My seven-year-old was in the living room playing with a couple neighborhood friends when I announced it was time for my kids to eat dinner. I heard all but one kid leave and asked, “You wanna stay for dinner?” After getting confirmation, I went to get out another plate. I overheard a quiet petition to my daughter, “Is there enough for Tyler to stay too?” My girl quickly and confidently responded with, “Sure! You know my mom, she always has enough for everyone!”
You know my mom.
WHEN ENCOURAGEMENT LOOKS LIKE IMITATING THE SHEPHERD
We were given Easter invite cards a few Sundays before Easter from our church, and I’d given them to cashiers at the when we got lunch right after service. A few days later at the library my girl came up and whispered, “I gave out the rest of our invite cards to the librarians here.” I was so pleasantly surprised and hugged her, saying how proud I was proud of her. She smiled and responded, “It’s fun! And I just copied what you said at Wendy’s, is that ok?” After reassuring her that it was, she bounced away to find some books.
I just copied you.
We were given “blessing bags” at church that were filled with things someone who is homeless or struggling might need – socks, water, toothbrush, etc. At a stoplight in downtown Atlanta one day, we saw a man holding out a sign asking for help and we were able to give him a bag before the light turned green. As we drove away I was pointing out to my daughter where some homeless people live – showing her the bundles of items under bridges. Later as we were leaving our destination she spotted another person needing help and asked if we could turn around and give the other bag to him. “I’ve been looking for people in need too!”
She’s looking like I have been.
My three-year-old has the hardest time greeting people, and I’d given up forcing her to respond (at least for a time) and just tried to be as friendly as I could to everyone I met. And then one day I noticed as I was chatting with a fantastic older gentleman, my girl was watching my every move. Her focus was right on my face. After I said goodbye to the man and walked away she grabbed my hand and pulled. “I wanna say hi! I wanna say hi!!” I was surprised but we turned around and caught back up to the employee and she very quietly but voluntarily said hi and then hid behind my legs. Afterwards I told her how nice she’d been.
She studied my face.
So often my brain is spinning with ways to explain, demonstrate, illustrate God’s love and commands and wisdom. So often I’m looking for just the right activity, just the right story, just the right resources. So often I’m overwhelmed and feel bogged down as I try to teach my girls everything I know, everything I’m learning. So often, I’m tired and discouraged by my inadequacies.
Over the past few months, however, I have had these words pop into my head a lot,
My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 CSB
When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they don’t know the voice of strangers. John 10:4-5
At first I was overwhelmed again thinking, “It’s so hard to shepherd these kids!” And I felt the Lord calm my soul, impressing upon me that I don’t need to worry so hard about being a shepherd. If I know the Shepherd’s voice and follow it, my kids will get to know the Shepherd too.
Our kids are watching and listening. That may seem scary sometimes, but I also find it so encouraging. It encourages me to take that bold step out of my comfort zone, to speak up when God has something on my heart, to read more Scripture, be in more prayer. I don’t need to have the logistics always figured out, I don’t need all the perfect ideas. I need my Shepherd more in my regular, daily living than in the perfectly crafted moment. Imitating my Shepherd can happen at the post office, in Walmart, in the car line at school, when the pizza is delivered. It happens during the mundane moments, the frustrating moments—mostly in moments I haven’t plan. The more I recognize and copy Him, the more my kids will too. I really don’t need a lot more than that. And I’m so grateful.
Dear Lord, we are inadequate and I think we have no problem realizing that. Please help us remember however, that whatever brings us closer to knowing You well, will help our daughters to know You well too. Thank you for encouraging us to be so very close. Amen.