Dirt Cookies and crying in the drive thru: Cultivating a thankful heart

When my sister and brother-in-law first got married. . .they were financially poor.  She once told me that in those first years of marriage, although so very happy, they struggled and once, while taking some kids that she babysat for through the drive-thru to grab dinner, she hoped that one day, when she had kids, she would be financially able to treat them every once in awhile with a special meal out.  For some reason, this prayer of hers popped into my head while I was sitting in the Chick-Fil-A drive thru, asking my excited little girl what she wanted for breakfast. I think it was a mix of the memory and the fact that we had just watched a piece on the Haitian people and how they painstakingly make and sell dirt cookies to provide for themselves and simply fill their children’s bellies, but as I looked at my sweet daughter who had never known hunger in her entire 6 years of life I just started crying. How many times do we do things that , to us, seem simple, but to others would have been such a longed for experience?

Have you ever been knocked down by the everyday things that we have forgotten really are extreme and extravagant gifts, but we have wrapped them with simple and ordinary paper? 

I know I’m not the only one who cries in the drive thru, or when I am putting up the groceries and my child yells, we are so rich! O man little one. . . we are rich indeed. Do you realize that every time we hear “mom, I’m thirsty,” that our biggest problem is getting them to say please, and not, “I’m sorry honey, we don’t have any clean water right now.” I am understanding more and more about how we can really and truly do everything to the glory of God. From a cup of water to the soft bed with the comfy pillow. . . we really should be breathing out thankfulness at every moment. I mean, even our breaths are given to us. . . they are not promised or earned. . .they are simply given. . . gifts every second that we are sometimes not even aware of.

I love the idea of Ann Voskamp. . her One Thousand Gifts book has been quite the treasure. I have read many excerpts from her book and frequent her blog often over at A Holy Experience. She speaks of a simple exercise but one we do so infrequently. .  . counting our gifts. Thankfulness and discontentment can not be in the same heart, so we have to fight those discontent feelings, when they start to well up inside, by looking at all the gifts we DO have. When my family got sick a little while ago it went through every one of us. It was a long 4 or 5 days. .  a long, yuck, germ filled 4 or 5 days. I was tired and eventually succumbed to the sickness myself, but as I was up in the dark of night holding my daughters hair back as she cried in the bathroom I began to fret, to get upset at the situation I found  myself in, to feel sorry for myself that we were not well, that I was tired. I started fighting it by thanking the Lord for all the things I had right then. I whispered in my desperation thankfulness for an inside bathroom (can you imagine??? whew), for a husband that I knew could help me when I grew tired, for a washer and dryer, for a baby that was sleeping through the night, for clean water to wash my daughter’s sick face with and for a comfy place to lay her when she was ready to rest. I have to admit, however, this is not the norm most days.  I am very good at giving thanks when the situation is peaceful, happy, warm and fuzzy. . but when the situation grows wearisome, uncomfortable, bothersome, irritating. . . my heart is not as quick to stop and burst thankfulness towards the Lord.

Anyone can be thankful in the good times, but it takes a heart, a heart that knows their father. . a heart that knows that all we really need is Christ and everything else is filler, to truly be thankful in all seasons. We can give thanks in all circumstances because we, as Christians, already have all we will ever need for eternity. We can give thanks and have joy in all things . . . even in our trials, simply because we have the greatest treasure of all. . .Christ.

So I leave you with this, from a girl who does not say thank you enough, from a girl who gets overwhelmed when all those blessings just hit me all at once and I realize I just need to come undone so that the Lord can build me up more beautiful, more thankful, then when I started. My grumbling heart really can change and so can yours. . . it is my greatest hope. Our grumblings can turn into thanksgivings if we just simply let the blessings wash over us and speak them back to the one that we owe all of them to.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31



You are not failing at motherhood.

I would just like to tell you that you are not failing. Sometimes we just need someone to tell us that we are doing a good job, that they see the hard work it takes to wrangle kids, work a job, cook, clean, take care of yourself and everyone else. I am thankful for you. I am with you in the trenches daily and I am giving you a big ol ciber hug right now! These are for my people, my mom peeps who are going to bed frustrated, tired, happy, or all of the above!

To the mom who fed her family a homecooked meal tonight, GREAT JOB! That is really hard work!

To the mom who popped in a frozen pizza for her family, GREAT JOB! That is so fun and my daughter would have been so excited about that dinner.

To the mom who loaded up her clan and went through a drive thru, GREAT JOB! I’m sure your kids were super pumped and man o man if I were financially rich the first thing I would do is eat out for every meal. It is such a special thing.

So all you moms, whoever you were, the cassarrole queen, the drive thru sue, the awesome pizza lover. . . .you did an awesome job because

you fed your kids, you filled their bellies, and you kept them growing. That is all that matters. That makes you a great mom.

To the mom who dropped their kids off at school today, or watched them catch the bus, way to go!

To the mom who got her kids up and sat down at the dining room table to start a day of school together, I am loving you, I AM you. . . you are doing great and you are so very appreciated!

To the mom who got up with littles and dropped them off at daycare to go to a job, thank you for providing for your family that you love so much or thank you for helping your husband provide, that is so hard and you are rocking it out. Your kids love you, and no one can ever replace you as mom!

To the mom who got up this morning with a little in toe for a day at home, you are so incredibly wonderful! It is not easy talking to a child all day, it is not easy loving all the little years in the midst of messes and bad attitudes, but you are doing it with such grace. You are loving on your littles with everything within you. You are succeeding.

You moms are my heros! No one can do what you do for your kids and all of you deserve a thank you because…..

you care about the well being and education of your kiddos! You care about how they are cared for. . . and that makes you a great mom.

To the mom who was completely loving and peaceful with her kids today, I applaud you and I cherish you and your sweet spirit. Please come over and hug me really tight so that some of your sweet grace will rub off on this young, inexperienced mom that has so much still to learn. You are your kids’ rock, and they will find peace in you.

To the  mom who yelled today. . . can you come over so we can lament together? Your mothering is not the sum of ONE moment. . it is the sum of many, and if you are feeling bad about a bad attitude you had, you more than likely are not like that all the time. If you cared enough to feel bad, then you are doing great, mom. Because you love your littles enough to want the best for them! Tomorrow is a new day. PRAISE THE LORD! His mercy is new each morning. Keep going mom, pray for patience. . . pray for mine too while you’re at it. We are going to be ok.

To the mom who hugged her kids a lot. Bless you and bless those sweet kids who know their mother loves them. You are wonderful.

To the mom who felt like she did not hug her kids enough. Bless you and bless those sweet kids who know their mother loves them. 🙂 And if you really want to make it up to them, go right now and give them the biggest squeeze!

All you moms, the patient ones, the impatient ones, the huggers and the ones who just had a hard time feeling today. . . you are doing great because

you care enough to show love to your kids, the love that they need and desire. You care enough to right wrongs and hug it out. That makes you a great mom.

To the mom who is tired. You have not slept in quite a while and you are beginning to forget what the difference between AM and PM are and what your bed looks like. This too shall pass. Grab some coffee, crack open your bible and drink it in. This is just a season. Grab a friend, ASK FOR HELP, most people really are not just saying, if you need anything call me, for kicks. Let people help you and be blessed and let them be blessed and let your littles be blessed. You are giving it your all and I commend you for your selflessness.

To the mom who is totally getting all that sleep and feeling energetic and chipper. Go to the above mom’s house and lend a hand!! Because, chances are, you have been there and your understand. Or take that time to pour all this new found energy into those kids!! You are, after all, probably the one person they always want to be with! You are awesome! You are who I will one day be again! I can not wait to be with you in the happy land of wide awake! Thanks for showing us that the seasons do end.

you both are giving of yourselves! You both are sacrificing your days to care for others. Thank you. Thank you for being there for your kids. That makes you a great mom. 

To the mom that is lacking in joy for this crazy mothering job or simply in life. Run to the one that can give you water that will never run dry! Christ is our joy and in him it is everlasting. Grab a friend. . .talk it out, look at your children and pull them close when you want them the farthest away. You WILL get there. Love sometimes is a choice, even for our little ones. . . its ok if you are having to make that choice. . the fact that you care enough to be concerned means you are already there. You are a good mom.

To the mom that finds her greatest joy and calling in her mothering. . . thank you!! We need moms like you, reminding us in our dark moments that these little hearts are worth it! That mothering is an eternal calling! We are building soldiers for Christ!! Thank you for showing us that our joy is found in Christ and that our gifts are from HIM. I NEED you, I NEED you reminding me of this when my mind and my heart begins to forget. You are a good mom!

you are both trying to love your kids the best you can! You WANT to love your kids as much as they deserve. That makes you a great mom!

So to you moms, young and old. Thank you. You are not failing at everything. All of us are in different seasons, that’s why we all need each other. Encourage a mom today! Go to the mom with the screaming children and look her in the eyes and tell her that she is not failing, that she is hanging in there and you admire her for loving her kids when the world now a days says that they are just bothers. Go to the mom that others do not see and tell her that you see her! You see her and how hard she is working for her kiddos hearts! Just go and be encouragers, not judging one another but joining hands because we should all know, this mother thing is hard. Gosh, this life thing is hard. So lets make a PACT right here and now. If you are a mother, if you love your child, if your hearts desire is to get this mother thing right, then I will stand beside you. I will not push my habits onto you. I will offer help when ASKED and not think you need to hear something just because. I will sit with you and cry. I will pray for your child. I will love you. I will not let you think that you are failing, because you are NOT failing. If you are worried, well the fact that you care so much. . .makes you a great mom.


O for grace, to trust you more.


Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,

just to take him at his word,

just to rest upon his promise

just to know; thus saith the Lord

 I really like this song. Mostly the words, not so much the music part. Maybe Cody and Melody Curtis can one day work their magical music chops and re-do this. (side note: you should go here if you want to see what magical music chops I am referring to) 😉 But, music aside, have you ever really listened to these words? It really is the sweetest most peaceful thing to simply rest and trust in ChristHe is, after all, the only one that knows all of our struggles. . .the one that came against everything we will ever go through and did not sin. He is the only one who knows how to have complete victory in this world. I would think we would trust in nothing else but him.

Then why do we have such a problem with trusting him. every. single. day?

What does it even look like when we are not trusting in Christ? Well it looks a lot like, fear, anxiety, grumbling, anger, frustration. . . you know. . . all those not so sweet things. If Paul can refer to himself as the chief of sinners I’m just going to be as honest as he and say I am the chief of grumblers and probably even worriers. . yea Ill take head spot in BOTH camps. I would probably even add anger. . . but I don’t want to be greedy. . . maybe someone else wants to be real and claim that one. Have you realized that when we practice these things. . . when we become anxious, fearful, unrighteously angry. . all of those things. . . we are actually NOT trusting Christ, we are NOT thinking he is for us, we are actually thinking he is not enough? Ugh. . . I write this for my heart  more than anyone else’s. Some days I practice NOT trusting in Christ more than I practice resting in him. How horrible, how humbling, how regrettable that is! So many moments, so many moments of growth, so many moments of praise to God for refining me . . . I have wasted on grumbling, frustration, anger. . .I have robbed myself of experiencing joy and  I have been robbing Christ of his praise…….. It hurts to even write that. . . to even think that I do this every day. 

I once read a devotion from She Reads Truth (I highly recommend this) and it was discussing the Bayeux Tapestry. It is a 230 ft long embroidered cloth depicting a rich history over many years. In the devotion it discussed how we are like people looking up from beneath the tapestry. . . we see all the knots, the seemingly unrelated lines, crisscrossing in a pattern that looks like it only creates discord and ugliness, but the Lord, he is creating the tapestry from the top. He is carefully placing each line, each knot, making a beautiful, glorious picture. We see glimpses of the masterpiece, but many times we just see the chaos. Do you see the connection? This picture has stuck in my head since the first time I read about it.  When I see a knot in my life or a line that seems out of place I get frustrated. . . I start fearfully trying to figure out how to fix it all, how to make it look more beautiful, more organized, more correct, instead of trusting that the Lord is intentional and wise and that he does not make mistakes.

Can we really say that we trust in God’s promises so much that everything we face, we look at and with all our hearts say this is for my good? Not in some churchy, this is what we are supposed to say, way, but a true whole hearted, no matter what happens, kind of way? If we truly saw all things through this truth, we would rest in him, right? When we fear the future we are saying, this will not be good for me. When we get angry at a messed up situation we are saying, another way would have been better. When we get frustrated when things do not turn out how we had planned, when people do not do what we think they should, we are saying, I know what is best and this is not it.  The word says And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,h for those who are called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8:28) We hear this ALL THE TIME! But its true even if it has somehow lost its meaning, its truth for you. The verses before it are even sweeter still.

For in this [hope in Christ] we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, becauseg the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Rom 8:24-27

Did you catch it? Did you see how sweet the Lord is to us. . . In Romans 8 Paul speaks of how we are no longer condemned because of Christ, how we will be heirs with Christ, then he says we hope in a future glory that is going to be incomparable to the small sufferings we may face here on earth (even death), how we and all of creation are groaning for his return, and then finally in vs. 24 how we should hope in things we don’t see with patience. . .and then he says the sweetness. . .GOD KNEW we were going to not be able to do this. . that we would be weak. . . so he sends the Spirit to help us in our weakness. . . to help us speak what we do not even understand and to realize the next verse , that  all things work together for our good. If he sent his own son to die in our stead while we were still sinners, then why do we not trust God’s goodness in everything else? Why do we not lift every single thing that happens to the Lord, with thanksgiving on our lips? He has given us every tool we need to find joy in Christ! He has given us the Spirit to help us communicate with Him, to help us trust in him. . . even in our weaknesses. He is so very kind to us!

I know there are horrible atrocities that happen and “where is God?” is uttered a lot in those times. But if we are to be radical Christians, with a no holds bar, I will trust, mentality. . . then for those who love Christ. . . we are to always be able to whisper in those dark moments. . .with no question, that He is here. 

Even in the darkest moments, in the midst of great grief, the Lord is doing something so intentional. . . so good.  I’m not saying that every hard thing will automatically give birth to something good. . . we may not see the good until we are face to face with Christ in eternity. . when we are finally above the beautiful tapestry of history, but I am saying. . . nothing happens without a purpose. . . every moment for the believer is a thread meant to spur on the kingdom.

Trust is hard in those really dark moments, but it is sometimes just as hard  in the seemingly small moments too. Home schooling is my battle right now. There are days when I do not see it as for my good. I see it as a burden, as a time that upset my child, as a time of tears and great frustration, as a time to doubt myself, doubt God’s good plan for me. BUT he is there too. Just like God is in the midst of the horrible, he is in the midst of the ordinary. He is burning away at my impatience, he is making me love my daughter more and draw near to her when I want to run away from her. He is also speaking to my daughter’s heart. When I have to apologize to her she sees my sin, and then her sin. . .and sees why we NEED Christ. When she cries, I cry and daydream about a different path, but I have to trust that we are where we need to be. . . that I am being made more like Christ through my battle, and that my daughter may come to know Christ through these hard and sweet days. I have to trust that the ordinary day to day responsibilities are being  used for our good as well. He is still creating the beautiful story of his great redemption, no matter how insignificant we think the simple daily thread is and so we still need to practice trust. We need to trust that He is wiser then us.

Our jobs, our interactions with people, with our children, our simple decisions we are making every day, our current economic situation, our current world situation. From the small to the big. . . are we trusting God. . . are we saying that we are going to praise and trust him come what may?  Are we placing our trust in governments, houses, bank accounts, knowledge, ourselves. . .or in Christ? Only one of those will never fail you. Are we going to shout in our strength and whisper in our dark weaknesses that he is here. . . he is for us. . . we will trust in him?  

I leave you with a simple statement of radical faith that leads to the sweet peace that is found in trusting in Christ.

I can not remember if I read this in the book Slowly by Slowly or heard it at one of IOI’s (Indigenous Outreach International) banquets. It was a story of one of the missionaries that is a part of the ministry. In the face of not having food to eat for a few days, he was asked about it and he simply stated that on the days there was no food for him, he took that as a time that the Lord simply wanted him to fast.     Think about that for a minute. Let the full weight of that sink in. How would you react to days without food for yourself or your family? He took a time of no food, of hunger, to trust in God and to give praise to him. Does that turn your heart the way it did mine? The simplicity of his radical faith, the radical trust that he had for our great God? He had every opportunity to grumble, to fear for his lack of food, to get angry that God seemed to not be providing for him in the way he needed, but instead he showed great faith. . .great trust. He trusted that the Lord was doing something for his good, so he would be faithful and fast.

He used his time of need to run to the only one that could fulfill every need.

Do we see our trials, our battles, our weaknesses, the scary stuff, as opportunities to become ever more intimate with God? Do we see the ugly times as just moments that the Lord is using to create a full, beautiful history of redemption that he so graciously lets us be a part of? Are you so caught up in the knots (that you think are mistakes to begin with but really are so intentionally and intricately placed)  that you miss the beautiful, rich picture that the Lord is stitching for himself and his people? O friends! How I want that radical, trusting heart! A heart, that in the midst of hard times, does not shout “why God!” or “Where is God?” but what do you want to teach me?, how can I glorify you through this?, how can I be made more like Christ?.  

How embarrassing that I am so caught up in my own discomfort that I am forgetting that its not all about my comfort, that glorifying God through my actions is my first duty as a believer! That loving God and enjoying him forever is our greatest end? How I need to cling to the promises of God and know that what he says is enough for all situations. The big and the small. What are you not trusting God with? How are you not walking in obedience to him? What is stealing your joy? Don’t worry, I will be right there beside you, repenting with you, friend.

After all, this life is for our good, but ultimately for God’s glory. Lets glorify God together today, choosing joy, by simply trusting that in every moment he is making us more like Christ. Lets stop fighting and rest,  trusting that God is faithful.

O for grace, to trust you more. 


If you don’t know who I am. . . .

I’m a wife to Zach, mother to two blue eyed little ladies, a homeschool mom and preschool teacher (like at a real school 😉 ). I get stressed, cry, and feel like I’m failing a lot, but then the Lord sweetly encourages me daily. . . in the mishaps or the accomplishments. This is me, the raw truth of a woman who really and truly just wants to figure out how to act like an adult, love people, not ruin my children, love my husband well, and glorify God always.

Dear Reader

Why do people start blogs anyway? I used to wonder. . as I read and read the thoughts of people much wiser than I am. Moms, pastors, missionaries, cooks, stylists.. . I could go on. I grace the pages of many a unique and gifted person. Is it because they simply want to voice their own opinions? Well I’m sure that is some motivation, but then there are the others. . .you know the ones, those sweet words that you read. . . and with a slight smile and a relieved sigh you think, “solidarity sister” or “did you really just confess that?” or my favorite, “So I’m not the only crazy around here?” or the wonderfully refreshing “You are so right, the Lord really is that good”. Those are the ones I cling to in this, young wife mother of small little ones twentysomething year old, season of life that I am barely surviving in most days. This is the type of place I want to create. A place where someone can sit and laugh or take a deep breath and just be ok with where they are. . . or simply be encouraged to press on and keep doing the next thing.

I am not wise and to tell you the truth, I listen and glean from all the people around me that I feel are doing WAY better than me at life.  So, dear reader, I have no idea who you are and will never promise to impress you with wit or lavish upon you good words or good grammar, 🙂 but I will promise one thing. . messy life lived truthfully and (most days) joyfully. . .  an imperfect life but a life that is learning to be steeped in the promises of a God that is much mightier and much holier than I. My heart bursts most days, for the good or bad, it is bursting. . so I needed somewhere for all that wonderful shrapnel and lessons to land. So here it is. I hope it will encourage you most days and leave you filled with such hope in Christ always. In a world where there are so many words already. . . what are just a few more, right? So, welcome, reader, to the pender place.