding on what to feed your child and how to feed your child and where to send your child to school and when to send your child to school. And a million other struggles in between the weaning, the teething, and the potty training, and then there are MORE.

How do you teach them respect and kindness? How do you help them think about others? How do you model the Gospel and how do you consistently and fairly discipline? What about modesty, sexuality, and “stranger danger?” And how about the do’s and don’ts of asserting their will while also humbling loving others?

On and on it goes.

Parenting seems to be a continual journey of beautiful blessings and memorable milestones mixed in with a bunch of “Oh-my-word-how-do-I-even-deal-with-this” kind of moments, along with a steady undercurrent of wanting to tear your hair out. Let’s be honest, people. That’s the skinny on parenting.

And a few weeks ago, I was there.

Standing on the stairs of our basement, I looked on as our oldest son ranted and raved.

“I hate Adam and Eve. I hate them! If they hadn’t sinned, then we wouldn’t sin! I hope they don’t get to go to heaven!”

Is this real-life? Is. THIS. REAL. life? Over and over, I paced the top of the stairs.

I was shocked by his anger, overwhelmed by his sentiments, and a little scared by his line of questioning. And just when I had swallowed my shock and mustered my mouth to open itself, he began a new tirade.

“And if God is powerful like you say He is, then why wouldn’t He just put an end to sin and take us to heaven right after they ate the apple?!?!?!? Why didn’t He just take away our choice to sin?!?!?! Why did He even make the tree and the apple?!?!?!”

(mic drop)

(mouth drop)

(mama drop)

I’m not sure how many minutes passed, but I know there were tears running down my face, and my words were a mumbled, jumbled mess of stammers and stutters. Fumbling through my fears and working my way through my shock, I attempted to empathize with his frustrations and normalize his questions. I walked through the Gospel of God’s plan; I reminded him of the big-ness of God’s ways and the small-ness of our understanding; and I reiterated the faith involved in belief. I encouraged him to wrestle with these questions, pray about these questions, and continue to trust God with these questions.

I held him; I hugged him; and I silently begged the Lord to meet us on those stairs.

There were no simplistic answers for these big questions and though I knew that in my Christian-brain, my Mama-brain felt a little overwhelmed.

As I tucked him in that night, tired from all his ranting and exhausted from all his crying, I sat outside his room.

I prayed for his little heart and his big questions, and I asked our Big God to help our little selves.

In that hallway, I felt so small and so unsure…so needful and dependent.

And ya know what?

I think that’s all a part of God’s big and beautiful plan for all of us scared and overwhelmed parents.

He calls us to a God-sized task, so that we have countless opportunities to be child-like in our faith.

He calls us to steward and shepherd these big responsibilities, so that we would remain humble, dependent, and ever-seeking of His endless wisdom and forever strength.

He calls us to the impossible, so that we would seek His face for the possible

I believe it. I do.

Days after his “Adam and Eve Rant,” he raised his hand during a breakfast devotional and said, “I think God wants to give us choices to love Him. If He didn’t give us choices, then that wouldn’t be loving.”

Smiling with tears in my eyes, I simply said, “Yes, I agree.” And when he left the table after a bowl of fruit and a plate of toast, I thanked the Lord for His work and for His commitment to our faith.

A few days ago, in preparation for my Sunday School lesson, I stumbled upon the words of Solomon in 1 Kings 3:7-9.

“And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”

Did you catch that?

The soon-to-be-King comes to the Lord in such a needy, overwhelmed way. He admits his smallness, acknowledges his weakness, and asks for the wisdom of God to do a God-sized task.

In the face of leading a nation of people, Solomon raises his small hand.

He doesn’t ask for a curriculum; he doesn’t request a manual; and he doesn’t demand all of the answers. Nope. He simply asks for HOLY HELP.

And ya know what?

I think that’s the very posture of parents that God desires most.

Small. Needy. Dependent. Humbled. Asking. 

Friends, we won’t have all the answers and we don’t need to…because He does.

So whether you find yourself in a conundrum over discipline, a struggle over feeding, a worry over schooling, or a shell-shocked moment with a child who wants heaven withheld from the man and woman who ate the apple, may we put to the test the words and promise of James 1:5.

 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.





“Mommy, I Want to Win ALL the Races!”

When she reached my legs, she was a mess of hot, defeated tears. Bumbling and mumbling, her sobs drowned out the specifics of her angst. I had no clue what was wrong, but I was confident that something was not right. With her head buried at my knees, her little body heave-ho’d with emotion.

Grabbing her from below and bringing her to my face, I wiped her tears and simply asked, “What’s wrong, girl?”

Attempting to gather some air and compose her words, she breathed out, “Mommy, I want to win all the races,” and then she burst into another round of tears. 

Holding her for a few more minutes and arranging her matted silk into its normal places on her head, her body stilled and her crying ceased. Again, I ventured into another round of questioning.

“Sweet girl, what happened?”

“Caden and I are playing airplane races, and he has the longest legs, and I don’t always win.” Her words were a tad huffy and her tone a lot frustrated.

“Ahhh. I see. It’s hard to lose, isn’t it?”

Nodding her head but refusing to affirm my answer with words, I could tell that she understood my empathic response.

“But I want to win ALLLLLL the races, Mommy. I don’t want to lose. I want to be the best!” 

I shook my head in complete understanding and simply said, “I get it, girl. Mama gets it.”

As I held her on my lap, my heart retraced its steps to the ball field where we had sat earlier in the weekend.

Wrought with frustration and ticked about our son’s current playing position, I had been mad too. For nine, straight games, he had been placed in the outfield. Moved from the action and his usual position at 2nd base, our son was occupying the grass and mama-bear wasn’t thrilled. In fact, I was straight-up annoyed. Since April, he had spent a majority of the game in the diamond of dirt and this unexplained change was hard for all of us.

Why wasn’t he playing where the action was?

Why was someone else getting the spotlight?

Why wasn’t he where he always was? 

Why weren’t they rotating? 

And though I wasn’t able to admit it in the moment, the Spirit had stirred my haughty heart after I left that field in a huff of my own. And as I sat in that Sunday pew (less than 24 hours later), my mind was finally able to own what my pride wouldn’t acknowledge when I had been sitting in that Saturday lawn chair

I, too, had wanted ALL the best. 

I, too, had hated SECOND best.

With my pencil in hand, I scribbled-confessed my sin on the pages of unlined white.

Lord, I confess that I was comparing while I was on that ball field. And while I was comparing, I was also tearing others down. Lord, I confess that I was coveting the position of other players. I confess that I was jealous and wanted what I perceived to be mine/his. Lord, I confess that I was angry when I didn’t get what I wanted or what I thought he deserved. Lord, I confess that my pride was idolizing that position and that my heart was angry in the face of what I perceived to be injustice. Lord, forgive me for being angry when I didn’t get the best. 

I know it’s not pretty and I know it’s not the perfect image that we want to proliferate on the pages and walls of our social media platforms, but it was true.

Mama doesn’t like the backseat.  

And truth be told, maybe you don’t either.

Because the truth is, our hearts don’t like the small positions and the tiny spots. Nope. Our hearts like the big spaces and the lofty places and when we don’t get them, our hearts can throw a tantrum that can look a whole lot like a little girl in tears, or an angry mama on a lawn chair, or vying brothers named James and John and their 10 cronies.

James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came up to him. “Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us. “What is it? I’ll see what I can do.” “Arrange it,” they said, “so that we will be awarded the highest places of honor in your glory—one of us at your right, the other at your left.” 

When the other ten heard of this conversation, they lost their tempers with James and John. Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.” Mark 10: 35-37, 41-45

As I finished writing out that Sunday, sin-confession in the margins of my journal, I drew an arrow and wrote at the bottom, “Oh, how unlike Jesus, Jessica is!”

In the face of injustice, Jesus sacrificed.

In the face of injustice, Jesus served.

In the face of injustice, Jesus set down.

In the face of injustice, Jesus SAVED.

So unlike…so very, very UNLIKE Jessica.

In fact, Jesus sacrificed, served, set down, and saved the countless other “Jessica’s” that would vie for placement, jockey for position, and become undone by anything other than the very best and the absolute first.

Jesus died for ALL the “Jessica’s” who want ALL the best. 

As I held my little girl tightly in my arms, my mama heart felt deeply for the little girl who sat struggling in my lap. And so I did the same thing for her on Monday that I did for me on Sunday, I prayed for the Spirit to humble her heart; I prayed that He would conform her spirit into His image; I prayed that He would help her battle her pride and resist her need for position; and then I bear-hugged her little body.

Oh, Lord…turn our hearts of pride into hearts of praise and turn our eyes from our earthly positions and toward your heavenly presence. 




Babies, Bottles, and Our Broken Worship

Climbing the stairs to his room, I excitedly opened the door. With big, sleepy eyes and outstretched arms, he looked so cuddly in those terry cloth jammies.

The clock read 8:12, and I was so excited to see him. I was looking forward to those early morning cuddles and those silly giggles of his.

With all the sing-song sap that a mama can muster, I happily exclaimed, “Hi baby! Good morning!”

And what was his response to my excitement?

“BA-BA! BA-BA!! BA-BA!!!

With wild eyes and a shifty head, he turned his gaze from me and started surveying the room.

The truth was, he was looking for milk, not his mama.

And though I knew it probably shouldn’t sting as much as it did, it did.

After two nights of being away from him, I was excited to be together again. I had been looking forward to his excited smiles when he saw me again, and I was hoping for a squeal or three. I wanted to be with him, and I wanted him to want that too. But he didn’t. In that moment, he didn’t.

Focused on his wants and desirous of the milk, he wasn’t concerned with the one who brought the milk, he merely wanted the milk.

Trying again, I called out and even reached out to him with my arms. “Hey buddy! Mama missed you! I love you!

Batting my arms away and running to the other side of the crib, he shrieked again, “BA-BA! BA-BA!! BA-BA!!!

My mama heart sank.

Why didn’t he care that I was there? Why wasn’t he desirous of me? Why was the milk taking precedence over his mama? Didn’t I matter more than those 7 ounces of cow-produced liquid? 

As I reached for him, the initial sting started to feel a little hot with hurt and before I knew it, a bitter irritation had settled over my spirit.

I’m tired of being a vending machine. I’m tired of being a need-meeter. I’m tired of being used as a genie in a bottle of warmed milk! I want to be WANTED!

I really have no clue why it bothered me so much that morning because truth be told, it has probably happened before. But as I reached for that bottle and graciously handed shoved it in his direction, I feel like the Holy Spirit had orchestrated the entire moment…or at least my awareness of it.

As I grabbed for a clean diaper and a fresh wipe, the Spirit reached for my heart.

Jessica, I think there has been a time (or few) that you, too, have entered my Presence only to ask for my Provision.

The words were not audible but the whisper of conviction was loud in my soul. I couldn’t un-hear His whisper, and I couldn’t un-think the thought.

It was just as true for me as it was for the baby in the crib.

I, just like him, have looked past my Father and asked for the favor. I have shifted my gaze from His Presence and searched for the present. I have overlooked the Giver and sought the gift. I have neglected the Heavenly and reached for the handout.

And though God is entirely unlike me (a finite being who is easily wounded, often needy, and imperfect in ALL my ways and responses), I can’t help but think that the God of the Universe desires for us to want Him too.

Why do I believe that to be true?

Because the Creator of the Universe took the time to fearfully and wonderfully create us. Not only did He create us, but He sought communion with man and woman in the Garden. When man and woman sinned, He covered them and sent them out. Did He leave them? No. He loved them, provided for them, rescued them, delivered them, set their feet on dry ground, and covenanted with them. He led them, fed them, protected them, fought for them, and gave them an inheritance. He spoke to them, tabernacled with them, and even outlined the ways they could worship Him. He gave them judges, appointed them kings, sent them prophets, and promised a Messiah. He came to earth to be with them, performed miracles for them, discipled them, forgave them, died for them, resurrected for them, and even promised to come back for them.

From the beginning of time, He has been making a way for His people to know Him, love Him, fear Him, worship Him, believe Him, trust Him, and dwell in His presence.

16 times throughout the Old Testament, God refers to Himself as a jealous God–a God who is jealous for His Creations to worship, know, love, and delight in Him. Friends, God isn’t jealous for something that isn’t His. No, He wants all of us because we are all of His.

And though He delights in hearing our requests and though He is a good, good Father who wants to mercifully bless us with gracious gifts from His heavenly hand, He wants our worship before our want-list, and He wants our hearts before our hungry hands.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

SEEK HIM and HE will fulfill all your eternal heart-necessities. 

Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”

SEEK HIM and HE will give you what He knows you need. 

John 4:14 says, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never first.”

SEEK HIM and HE will satisfy your soul with all that is necessary. 

So when we enter His presence, may we not yell our want-list into His ears; may we not forego His presence to seek His presents; and may we not neglect His Name on account of our needs. But rather, may we seek His face and do as the Psalmist commanded in 100:4, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.”

For truly, He is a God who deserves all of our delight and warrants all of our worship! And in HIM, all our needs are satisfied.





I’m Evie, NOT Short!

Our girl doesn’t cry too often. In fact, she rarely cries. So when I heard the big sobs in the backseat, I was concerned.

“Evie-girl, what’s wrong?”

With a voice filled with anger and a face full of tears, she said, “That big girl in gymnastics told me that I was the smallest in the class!”

“Oh. I’m sorry to hear that. How did you feel when she said that to you?”

“I felt really mad and angry! And I felt really sad, too. That was NOT nice of her, and I don’t like that she said that.”

“I’m sorry, Evie. What made you angry and sad about what she said?”

“Well I’m NOT the smallest! I am five, and I am NOT a baby!!!”

Immediately, more tear-filled sobs came from the backseat.

“Did she say that you were a baby?” 

“Well no, but that’s how she made me feel.”

“Ahhh. That makes sense. I can see how you might have felt that way, but that’s not what she said. Right? And we don’t know that her intentions were to use her words to make you feel that way. Right?”

Still hot with some anger, she responded, “Well I am NOT the smallest.”

Knowing that she was indeed the smallest in her class and not wanting to avoid the lesson that could be learned from the “ouch,” I leaned in.

“Well…is it possible that you are the smallest in your class?”

Sheepishly but knowingly I heard her mumble, “Yes.”

“Evie, those words that she used were words to describe you, but they don’t have to define you. You are the smallest in the class, and that is okay. When God made you, He didn’t call you short, He called you fearfully and wonderfully made.” 

Quietly listening from the backseat, I went a little further.

“And when you introduce yourself to others, you don’t say, ‘Hi, I’m Short,’ you say, ‘Hi, I’m Evie,’ right?”


“And when God made Evie, He made her more than just short, right?”

With an edge in her voice, she agreed.

“What else does God say that you are?”

Reluctantly and with a fair bit of ‘tude, she said, “He says I’m forgiven and loved.”

“You’re right! And no amount of earthly words to describe you will ever define what He says you are and what He’s created you to be. And His words are the most important.”

It was silent for awhile, and I let it be.

As we drove, I couldn’t help but mull over my own words and the repeated Truths.

Jessica is not defined by a title; she cannot be reduced to her abilities; she is not the sum total of her size; she is not determined by her good and bad deeds; and she cannot be deduced to the roles she plays and the tasks she performs.  

Jessica is a treasure of the King, a chosen creation, and a forgiven child. Jessica was bought with a price, purchased with blood, and redeemed by a Savior who called and equipped her to bring glory to His name. Jessica is a heaven-bound daughter whose identity is defined by His unfailing grace and determined by His perfect mercy. 

Jessica is defined by His works and not anything else that she, or the world, attempts to describe her as. 

Interrupting my thoughts, our little gymnast spoke from the backseat.

“Mommy, it’s okay that I am the smallest. My name is Evie, not Short!” 

“You’re right, sweet girl. Your name is Evie, and your perfect Creator didn’t make any mistakes when He made you short.” 

“Yep! He’s perfect, and He can’t make any mistakes!”

Friends, may we fight to see ourselves through the lens of Him, and may we celebrate in knowing that absolutely no earthly description can ever define the value of His beloved creations.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well. Psalm 139:14 



“Mommy, Today is Not Tomorrow!”

The sky was blue. The clouds were puffy-white. There was a sweet little breeze, and my girl and I had the entire park to ourselves. Swinging side by side, talking and chatting about anything and everything under the Spring sun, a deep-mama sadness came over my heart. Like those clouds above, the sun disappeared, and I felt a heaviness in my heart. Deciding that I didn’t want to keep it stuck inside my chest (bearing the weight of it alone), I spoke the words out loud.

“Evie, I am so so sad that my days of having you at home…all to myself…are going away.” As I spoke the words, the tears came.

Silently, she continued to swing.

“I just love you so very much and though I am really excited for you to go to school, I’m just really going to miss you a whole bunch.”

My girl who loves to talk said nothing.

I continued. “I’ve just really, really loved having you home and being little.”

And then as if she had had enough of my sad speech stuff, she got off the swings and looked me square in the eyes and said the words I needed to hear.

“Mommy, today is not tomorrow! We still have today! School is not until the Fall time!” 

Nodding my head while squeezing back a boatload of more tears, I conceded, “You’re right, sweet girl. You’re right. Today is not tomorrow.”

And in that moment and for the rest of the moments at the park, I repeated that phrase (over and over) in my head.

As I watched her bravely ascend the climbing wall…today is not tomorrow. 

As I watched her blonde bob glisten in the sunshine…today is not tomorrow. 

As I watched her swing her pink kitty in the baby swing…today is not tomorrow. 

As I watched her arms grab each of the monkey bars…today is not tomorrow. 

And as I repeated that beautiful phrase into the recesses of my heart and mind, I found myself noticing all of the little details. Like a sponge, I was soaking in the moments…sopping up the beauty.

Instead of letting worry wring my heart empty and my mind dry, I chose to embrace the truth of my little girl’s words.

Today is not tomorrow. 

And as I spent the rest of our minutes soaking and sopping the beauty of the present moment, the Spirit impressed upon me the words of Matthew 6:34.

Since I memorized it in the NIV version, these are the words I recalled as I chased her around the park.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The spirit of her words reflected the Spirit of His.

Later, when I got home from the park, I decided to look up the words of Matthew 6 in other versions, and I found myself continually encouraged as I read. Same TRUTH, different words.

And then I landed on the MSG version of Matthew 6:34, and my heart was un-done.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.


I felt like the Spirit hit me over the heart with a 2×4.

Jessica, you are missing how the Lord is working RIGHT now.

You are missing the blessings of today when you are worried about tomorrow.

You can’t soak up the moments of today as you attempt to live in tomorrow.

Stop straddling, Jessica, and stand in the moments where I am working TODAY! 

All of it. ALL. OF. IT. was entirely true.

I know we’ve heard it a million times over, but the hard fast truth is…worry is a joy sucker; it’s a moment-stealer; and it’s a blessing-taker! It takes the fears of tomorrow and pushes aside the provisions of today, and it draws us away from the how the Lord is moving in our current moments…how He’s providing for our present! 

And isn’t that JUST what the enemy wants???

If we don’t see how the Lord is working and moving in our today, then aren’t we all the more prone to fear tomorrow?!? For truly, isn’t it His faithful track record that gives us hope and faith for the future?!?

BAM. There he is again. That devil! That real, deceitful enemy that thrives on stealing our joy and in turn, squashing His glory. That enemy that loves for us to question the goodness and provision of the Lord. That enemy that relishes in our buying into the lie that He’s holding out on us, and that what we have NOW is not enough for today or tomorrow.

Friends, He IS faithful and He IS enough. And because He IS, there is joy for both today and tomorrow!

As Hebrews 13:8 proclaims, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!

We can’t trust that our tomorrow’s will be the same, but we can trust that the same God who is working today will be the same God that is working tomorrow. And for now, we can soak up the joy and sop of the beauty of today’s provisions. For friends, today is NOT tomorrow! 



My Maundy Thursday Mess

If my alarm went off, I didn’t hear it. In fact, the baby was the first thing I heard this morning as my eyes opened and saw the numbers on the clock.


It was 7:34 AM, approximately 34 minutes later than it was supposed to read. At this point on a Thursday morning, I should have been adding last minute things to the oldest’s book bag, feeding a baby a bottle, and helping the middle soul with a fashion crisis while securing my leather bag for a morning of work.

Instead, the clock is reading 7:34, and I’m still laying in a pile of disheveled sheets.

Busting down the stairs in our little cape cod, I clumsily greeted everyone and headed for my contacts. After a whirlwind of dry shampoo, toothpaste, and some new eye liner, I emerged with a messy bun and a need for coffee.

After kissing the oldest goodbye and feeding the baby, I turned my attention toward the clean load of dishes that was waiting in the dishwasher. Since I had a few moments to spare before needing to leave, I decided to tackle the cupboard-ready dishes. As I pulled, stacked, and placed the dishes, I realized I hadn’t seen or heard our Evie Rae for over 15 minutes. And if you know Evie, that’s a LOOOONNNGGG time to not hear or see her. Hastily, I called for her.

“Evie! Where are you? Evie?!”

From behind her brother’s bedroom door, I heard her muffled voice.

“I’m in here, Mommy!”

Opening the door, I found her sitting on the bedroom floor in a pile of organized Legos.

“Evie, what are you doing, sweetheart?”

“You asked Caden to pick up and organize his Legos last night, so I thought I would do it.”

I was speechless.

“But Evie, that wasn’t your mess to clean up,” I responded in humble shock.

“I know, but I decided to show love.”

Tears welled up. And just as soon as those tears welled up and the words reverberated in my head, I realized that there couldn’t be more apt words for a Thursday morning.

In the rush of the morning and in the chaos of the scrambling, I hadn’t remembered the sacredness of this symbolic Thursday. I had been busy and hurried and because of it, my heart hadn’t had time to reflect and ponder.

But as I stood in that room with my little girl, the one who was knelt on the floor in a posture of service, I couldn’t help but repeat the same words I had just repeated.

“But that wasn’t your mess to clean up.”

And as we finalized the last-minute Thursday morning details before leaving the house and driving to the sitter’s house, my girl and I marveled at the beautiful parallel of her selfless act and His sacrificial love.

It’s true; it wasn’t His mess to clean up.

Hanging on that cross, He died for my mess.

Suffering on that hill, He bled for my mistakes. 

In absolute perfect holiness, He cleaned up a mess that was NONE of His responsibility, but ALL of His choice. 

We created the mess.

We screwed up the plan.

We made a disaster of His beauty.

We rejected His offer of perfect communion.

And with arms outstretched and a will bent, He cleaned up the mess. 

He wiped away our guilt.

He took away our transgressions.

He bore our shame.

He received our stripes.

He took on the mess of the world, and He made it His very own.

And on those wooden beams, He redeemed our mess in a way that our best efforts could never, EVER do.

In a posture of humility and in an act of unmerited and undeserved grace, He took our tremendous mess and gave us infinite mercy and indefinite love. 

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:3-11








Teach the NO; Respect the NO

Have you ever had one of those parenting moments where you’re tempted to jump in and stop things before things get “out of hand?” Those moments where you’re tempted to step in before someone or something “blows up?”

Sitting in the front seat of our KIA, I drove toward downtown while simultaneously eavesdropping on the conversation behind me, contemplating what my parenting role should be.

Squash it or Give it space? 

Already, she had asked him several times to “stop” the teasing. I could hear her emotions flaring, and I could hear the little thrill in his big-brother voice.

“Caden! I asked you to stop!”

As I dodged the potholes, I made a conscious decision to let things unfold and step in if needed. I wanted to give them a chance to “work it out” and “work it through,” and I wanted to see how they would or wouldn’t use the tools they’ve been given.

“Caden, please stop doing that. I don’t like when you say that.”

Continuing to tease her about her platonic friendship with another little boy he retorted, “Is he your boyyyyyyyyfriend?”

“Caden! Respect my ‘no!’ I asked you already!”

In a hushed tone, he pushed her one more time. “You love him, don’t you?!”

And that was when mama bear dodged the 47th pothole and stepped in from the front seat.

“Caden? Did you hear your sister?”

Sheepishly, he answered with a quiet “yes.”

“And what did she ask of you?”

“She asked me to stop.”

“And what did you do?”

“I kept going.”

“You’re right. You disregarded her ‘no,’ and you kept pushing the boundaries.”

“I’m sorry Evie. I know I was wrong.”

Though his voice sounded remorseful, I wasn’t sure his heart was repentant. So taking advantage of a captivated buckled audience, I decided to take the issue to the deep-end.

“Caden, what would you do if you saw a sign on a beach that said, No Swimming! Sharks Seen?”

“I would stay out of the water!”

“And why would you stay out of the water?”

“I wouldn’t want to die!”

“Yep! You would heed the warning because you would see the threat as imminent and real. You would take it seriously because you take death seriously. So why didn’t you take Evie’s warning seriously?”

With embarrassment in his voice, he answered, “Because I didn’t take her seriously.”

“You’re right. And you didn’t think that death was a possibility, did you?”

“No,” he answered.

“You know what, Caden? Though physical death was not a threat, death in some form is always at stake when we don’t heed the warning and respect the boundaries.” 

A pin goldfish could have dropped, and I would have heard it. The backseat was all ears.

“How did death enter the world?”

“Eve ate the apple,” his sister responded for him.

“You’re right! And did death happen right away?”

“No,” he responded.

“You’re right; it didn’t. Eventually, Adam and Eve would physically die but in the meantime, other things died. Their time in the garden died; their constant access to God died; their ease of life died; the respect and love in their relationship with each other died; and their purity died. SO many things died because Adam and Eve didn’t heed the warning. So what can die when you don’t respect your sister’s no?'” 

Silently, he paused in the backseat. With his sister and I waiting with bated breath, we listened as the words tumbled from his mouth.

“Well, our fun could die, and her trust could die, and our relationship could die.”

“You’re right, buddy. And do you want the fun, trusting relationship you have with each other to die?”

With zero hesitation and complete sadness in his voice, he exclaimed, “I don’t want that. I am so, so, so, so sorry, Evie. Would you forgive me?”

“I forgive you, Caden, and he’s not my boyyyyyyfriend,” she emphatically replied.

As we drove the rest of the way to our destination, there was an air of conviction and an awareness of both relationship and respect. And not once, after that, did I hear any further pushing of boundaries…at least in that day.

I found myself thinking about that “car conviction” for the rest of the day, and I’m not sure I’ve really stopped since.

Friends, we need to respect the “no” of others.

Friends with kids, we need to teach our kids to heed the “no” of others.

Because I truly fear that if we don’t respect the “no” and teach the “no,” then we are bound to raise and perpetuate a generation of souls who not only abuse and bully one another, but who also spread death in other areas of their lives.

“No” is not an invitation for coercion. “No” is not an occassion for guilt-tripping. “No” is not a space and place for manipulation. “No” means “no.”

“No” does not give you the right to bully. “No” does not give you the right to threaten. “No” does not give you an opportunity to silence the voice of another. “No” means “no.”

As image-bearers, we have a responsibility to teach our children to respect one another.

As image-bearers, we have a duty to teach our children how to love one another.

As image-bearers, we have a burden to teach our children the consequences of not heeding the boundaries of His Word, of our society, and of others.

As image-bearers, we must DO the things we TEACH. 

And if we refuse to do that or if we become lax in stewarding that responsibility, then I fear we are perpetuating a world where life is squelched and death is near.

In short, we could be raising children who become adults who don’t respect the “no’s” of others.

Friends, I won’t pretend that teaching the “no” is always easy and respecting the “no” is always fun and YET…I believe a “yes” to respect and a “yes” to obedience can be both life-giving and life-saving.

May we be people who love and respect each other well and may we remember that when we don’t, “sharks” are always lurking!