Gifts for Dad ➔

I bumbled through the Target aisles with two kids under two. The toddler screamed from the cart like a curly-headed fire alarm. The baby cried as I held him close, trying to shush him as I propelled us toward the diapers. I was on the brink of tears myself as a new stay-at-home mom. I wondered how my entire day could be dismantled by something as simple as a Target run.

Is this what motherhood is? A lifetime of stress and embarrassment? Feeling powerless to control anything?

I could see other customers’ heads turning toward us as we loudly rolled along. I didn’t really blame them. My screaming kids were collectively breaking the sound barrier. The customers would turn out of curiosity: Is there a roving torture mechanism in here? A new mom having coffee withdrawals? Zombie apocalypse?

RELATED: The Mama of the Wild Child is Trying Harder Than You Know

As soon as fellow shoppers spotted our crew of misfits barreling toward the diapers, they’d look away quickly. I know they were trying to be polite, but mom-shame interpreted the turning heads as an audience to my failure train.

And then it happened, a little beacon of light shined in the toy section. Our cart crossed paths with a stranger.

She took in the sight of my loud, messy tribe. Her eyes told me she’d been in my shoes. And she didn’t look away. She looked in my eyes and with a smile, she said, “You’re almost there. You’re doing a great job. You can do this!”

I promptly bawled my face off. I rolled away from that sweet stranger lady, and now all three of us were crying for different reasons. We selected our diapers through tears and rolled through the checkout line like a weepy pile of bachelor rejects, but way less cute.

This happened almost a decade ago, and I remember it like yesterday.

Because I watched as God used a person to encourage me exactly when and where I needed it, deep in the trenches of early motherhood.

It cost Target Lady nothing to encourage me. It took her five seconds. Yet her words seeped deeply into my fragile spirit. My memory of her kindness remains vivid, a decade later.

RELATED: To the Woman Who Saved Me From Drowning

Now I look back and laugh at the thought of my crusty crew: red cart rolling around all weepy like a three-headed, sleep-deprived monster. I can laugh now because I know that tiny people do not remain screaming wildlings forever. The season of embarrassing shopping trips does come to an end, slowly but surely. I can testify to that firsthand. And I’m preaching to myself here, as I am currently parenting my fourth and fifth children through another round of crazy Target trips.

We know that God is sovereign, controlling all the giant cosmic forces. But our loving Father also cares deeply about the minutiae of our days. He is weaving a greater, ornate work in our lives when we put our faith in Jesus. So we can “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” Even in the tantrums. Even in the middle-of-the-night fevers. Even in the surprise pregnancies. Even in the Target trips from Hades. 

When we look for it, we see His sovereign hand at work: providing, encouraging, and sustaining us.

And when we don’t see it? We can pray for eyes that do. How cool is that? 

RELATED: Stranger Helps Busy Mom – Proves There Is Hope In This World

After God carries us through our own trials, He calls us to encourage those now in the midst of them. So if you’re a mama deep in the hard days of parenting tiny babes? If you are at the end of your rope today, please hear this: You’re doing a great job. You can do this. God has you! 

And if you are a mama in the next season like me, let’s be that lady at Target. Not the three-headed-monster lady. The cool encourager lady. Together, let’s consider how we can spur each other on toward love and good deeds.

Molly DeFrank

Molly DeFrank is a mom and foster mom to five. She writes to encourage mamas in the trenches of minivan mayhem. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram or on her website:

Dear Introverted Mom, Take that Break

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman outside with book and food

I am alone, in a hotel room, 20 minutes from home, lying back in the crisp bed, feet propped up on billowing white pillows. A good book is in my hand. The large window beside me overlooks the Mississippi River as the sun slowly sets and people unwind for a southern Louisiana evening in downtown Baton Rouge. I’ll probably order room service for dinner. I spent the afternoon at the coffee shop across the street, sipping on a deliciously caffeinated beverage carefully made to my liking. I ate a delicate snack filled with fruits, fancy lettuce, and expensive cheese while...

Keep Reading

As an Anxious Mom, I Remind Myself You Were God’s Child First

In: Faith, Motherhood
Little boy sleeping

I remember bringing that squishy baby home from the hospital. His 9-pound birth weight didn’t label him as scrawny by any means, but he was so small to us. I cringed the first time I laid him in the bassinet beside my bed. I wouldn’t be able to keep an eye on him all night long like the nurses in the hospital nursery. I couldn’t make sure he was breathing every second of my coveted slumber. To calm my worries, we turned on our bathroom light and left the door wide open. The extra light wouldn’t disturb our angel from...

Keep Reading

Home is Holy Ground

In: Faith, Motherhood
Kids and mom at home

Some days, I wake up and walk around my house feeling my chest rise looking at the chaotic mess I didn’t get done the day before.  Trampling over toys, incomplete laundry, and dishes that seem to load up by the end of the day. I pause, I stare, and I wonder which of the objects in each room I should tackle first. I take a deep breath and notice my heart and my mind are overwhelmed with a running checklist. Why can’t everything just get done all at one time? You can talk to a dozen mothers and I am...

Keep Reading

I Want My Kids To Know God’s Always There

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman holding cross in the palm of her hand, color photo

A few months ago, my friend lost his dad. And it impacted our community profoundly. Because he loved SO BIG. Everywhere he went, he couldn’t help but talk to and engage with people—sharing a joke to make them smile or offering a compliment to build them up. He was a connector. And in all the connecting he did, he was quick to remind everyone he encountered that our hearts are ever connected to a God who loves us. It had become his thing to pass out little wooden crosses to those he happily chatted up as he went about each...

Keep Reading

In Motherhood, Grace Makes up the Difference

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding young child

Today, I have been the mean mom, the tired mom, the overwhelmed mom, the anxious mom, the impatient mom, and the want to turn in my mom card mom. Mostly, I’ve felt like the I have no clue what I’m doing mom. I have raised my voice 47 times, told children to “suck it up, buttercup” 36 times, and have intervened in approximately 83 sibling disagreements. I have rolled my eyes 59 times, sighed 148 times, and visibly showed other signs of impatience, well, way too many times. RELATED: I’m a Good Mom, You Just Caught Me in a Bad...

Keep Reading

Jesus Meets Me in Motherhood With His No Matter What Love

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother embracing daughter in sunlit room

My toddler was that kid on the playground—the one who would push and bite, erupting into a tantrum and needing to be carried home screaming. As I would carry my child to the car, the other moms looked at me with sympathy, confusion, fear, and . . . judgment.  Parents of challenging kids know this look well. We see judgment everywhere we go. I knew others were judging me, and I knew our challenges were beyond the normal bell curve, but as an overwhelmed young mom, I did all I knew to do: I blamed myself.  At my lowest, I...

Keep Reading

Dear Child, God Sees All of You—And So Do I

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Mom and young son painting together

Math has always come easily to him. Even from the beginning stages when we counted wooden blocks on the living room floor, the numbers just came to him. “How many blocks are there?” I asked him, pointing to the scattered row of blocks. I expected him to count them. He was only three or four years old. “Six,” he answered promptly. “Yes . . . but how did you know that?” I asked hesitantly. He had not taken the time necessary to have counted them. “Three and three are six,” he replied. And on it went. The math came easily,...

Keep Reading

Dear Girl, Give Jesus Your Mess

In: Faith, Living
Woman holding Bible, color photo

Oh, dear girl, Give Jesus the mess. Your mess. The mess you think is too much or too big or too unbearable. The depths of the mess. The very worst of the mess. Lay it at His feet. He knew you long before the mess existed. Nobody knows your mess like Jesus. I assure you—this will not catch Him by surprise. Even when you do not understand, even when it is most difficult, even when you have your head buried in your hands. Praise Him, for God wastes nothing.  Even when it feels like opposition is coming at you from...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Love Is an Endless Pursuit

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Child on bike, color photo

I look at him and my heart breaks into a million little pieces. It simply hurts too much to know he hurts. He is my heart, and it squeezes and revolts when he struggles. I want to close my eyes and hold him close, and when I resurface, I want the world to be different for him. Look different, smell different, taste different. But, it remains the same, this pain.   In the beginning, when he was in my womb, I held my hands on my stomach and his tiny feet kicked me back. His bodily imprint on my skin. He...

Keep Reading

Motherhood Brings Me to the Floor and Jesus Meets Me There

In: Faith, Motherhood

I recently came across a short memoir writing competition with the theme, “Places that have made me, changed me, or inspired me.” I could write something for that, I thought. I’m by no means a jet-setter, but I do have a passport. I spent my 16th birthday in Russia on a three-week mission trip. During college, I lived in Thessaloniki, Greece for a four-month study abroad program. After my British husband and I got married, we settled in the UK, where we’ve spent the last 10 years. And now, I’m back in my sunny Florida hometown. These experiences and places...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids


Proven techniques to build REAL connections