I took this picture before leaving the house yesterday morning. The beauty of watching these two sleep is never lost on me. For all the moments I take my family structure for granted, the wee hours of the morning isn’t one of them.

Later that afternoon, I was asked in what areas of my life do I achieve excellence. I stutter stepped over a few responses and found myself feeling assured of only 2 answers:

  1. The grace & patience my husband shows me

  2. My commitment to tithing. (My former pastor would say, “Never be cheap with God. God’s never been cheap with you. He always gives you the very best of what He has.” Hearing that kicked me in the throat, because God has been so gracious with me. I haven’t questioned giving back my 10% since!)

Now aside from these two things, ya girl came up short. Note: This isn’t a call to affirm the qualities you deem excellent about me. I quickly realized the areas I see as lacking (i.e. my pedagogy, taking my writing seriously, and domesticity) reflect the passion I have for showing up fully (in them). Hence, it’s not so much that they aren’t areas of excellence - they’re just areas in my life I hope to always strive for growth. I will never reach perfectionism as a teacher, writer, wife, or mother. Hence, I may never feel like I’ve achieved excellence in those capacities. Granted, it’s still something I can strive toward.

Anyway, shortly after this question was posed to me (at a life group in church, mind you), I found myself in the grocery store with Zora. She asked if she could enter the double doors marked ‘Exit’ as I walked through the double doors intended for those entering the store. I told her to go ahead, and that I’d meet her on the other side.

[insert plot twist]

Home girl entered those doors and took off running! Consider any grocery store where you enter the produce section, which spans the shorter side of the building. She ran full speed ahead and entirely beyond my eyesight. Because I was completely assured that SHE KNEW BETTER and could not have gone far, I didn’t even bother to pick up my pace. Imagine my surprise when I got to the other end of the produce section and realized she was at the opposite end of the grocery store (legitimately 20+ aisles away, on the long wall!) AND rounding the corner! Zora decided to become a sprinter and lose her mind on the same night… on the night I was just trying to grab a few items to make nachos.

It’s worth noting that her doing this was an unprecedented occurrence… since the last (& first) time she did it some years ago, before realizing we don’t play unprompted games of hide & seek at the mall. That’s a story for a different day, because she was a small toddler, and I became a not so small mess when she didn’t respond to my calling her name... but I digress.

For the first time, I contemplated beating her. I needed her to know that not only did she TRY it - she disappointed me. She scared me. She acted outside of the good sense God and intentional parenting granted her. I thought to myself, “This is it. This is when you have to show her that you will hit her, despite the fact that you don’t want to. This is when you have to show her your power.”

Shortly after it occurred to me that I’d already been screaming this girl’s name throughout the grocery store. I refused to further embarrass myself by beating my child in public and having a wailing kid at my side as I finish grabbing the items I just knew would make for a quick trip! So, I adjusted my tone (and channeled the intensity of my ancestors!), had her thank the man who helped me locate her as she mad dashed from aisle to aisle trying to follow the sound of my voice, and I threatened her against making another decision like that - with an unparalleled level of firmness. I even plucked her when we got to the car, for good measure. It wasn’t as firm as I intended, and in hindsight, I wish I had pinched her… but it will have to suffice.

Then came our return home and eventually - time for family prayer. While talking with God, Chris (the disciplinarian who usually responds with more aggression than I prefer) reminded me that Zora made a poor choice, and poor choices aren’t beyond any of us. Reality check, is that you? Never mind that Chris openly admits he likely would’ve handled that situation entirely different had he been in the store when it occurred. Here we were, speaking with God, reminded of another opportunity of being made in His likeness and the charge to conduct ourselves accordingly.

It reminded me that Zora needed the same thing I’d been pleading to receive for 2+ years. Zora, in all of her “four and a half” years of age, lacked discernment. I’d been praying for the ability to recognize when I’m operating within or beyond God’s will, and there was my baby girl running freely in disobedience, demanding the grace I request on the daily. Just like that my mood begin to shift. There’s something special about collective prayer... about communicating, with those you love, in a posture that’s clearly submissive to God. I don’t have a profound conclusion. I just wanted to end my night the same way I started my day - with gratitude. So, good night, y’all. Love yours.

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