Monthly “goal questions” for kids

Any goal-setters out there? If so, you’re in good company.

I’m huge on setting goals, breaking them down, and documenting movement.

Last year I filled my Christmas list with books like Atomic Habits and Smarter, Faster, Better.

Using these resources, we’ve created a list of “goal questions” we ask our 3 older boys each month.

Here goes…

  • What will I do to learn more about God?
  • How will I share the Gospel with others?
  • How will I grow more into the man God is shaping me into?
  • What will I get better at?
  • What will I do less of?
  • What new thing will I try?
  • How will I exercise?
  • How many books will I read?
  • What will I do to help out around the house?
  • What is my big, crazy goal for this month and how will I get there?

At the top of the sheet we use is this verse…

“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.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Because ultimately, no matter how much we plan. No matter how many goals we set. Our kids’ futures rest securely on His shoulders.

And because of everything the cross tells me about God’s love, I find freedom not fear in this letting go.

Set goals. Savor.

2021 is the year I’m finding grace in the set goals and the failed ones.

So many boys…

“Artful Mothering”

“It’s the difference between being like and making a likeness. The one’s art, but the other isn’t.”

A kids’ book. And it got me.

When I try to mother according to what she says, or they think, or he wrote…I’ve settled.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

We are His masterpiece. Yes, you and me.

What if we stopped looking around and instead looked up? What if His “well done” mattered more than her “Like” on Facebook?

He made me to mother beautifully. It may not look like you do it. It may look completely opposite.

We may homeschool. There may be 5 of them. Our minivan may be nasty. Our meals below par. But if He’s the only audience I’m looking at then nothing else matters.

Let’s live the life God has given us without comparison. Let’s make art not replicas.

And if replicas, replicas of Him only.

Each child is different. So is each mother.

The only thing that’s the same…Grace. And if I believe I have His favor then what else is there to fear?





Grace-filled Margins

She reached her little, brown arm over and pulled me close. “One more minute.” We were on bonus minute 3 of pre-naptime snuggles.

I closed my eyes and pressed my face against her cheek. Breathed deeply hoping to catch one more whiff of the long past newborn scent. I felt her tight curls against my forehead. “Yes, Esther, one more minute.”

Every moment with her is grace. Every moment is grace. I forget.

Food doesn’t feel like grace when I have to cook it. Clothes don’t feel like grace when I have to fold them. Children don’t feel like grace when I’m changing diapers.

But situations don’t change truth. Every piece of each day I call life is grace. Straight from Him.

I haven’t blogged in awhile. There are seasons when He’s speaking to me, but I don’t have the energy to formulate it into words.

Jeremy and I have talked about margins lately. Where are mine?

When life gets too busy grace seems too small. When I take the cross for granted I make grace too small.

Slow. Margins. Gospel. Grace.

He’s freed me not to miss it!

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:16)


The long hike down Jockey’s Ridge last week (Notice Esther)!





“God usually asks me to give up things that bring me joy”

He may be asking me to do something. Give up something. I want to say no.

When explaining this to a friend the other day I said, “God usually asks me to give up things that bring me joy.” My words. And I swallowed hard after. It fell out.

What a sad way of seeing God.

I read Micah 6:8 this morning. Trying to figure out what He “requires of me.”

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

I made a list in my journal. I’m a doer. Doing makes me feel loved.

Then I read a commentary on the verses. It said, “The Gospel is about taking not doing.”


Micah 6:8 is only part of the story. It’s half. Later Jesus would come. He’d “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.” He’d do it for me.

Since Adam I’ve been failing.

Since forever I’ve been loved.

Today I choose to believe the Gospel all over again. To take not do. To rest in Him. In whatever choices He may be calling me to.






Parenting in Freedom not Fear

We have five kids. And here’s what I know…not a thing more than I did with kid one.

Well, maybe I’ve learned a few things…
-They’ll survive off chips and apples if I don’t have time to fix lunch.
-It’s okay if they go to bed without a bath (for weeks).
-Food with a little dirt on it is fine.
-Clothes can double as pajamas if necessary.

The bottom line…I really (please take this humbly) don’t give a rat’s behind what you think of my parenting.

I’m not kidding.

We fretted with Stephen. Always wondering if we were doing this or that right. Always scared of what you might be thinking. Always playing by the rules and re-reading the books.

But somewhere between grace crashing my life and kid number 5, we found freedom.

Freedom to love these kids so big. Freedom to do outlandish things for the sake of fun. Freedom to care more about what He says than what you are thinking.

I can’t control their futures. It scares the mess out of me. We have limited time.

And I don’t want to waste it worrying if I’m doing everything right.

I can’t. I won’t.

He loves them more than me. I see it in the cross.

They’re really His.

I’ll do the best I can. I’ll try to fix healthy meals. I’ll try to make sure their clothes match. Really, I will. I do.

But at the end of the day, you know Who’s approval we’re really looking for? God’s. Just His. Our Father.

And that gives us freedom to parent. Not for you. But for them. For Him.

Breathe deeply. You don’t have this parenting thing under control. Never will.

But He doesn’t make mistakes. And He loves these arrows more than we ever could!

“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11)