Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

Like most moms, I was a perfect parent until I had actual children.

But ever since that first big, “It’s a girl!” announcement, I’ve been messing up with rather alarming regularity.

Thankfully, God has taught me some lessons along the way. This is one of them.

I was in the kitchen (my “office”) one morning not too long ago while my teenage daughter was up and getting herself around. From the banging, stomping, and crashing I could hear, it was obvious she was frustrated, annoyed, and upset.

At which point, I started to feel frustrated, annoyed, and upset, too.

I thought about all the blessings my daughter enjoys and how she was probably getting worked up over something trivial, like her hair. I started to plan how I would give back to her what she was giving out. How I would be snippy with her when she was snippy with me. How I would show her that I was annoyed with her annoyance. Because this would make A Point, of course.

But then.

I felt God nudging me (OK, fine, it was sort of like an electric shock . . . God knows He can’t be subtle with me). I sensed Him telling my mom mind and heart, “Don’t react in kind. Don’t feed this fire. Don’t give what you’re getting.”




So when my agitated daughter came into the kitchen, I told her, “Good morning,” even though it was clear it wasn’t. What I didn’t say was anything else. Instead, I tentatively went in for a prolonged hug. She only allowed it at first, but after a few seconds I could feel her relax into it and then return it.

When I let her go, she gave me a half-hearted smile that I took as a win, and we went on about our morning. I fed her, because food is our love language and often works better than words anyway. She fixed her hair. I played worship music in the background and did not try to dig around about what the problem was so I could solve it.

A little while later, when my lovely girl was getting ready to leave, she told me, “I’m sorry I was in a bad mood earlier. Thank you for making me feel better.”

Good work, God.

Now, mama—I totally understand if you’re rolling your eyes at this point. Or if you’re thinking, “Yeah, well, you should be in my kitchen some morning.” I get it. So let’s clarify a few things.

For starters, I did not want to obey God’s prompting that morning. I did not actually “feel” like it. Frankly, the very idea of it made me want to bang something myself. But I know I cannot only act and react according to my nature or my personality or my mood or my hormones. If I do, it denies the power of Jesus in my life. In Him, I can be who I’m not, do what I can’t (or don’t want to do), and feel what I don’t. In Him, I can choose not to go where my nature, personality, mood, or those blasted hormones are leading me.

I know all this. But the reality is that obeying God’s direction that morning was hard. I had to fight myself to do it.

It’s also worth noting that my little “don’t react in kind” experiment worked that morning with that child. It’s not some magic, sure-fire formula. On a different morning with a different child or a different problem, the story might have had a much different ending . . . one involving weeping and gnashing of teeth and, in all likelihood, yelling. But it worked that day, so now I’m hoping that with enough practice, my response will become less happenstance and more habit.

Don’t react in kind.

Don’t feed the fire.

Don’t give what you’re getting.

Instead . . . 

React in kindness.

Feed the fire of love.

Give what you want to get.

And if all else fails, my fellow imperfect parents, take the advice of a mom with some mileage on her: there are very few things a chocolate chip cookie or a bowl of ice cream—or both, for you and for the objects of your mothering—cannot make at least a little bit better.

Previously published on Ruthie Gray.Mom

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Elizabeth Spencer

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two daughters (one teen and one young adult) who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.

I Thank God Every Day for These Babies

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and two children, color photo

You know that saying, “All of God’s grace in one tiny face”? Growing up, I never understood the meaning behind it. I thought it was overused, cliche even. I mean, of course, babies are adorable, but I never fully grasped the concept of the saying. That is until I became a mother myself. Everyone has a different journey to entering motherhood. Mine, in particular, was unique, to say the least. All my life, I couldn’t wait to have kids of my own. Yes, even when I was a kid myself, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God’s...

Keep Reading

Daddy, Am I Beautiful?

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Daddy holding preschool-aged daughter, color photo

“Daddy, do I look beautiful?” I heard my daughter ask my husband from the other room. I barely heard what she said as I was in the kitchen washing the dishes, but her words struck a chord in my heart. My sweet girl, all dressed to go out, asked for her Daddy’s assurance that she was beautiful, that she was admired and special. It hit me in that moment: this pure and built-in desire we all have to be loved, admired, and wanted. Just as my sweet girl wanted her Daddy’s approval and assurance of love, I so often cry...

Keep Reading

You Make Our Marriage Work and I Love You More than Ever

In: Faith, Marriage
Husband and wife, smiling, selfie, color photo

I used to write love letters to you. I’d sit in my dorm room for hours, penning pages of poems that you’ve apparently kept in a drawer in our bedroom closet ever since. Recently, you mentioned you miss that girl. We laughed because neither of us knew you would turn out to be the sentimental one. And I was thinking, but never said, that the older, more cynical version of me has no idea how to write a love poem anymore. I look at love differently now. I’m different now. We’ve waded through years of never-before-known territory—sometimes treacherous, often mundane,...

Keep Reading

Going to Church with Kids is Hard but We’ll Keep Showing Up

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding young daughter in church

Going to church is hard with young kids. It used to be something I looked forward to. It’s something I’ve always valued deeply and needed desperately. It’s the one place that will always be home regardless of what location or building it’s in or what people attend. Church is my sanctuary. But it’s become a battle with the kids’ resistance, my tired mind and body, and my lack of ability to actually listen to the sermon. Going to church is hard with young kids. It’s become normal for me to lie down in bed on Saturday night thinking, with dread,...

Keep Reading

I’m Praying for My Teenager in These Challenging Years

In: Faith, Motherhood, Teen
Teen boy holding a smartphone and wearing headphones

In my mid-40s, I began to long for a baby. We didn’t get much encouragement from friends and family. My husband is a high-functioning quadriplegic, and I was considered way too old to start a family. But our marriage was stable, we were used to obstacles, we were financially prepared, emotionally experienced, and our careers were established. I began to paint my own sublime mental portrait of parenting tranquility. What could go wrong? At 48, I delivered a healthy baby boy, and he was perfect. We adored him. The baby we had longed for and prayed for, we had. And...

Keep Reading

When Motherhood Feels Like a Limitation

In: Faith, Motherhood
Ruth Chou Simons holding book

Twenty-one years ago, my husband Troy and I welcomed our first son into the world. Two years later, I gave birth to another boy. And again two years later, and again two years after that. A fifth boy joined our family another two years later, and a final son was born 11 years after we began our parenting journey. If you were counting, you’re not mistaken—that’s six sons in just over a decade. We were overjoyed and more than a little exhausted. I remember feeling frustrated with the limitations of the little years with young children when I was a...

Keep Reading

The Day My Mother Died I Thought My Faith Did Too

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Holding older woman's hand

She left this world with an endless faith while mine became broken and shattered. She taught me to believe in God’s love and his faithfulness. But in losing her, I couldn’t feel it so I believed it to be nonexistent. I felt alone in ways like I’d never known before. I felt helpless and hopeless. I felt like He had abandoned my mother and betrayed me by taking her too soon. He didn’t feel near the brokenhearted. He felt invisible and unreal. The day my mother died I felt alone and faithless while still clinging to her belief of heaven....

Keep Reading

Jesus Meets Me in the Pew

In: Faith
Woman sitting in church pew

I entered the church sanctuary a woman with a hurting and heavy heart. Too many worries on my mind, some unkind words spoken at home, and not enough love wrapped around my shoulders were getting the best of me. What I longed to find was Jesus in a rocking chair, extending His arms to me, welcoming me into his lap, and inviting me to exhaust myself into Him. I sought out an empty pew where I could hide in anonymity, where I could read my bulletin if I didn’t feel like listening to the announcements, sing if I felt up...

Keep Reading

Can I Still Trust Jesus after Losing My Child?

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Sad woman with hands on face

Everyone knows there is a time to be born and a time to die. We expect both of those unavoidable events in our lives, but we don’t expect them to come just 1342 days apart. For my baby daughter, cancer decided that the number of her days would be so many fewer than the hopeful expectation my heart held as her mama. I had dreams that began the moment the two pink lines faintly appeared on the early morning pregnancy test. I had hopes that grew with every sneak peek provided during my many routine ultrasounds. I had formed a...

Keep Reading

5 Kids in the Bible Who Will Inspire Yours

In: Faith, Kids
Little girl reading from Bible

Gathering my kids for morning Bible study has become our family’s cornerstone, a time not just for spiritual growth but for real, hearty conversations about life, courage, and making a difference. It’s not perfect, but it’s ours. My oldest, who’s 11, is at that age where he’s just beginning to understand the weight of his actions and decisions. He’s eager, yet unsure, about his ability to influence his world. It’s a big deal for him, and frankly, for me too. I want him to know, deeply know, that his choices matter, that he can be a force for good, just...

Keep Reading