If You Want to Get It Right This School Year

I forgot her water bottle.

The first day of kindergarten, I had my daughter’s backpack stocked, her school supplied labeled, her lunch bag filled with her favorite food plus a special note using only words she could read—but!

I forgot the bleeping water bottle.

I am a terrible mother.

If You Want to Get It Right This School Year

All summer long, I thought about this day, the first experience of navigating math and music and recess without Mom, without my steady presence to help her make choices and pull her socks up and open her yogurt lid. And here is it, kindergarten. We have officially grown. My baby must rely on her own courage now.

Because clearly she can’t rely on her mother.

Ugh!!

Seriously, we had even talked that morning about the milk system at lunch time. “You have cold lunch today, so you can order milk for lunch. Mrs. L will ask you if you want white or chocolate. I don’t mind if you have chocolate.” I stood in the kitchen at eye level with my five-year-old, instructing her on the ways of the school lunch routine.

“But Mom, what if I just want water?”

“That’s fine,” I said. “You can say ‘no thank you’ to the milk and just bring your water bottle down to the lunch room with you. Sound like a plan?”

“Got it, Mom!”

Great. Except it’s kind of hard to follow through when your mother FORGETS TO PACK YOUR WATER BOTTLE, ARRRGHHHHH!!!

First day of school

Yes, yes, I hear you. It’s only water. So what if a water bottle was on the school supply list and every child in the building besides mine had one. They have drinking fountains at school. They have a drinking fountain right in the kindergarten classroom, for crying out loud, just three feet from my daughter’s desk. No big deal, right? But she’s five. Little things are a big deal in kindergarten. I so wanted this day to go perfectly for her, and I certainly did not expect to be the cause of any insecurities.

Add it to the list of mom mess-ups.

Do you have them, too?

I’m not just talking about water bottle incidents, but bigger mess-ups, like blowing up at the kids, locking yourself in the bathroom, losing your gratitude or your perspective or your sanity.

Since the start of the school year I’ve been reflecting on my last eight years as a stay-at-home / work-from-home mom. God blessed me with the chance to love on my kids while they were small. But I wonder, did I do it well enough?

Did I appreciate them enough?

Did I hug them enough, read to them enough, hold my tongue enough?

Was I enough?

Upside down

Like me, you can look down another school year and swear, I’m going to do it better this time. I’m going to stay on top of the crazy calendar, build in more time to live in the moment. I’m not going to bark at my kids to brush their teeth or do their homework. I’ll chaperone field trips, I’ll remember to sign the slips. I’ll plan date nights with my husband and my children, too. I’ll make organic meals, I’ll keep the house clean, and I won’t spit venom at my family when they mess it up again.

I will love my children for who they are, not comparing them to somebody else or expecting them to be someone other than the person God designed. I will train and nurture and love with intention.

I will!

I want to.

I wish so badly that I could.

And yet I know—tomorrow I will mess up again. You will mess up again. We’ll forget water bottles and backpacks. We’ll run late for school. We’ll snap and scold, we’ll get tired. We’ll turn our attention to Facebook instead of our children’s faces.

We will all continue parenting from this place of imperfection because we are human, not God.

And that’s not a bad thing.

Because our imperfection leads us to seek One who can do it better. One who is smarter and kinder and more full of grace. And the Bible says he will give us the power of his strength, his wisdom, his guidance and love. Imagine what we can do with that! With God, we can finally tackle those nasty women we become when we’re angry, worried, distracted, fatigued, selfish, perfectionist and discontent—those alter-egos of motherhood, the force behind all our mess-ups and mom guilt.

So you want to get it right this school year? Me, too! Me, too!

But we can’t.

God can.

“With your help I can run through a barricade; with my God I can scale a wall . . . It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect” (Psalm 18:29, 32).

My book, The SuperMom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood, explores our ugly emotions and strongholds as mothers and offers victory over them through faith in God. This is not a book about how to raise kids; it’s about raising moms. With relatable stories and careful application of scripture, I hope to encourage and inspire moms everywhere to rise up against the villains that beat us down, and to learn to love our families—and ourselves—the way God intended.

Today I’m happy to tell you that The SuperMom Myth is now available for pre-order on Amazon. The book will officially release in stores on December 1, but you can claim your copy now. In a few weeks I’ll announce some valuable bonus gifts and giveaways for anyone who pre-orders one or more copies, so be sure to save your Amazon e-mail receipt! You won’t be eligible for the bonus goodies without one.

The SuperMom Myth book cover

Remember, we’re in this together, moms. You, me, and our Heavenly Father who would never leave a water bottle sitting on the kitchen counter. I confess that after my kinderbeaner got settled at her desk for the day, I ran back home for her bottle then sped back to school where the kind office ladies let me sneak it into my daughter’s lunch bag in the hallway. What can I say—I’m still a neurotic mother.

And of course afterwards, when I returned home for the second time that morning, guess what I saw hanging over a dining room chair?

Her jacket.

Heaven help me. I think I need to read my own book.

Blessings,
Becky


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Can I Offer You My Fish?

“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9)

Hospitality is not my forte. I love to plan parties, decorate cakes and daydream about giving my mantel a trendy makeover—but when it comes to executing these crafty ambitions, my klutzy side takes over.

I’d always considered this a shortcoming. But then my daughter and I read a story in her children’s Bible that shifted my thinking. It was the miracle of Jesus feeding five thousand people with one boy’s lunch.

Can I offer you my fish

“What’s special about this story?” I asked my five-year-old.

“Ummm. . . the boy gave Jesus his fish?”

“Yes, the boy was very kind to share his fish and bread with everyone,” I nodded. “But what did Jesus do with it?”

“He made it grow bigger so everybody could eat.”

“Yes! Isn’t that amazing? The lunch basket wasn’t magic. The boy wasn’t magic. But Jesus has super powers. He is the star of this story.”

Ahhhh. My daughter got the picture just as a light bulb went off in my own head.

Sometimes I’m like that little boy.

All I have to offer—my mismatched coffee cups, my carpet stains, my glitter phobia—is nothing but an unglamorous peasant lunch. Who’s going to feast on that?

I want to host a play group, but my house is too small.

I can’t possibly have the Bible study meet in my living room. They’ll trip over the trampoline.

I’d love to invite some ladies over for tea and crumpets, but I don’t know what a crumpet is and I’m pretty sure I’d burn them if I found a recipe.

What if they judge my living room walls plastered with school art projects? Does the kitchen smell like last night’s garlic sauce? When was the last time I dusted the light fixtures? Aaaaaaaack! Too much pressure! Shut the fridge and lock the doors! I can’t take it anymore!

But so what? Maybe just the thing Jesus needs in order to feed the multitudes is my wimpy basket. Host the play date anyway. Serve the Bible study snacks on the trampoline. Skip those crumpets and buy donut holes. I’m so easily embarrassed by my hospitality deficiencies that I forget God can transform my meager offering into something bigger, better, beyond imagination. The wow factor is his job, not mine.

The issue isn’t really my lack of hostess flair. It’s pride. Oh yes, let’s just call it what it is. There’s the kind of pride we take in great accomplishments, and then there’s the pride of self-consciousness, the fear of not measuring up. Either way, pride shines a spotlight on me rather than on the One who made me—klutzy, yet with a purpose.

Blue birdhouse

Back to the story of the boy and his lunch. Jesus didn’t just feed people’s bellies, you know. He filled their souls. Let’s not miss the fact that he didn’t actually need that starter batch of fish and loaves in order to work a miracle. Jesus can create those out of thin air. Could it be he wants to use our ordinary gifts and steps of faith to launch great things? How can I let my pride get in the way of that?

“I think we should invite some friends over to play next week,” I told my daughter as we closed her Bible for the night. “We could have a special snack.”

“Oo, I know!” Her eyes lit up. “Chocolate cake with marshmallows?”

“Well,” I smiled and kissed her forehead. “I was thinking something else. How about donut holes?”

Blessings,
Becky


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Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
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If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like The Day I Get New Carpet, When the Queen of Sheba Comes to Visit, How to Love Your Family More Than Your House, and If You Were in My House Today

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One Good Reason to Brave a New School Year (even if you feel like crying)

I joined him on the patio to watch the sun rise over the lake. My husband smiled and lifted his coffee mug. This was the final morning of our family vacation to the Wisconsin northwoods, and I wanted to inhale the scenery, the sounds, the unblemished air.

I wanted it to last. To squeeze shut my eyes and press my hands over my ears and pretend like nothing was waiting for me at home. After nearly a week of family fun and freedom, I should’ve been a noodle of relaxation. But instead the knot in my chest gripped tighter.

Kindergarten.

One good reason to brave a new school year

All summer long I ignored it. From the last day of preschool through the Fourth of July until the flip of the calendar to August, I managed not to panic.

Not when the store shelves sprouted piles of notebooks and markers and Elmer’s glue on sale.

Not when we shopped for gym shoes and lunch bags.

Not when the September hot lunch schedule showed up in my inbox.

Not until last week, when my buffer slid away. We purposely planned our vacation toward the end of the summer, one last hurrah before school takes over our energy. Up until last week I could safely say summer was not winding down because we had not yet gone on vacation.

But now? Vacation is done. And I’m counting days to the biggest transition of my parenting career so far—when the stay-at-home mom releases her day job to the school system.

My baby is ready to fly.

But I’m not ready to let go.

Crocs at the lake

All week in the northwoods, I fought a lump in my throat. Tears sprang at random times, taunting and embarrassing me. I’ve always been a sappy mom. But even I was surprised at my guerilla emotions.

In the car, I’d look back to see my five-year-old with earphones hanging from her ears, eyes glued to the DVD player, a silly paper hat of horns fastened around her head—memorabilia from Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty. Half of me laughed, while the other half let tears spill down my cheeks.

At the horse ranch, she nestled in a saddle with me through the 45-minute trail ride, chattering nonstop about unicorns and dinosaurs and donuts and God. I soaked up her voice, giggled, kissed the top of her head and felt the saline sting my eyes.

At restaurants, mini-golf, downtown shops, the pool—everywhere we went, I watched my younger daughter more intently, with my heart undistracted, wide open, vulnerable, as if I could memorize her and capture these moments untouched by the outside world, the world that tells me she is growing up.

She needs to grow.

God designed it that way.

And I cannot hamper what he has begun.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6, NLT).

I take that verse as a promise not just for my daughter but for me, too. What God started five years ago when my baby was born—even before that, three years earlier when her big sister changed my entire life as I knew it—he will finish in his perfect time. Which means although my girls no longer need me to wipe bottoms and spread peanut butter between the hours of 8 and 3, my work is far from done. I’m the mom, the nurturer, the original teacher and principal and lunch lady combined. It’s a big job that doesn’t end when the academic year begins. In fact I hear it gets tougher toward middle school, Lord help us all.

Three Lakes

I’ve asked myself if I’ve been a good enough mom during the years my girls were all mine. If I’ve loved them the way God loves them, and valued them as his children first, not mine. I’ve even wondered how I’ll justify my time at home while the girls are in school, but those questions dissolve quickly when I think about this blog and my upcoming book and all the work I’ll finally be able to focus on without babysitters or interruptions or mom guilt. There are some perks to school.

The bigger question, though, is this. Do I trust God?

Do I trust him to watch over my children, to encourage them when I’m not there, to grow and challenge them, and to draw me closer to him in the process? Because letting go of our kids is not really an issue of courage or safety. It’s a matter of trust. Do I believe God when he says he will continue the good work he began the day I first held those beautiful tiny bodies in my arms and looked upon their perfect miracle faces, the very image of God himself?

Do you?

Let’s trust him together. I will enter this school year leaning on God’s promises, and you can do the same, amen? Then we can lean on each other as well, knowing God is in the center. Whether you’re a mom of school-age kids or stuck in the nighttime feeding stage, whether you home school or virtual school or send your kids off to school like me, no matter if your precious ones are starting preschool or kindergarten or high school or college, we all have one thing in common.

God loves our children more than we do.

And that’s exactly why they have to fly.

Blessings,
Becky


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
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If this post encouraged you, please share it. You might also like When You Wish They’d Stay Little Forever, She Still Kisses Me Goodbye, and Kindergarten Is Not a Big Green Ugly Monster

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When Your Oven Blows Up, Bake Cupcakes

Sometimes the best laid plans blow up in your face—literally.

Before my husband’s little brother got married a couple summers ago, I co-hosted a wedding shower for my future sister-in-law. My job was to bake the cupcakes. I’m talking from-scratch chocolate lime batter with homemade buttercream icing and sugar cookie toppers frosted to look like lime slices.

In other words, a two-day project.

When your oven blows up, bake cupcakes

For weeks leading up to the shower, I scoured Pinterest, browsed cake supply shops, and baked three test batches to tweak the recipes just right. So when cookie baking day finally arrived, I was as pumped as a contestant on Cupcake Wars. Let’s DO this thing!

Sugar cookie dough—mixed, chilled, rolled and cut—check! I popped the cookie sheet in the oven, dusted flour off my apron, and turned toward the sink to scrub mixing bowls.

But then. Zap! Bam! Bam! Zap!

I spun around and saw fireworks flying inside my oven. White and blue electric bombs flashed and sizzled behind the door glass. I sucked in my breath and watched, helpless and horrified, as the heating coil burst into flames.

Noooooo! This cannot be happening.

Three dozen cupcakes due in less than 36 hours—and my oven just blew up. Do you think God was trying to tell me something?

I wondered. Maybe I shouldn’t bake these cupcakes. What if God is protecting me from poisoning everyone! Even my co-hosts encouraged me to drop the spatula and call a bakery. Don’t stress yourself out, they said. Nobody will know the difference.

Nobody but me. I’d worked so hard and party-planned for so long, darn it, I wanted some spectacular baked goods to show for it. So I drove seven blocks to my husband’s grandfather’s kitchen and baked those crazy cookies anyway. The next day, I hijacked his oven again to bake the cupcakes. That evening, halfway through beating an enormous bowl of frosting, my handheld mixer burned out and spun wafts of electric smoke up my nostrils—but I chose to laugh instead of cry.

Call me stubborn.

Or call me faithful.

“For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

Are you in a tough spot right now? Do the circumstances surrounding you look impossible to climb? Maybe they’re not a sign from God to quit, but rather an invitation from God to do great things.

Think about it.

Noah built an ark.

Moses walked across the dry sea floor.

Joshua demolished Jericho’s walls with trumpets and shouts.

Mary raised Jesus—God in the flesh—as her firstborn child.

What if they had said, forget it. Can’t do it. Too many obstacles, too much opposition.

What if they had looked only at their circumstances, and not at their God?

I know my cupcakes weren’t miracle material. But they did get me thinking about how easily we can give up and call it God’s will. Why shouldn’t we be inconvenienced, work a little harder, or pour our aching hearts into something that matters? Maybe the most worthwhile pursuits are the ones that require us to walk with God through the kitchen fire.

The morning of the shower, I arrived carrying three dozen labors of chocolate cupcake love. And they were limetastic. So the next time your proverbial oven blows up, remember this. God might not be telling you to quit. He’s simply teaching you to persevere.

Blessings,
Becky


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
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For the Family: Three Simple Family Rules That Work

I’ve tried a lot of discipline and training systems over the last eight years of parenting. Charts, rewards, stickers, tickets, you name it. Some solutions worked and some didn’t, but none of them stuck for long. Until I discovered the three-rule system.

Three Family Rules That Work

This simple system is brilliant. And I take no credit for it. I got it from a friend, who got it from her mother-in-law, who used it to raise her own children—i.e., my friend’s husband, who is an outstanding pastor and Bible teacher, which I figure counts as living proof that this system works, right?

Okay, sure, my kids might not be theologians one day, but I certainly hope they will grow up to make an impact for the kingdom of God. As their mom I pour my energy day after day into preparing them for that life mission. The three-rule system helps.

Are you ready to discover it for yourself? Join me on For the Family today for Three Family Rules That Work. I’ll see you there!

Blessings,
Becky


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
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It’s Okay to Talk About the Kids on Date Night

Last weekend, my husband and I enjoyed a long-overdue date. We went out for pizza, ordered one dessert with two forks, then steered our minivan toward the mall to burn an hour before bedtime. The kids’ bedtime, that is. On date night, my husband and I have a strategy: stay away until the children are snoozing. This is our time. So what did we do?

Shopped for the kids.

It's okay to talk about the kids on date night

I wandered through the Target aisles carrying two pairs of size 6X pants over my forearm. Halfway between cosmetics and the dollar specials I spotted a familiar face.

“Hey, friend!” I called to my book club chum as she emerged from the boys’ clothing racks. Her husband stood beside her, and I smiled at them both. “Date night for you, too?”

“Yes!” Her face brightened. “So I see we’re not the only ones who spend it at the mall.”

“Buying clothes for the girls.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Is that sad?”

She twisted her mouth and held up a hanger—Spiderman pajamas. “You’re not alone.”

We laughed all the way to the checkout.

Some experts say moms and dads shouldn’t talk about their kids on date night. Like parenting is a light switch we can flip on and off at will.

I disagree.

Oh, I understand the reason behind it—parents are a couple first and foremost, and we need to retain common interests beyond our children. Kids and romance make poor bedfellows. Of course.

But good parenting requires good communication. Sometimes, we need to be able to talk about the kids when the kids aren’t around—when we’re free from the pressures, routines and noise of our toy-infested household.

Of all the joint pursuits my husband and I share, parenting is certainly among the most important. Why should the topic be off limits just because we’re locking eyes across a restaurant table? Maybe that’s finally a good time to express our hearts—to hash out questions, insecurities and hopes, and to laugh about this beautiful, hectic life in ways we can’t when the kids are running circles around our sofa.

“Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? The fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you; you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep” (Psalm 127:3–5, MSG).

My husband and I chose to have a family because we believed it would enrich our relationship, and it has, beyond measure. Therefore I won’t apologize for celebrating that even on date night.

Especially on date night.

So go out and buy those Spiderman pajamas if you must. And let’s stop building rules around what date night is supposed to look like. The time will come soon enough when our kids are grown and gone, and then every night will be date night once again.

Until someday, when we’re wrinkled and gray, our children will talk about us on their own date nights. As in—we really should go to the mall for an hour so Grandma can put the kids to bed.

Blessings,
Becky


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
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If You Think You’re Small and Ordinary

“Which hand?” My younger daughter stood facing me, hiding both fists behind her back.

“Hmmm. . .” I played along, tapping my fingertip on my chin. “This one.” I pointed to her left arm.

If You Think You're Small and Ordinary

“Yes!” She swung her fist around and opened her palm. Nestled in the crook of her hand sat two tiny yellow flowers, each just millimeters wide but perfectly formed and detailed—delicate saffron petals with green stems like trailing embroidery threads. She turned her wrist and emptied the flowers into my hand.

“Sweetheart, these are beautiful!”

“They’re for you, Momma! I found them outside. I love you! Bye bye!” And off she ran, back to her toys and grassy yard adventures. I sat in my office chair studying those dainty gifts, so small and ordinary and yet—they might as well have been diamond earrings, precious as they were to me.

Sometimes the little gifts mean the most.

I need to remember that.

On the days when I feel like I have nothing to offer God. When my floor sweeping and lunch packing and smiley-face toast making seems pathetic compared to grander pursuits. I mean, I’m not building an orphanage in Haiti. I’m not delivering gospel tracts to homeless shelters or giving millions of dollars to world outreach. Heck, I’m not even making the money that pays for the Cheerios in my daughter’s breakfast bowl.

I’m just being a mom. Getting up every day and praying that God will help me to honor him with the way I treat my family. Putting one foot ahead of the other, one breath after the last, wiping those bottoms and cutting those crusts and texting “I love you” to my husband.

I am so very small and ordinary.

But to God, I am enormously special.

And so are you.

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” (2 Timothy 1:9).

Wow. Think about that. God called us—he chose us (before time even began!)—to live . . . what? A mundane, nothing-to-offer life? No.

A holy life.

And not because we’ve done anything magnificent to prove ourselves. What we call ordinary—the carpooling, casserole-baking, homework-helping life—God calls purposeful. He calls it holy.

Huh.

Imagine that.

Yes, you’re a mom. And that means what you do matters. God sees it. He values it. He knows your heart and he gives you your blessings. Try counting them today, and see if you don’t start to agree that this small and ordinary life is holy indeed.

Later that day, my daughter pressed her hands against my cheeks and leaned in until our noses touched. “Momma? Did you love those flowers? The pretty ones from outside?”

“Oh yes, sweetheart. They are very special.”

“I just know you love them, Mom.”

“You do? How do you know?”

She patted my face with her palm and gazed straight into my eyes. “Because they’re from me.”

Ah. Sweet girl. She gets it.

Blessings,
Becky


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
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Cut Me Some Slack, Little People

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

Did you know the Golden Rule applies to parenting? This never really occurred to me—until my daughter broke the rule.

Cut me some slack, little people

“Mom, you should NOT have done this!” My five-year-old stormed into the bathroom where I stood hooking silver hoops into my earlobes. She glared at me, her lips pursed and a fist perched on each hip.

“Pardon me?” I turned from the mirror to face her. “What exactly did I do?”

“You left the car door open all night!” she hissed. “Dad just went into the garage and saw it!”

Oh. I did? My brain rewound to the night before—a family dinner outing to Applebee’s. I recalled unloading two kids, two water cups, a bulky purse and a Styrofoam to-go box out of the minivan, so it’s entirely possible my juggling fingers forgot to push the button on the automatic sliding door. Sure, that sounds like something I would do.

“Well, I’m sorry. I’m human, and I make mistakes.” Annoyed, I held my accuser’s stare. “And I don’t appreciate your tone, young lady. How would you feel if I scolded you every time you made a mistake?”

Whoa. A sudden realization cut my lecture short. I do scold her for making mistakes. Darn.

There’s a difference between correcting and criticizing. We grown-ups know this. At work, in marriage, among close friends—accountability is healthy. But if somebody’s going to point out a weakness, I want them to be nice about it. Tell me the truth, of course, but please—do it with gentleness and respect.

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love” (Ephesians 4:2, NLT).

I’ve failed my kids at this. I didn’t even realize it until my daughter dished out a taste of my own chiding. How many times have I reacted to harmless errors with impatience instead of grace? I’m ashamed of the examples. Can you relate to any of these?

Me: Who took the masking tape?
Daughter: I’m sorry, Mom. I used it for a craft, and I forgot to put it back in the junk drawer.
Me: No more masking tape for you.
What I wish I’d said: We can all be forgetful sometimes. I’ll help you look for it.

Me: Ouch! You stepped on my foot!
Daughter: I’m sorry, Mom. I was practicing my ballet.
Me: Can you dance somewhere else, please?
What I wish I’d said: The kitchen is too small for pirouettes. Let’s go in the playroom so you can show me your fancy moves.

Me: Okay, it’s time to add the cinnamon.
Daughter: Here it is, Mom!
Me: Aaack! You just poured cumin into our cookie batter! Now we have to start all over.
What I wish I’d said: Spicy cookies coming right up! {Insert crazy peals of laughter}

When my daughter harped on me for the car door blunder, I heard my ugly, perfectionist self in her sassy mouth. If I expect my kids to cut their poor mother some slack, then I must set the example first. More kindness. More forgiveness. More grace.

In other words, less me—and more Jesus. After all, how can any of us give grace unless we receive it from him first?

“So I left the van door open last night, huh?” I groveled to my husband.

“Yeah, no big deal.”

“Really? That’s not what the minivan police said.” I slipped him a sly grin. “But I’m glad you forgive me.”

“Of course.” He paused for a second and leaned in for the jab. “If the battery had died, though, then I’d be mad.”

Oh, how I love this family. Even when they scold me.

Blessings,
Becky


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This post is brought to you from the Time Out archives.

When God Doesn’t Give You What You Ask For

Hello, friends! I’ll be spending the next few weeks on limited media time, practicing what I preach by pouring extra love and attention into my family while summer is still in the air. Today’s post is an encore presentation, brought to you from the Time Out archives. I’ll be sharing some old favorites this month while I slurp popsicles and leap through the sprinkler with my girls. Thank you so much for reading and joining me on the mom journey with Christ as our guide. Blessings from my household to yours!

When God Doesn't Give You What You Ask For

I often wonder how my toddler’s mind works. And then I realize—it’s a lot like mine.

“Mommy, I have a good idea!” My daughter’s eyes sparkle, lit from a mysterious place deep inside her brain. Typically what follows is some sweet desire of her two-year-old heart, like, “I can wear my purple socks!”

Or. . .

“Mommy, I have a good idea! We can go to the park!”

Or. . .

“Mommy, I have a good idea! You can rock in my chair and I will go to sleep! I promise!”

When her idea seems reasonable, I acquiesce. Why not, eh? Initiative and creativity are traits worth encouraging. The little lady knows what she wants, and that’ll take her far in life.

But sometimes my daughter’s requests aren’t so healthy, and Mommy has to decline.

“Mommy, I have a good idea! I can eat pudding for supper!”

“No, sweetheart,” I crooned. “You need to eat your broccoli first.”

“No, Mommy.” She batted her eyelashes. “I really want pudding. It’s such a good idea!”

“Sorry, sweetie. Broccoli is better for you.”

“Hmmpf! No! I want pudding!” She stuck her thumbs in her armpits and scrunched her lips. I raised my eyebrows and opened wide for another forkful of my own broccoli.

Too bad, kid. Sometimes I just know better than you.

God says that to me on a regular basis.

“Hey, Lord, I have a good idea! You should bring us sunshine for our picnic on Saturday. No rain, okay?”

“Lord, I have such a good idea! You can give my husband a big fat raise, and I can stop clipping coupons!”

“I know, Lord, how about this. You take away my child’s fear of the dark, and the whole family can sleep again! Isn’t that a great idea?”

As if God is my short-order cook. I rattle off prayers according to my appetite du jour, and the Lord of the universe is supposed to whip up blessings like they’re a plateful of fluffy pancakes.

But sometimes, he gives me broccoli.

“Uh, Lord? What’s the deal? Didn’t I ask for pancakes?”

Eat up, kid, he tells me. Sometimes I just know better than you.

How do you respond when God doesn’t give you what you ask for? If you’re like me, you pout. Worry. Cry. Argue. Get mad at God. Cross your arms and scowl in true toddler fashion.

Maybe you even start to doubt God’s goodness.

“Lord, if you love me, why won’t you just give me the pancakes?! It’s such a good idea!”

Yes, my child. I do love you. And that’s exactly why I’m giving you the broccoli.

Trust me.

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:9–11, NLT).

“Mommy, why can’t I have pudding?” Still holding her arms tight to her chest, my daughter lifted her feet and kicked her booster seat in protest.

“Because,” I explained, “it’s not time for pudding yet. I know broccoli seems yucky, but it makes you stronger on the inside. Pudding is a reward for eating your broccoli.”

Ahhhh.

Out of the mouths of moms.

I get it, Lord.

{… Sigh …}

Thanks for the broccoli. Now maybe you could help me convince my toddler—sometimes there’s a better idea.

Blessings,
Becky


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
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Why Marriage Is Like Potty Training

I created a potty monster.

The first time my younger daughter tinkled in the potty chair, I cheered. For months I’d been desperate to slash the diapers from our grocery bill, and at last she had agreed.

Why Marriage Is Like Potty Training

“I’m a big girl!” She raised her hands above her head and clapped.

“Yes, you are!” I jiggled a happy dance on the bathroom tile. “And now you get a jelly bean!”

She earned six more jelly beans before that day was through. And again the next day, and the next.

Forget the diapers—now suddenly I dared to imagine scratching Pull-Ups from the shopping list, too. What a deal!

But then. About a week into our potty adventure, I lounged on a cozy chair in the family room. Kids were in bed, lamps were dimmed, and I reached for a book on the ottoman when a button nose poked around the sofa.

“Mommy, I have to go potty.”

“Okay, thanks for telling me. It’s past bedtime, though, so let’s make tinkles and go straight to sleep.”

“Yep, Mom, I sure will.” She smiled, squatted, and shuffled back to bed.

The next night, it happened again—twice. The following night, three times. Soon she was tapping my pillow at 2 a.m. insisting she had to go potty. Nature called on playground dates, shopping trips, chiropractor appointments, and car rides across town. One morning my daughter yanked down her pants every five minutes, expecting me to assist and cheer.

But I didn’t feel like cheering anymore. That potty chair was interrupting my life.

And I had asked for this?

Potty training is hard work, I grumbled. I should just slap a diaper on her bum and give up. Life was easier before the potty chair!

Do you ever feel that way about marriage?

At first, newlywed life is exciting. Surely I’ll be happy now, we think, with this man by my side.

But then one day that man leaves his socks on the floor. He forgets a birthday. He works late while his frazzled wife swaddles colicky babies at home.

And we discover—marriage is hard work. It begs forgiveness and self-sacrifice. It demands our attention, our agenda, and the deepest places of our heart.

Until sometimes we just don’t feel like cheering anymore.

He didn’t like my casserole? Fine. No more new recipes. He can eat hot dogs all week.

We’re tripping over laundry baskets, and he hasn’t offered to fold a single towel. Am I the maid around here? Well, this maid is keeping her uniform buttoned tight tonight, if you know what I mean.

I told him how I feel, and he laughed. Forget it. I won’t share my heart anymore.

Do you see? Giving up seems easier at first. But the risk of withdrawing is to wake up one day and realize our marriage hasn’t grown. It’s still in diapers.

Which brings me back to my potty monster. She’s five years old now and heading to kindergarten next month. Thanks to potty training perseverance, she’s been self-sufficient for a long time and ready to tackle the girls’ bathroom at school. Imagine if I’d given up two years ago. We’d be stashing Pampers in her backpack.

Without some necessary growing pains, we’ll never reach the next stage of maturity. And so it goes with marriage. When we persevere through the tough spots, our relationship grows up.

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4).

Now with the bathroom business far behind us, can you guess what’s next?

Learning to tie shoes.

Oh, yeah. Bring it on.

Blessings,
Becky


P.S. If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to Time Out by e-mail.
Each new member of my e-mail list receives a whimsical 8 x 10 printable for your home or gallery wall designed by Megan Hagel exclusively for Time Out subscribers. You’ll also get exclusive content in my monthly newsletter — fun stuff you can’t find on the blog.
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A version of this story first appeared as a guest post on Come Have a Peace. If it encouraged you, please share it. You might also like When Hubby Leaves His Socks on the Floor, Vying for the Driver’s Seat, and How to Marry Your Husband All Over Again.  

Linking up with: Playdates With GodTitus 2sdaysWedded WednesdayGrace at HomeThriving Thursdays, Intentional at Home ThursdaysMom 2 Mom Monday Link Up, Tuesday Talk, and Things I Can’t Say.