When God Plans to Let Your Loved One Pass Away

My mom was 30 when I entered this world. I was 30 when she left it. Today is the anniversary of that day and it’s a hard one to be reminded of.
 
The picture above is one of the last times we enjoyed with mom before the symptoms of her sickness started. As happy as she is in this picture, it’s harrowing to realize all that was ahead for her. She was in a body that was about to start breaking down. And we had no idea our time left with her would be so short.
 
But in this moment, God knew all that was ahead. He knew the distress we were about live in seeing mom’s abilities deteriorate. He foresaw our desperate search for a diagnosis and then our traumatic defeat learning there was no cure. He knew our hearts were about to ache for years on end and that our faith would struggle to see still Him as good. 
 

In this moment, God also knew how He’d comfort every shard of our soul-piercing pain.

He knew what resources mom would need and how He’d provide them. The donations were already lined out. The caregivers were already handpicked. He knew which people He’d motivate to come visit and what friendships He’d renew when they were needed most.

For our family, He had already planned out how He’d equip our hearts to endure a marathon of grief. He saw what Scripture we’d need to read in our devotions and what sermons we’d need to hear from our pastors. He’d already prepared How He’d inspire us to pray and how He’d answer.

He had loving designed every tender memory we’d share with mom from this day forward and even scripted out her final moments with us, which ended up being more inspiring than Shakespeare.

He knew how He’d express His love and how we’d encounter His grace.

In this picture’s tiny moment, God not only knew how He’d get us through our upcoming suffering, He knew why He was going to allow it. We’ve experienced the former and we still wrestle with the latter.

We wish we had five more years of pictures like this one. We wonder how God, in His unmeasurable love, decided it was best to let this be our last untainted memory with mom. But just as God proved Himself faithful throughout mom’s sickness, we fully believe He has proved Himself good even though we don’t understand the entirety of His plan.

For now, I am grateful I can look back on 30 years of memories with mom. And although the last few years were more painful than pleasant, I’m so thankful they were full of evidence of God’s care and His lavish comfort.

Now today, in this tiny moment, whatever trials I have ahead of me, I’m confident God has His plans in place. And come what may, I trust those plans are good.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Potty Training My Son

Henry is my third child. If you think that means I somehow know what I’m doing , think again. In my case, any kind of mother’s intuition I should have by now has been kept at bay by each successive year of sleep deprivation.

That’s why I haven’t been in any rush to potty train my little man.

The first time I tackled potty training I was a work-from-home mama with two, two-year-old girls and a newborn. Presumably to keep me open to future children, my mama brain has blocked out nearly all memory of those days.

But somehow, back then, little old unorganized me found time to breastfeed my always-hungry son in between rushing tiny bladders to their toddler potties.

And somehow, I won. I don’t remember how we did it or how long it took – but I know I won. It was rough though. The one phrase I remember repeating was: “I hope our landlord replaces the carpet after we move.”

But now my son is almost three and it’s time to face the inevitable: I need to potty train again. And now it’s a boy.

Now I freely admit I didn’t have a clue where to start. So I started where most Millennial moms start – I read a bunch of blogs.

In my naivety I thought that would do the trick. I was confident that my fellow mama bloggers wouldn’t hold back, that they’d guide me through this scary process with plenty of tips and relatable stories.

All I can say is: ladies, ladies, ladies… I believe you left a few things out.

Around here, the potty party has had more than a few unexpected surprises. And for you future potty trainers, I figure I better give you a heads up.

Potty training is more dangerous than I thought. And you need to brace yourself.

Here are 5 things I wish I’d known before potty training my son.

1. Bribery might backfire.

The worst thing in the world is when your kid is afraid to use the toilet. Right?

FALSE.

The WORST thing in the world is when your toddler becomes obsessed with going to the potty.

This nightmare scenario is exactly what happened as soon as my Henry got wise to the fact that even a few drops in the toilet was good enough to earn him “em an emies”(M&Ms).

From about 10am on that first day, the boy ran up to me EVERY. FIVE. MINUTES.

The whole day was an unending loop of “mama! mama! potty potty!!” Then we’d sit, he’d squeeze, and I’d be obligated to reward the little scammer.

By the end of the day, I was giving him 20 questions before getting up to “rush” him to the potty. “Are you sure, son? Really sure? Really really sure? Could you possibly hold it?” And don’t rush to judge me, either. At the pace we were going, I was starting to worry he’d end up potty trained with type 2 diabetes.

2. He may end up an exhibitionist.

After a week of hardcore training and months of prepping, it looks like I’ve successfully taught Henry how to hate clothing.

The naked method is everywhere on the blogs. Basically, the quicker you want your kid potty trained the more naked they need to be.

“You’re only comfortable with keeping your kid barricaded at home half-naked? Oh that’s fine. Just be okay with taking at least 6 days to potty train.

You want to use pull-ups? Oh girl, you’re in it for the long haul.  Be ready to work at it for at least a month.

But fully naked?! My goodness, he may be potty trained in a day – 3 days tops!”

I was all about getting this done ASAP so bring on the birthday suit! But for my tiny closet nudist this method has had some unexpected side effects.

Day 1 of total nakedness at home went okay. We stayed in the house and Henry peed all over it. Eventually some of that pee made it into the toilet. I think that’s called success.

Day 2 of total nakedness at home includes a 1-hour break from nudity where the kiddo gets dressed (including undies!!), plays outside, and the mommy watches their pants the whole time to see if they are staying dry.

I thought Henry would love the break and have a blast running around and playing with his sisters on the swing set.

No. All I got was a kid crying at the top of his lungs because he wanted to go inside and be naked. The clothing restrictions of the great outdoors were just too confining for my little budding nudist.

Needless to say, pastor’s kids don’t make the best exhibitionists. This new trend should be interesting.

3. Potty hugs aren’t worth it.

This should be common sense. The thing is, I had my foggy maternal instinct working against me.

When my girls were potty training, I gave them lots of hugs to make them feel safe on the big scary toilet.

Boys are different.

A hug might mean you are now unknowingly in the target zone. This happened to me today. I gave Henry some love and all I got was a shirt full of pee.

Hugging Henry is just too big of a risk. I’ll pray for you, son, but you’re on your own.

4. You’ll forget you have other kids.

At first, I thought it’d be fun to have the girls cheer on their baby brother this week.

Then I forgot Henry was a baby brother.

For this one week of his life, Henry is pretty much an only child. And my girls are okay with that. I think they’ve had about enough of schizo-mommy.

My poor girls. Here’s how pretty much all of our conversations have gone this week:

Oh yes, Nora, tell me all about your dream last… AHHH! GET OUT OF MY WAY! HENRY IS PEEING ALL OVER THE SOFA!

Gracie, that is the cutest drawing. Who is that? Mommy and.. HENRY, DON’T STAND THERE PEEING ON YOUR BLANKET. MY GOD, GET IN THE BATHROOM!!

I can’t hold a conversation. My eyes are always darting to Henry. Naked Henry. Is he squirming over there? Was that a shudder I just saw? Where is he aiming? What’s in the danger zone?

I love my girls. But when your boy does the potty dance, you drop everything and run. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of preschool, or making lunch, or worst of all – choosing your next show on Netflix.

Girls, I promise next time I’ll hit play before I sprint out of the room.

They are so annoyed with me.

5. Big boy underwear makes you cry.

I really wish I had some warning on this one. It’s the worst.

Remember how adorable you thought your kid’s poofy diaper butt looked? The big boy undies look is nothing like that. Suddenly, your baby’s cute little tush is running around in normal – miniature person clothing.

That’s not okay with me. It makes me want to sit down and order a truckload of those $40 Costco diapers.

I hadn’t realized that this is the week I have to give up my baby. But it’s true. The moment we claim victory over Henry’s potty training is the same moment I’ve got to give up his babyhood forever.

He is almost 3, so I’ll admit I’ve had plenty of time to admit defeat. But I hadn’t and no one was making me. Until this week. This week the big boy undies are winning.

I’ve always been the mom of a chocolate-obssessed, half-nudist, cuddle-crazy, big-sister lovin’ baby boy. But now he’s running around in Superman underwear.

One step closer to grown up and too many steps away from my arms. I’ll admit seeing my little Superman zoom around the house today made me cry. I thought cleaning up pee so many times would make me cry; but no, it’s that darn underwear that did it.

While some of these potty surprises took me off guard, it should’ve been no shocker that my little boy is growing up too fast. Pretty much everyone warned me about that.

So even though this week’s memories are already on their way to becoming a blurr, I’m going to do my best to hang onto as many of these little man moments I can. Because before you know it my sweet Henry boy will rush into a young Henry man.

And I’m absolutely not ready to handle that.

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Go to Disney World Every Day

Our Dream Vacation

We just got back from the best vacation of my life.

Me and my family of five got to travel to Orlando, Florida to celebrate my cousin’s wedding at Disney World. We loved the time visiting with family, staying in a gorgeous villa, and of course – going to the Magic Kingdom!

My kids really are the perfect age to visit Disney World. The girls are both 4 years old and my son is 2. At this age, Grace and Nora are just starting to pick up on the concept of make believe. They have a hazy understanding that some things are real and some things are pretend, but they can’t exactly identify which is which without mommy’s help.

That means for now, princesses seem pretty real and special effects are absolutely magical.

My favorite Disney memories are:

  • Gracie screaming “this is so awesome!” on roller coasters – She couldn’t get enough of the adrenaline rush. My wild child will tell you, “I want to ride on these forever!” and she absolutely means it.
  • Nora being amazed by Disney magic – My little engineer was totally stumped by how Disney magic works. I especially loved her in the Tikki room. With her biggest smile on, she kept jumping up and down saying, “mommy HOW are these birds and flowers singing?!”
  • Henry milking it with the princesses – He’s only 2 and he already knows how to get the ladies. From tripping on his way to Ariel so she’d give him a comforting hug, to twirling with Cinderella and playing the shy card with Rapunzel before blowing her a goodbye kiss, this little man stole the show and everyone’s hearts.

Overall, the entire day was epic; and that made me leave the park wondering, how does Disney do it? Millions of people flock to Disney World expecting an absolutely magical experience well worth all the trouble. And not many leave disappointed.

So what is it about Disney World that makes us so happy?

What I realized is that the magic of Disney World is actually something so basic, we can (and should) experience it every day.

How Disney Does It

The real magic of Disney World is their understanding of human nature. Disney knows what makes humans happy.

From what I observed, Disney World seems to “manufacture” happiness 2 main ways:

  1. Moments of Wonder – Whether it’s the adrenaline rush of riding a careening roller coaster or the exhilaration of meeting one of your favorite movie characters, Disney World delivers extraordinary experiences around every corner. Every ride and every show stun us with elements that are well beyond our normal every-day experiences. Interacting with something you can’t explain leads us to wonder and amazement – and those are close cousins to joy. We love to encounter something bigger than ourselves.
  2. Shared Delight – The first time I went to Disney World on my honeymoon I had a pretty good time enjoying the park’s attractions. The next time I came back my heart could barely handle how happy I was enjoying my kids’ reactions to the park’s attractions. Is there anything better than seeing your 4-year-old’s jaw drop when she meets her favorite princess? Seriously, this moment made our whole trip worthwhile:
    13119772_10102586644765508_8758514909716178500_o

    This face is why Disney World exists.

    Seeing my kids happy and knowing that I was part of bringing them that happiness was one of the more satisfying things I’ve done as a parent. All day felt like Christmas – constantly handing my kids new presents and getting to watch them ridiculously love each one. Disney World knows they can multiply your joy by the number of people you share it with which is why the whole park is designed to be a family experience. Not only did I laugh watching the Monsters Inc. jokes show, I then turned to see Henry fall on his seat in a goofy overreaction, Nora cover her mouth to contain all her cute giggles, and Grace shout out loud her own punchline answers and that all led to triple the reason for more happy laughter.

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    My favorite princesses.

Why It Works

Disney World didn’t invent our inclinations towards wonder and relationships, they simply cashed in on it. What they’ve really picked up on are some of the essential aspects of our divine design.

It’s simple – we want to wonder, because we are made for worship.

From early on, we have a curious bent to believe in magic, and that serves as evidence that a simply natural world would never suffice. Somewhere rooted in this physical body and this material mind there is soul that savors the supernatural. It’s displayed in different ways, but it’s never denied. Disney World gets this right. Magic is amazing.

And shared delights are better because we are meant for relationships.

This life isn’t fully experienced if it’s lived alone. Loving one another is deeply satisfying. And sharing our happy experiences with another exponentially increases our joy. Meaningful relationships not only enhance our lives, they are the very motivation we have for life and living.

While I’m grateful Disney World reminded me how I was made to experience joy, what they left out was honestly the most important part: the magician Himself.

There’s More Magic

There was an unforgettable moment at the end of our day when we were watching the closing fireworks and listening to the “When You Wish Upon a Star” montage. Gracie heard these lyrics and acted on them right away:

When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

Grace looked up at the Disney castle and gleefully yelled, “I wish I could fly!!!” A second later, she whipped around and with her frustrated little face asked me, “Mama, why am I not flying?!!” Before I could respond she tried again, this time asking for her own playground. But again, her request went unanswered and I had to explain to her that the song didn’t exactly work that way.

The people around us ate it up. They thought it was so cute. But really, it was kind of profound. In the midst of all the Disney magic, Grace ran into reality. Disney World has all the top notch special effects in the world, but they are no magicians.

And that is exactly Who they are missing – the only magician, God Himself.

Both our bent toward worship and our delight in relationships are meant to point us to the source of our joy – Jesus Christ. Not only is God the Creator of our capacity for joy, He is also the One Who “magically” conjures joy for our delight.

John 15:11

11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Worshipping a limitless God means we have a lifetime of  unlimited wonder ahead of us as often as we step back and take in our amazing God. And sharing the delight of those moments of wonder with God and His people promises to exponentially increase our joy along the way.

What Disney gets right in part is fulfilled completely in Christ. At Disney World we get immediate delight, but it’s fleeting. It fades the moment you walk out of the park. What we get in Christ is unperishable, eternal, enduring -it grows rather than wanes. It sustains through suffering and is a hopeful reminder of the even greater inexpressible joy we have ahead of us.

Special effects are amazing, but who would ever chose that over real magic? The source of wonder, the source of all goodness and relationships all come from one place:

James 1:17

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

 

What if we spent as much time pursuing joy in our eternal relationship with God as we do planning for a temporary trip to a theme park? What if we really believed we could have more than Disney World every day?

The ticket to our joy isn’t the one to Disney World – it’s the experience of knowing and loving God and it’s already been paid for by the King. Let’s take joy in that today.

Until God Gets Here

Ho-Hum Hope

Have you forgotten how to hope?

No, seriously. Think back. When’s the last time you really hoped for something?

If you’re like me, today you probably hoped you’d wake up early. Then, when you didn’t, you hoped the kids would sleep in so you could grab some personal time. But the moment you finished hoping that, which was the same moment your toddler hobbled into the bedroom, you stopped hoping for anything because your brain got busy keeping little people alive and attending to the daily grind.

Our days are filled with many other optimisms of course – we hope the boss likes our latest project, we hope the traffic isn’t bad, we hope our sports team doesn’t choke, we hope the kids go to bed right away.

In that sense, maybe your day was full of hopes. But if that’s the extent of it, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that maybe your day was a little long, a little tiring, and at least a little lacking. It probably wasn’t all that you hoped your day would be.

That makes sense. Because to be honest, the things we typically hope for are pretty pitiful. In the grand scheme of things, if my most frequent hope is that I find time to watch Netflix, then it’s not all that surprising that my days feel a tad mundane.

Thankfully, my 4-year-old has given me another option.

On His Way

At a recent play date, one of our little friends decided to loan my daughter a Tinker Bell doll she saw Gracie playing with. So we took Tink home for a few days visit with the expressed purpose of returning her on our next get-together. It was a strange arrangement; but it was cute, so I went with it.

A day or two later, the little friend decided Tinker Bell could stay with Grace permanently. How sweet! When I told her the good news, Gracie beamed at me and then asked me the most precious question.

She didn’t ask, “Do I really get to keep this new doll forever?!”

She said, “Do I really get to keep Tinker Bell until God gets here?!

I just love moments like that. Moments when your child applies a truth you’ve taught them to a situation you didn’t realize it related to.

Just hearing her words drew me to praise God for that very fact – He’s going to get here one day! And what a way to remember that – my daughter’s statement held heavy emphasis on the hope attached to an insignificant toy, but it pointed me to the eternal joy I have waiting right beyond this world’s trinkets.

The saying has stuck and now both of my daughters use the phrase “until God gets here” whenever they are asking about the permanency of something. At least once or twice a day I hear, “Mama, will we get to go visit Grandma again before God gets here?” or “Mommy, will we move again or do we get to stay in this house until God gets here?”

Every time I hear the phrase I get a sudden, unprompted reminder of the hope I have ahead of me. I know the girls don’t realize the impact of what they’re saying, but the fact that Christ’s arrival is so matter-of-factly brought to my attention multiple times a day has really been having an affect on me… and making me realize what my days have been missing for most of my adult life.

Frequent False Hopes

I tend to hope in temporal things. I don’t typically hope in the eternal. My heart keeps forgetting that this routine isn’t forever. But as a Christian, the fact that my Savior is planning His return – any minute! – ought to fill my heart with at least a little nervous excitement, and more often than not – a whole lot of hope!

But it just… doesn’t.

This past week, my kiddos have taught me two things about my hope in God and in particular in Christ’s return – it’s impersonal and rare.

It’s impersonal because I think of it in textbook terms. “The 2nd coming of Christ” sounds more like a chapter in a heavy theology book rather than a sold out event I can’t believe I’m holding a ticket to. Sadly, I’ve studied Christ’s return far more than I have anticipated it.

And it’s rare because my hopes are crowded. If we’re being honest, over the last week I’ve longed more to see the 2nd season of Fixer Upper on Netflix than I have the second coming of Christ. And there are plenty of other trivial hopes that my heart is set on. They aren’t just distracting me from heavenly hopes; they are choking them out of existence.

Somehow I’ve come to admire the 2nd coming from afar forgetting that I’m involved in the event at all.

Something to Look Forward to

But according to the New Testament writers, my highest hopes are supposed to be fixed on the promised return of my Savior. Life’s little joys are well and good – but they ought to pale in comparison to the greatest gain of seeing Christ.

Here is just a sampling of the promises that ought to be more than enough motivation to get through our days:

  • Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:28
  • For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
  • Be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you don’t expect. Matthew 24:44
  • For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:27
  • When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:4
  • Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14:1-3

The Bible frequently reminds us that if we set our hopes on Christ the grandeur of His promises are enough to cause rejoicing even as we look forward to their fulfillment.

We have a hope worth dwelling on and daydreaming about. The very anticipation of it makes our days worthwhile.

And the more we elevate this hope above all others, the better perspective we’ll have on the joys and disappointments of our lives. If we evaluate our daily ambitions in light of the fact that our Christ is on His way, then we’ll end each day with the same perspective – looking forward.

Don’t Forget to Hope

Don’t be discouraged if you realize today that you’ve lost hope. We are forgetful, selfish people consumed by whatever is right in front of us.

But tomorrow, put your hope in the ultimate, not the immediate. Fight to focus more on the promises of God than the mere short-term triumphs of this life.

The Christian who is full of hope is the one who keeps hearing it as often as he forgets it. For this forgetful believer, I’ve had 4-year-olds giving me daily reminders that “God’s going to get here” soon. But once they’ve outgrown this adorable catchphrase will I revert back to infrequent reminders or will I seek out daily revelations of my divine promise? Of course I know right where the words are waiting for me.

Let’s surround ourselves with the greatest hope we have. Let’s read it and savor it straight from the source. Let’s reiterate it to each other as frequently as possible. And let’s pray for the fervor that its astounding power merits.

Because the reality is, we won’t be here forever. Our struggles are temporary, our pain is short-lived. The mundane is fading, and the tedious fleeting. All of these things will only last until our Lord gets here.

And friend, God is going to get here. And it’ll be soon.

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay…”

Hebrews 10:23, 35-37

3 Dollars for My Baby

It was another hectic library day. Library day mostly exists so when I see it written on my calendar I can feel like a good mom. The trip itself leave me far less confident about my parenting skills.

Strangely enough, I arrived early that day. Early is almost as stressful as late when you have a great big library waiting to be explored, 3 wide-eyed little wanderers, and no program to capture all their unbridled excitement. For those pre-Story Time moments, I knew what my mission was: get my rowdy bunch to the kids’ zone ASAP and try to restrain any screaming, fighting, or escape attempts along the way.

There was yelling to slow down hallways and begging to speed up stairs, but eventually we made it to our happy place. The toddler area is the one spot where noise is begrudgingly permitted – not coincidentally it’s also the only area of library where I feel comfortable looking other patrons in the eye.

My girls immediately darted to one of the new science exhibits. You know the type: “hands on” displays perfect for families that have a 1:1 parent/child ratio and a nightmare to moms of multiples who can’t keep track of all the hands that are “on” and throwing and squishing and trying to tear apart said educational display. I think the exhibit was supposed to be teaching us how molecules were made up of individual atoms. I think my girls had learned that foam atoms were very fun to throw and baby Henry had correctly deduced that they are delicious.

All of two minutes in, I was starting to worry we might be breaking the bounds even of library toddler haven. This was also the moment that a disheveled, middle-aged man walked up to me.

I don’t have much experience with his type. Most middle-aged men are afraid of young moms with chaotic offspring. They tend to avoid us. Unless of course they are annoyed by us to the point of confrontation – which is what I assumed was his purpose.

He was direct to say the least. Right off the bat it was: “Is he yours? That baby. Do you own him?”

Immediately I recognized that English wasn’t his first language. I also recognized that he was not smiling.

Bracing for whatever rebuke he had for me, I held Henry a bit closer and tried to muster the friendliest smile I could manage while nonchalantly prying the library display out of little man’s mouth.

“Umm… this little guy I’m holding here on my hip? The boy gumming a foam atom? Yes, this is my son. Why do you ask?”

All the man had to say was “OK.” Then he went to rummaging through his pockets.

We shared an awkward pause as he searched for God knows what in his coat, while I regained awareness of my surroundings and threw a mom-glare at my girls still ransacking the display.

Eventually, he pulled out two dollar bills.

“Here. For your baby.”

Well, this was new territory. The way he said it made me think he was trying to actually make a trade. Then came more rummaging.

“No. Here. Three dollars.”

“I, um, don’t understand sir. What is this for?”

I’m starting to notice that some social cues are a bit off. Now I’m sensing he’s not “all there.” Outwardly, I kept a consistently pleasant demeanor. Inwardly I’d just gone from timid, please don’t yell at me for being a mess of a mom to warrior mode. This weirdo wasn’t getting anywhere near my kiddos. What the heck is he getting at about my son? He’d better back up now!

He was struggling to find the right words. But very firmly, he tells me: “For your baby. Only your baby. You have baby. You take this for your baby. Only for your baby. Not you.”

And it hit me. This man was trying to make a donation. He wanted to give money to help. Well, that’s a totally different story. I softened my stance and gave my automatic American response.

“Oh. Well, thank you sir. But he doesn’t need any money. That is so nice, but we have money to take care of him. You keep that for yourself.”

“No, baby is good. Here is three dollars.”

From there he mumbled something about a bad ruler back at his home. I didn’t know how that related, but what I did understand was his fervor. In our confused dialogue his message was becoming clear.

It is good you have a baby. I want to help your baby.

Thankfully, God gave me the presence of mind to quickly push aside my pride and accept this act of kindness towards my young son.

“You are trying to be generous aren’t you, sir? We love our baby very much. Thank you for being generous towards him. I’ll use this money to help take care of Henry.”

As soon as I took his money he nodded approval and walked away. I on the other hand, was frozen for moment taking in the abrupt beauty of the previous 2 minutes. I don’t fully grasp what motivated him to give Henry three dollars. Maybe he’d had people give him a few spare dollars and he was reenacting the gesture he didn’t fully comprehend.

He gave me more than three dollars though.

With his broken words and awkward actions he confronted my misplaced priorities. I’d been focused on my failed attempt to appear put-together, but here was a man moved by a far greater image he observed. New life – rowdy, messy, unpredictable little life.. is life that still reflects the mysterious and astounding value of his Creator. How could I have forgotten the glory of the gift in my arms? The sanctity of the little lives meandering around me…

It was absolutely riveting to have someone point out my son’s astonishing worth when all day I’d been mostly preoccupied by the yogurt stains on his shirt.

For whatever reason, this man was motivated to care about and contribute to the well-being of my baby boy. And this mama will cherish the high compliment that came with those three dollars.

Next time I go out with my unruly bunch, I plan to look more strangers in the eye. I want to notice them and their value just like someone did for my Henry-boy.

And for the record, Henry got about 20 diapers out of the deal.