She digs in her heals and sets her face like flint, with this tenacious spirit she has — God will use. She is diligent and responsible. She is my most studious one. She loves deeply. She excels at anything she attempts, and succeeds at anything she puts her hand to. She is a runner, and the horse-loving one. She is also, the determined one. She will do great exploits for His Kingdom in her lifetime.

I know it.

But today, I parent her. No book or seminar could have adequately prepare this mama to walk day in and day out, and get through the days I’m not sure how to walk — parenting a strong-willed child. There are parts of her that are too big for me, but not too big for God, for she is just as He created her. She keeps me on my knees, leaning on the One Who provides me wisdom, despite my faults.

She was a mere nine months when I knew, as she tried to dominate her compliant 5 year old sister, that she was born with a fight in her. Sometimes, I feel so ineffective in teaching her God’s ways. How could she say the things she does, how she says them? The words, the tone, the inflection of her voice, they sound so familiar. My heart sinks low, in repentance. They are my words, my tone, my inflection. She is so much a reflection of who I am. And what is most challenging, is she emulates the parts of me I am least fond of.

How could I be the person of choice to parent such a determined one? Sometimes, I wonder. Then others days, I think, what did I do to deserve the privilege of parenting such a beautiful gift? Any given day, I cannot parent without grace — not without bowing low to receive it. I seek to parent like He parents — grace-based parenting — living the gospel of grace  — gospel parenting.

For Wisdom — I seek on my knees.

His Strength — I need unending.

Only the Spirit of God can truly reach our heart of hearts, as He said, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (John 6:63) His Word is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) I have seen before my own eyes, as she reads His Word, her heart melt like wax. Her eyes well-up as she sees her reflection in the mirror of His Word. This is how she is changed. This is how we are changed. The stealth working power of His Word — power to transform hearts. A power, working silent and unseen, until the harvest of it. I must be faithful in sowing seeds of His Living Word in the soil of her soul, their souls.

I must remember, “It is not my job to fix and change. My job is to depend, serve and equip. This is the work of grace.” (Jeff VanVonderen)

I cannot make her love.

The same way I cannot be made to love.

I love because You first loved me.

Let it be Lord that my life permeates Your love.

Help me aid her in seeking You so that she would know You —

know Your grace, know Your love for her.


I must love when it is hard.

Love like Christ, even when it is not promised in return.

In that moment, when in my weakness, I want her far, I draw her close.

In that moment when her behavior has me wanting to run the other way,

I draw near to her.

In that moment when she turns away and rejects me,

is the moment I pull her in, and hold her tightly.

When I feel her distant from me, in those few moments I could lose the connection I worked so hard to gain, I release the desire for outward conformity, and consider her heart. In that moment when my default is to say “Go! I cannot deal with you anymore.” She instead hears murmured in her ear, as I embrace her — ALL of her, “There is nothing you could ever do to make me love you less, and everyday I love you more and more. I love you no matter what I may find you doing or hear you saying. I love you no matter what choices you make in your life today, or any day after. There is nothing you could ever do that would make me stop loving you.”

I whisper until I know she knows, I love her fierce, no matter what.

Love is the only conquering force. I hold her until she concedes in my arms. I pray that she will surrender all to the Arms of the One that promises He will NEVER let her go. She rests her head close to my heart, as hers is pliable. I pray she turns to the One Who will not ever condemn it. I pray that she somehow knows that this love I demonstrate, I only can because of Christ’s love demonstrated. I pray she would know it — that we will know it together.

That she will be able to take in, with all followers of Jesus, the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. Knowing, God can do anything — far more than she could ever imagine or guess or request in her wildest dreams! He does it NOT by pushing us around, but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Ephesians 3:18-20