Muffins with moms

And the plank in my eye

If I want to stay engaged with my children, I must work at it as with any other relationship I’m entrusted with.

The Muffins with Moms event at Audrey’s school had her and I pulling out of the driveway forty-five minutes earlier than usual. Mark stayed home so the littlest two Dykemas could keep snoozing.

As Audrey and I drove to school, the dark of morning still enclosing us and a steady rain making it difficult to hear her little voice in the back of the van, she told me that Muffins with Moms is making her wish come true.

“Wish?” I asked.

“Yeah, remember at school we wrote on a rainbow five things we’d wish for if we found a pot of gold? I wished for more time with you.”


At school, we found a place at one of the many cafeteria tables near one of her friends. The friend’s mom was engaged in conversation with the mom across from her, but I made a mental note to catch her eye and introduce myself (since we are new to the school this year) when a chance arose.

With our muffins & apple juice in front of us, I turned towards Audrey and made conversation.  Catch that?  I made conversation.  Audrey is an easy person to get along with and talk to, but she is seven, and engaging with her takes intention & thought.  Over Audrey’s shoulder was the mom of her friend still talking with the other mom.  After 10 minutes of Audrey and I talking, I could not help but notice the two moms were still only talking to each other, and hadn’t said a word to the kiddos that came with them.

I continued chatting with Audrey, asking her things like, if you could only have one kind of muffin everyday for the rest of your life, what would it be? All the while, I burned inside with judgement and indignation–how could those moms so easily ignore their precious ones and this little pocket of time?

And then, a mom I know from church and her daughter sat down across from Audrey and I.  And, we easily found ourselves in a conversation about our girls, about school, teachers, all the things moms discuss. And though the conversation was only minutes, and we paused to address the girls, I realized how easy it would be for me to do the very same thing for which I was judging other moms. Humbly, my heart recognized that it is easier to cultivate relationships with people who are similar to me (like moms).

From indignant muffin chewing to humble apple juice sipping, the Lord showed me some important tidbits from this time in a school cafeteria.

1) Splinters & Planks: Many of us are familiar with the scripture that reminds us not to be so quick to point out where someone else is falling short, before being keenly aware of how we are falling short ourselves. (Matthew 7:3). When I see a mom falling short (in my opinion) of how she should be behaving with her kids, I will thank God that He covers all my shortcomings with my own kids.

2) Do the Work: Engaging with our children will naturally be more work & require more intention on our parts than connecting with moms who are like us–share interests, struggles, & the same need for coffee. But, it is vital that I do the work of engaging with my little people and fostering our relationship because my relationship with them is part of what opens their hearts to a full & intimate relationship with their Heavenly parent, God. (Read more on that here, “Our People Need Our Attention More Than Our Service“)


Why Our Children Cannot Obey

Crushed by the Law

Please tell me I am not the only one who has uttered some of these phrases:

Is it really that hard to be kind to your sister?

I cannot believe you won’t share; can’t you just try?

That’s not the sweet girl/boy that I know.

Why can’t your words show love?

How difficult is it to obey me the first time?

Over and over I am appalled when my children behave badly–when they fight over the puzzle pieces, when the sisters communicate by shouting rather than speaking, when they delay to obey me.  But, being appalled by this behavior from my little people is like being appalled when a dog barks.  They are little humans. Romans 3:23 tells me that we all fall short of the glory of God; we are all born sinful.

So, when my girls tell me it is too hard (in a whiny voice) to love others in the way I’m exhorting them to, I am “…not to argue with them…[I am] to agree with them and tell them of their need for a Savior.” (Give Them Grace by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson)

Mommas, on this Good Friday, let us break this pattern of pushing our kids to be good (righteous) by trying hard. And, to accomplish this, let’s start with our own hearts.  I don’t know about you, but I easily get caught up in my pride that leads me to believe I can try hard enough to obey all of God’s laws and meet all of His expectations.  I may not consciously think those kinds of thoughts, but when I try to be like Jesus of my own strength, that is what I am demonstrating. The pharisees were so caught up in being good that they missed the grace Jesus offered; they missed Jesus.  They nailed him to a cross and killed Him. Trying to accomplish the law on our own, kills the grace God offers through Jesus.

The law defeats us.  The law is impossible for us.  The law is crushing because it shows us that we are indeed incapable.

But, God. (get ready to shout, Hallelujah!)

BUT, “God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.” (Romans 8:3, NLT)

In the book, Give Them Grace, the writers exhort that we don’t teach our children the law to make them good, we teach it to them, so they will know their need for a Savior. “The law won’t make them good. It will make them despair of every being good enough, and in a way it will make them open to the love, sacrifice, and welcome of their Savior, Jesus Christ.”

So, today, mommas, let’s keep giving them God’s good law, but let us do it with a healthy dose of grace & a reminder that Jesus did what they cannot do.  Jesus paid the price they would have paid.  And, Jesus desires for them to freely accept His gift of being credited with all of His goodness & righteousness.

Happy Good Friday, Mommas.

The Kids Eating My PB&J Aren’t Mine

Bedside standers.  I know I am in good company when I stand near his crib and watch him breathe.

I count his infant breathes then slip through the doors of his sisters’ rooms to kiss their foreheads.  Sometimes, I pray over them. Sometimes, I ask God to forgive me and wash harsh words of earlier. Most times, I thank Him for letting me be their mama (because sometimes during the day, I forget to thank him for that).

After setting my alarm, I imagine my house without them—it’s impossible.  I consider how the days and nights will be different even next year when my homeschooled kindergartner actually goes off to first grade.

My chest swells and aches.

You know that ache.  Some of you have little ones getting ready for those glue-stick and crayon-filled mornings at preschool. Others have already released children to college campuses.  When I was pregnant with our firstborn, Audrey, I recall thinking I’d worry about her less once I could see her (my naïve delusion was so cute, wasn’t it?).  I would not have to count movements in my belly, have her heart rate checked, or organs measured during an ultrasound.

I would worry less.

Any parent could have told me the moment I held that swaddled 8 pounds of sweetness, I would not worry less.  When our nurse told me Audrey needed to spend some time in the special care nursery due to high bilirubin, I was not worrying less.

Twenty-seven hours old, and I was wishing I could tuck her back in my belly and hide her from this world.

And, it’s there I began a journey parents know: tip-toeing between loving deeply these children God has placed in our hearts and homes, but recognizing they are not ours to keep—they’re a treasure that’s been entrusted to our temporary care.

How can we possibly release these precious ones into His hands? Let’s start here:

1. Trust His heart: It reassures me when I consider that the love I have for my children is merely a dim reflection of the love He has for (me and) my children.

2. Recall His faithfulness: David was great at this, when he was facing a trial, he would review how the Lord had been faithful in the past.  When it’s difficult to trust Him with your kids now, recall His goodness towards them in the past.

When do you find it most challenging to entrust you kiddos to their Heavenly Father?  What do you do in response?  

{In honor of over a year of Letter in October, I am re-posted one of my first posts, as many of you weren’t my readers a year ago.}