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When You’re Pretty Sure You’re Failing Your Kids

I’m slamming cupboards and putting down breakfast bowls just a little too hard this Sunday morning. Before we’re out the door, there are tears and wails and I’m this close to calling the whole thing quits.

Driving down the road, the tension is thick in the car and this ugly truth glares bright:

We’re a car of busted up and broken people desperately needing some extra grace today.

You think you’ve got it all together and you’re doing fine and everything is being held together just perfectly but really, it’s all teetering on the edge of a chaotic crash. Because what is fine? It’s freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional.

So yeah, I guess I’m doing fine. How about you?







In the first moments of the day, I trick myself into thinking I’ve got a handle on this looking like Jesus business. How hard is it to follow that Carpenter Man when the house is quiet and you’re sipping hot coffee? And then everyone wakes up and our flaws start grating on one another and the humanity of it all collides.

We’re stumbling through the day and the whole time I’m wondering just how much I’m failing these babes staring back at me with sticky hands and wide-eyed yogurt covered faces. Because it’s never a question of if I’m failing.

The naked truth?

I’m a soul in desperate need of moment by moment grace, like a constant IV drip stuck in my arm. Unplug for one minute and I’m ten seconds from going down.

And maybe if you’re a mama, you can relate? Because this can’t just be me wondering a thousand times a week who in the world thought it would be a good idea to pick me to mother these littles.

It’s like a silent sisterhood where we nod and sigh and we’re all battling the deep doubts of shaping souls without crushing them. How do you pour out of your one broken and cracked vessel without mixing in your own filth?

That Enemy of ours, yeah, he’s quick to swoop in and start whispering all the ways we’ve failed, all the ways we’re ruining the best in those around us. Oh, but he’s a liar. He’ll claw and scrape and spit and twist to get us believing that we’re too busted up and broken to be fixable. And that we’re taking everyone down with us.

He’ll try to steal the joy and get us navel gazing to keep us from looking at the Cross.

Because it’s the Cross that signals his end and our beginning, that points us away from our mess and up toward the One who took on all that ugly for love.

It’s the Cross that shines like a beacon of hope in the midst of the worst toddler melt-down or teenage tantrum.

And it’s the Cross that says with bloodstained arms outstretched: You are not alone.

I’m with you. And I’ve got you.

The same God who split the sea for panicked Israelites, who fed the doubting tribes for 40 years, who forgave and blessed an adulterous murderer king, picked painfully imperfect fishermen as disciples and tapped a teenager to raise His son.

Yeah, He’s with you and He’s for you and He’s never once thought you were too much or not enough and that maybe He made a mistake?

He picked you to raise those babes and to live and love in the place you are at. Not in spite of our brokenness but because of it. Because our brokenness drives us to our knees, keeps us pleading for more of Him in us and in our home and makes room for that much more of Him to pour out of us.

First Girl asks about the hot tears on my face and I tell her what she probably already knows, that this mama of hers is in desperate need of Jesus. I whisper the honest truth that I’m not quite sure if I’m a good mama and maybe she and that little one next to her are just getting repelled by the ugly in me rather than learning to love Jesus?

Sweet grace comes flooding into our car through that little voice that quips back, “You’re the best mama for me and we do love Jesus!”

Because mama, in the midst of all of our stumbling and raging and flinging mud on everyone around us, Abba is cleaning up, healing, and redeeming. He doesn’t just have you and me. He’s also got our babes. And oh how He loves them. 

Our kids, they need a Savior as much as their busted up mamas and papas. But if we try to do the saving, oh gracious, what a mess we’ll all be in. Because how can you save a drowning man when you’re ten feet under water yourself?

That Carpenter, He comes into the ugly and starts transforming it into something beautiful. He takes the mess in our lives and in our homes and makes it holy, if we’ll let Him. That pitiful offering we’re giving in trying to love our families and bring some light to a dark world, yeah, He takes that and turns it into something to feed a crowd.

What if:

It’s our brokenness that ends up letting the most Light into the darkness around us?

It’s the shattered pieces of our expectations and failed attempts that will be the foundation on which He builds a legacy?

The greatest gift we may give to our littles is not that they had a perfect mother, but that they had a mother who never shied away from showing them just how much she needed to cling to that Cross?



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