Writing scared

I’ve been afraid.

And tired.

And tired of being afraid.

I used to spend my weekday mornings, when the girls are both at school, writing—often with a sense of urgency. If I don’t get these words out of my head, where will they go? When there’s a story tickling my brain and I choose to ignore it, I become a highly irritable, overly sensitive person. So typically, for the sake of my emotional health (and that of everyone around me), I am obedient to the nudge: Write it down. Somewhere. Anywhere!

But with the exception of one essay for The Drafting Desk and a handful of random sentences scribbled on scraps of paper, I have written nothing down since December. Not the blog post I’d had swirling in my mind about the books I read last year, not the thoughts I was doing battle with about choosing a word of the year, not the advent insights that are no longer timely.

None of it.

You know what I’ve been doing instead? Here’s the gist. I’ve spent my time:

Repainting various rooms of our home
Organizing my desk and shelves
Planting seeds in pots in my backyard
Rearranging furniture
Switching out random pieces of home décor—mirrors, prints, lamps, curtains, wreaths
Listening to podcasts
Watching [garbage] TV series on Netflix
Knitting squares for a someday-blanket

Mostly (sans Netflix), they’re innocent things. Not harmful. Good, even. And in all of those activities listed (again, sans Netflix), there are stories and eye-opening lessons that God has been teaching me. But instead of writing them, I’ve buried them. Continue reading

One little word

“Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”

—Eugene Peterson, The Message (Romans 12:1-2)

Early in 2016 but far enough into the year that I considered myself late to the New Year’s resolution game, I wrote about choosing my first-ever word of the year. Or, more accurately, how God pressed the word upon me until I said, “Okay, okay!”

I don’t like committing to much, because a commitment is a commitment. If I break it, I’ve failed—and failure is embarrassing. Keeping a commitment to a single word that I was supposed to weave throughout my entire year seemed like a terrible idea, setting myself up for humiliation. Especially a word like brave.

We were over at our friends’ house the other day, and the kids got into the dress-up clothes. As they paraded out to the living room as a flower fairy, a princess, and a bear-T. Rex-dragon-king for admiration from us four adults, we oohed and aahed and wowed, and then our friend said to his daughter and mine, “You look so brave!”

Not pretty, or beautiful, or fancy—brave. Not a compliment based on their appearance as adorable little girls (though they are), a compliment given intentionally based on what he wanted them to believe about themselves. They can be brave. They are brave, whether they know it yet or not.


I don’t know that I’ve ever had someone say to me, “You look so brave!”

Before this year, I don’t think I ever believed that I was or could be.
Continue reading

Before we click Unfollow

I noticed earlier this week that at some point—I have no idea when—I must have accidentally hit the “Like” button for the Facebook page of a certain political figure as I scrolled through my newsfeed. When I discovered what I’d inadvertently done, I laughed because of who the figure was and how that blue thumbs-up might have been interpreted. (I’m not going to name the figure because it’s not relevant to this post.)

But then I started putting two and two together and I realized some people had likely unfollowed or blocked my posts as a result of that “Like.”

That was sobering. Suddenly my accidental click didn’t seem funny anymore.

Since the election, I’ve seen well-meaning, kind-hearted people posting instructions on how to block certain friends/pages from being visible in our newsfeeds when we don’t agree with the content they’re sharing. I’ll admit, I use this tool myself and will say that there are times when it is useful and even necessary. I block junk, fake news, posts with foul language, and over-sharers (sorry!), among other things. Sometimes I need to step back from a certain feed for a season, for the sake of my own heart. You likely have your reasons too, and I think that’s all ok. Too much is too much.

But I regret my own haste to “block” and “unfollow” people lately based on the sharing of views and opinions that don’t line up with my own. I am sorry for it. For someone who requires so much grace, I sure am stingy with it. 

I’m challenging myself, and I’ll encourage you, too: Don’t cut people out—of your newsfeed or your life—just because you have political or ideological differences. Don’t create a bubble for yourself that only includes likeminded folks. Take a deep breath, step back for a moment, and remember there’s a person on the other side of your screen—a human being, just as loved and cherished by God as you are. Let that sink in for a minute.

Let’s be better at acknowledging each other’s humanness and the fact that it’s not only good to have relationships with people with whom we disagree, it’s necessary.

I think we are all capable of more kindness, compassion, and empathy.

My first step was to take a peek at the people and pages I had hidden from my Facebook feed. From a computer, you can do this by hovering over the News Feed header in the left column. Click the gear that appears to the left of the words “News Feed” and then select “Edit Preferences.” A new window should pop up. Click on “Reconnect with people you unfollowed” and see who’s there. You might be surprised. (I was.) From there you have the option to re-follow people from your list.

As I looked at mine, I prayed for God to soften my heart toward friends with opposing views, and then I added some back into my bubble.

One step at a time.

Who’s with me? 

For an insightful analysis on this topic, I’d recommend this article.

On being the light of the world, at Publix

There are two Publixes in my town, and MY Publix, being slightly out of the way and in a quieter area, has been a delightful spot since we moved here six years ago. It’s bright and clean, and the employees are the friendliest I’ve ever encountered. The best part? If I hit it at the right time of day, it’s practically empty (so, good for me, not for Publix). You know the introverts of the world prefer grocery shopping alone and making eye contact with no one. And if I can make the trip without my kids in tow? *Insert praise hands emoji*

Well. Months back, a new apartment complex opened next door to my sweet, quiet, peaceful Publix, and as new residents began moving in, this terrible thing happened. All these people started shopping at my grocery store. They were suddenly crowding my aisles and forcing me to wait in a line at the deli counter (so, good for Publix, not for me). I could no longer find a parking spot in my usual row. A lover of consistency and routine, I didn’t adapt well to any of this. So many people everywhere! And some of them so grumpy, right there in my happy place! Where did they even come from?

My initial reaction was to change my approach to grocery shopping. I would no longer take my time strolling up and down each aisle, enjoying my solitude and the ’80s tunes playing overhead. No, I would be a defensive player. (That might be the one and only sports analogy you’ll ever see here, by the way.) Keep my head down, stick to the list, push my cart swiftly and with authority, make small talk with no one, beat the other shoppers to the short line, swipe my card, and get the heck out of there. I survive! I win!

But God. (Isn’t it always “but God”?)

It started with a man, cart full of groceries, two little girls up front and another walking beside, on a day when the checkout lines were particularly long. I had beaten him to the shortest line with my own full cart. I looked up and we made eye contact, and something in my heart said, “Move.” So I took a couple of steps back and beckoned him over from his place in the line next to me.

He took me up on the offer with a grateful smile, and I stepped behind him and waved at the little girls in the cart.

It was a tiny interaction that didn’t cost me much—maybe five extra minutes of standing. It wasn’t a huge moment in the history of grocery shopping and checkout line acts of kindness. But God stirred something in me right there between the tabloids and the candy.

I can be a gospel-sharer anywhere and everywhere I find myself. As a follower of Christ that’s not a task to do, or something I turn off and on as needed—it’s who I am.


It’s time to change the way I look at grocery shopping—and every other mundane task that brings me into contact with other humans, for that matter. Every day is full of opportunities to be Jesus to someone who needs him. I just haven’t been paying attention—or worse, dismissing some opportunities with “but not right now…”

It’s not that hard or scary, either. I can do this stuff:

• Make eye contact with employees and other customers. Engage.

• Smile at people—even when they butt you in line or grab the last of the BOGO Oreos off the shelf.

• Let others go first.

• Be a helper.

• Share a positive word. Look for the opportunities to strike up a conversation with someone—which teriyaki marinade you prefer, why Oreo Thins are better than original, whatever. (That’s right, I said it.)

• Befriend the cashiers and baggers. Learn their names. Talk with them about your obsession with Hamilton. (Yeah, I did that.)

• Beat them to the punch by telling them you hope THEY have a great day first.

• Leave with a smile, not in a huff.

• Teach your kids to do all of the above.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others…” —Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:14-16

Lord, help me not to look past the people right in front of me every day—at Publix, at the post office, sitting in car line after school—stashing my lamp under a basket just because I’m in a hurry to get errands done. 

Where do your daily outings take you? What else would you add to the list above? Are there opportunities to be a light in places you hadn’t considered before?

The interaction might seem insignificant in the moment, but believe me, it’s not—not to the person on the receiving end. (It will change you, too, by the way.) And there’s no one like our God to take those little moments and turn them into something beautiful and kingdom-building.


Back to school and a prayer for my girls

IMG_6839I am not one of those moms who wishes it was always summer.

I love those moms. But I’ve had to accept the fact that at this stage at least, I’m just not one of them. Last year I made one of those summer bucket lists for me and the kids—sure, it was on sticky notes, but at least I wrote it—and guess how many items we checked off?


I love a good list, but you know what I loathe? Not accomplishing anything on a list I made for myself.

So this year, there were no lists, no plans, no expectations. And summer has gone a lot more smoothly  than I thought it would, until two weeks ago, when all the together time started getting to the three of us—the 2-year-old, the 8-year-old, and me.

Overnight, they were done with summer, and I was done with summer. My darling angel children were now kicking, picking, and yelling at each other. All that unscheduled time was starting to make me feel twitchy and prone to yelling too, and all of a sudden, heading back to school sounded like the Best Idea Ever.

It’s been like waiting for Christmas ever since. HOW MANY MORE SLEEPS? (That’s me asking, not the girls.)

It’s not the getting-the-kids-out-of-the-house part I’ve been most looking forward to—though let’s be honest, I do look forward to that. It’s the return of a schedule I can count on, and shopping for school supplies and new sneakers, and the promise of a turning season. I know it won’t cool off here in hot, hot Florida for a good long while, but I don’t care. When the school year begins, it means fall is coming soon, and fall is my favorite time of the year. Turn, turn, turn. Let’s get this show on the road.

But now I’m sitting here at the dinner table at 9:42pm thinking about tomorrow morning, when my baby—who was just born yesterday, wasn’t she?—will step into a preschool classroom for the first time. She’s been talking about it for weeks now. “I’m going to PRESCHOOL! I have friends and a TEACHER!” I know that those two days a week are going to be fun and valuable for her, and I know that God is giving me those precious hours to myself because there are words He wants me to write and goals He is pushing me toward, for my own heart and for the kingdom. But preschool feels so big.

And then tomorrow afternoon, after scooping up my toddler from her first day and kissing her smooshy little face off, I will take my other baby—wasn’t she just born yesterday, too?—to meet her 3rd grade teacher. Third grade. Third grade. 

My mind is just one big pile of clichés about kids growing up too fast and savoring the moment and days being long but years being short. When more seasoned parents say those things to me, I roll my eyes. Yes, I know, I know.

But I’ve been weepy for days and just realized why. It’s because Christmas is almost here—we’re down to just hours away—and maybe I’m not quite as ready as I thought. What if they’re not ready? Have I prepared my daughters well for the next season? Cue the tears again.

Where else to go but to my knees?

God, hold their sweet, soft hands as they step into the new and different.

Make their hearts tender and sensitive to the feelings of others—both their peers and their teachers.

Remind them of Your Word, tucked safely in their hearts.

Give them eyes to see the child who needs a friend.

Make them bold enough to be that friend.

May they observe other potty trained children and take note (You know which one I’m talking about). Okay, I’m kidding. Kind of.  

Help them to make thoughtful choices.

Fill them with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

Help them to give themselves grace when they make mistakes. Guide them in their I’m sorrys. May they extend grace to others and forgive freely.

Help them to be kind-hearted and to serve, even when it’s hard.

Open their minds to all that You have to teach them this year. Help them to soak up knowledge and grow in wisdom and in their love for You.

May whatever they do—from fingerpainting and building with blocks to writing book reports and performing in class plays—be done with their whole hearts.

Lord, please make them brave girls.

Make me brave, too.

What I learned in April

What I learned_ April

April went by so fast (cliché, I know, I know), yet its beginning feels so distant at this point that I’m struggling to remember—so I’m especially grateful today for my little yellow Moleskine notebook and that I had my wits about me enough to jot a few things down throughout the month. If I hadn’t, well, buh-bye memories. (Full disclosure, I spent 10 minutes looking for the notebook in order to write this post.)

So here’s April in a nutshell, short and sweet (well I tried, anyway): 

• I attended the Influence Network‘s one-day conference in Charlotte on the 9th (the first of several they’ll offer this year), and it’s tempting to just transcribe my scribbles for you here because there were so many takeaways that I found poignant during this season. (I won’t, though.) The kicker for me was this: Want to invite people into your life? Share your story. I listened to women talk bravely and honestly all day long, some through nervous laughter, some through tears. And I was completely ashamed of myself when I realized I had made judgment calls about several of them before walking in the door that day—solely based on their appearances and social media presence—and I had been so, so wrong. These were real women who had walked (or were still walking) through times of real pain and real struggle. I had no idea. Their faith was astounding. I was blown away by their testimonies and honored that they were willing to invite a room full of strangers into their stories.

There’s a lot more there, but this isn’t supposed to be one of those posts, so I’ll leave it for now.

Hamilton. I’m talking about the Broadway musical. (Yes, I was just introduced this month. Yes, maybe I do live under a rock.) Who lives, who dies, who tells your story? 

• Ready for another cliché? I blinked, and all of a sudden my tiny newborn baby turned 2. Didn’t we just bring her home from the hospital last week? When did she go from this:

10293562_10154158508470324_2110380520204866727_oto this?



Even journalism majors need to work on their writing skills. I’ve been taking Ann Swindell’s online course, Writing With Grace, and while it was humbling to acknowledge my need for a creative writing refresher, her course has turned out to be an incredible encouragement to me on this little journey. We’re a little over halfway through the six weeks, but I’m already willing to say I highly recommend it. There’s always room for improvement, and there’s always something new to be learned—not to mention the publishing field is ever-changing, and it’s been about, oh, 13 years since I’ve taken a writing class. Yeah, I was overdue. Onward!

• Finally, this month being brave looked like:

not pretending I like something just because it’s popular. Doesn’t that sound silly? But certain books, music, movies, blogs, podcasts, whatever—it’s hard for me to say, “Actually, I didn’t really enjoy that” when someone (especially someone I admire) is raving about it.

answering the question, “So, are you going to have any more kids?” with all the back story you could ever want. It was probably the most challenging post I’ve written to date, but God’s nudging on this one was not to be ignored. I was moved by the many responses I received, and it was affirmation, once again: When God tells you to share your story, share it. You need to tell it, and someone out there needs to hear it.

Until next month…

Check out what others learned in April here, and join in! 

Miss the March edition of What I Learned? You can find it here. 

Who tells your story?

My sis and I made a slight detour to Savannah on our drive home from the Influence Conference last weekend to stretch our legs and soak up some history, wandering around the cemetery and various squares, reading plaques and admiring statues. We also listened to the Hamilton soundtrack in the car… for the second time that weekend. It was quite the educational road trip.

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If you’re not familiar with the musical Hamilton (I wasn’t before my sister introduced me this weekend, but you’re probably cooler than I am), it tells the complicated story of the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton—set to R&B and hip-hop. It sounds a little crazy, and I was skeptical, not going to lie. But I was captivated from the first track, and for the next three hours got lost in the tale, the non-stop lyrics, the rhythm of it all. (I have to step into mom mode—or maybe just Rebekah mode—here for a sec and give you the PSA that this soundtrack does have some explicit lyrics and is labeled with a warning. If you know me personally, you know I can’t stand foul language. But I love musicals, and this show is phenomenal. Please don’t judge me. Thank you.) 

After listening to this production twice in two days, I haven’t been able to get one song in particular out of my head, and it’s the final number. The chorus repeats: “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” It’s haunting and powerful.

Who tells your story? 

I’m in the midst of a season where this theme of storytelling feels like my pulse, repeating everywhere from the conference I just attended, to the ministry of Shama Women, to our current sermon series at church (it’s titled The Story—okay God, I’m listening), to, well, Hamilton (yes, God spoke to me through a Broadway musical).

IMG_7219Here’s the thought I can’t escape from, and it’s really all I wanted to say here right now, as much as I would love to keep talking Hamilton with you:

Our stories matter, whether they seem big and dramatic or small and insignificant. I’ve lived a good chunk of years thinking that no one wants or needs to hear about my life because it’s not exciting enough. That’s a lie. Don’t let the enemy tell you that your story isn’t interesting enough to make an impact. On the flip side, don’t let the enemy tell you that your story is too crazy or too much for people to handle, either! God is writing your story for you specifically, and nothing He does—and I mean nothing—is without purpose.

Your story is a gift to someone. It might be a gift to a lot of people. IMG_7214

I think I read that C.S. Lewis defined friendship as the moment when one person says to another, “You too? I thought I was the only one.” (I hope that’s a real quote and not just something someone stuck on a meme.) The point is, our stories show us we’re not alone, if we are willing to share them. They connect us to each other. They inspire and encourage. They teach. Most importantly, they point anyone who will listen (or read) back to the Author of them all, who deserves all the glory.

Will we be brave enough to share them?

What I learned in March

What I learned_ March

It’s a new month, and I’m here (a few days late) to link up with Emily Freeman for the March edition of What I Learned. I’ve been keeping a tiny notepad handy and jotting these things down so I wouldn’t forget—I’m so glad I did!

So, without further ado, here are some things I learned in March:

 For me, sometimes being brave looks like:

holding a friend accountable

saying yes to a playdate

asking for help

being honest—more specifically, not pretending I know what someone is talking about and then googling it later

chaperoning a 2nd-grade field trip

• I have been missing out my entire life by not going strawberry picking. We took our kids for the first time, and they loved it. This activity is going on the list of new family traditions. Which leads to…

Just because you can pick 8 pounds of strawberries doesn’t mean you should. My kids were all, “Yum, strawberries!” and “These are the best strawberries I’ve ever had!” until we got home from the patch, at which point they decided they were really more in the mood for other fruit.

Me: Want some strawberries? 

Toddler: I want bana! 

Me: But we have all these yummy strawberries, don’t you want some?

Toddler: I want booberries! 

You get the idea. I now have about 6 pounds of strawberries in my freezer. Who wants a smoothie?

Daniel Tiger offers good advice to my kids about 87 percent of the time. The other 13 percent have me running to turn off the TV.

Some examples:

“Whatever you do, think about what other people need too.” Good advice!

“When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four.” Not bad, Daniel.

“If you have to go potty, stop and go right away.” Yes, that’s wise, thank you!

“When you can’t do what you want, stomp three times to make yourself feel better.” Wait, what? Are you telling my kid to throw a tantrum? Daniel, I don’t know how I feel about you right now. 

Moving on.

OXO Good Grips POP Containers have helped us make major strides with our shortage of kitchen storage. They stack. The lids are interchangeable. The food stays fresh. And there’s no crumple crumple of cereal bags waking up the toddler in the morning. Add these to the list of items I should have registered for had I not been 23 years old when I got married. (Because at 23, I was not thinking about kids and goldfish crackers and all the cereal.) Thanks, Bed Bath & Beyond, for that 20 percent off coupon—I finally used it this month!

The Inside Out soundtrack is worth purchasing for $7.99. I love it, my kids love it. It’s delightful and inspiring. (That goes for the movie too, for that matter.)

• And [appropriately] last, I learned that sometimes it’s best to just be quiet. 


Check out what others learned in March here, and join in! 

Miss February’s edition of What I Learned? You can find it here


Less talking, more listening.

Less writing, more studying.

Less noise, more quiet.

I’ve been working on the discipline of journaling. I have volume upon volume of journal pages filled during my high school and college years stacked in a closet, but somewhere in adulthood, between stepping into the working world and then stepping back out again (and in again, and out again), I stopped taking pen to paper.

Lately I’ve felt pressed with the need to take up the practice again, so I picked up a spiral-bound notebook and one of the pens my husband—who knows my fondness for office supplies—had stuffed into my Christmas stocking, and over the last few weeks have been scribbling away.

Sometimes I copy scripture, or a quote from the book I’m reading. This has gradually turned into writing down my own prayers, but most recently, I was surprised to find myself no longer writing to God, but seeing that the words in my notebook were those of Him speaking to me.

And He kept telling me to just hush.

When you’re trying to step into a calling as a writer, as a storyteller? Well, that’s not exactly what you want to hear from the One who, after all, did the calling.

I’ve been fighting the silence, evidenced by the handful of drafts sitting open on my screen. But nothing has come together, nothing has made my heart pound the way it only does when something right and good is in the works… so drafts they shall remain for now.

What I will share, though (because my heart is pounding as I type this), are those sentences from my journal where the pen scratch shifted away from my own ramblings and moved toward something that mattered more—His promises to my confused heart.

So, if you find any comfort or encouragement in these words, then they are for you as well:

Quiet. Hush. Be still.

Hold on to Me and to no one else.

Rest in Me and in nothing else.

Find your worth and value at the foot of the cross—not in friendships or appearances or invitations or accolades—in Me and Me alone.

You are who I say you are. You are the woman I created for such a time as this.

Follow Me, and Me alone.

Bikes, bruises, and growing up

At age 7 and a half—’cause we all know the halves are important—my daughter has learned to ride her bike training-wheel free.

It took three afternoons. Three long, are-we-doing-this-parenting-thing-right?, call-upon-the-name-of-Jesus afternoons.

I’m being a little dramatic, but then, so was she. I don’t know where she gets it from.

[Side note, I now know all about balance bikes. We missed the memo. That’s what second kids are for, right?] 

The process began rather abruptly with the announcement that she was ready for the training wheels to come off. Peer pressure might have had something to do with it, as most of her classmates and quite a few much younger friends have already passed this milestone. She’s been aware of this and has taken it in stride. For her, it wasn’t the time yet. She hadn’t been ready, and that was okay with her and okay with us.

We’ve learned to trust her instincts with things like this. When she received her first big-girl bike with training wheels for Christmas a few years ago, she lovingly ran her hands over its shiny pink surface. She was effusive in expressing her gratitude to Mom and Dad for the gift. She even sat on it for a minute so I could take a photo. But no no no, she was not ready to take it outside and put her feet to the pedals just yet.

So it sat, and we waited, and all the while she thought it over. And then one day, she hopped on and rode away, and that was that.

It was a huge learning moment for us as parents as we began to understand just a little bit more about how this girl worked and the intricacies of the traits God had woven into her personality.

We found ourselves back in the same boat again when a birthday passed, and then another, and she was no no no, not ready to take those training wheels off.

But three days ago, she decided it was time.

Day 1 was… well, I’m not going to talk about Day 1.

On Day 2, things were starting to come together—the pedaling, the steering—but boy was she quick to throw herself off the bike when she felt she was losing control. It became the routine: start to wobble, wail like a banshee, and leap off the beast bike and into the safety of the grass. This was simultaneously frustrating and entertaining. But we began to notice that despite the scrapes and bruises she was accumulating and the sweat, dirt, and tears of frustration running down her sweet face, she was not and I mean not going to stop. She was getting so close, but after a couple hours of this torture (for all of us), I had to set a timer to put an end to it and promised we’d be back at it the next day.

So, Day 3. She had a fierce gleam in her eye as she strapped on the purple princess helmet. She let me take a picture of her sitting on the bike. And then she kicked off and just rode away. For the next two hours I watched her wheel up and down the sidewalk in front of our home, turn around in the neighbors’ driveways, and swing back by again while I cheered, shot video, texted the grandparents to share the news, and breathed a massive sigh of relief.


Learning to ride a bike. I can’t remember what the process was like when I was the one wibbling and wobbling on two wheels for the first time. But if it was anything like this, well, bless my dear parents.

This morning we noticed she’d selected a pair of tall socks for school, which she had pulled up past her shins. I thought it was an odd selection (temps here are reaching the 80s already) and raised an eyebrow at my husband.

“She’s covering up the bruises,” he explained. She pulled down the socks to show me her shins.

Small blue and purple bruises marked paths up the fronts of both legs—wounds from all those collisions with her pedals while falling off the bike. I grimaced, but encouraged her that it was okay and she didn’t need to hide them. Her dad chimed in, telling her they were awesome battle scars and that made them cool.

She looked at us skeptically and hiked the socks back up.

We’ve been seeing the signs of a little girl who’s growing up. Lingering a little longer in the mirror when she brushes her hair. Getting embarrassed more easily. Writing a note to a boy: “You’re cute.” (My husband nearly died.) Showing concern over having the right thing to wear. Simultaneously wanting my arms around her at all times and wanting me to leave her alone.

But this, with the bruises. There is so much for us to learn, 7-year-olds and parents.

The bruises are ugly. Why would we want anyone to see them?

Because there is beauty in those wounds. There is a story.

What strength and determination my daughter discovered within herself in those moments as she struggled to conquer this thing she’d set out to do! But perhaps more significant, she recognized after time and time of falling—struggling alone through the frustration—that Mom and Dad were right there for her, calling out advice, ready to swoop in and scoop her back up, help her get back on track if she would only let us.

We fall; He offers us a hand and helps us to our feet. We brush ourselves off. He sets us back on the path and we try, try again. When we finally overcome it, whatever challenge we face, we take with us those black and blue reminders of the struggle. But we also walk away with a story to tell—a beautiful, grace-filled story.

Don’t be ashamed that you fell down, baby girl. Show your bruises and tell your story, and know your mama is trying her best to do the same.