They Can Hear You

We have kids. A few of them. Four to be exact and we had them all right in a row. Our three sons came first within three years of one another and then our daughter is our youngest. Our oldest will begin kindergarten in a few weeks which means for the last few months I have had the opportunity to take all four of my small children out into the world with me wherever I go.

If you have young kids, or have encountered anyone with young children, or even if you’ve read my blog before, you will not be surprised to hear the comments I have received when I venture out into the big world with my small family.

You have your hands full. 

Do you know what causes that to happen? 

Wow. Are they all yours?

Three boys, bless your heart.

You got your girl. (This is a new one.)

And recently my favorite, Wow, you are either crazy or very unlucky.

Now, I am not saying all of these comments are said with ill will or evil intent. Sometimes my four small children hanging off the Kroger shopping cart is quite a miraculous thing to see. Not everyone is out and about with all their children and I understand that when you see us you don’t know what to say. So one of the above comes out… (hopefully not the last one.)

For the last year I have processed these phrases I hear when I am out only thinking about how the words made me feel. It wasn’t until today that this has changed.

A kind man passed us by in the parking lot and said one of the above phrases. He was kind. He was applauding all my efforts. He was not intending evil but my four year old commented, “I heard that.”

He heard it.

For all these years it has slipped my mind that my children are hearing these phrases with their functioning ears and active minds.

They can hear the comments, see the looks and interpret the phrases. This has completely changed the way I think about hearing “you’ve got your hands full” when I am out in the world with my young family.

They can hear you. My kids can hear you.

What broke my heart in that moment was the sadness in my little one’s voice, “I heard that” was said with sorrow. He wanted me to know he can hear the words too. He is standing right there.

He is not a circus act. He is a person, a person created by the Most High God and perfectly placed in our young family at just the right time and that Most High God perfectly placed just the right amount of months…and days…and years in between all four of my young kids.

My children are not accessories in the stroller or shopping cart, they are people and they can hear you.

I began to imagine what it has been like for them to hear the uncomfortable phrases for all these years. Especially when someone calls me unlucky to have them or comments something implying that my boys were just unsuccessful attempts for my prize daughter. They probably have felt hurt, mistreated and unwanted when we are out in this big, big world.

I know my husband has his hands full with me but no one would say that aloud to him when I am standing right by his side. Any person would avoid saying, “is she yours?” It’s just bad manners.

Why in our culture have we deemed it acceptable to say things about children we would never say about adults?

My kids can hear what you are saying. I want you to know. You comment is ringing in their ears.

As a mom, I fight to teach my kids that they are important and loved by the Most High God. I fight to teach them they were brought into the world for a purpose, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I fight to teach them they are precious to me because they are precious to God. Their existence is not unimportant or invisible to God.

God sees my kids hanging off the cart. God always sees them and He knows my kids by their names. God sees them as important. God knows all four of my kids so intimately that He knows the numbers of hairs on each of their heads.

So if you know they can hear you and you know God does not think of them as a handful, or a curse, or an unsuccessful attempt to have a daughter does this change how you might respond to us when you see us in the aisles of your grocery store?

Knowing they can hear you changes the way I think about “this way we have learned to talk about children” in our culture that is just bad manners.

I would like to share some encouraging comments I have received in hopes that we can redress these awkward encounters with the truth about children. I hope we can fight to redress the awkward comments to reflect how God views having lots of young kids hanging off shopping carts.

Next time try one of these instead…

Look at all your beautiful children. 

The Lord has truly blessed you. 

I bet those boys love their little sister.

What nice boys and girls you have, I’m sure it’s not easy for them to tag along on errands with mom. 

Pslam 127:3-5 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

They can hear you. I hope this might help you think about how you are talking about them.


Unraveled Identity

When my husband first told me he wanted to go to seminary I threw up in my mouth a little bit. This was a calling he was sure of for himself but a calling for which I did not yet feel prepared.

I did not grow up in a family that attended church every Sunday or attended VBS in the summers nor did we have family devotions around our dinner table and the only way I knew how to pray was “now I lay me down to sleep.”

I have struggled with a difficult past marked with depression, unhealthy relationships with men, partying and I have experienced great loss through the passing of my mother from cancer as a young teenager.

Back then at twenty-three, in a little four door Camry on my way to St Louis, I did not believe that God could use me in His church.

Back then I did not see myself, this girl with an imperfect past, being able to ever connect with faithful church attenders on Sunday morning serving a perfect God.

This calling felt too big.


I followed my husband to seminary anyway like a faithful solider not quite ready for battle but on the inside I struggled against the inner voices from my past that whispered I just wasn’t good enough.

It wasn’t like I believed it to be from 2 Corinthians 5:17: if you are in Christ you are a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come.

The new had come, I did have a changed life, but it was also so interwoven with many past experiences and voices. Somehow the old would have to begin to unravel from the new.

Walking through this story has been quite a journey. A journey against myself. A journey so challenging it would fail if God was not in it with me.

I have had some unraveling to do especially when it comes to my identity.

I was being called to the beginning of a journey against myself where I would constantly be required to put off the old and use the new to redefine the woman God was making to be in Christ.

It wasn’t long before the inner voice became coupled with the outer voices from others who were surrounding me.

I will never forget one of my first interactions with another seminary wife, “Wow, I’ve never met anyone like you… someone from total darkness.”

In that moment, whether that woman was joking or not, I stopped putting on what was true about me from the promises of scripture and I put on the scarlet letter of “the girl from total darkness” and I never wanted to step foot on the seminary campus again.

Just-not-good-enough-girl-from-total-darkness became the anthem of my season in seminary. I let that moment mark me and this just-not-good-enough-girl-from-total-darkness let the inner voices win.


I spent three years trying to distance myself as far away from seminary as possible. I didn’t want anyone else to know the real me. I chose to mark myself with that just-not-good-enough-girl-from-total-darkness scarlet letter.

What happened to me while we lived in St. Louis was painful. I was crippled by my anthem. I wept. I was sick to my stomach almost every day. While my husband was thriving I was dying, carrying this heavy scarlet letter around my neck.

I still appeared to be a good solider on the exterior. But on the inside I was barely breathing.

It wasn’t until one morning on my couch when the words from Matthew 11 appeared on the page of my hot pink Bible in technicolor. “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I thought about how long I had been carrying the weight of this interwoven old and new. How long I had walked with this just-not-good-enough-girl-from-total-darkness scarlet letter around my neck breathless and searching for air?

How long had I carried this burden alone and not shared the yoke with my Risen Lord?

He makes the burden light when I share it with Him.

Matthew 11 helped to let the unraveling of my identity begin.

The thread started to pull and I felt like I could breathe.


This moment happened in our last weeks in seminary. It took me too long to realize I was not bearing the just-not-good-enough-girl-from-total-darkness identity alone. The one sharing the yoke with me was Jesus. The One Who had overcome death itself.

If He could overcome death He could help me overcome the voices.

So the unraveling of my identity in Christ began as I started to put off the old patterns and ways of viewing myself and I began to put on the new.

I started to challenge the just-not-good-enough-girl-from-total-darkness label with the label of the deeply-loved-completely-accepted-image-bearer-of-The-Risen-Lord-girl-from-total-darkness.

(I mean, I need to stay true to my roots, right?)

You can’t appreciate where you are if you forget where you came from- so the girl from total darkness stays…for now.

I know this journey of the unraveling of my identity is Christ is not over. I know the thread is just beginning to unravel.

I can’t say I feel completely equipped even now to serve alongside my husband but I can say the idea now longer causes nausea. This
deeply-loved-completely-accepted-image-bearer-of-The-Risen-Lord-girl-from-total-darkness knows God calls unlikely people in His Great Story Of Redemption.

No matter what the past, the inner voices, or the audible voices might be whispering I can hush them with truth because Christ, the One who ultimately has called me, is walking alongside me sharing this burden.

In Him I am…

Deeply Loved.
Completely Accepted.
Image bearer of the Risen Lord
Girl From Total Darkness

What is your identity? Are you letting the new unravel from the old?