My 21-year-old daughter left the country in May for an immersion experience in Ecuador, followed by a 6-week study abroad program in Barcelona, Spain. Because we are so close, she knew the separation would be difficult for my mom heart. So, as a parting gift, she gave me a hand-painted gift box with 53 love notes inside, one for each day of her absence: blue—all the reasons why she loves me, pink—all the reasons she is who she is because of me, and green—all the reasons why I make her laugh.

Oh, the tears and oh, the irony. Little did she know while creating my gift that I would send her away with a journal containing 53 written love letters, one for each day of her trip. That’s what happens in an Elmer and glue relationship.

Reading the ‘all the reasons why’ notes from my daughter over these past four weeks has stirred my soul in many ways. But the underlying lesson I’ve learned applies to all of us: our kids are watching us more than we realize, and what they see can take our breath away

While raising our kids through various ages and stages, we put enormous effort into trying to do the right thing. The constant focus on action and result tends to magnify our mistakes and can deepen insecurity. If we aren’t careful, we can start to see ourselves through a lens of weakness and failure, which is a distorted view of the truth.

When Jesus looks at us, He sees us for who we really are: a child of God made in God’s image, holy and whole, perfect and true—love in its purest form. I’ve come to realize our kids have a greater tendency to see us with the same Jesus-eye view because their love for us is unconditional, whereas our love for ourselves is often performance based.

In the past week, I’ve pulled the following two ‘why I am who I am because of you’ pink notes from my daughter’s gift box:

  1. You are brave and that’s why I’m fearless
  2. Seeing you follow your dream of writing is why I’m following my dreams

I never thought of myself and what I’ve overcome in life as brave, so hearing this from my little girl floored me. To think she’s chosen to be fearless because I’ve inspired her with my actions is overwhelming. (Not to mention her fearless nature gives me grey hair and ulcer’s because, worry. A bad habit I’m still working to overcome. Turns out I only have myself to blame! Gah)

As for my daughter’s admiration for my decision to pursue my writing dream, I had no idea how much she’d internalized my choice. When I jumped head first and full-time into this lifelong passion at age 45, I didn’t consider the collateral beauty for my kids.

Regardless of whether our kids verbalize their observations about our decisions, behaviors, and beliefs, (these affirmations begin to trickle out when they enter young adulthood) I’m confident they see the best in us, not the worst. Just as we see the best in them because of our unbridled love—which is precisely how Jesus sees us. We aren’t the best judge of our character, especially if brokenness lingers beneath our surface. I think we can all do a better job of seeing ourselves through the eyes of love. We are made from love to be love in the world, after all, so we need only believe this because Jesus says it’s true and He uses our kin to prove His testimony.

As moms, knowing how much our kids are watching, emulating, forming personal creeds to live by based on our actions sounds pretty scary considering all the screw-ups, poor choices, bad behaviors we display. But these actions come with the fragile human territory. Just like Jesus’ perception of us, we need to accept the not so great for what it is and shift our focus to what is beautiful and redeeming, steeping ourselves in gratitude for how Jesus uses us to make a positive impact in our kiddos lives.

If we’re lucky, our sons and daughters will help us see things about ourselves we never thought possible, or have overlooked, minimized, or disregarded. When we look in the mirror through their innocent, untainted, pure eyes of love, we will begin to see ourselves the way Jesus does: Love and Light, value and worth—always and no matter what.

Let’s see as Jesus sees, crazy Mommas!





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Do you or a fellow Momma need some heart encouragement? Subscribe to Shelby’s monthly Grace Notes and receive 3 FREE Chapters of her new book with Lisa Leshaw, “How Are You Feeling, Momma? (You don’t need to say, “I’m fine.”) The two of them share short reflections on their perspective of 31 motherhood emotions, each tied to a specific Psalm. The cool thing is, Shelby is a Jesus groupie and Lisa is a Moses devotee!

Shelby is a Certified Emotional Intelligence Coach, Certified Meditation Teacher (CMT), author, freelance writer, speaker, and love enthusiast who is passionate about helping others ‘change the way they look at things so the things they look at change.’ She has numerous stories featured in the national publication, Guideposts. She also has over 160 featured articles at online publications, including Her View From Home, Scary Mommy, Parenting Teens & Tweens, For Every Mom, Love What Matters, and Today. Her book, How Are You Feeling, Momma? (You don’t need to say, “I’m fine.”), co-authored with her dear friend, Lisa Leshaw, recently won the 2020 Publisher’s Weekly Book Life Prize as the finalist in the Inspirational/Spiritual category.