What I’ve Been Thinking about: Life Lessons from Parenting, and a Homeless Man.

This morning I received a text from a friend back in Hawaii who had seen my two older boys at church last weekend.  She knew I was away, and took the time to share a few encouraging words about something cool she had observed.  Her timing was perfect.

I have begun to feel the distance from the two boys back home, and I am really missing them right now.  And that text served to not only encourage me, but also confirm some of the thoughts that have been playing in my mind this past week.

So, it may be that what I am about to share is coming from this sentimental place…But even so, that is a quiet and thoughtful place where I seem to learn and grow the most.  I don’t think anything I am sharing is new, but a fresh reminder, which is always good…I hope you find that this applies to your life as well:

what I've been thinking


When I’m away from my boys, or really any time at all, one thing is certain:  Nothing in the world can make me feel more loved or cared for, than knowing that someone is being kind to my children.

When someone else reaches out to encourage my boys?  I am so blessed.
When another family invites one of my boys to go along on an outting with them?  I am so grateful.
When someone tells ME something one of my boys did that was good, or right, or praiseworthy?  I’m thrilled.

Because here’s the thing:  I know that my kids aren’t perfect.  I know that they can be annoying, and sloppy, and sometimes they talk too much, or  say strange things, or laugh too loud.

My kids are not always easy to be around.

And knowing that, I appreciate even more the people that love them anyways.  The people that don’t have to.  The people that choose to.

While I am away on this long trip, this feeling is even more intense.  I cannot reach out and hug my boys.  I cannot cook them a meal, or tuck them in bed.  So, knowing that another kind person might just give them a ride, or feed them a meal, or encourage them somehow means the world to me.  Sandra is there to do most of that, (and I thank God for the cheerful way she does everything,) but others are helping out as well.

And it’s just not while I’m away.  How often I have been blessed by kind words or deeds of someone else towards my children.

Does anyone know what I’m talking about?

Shift scenes to last week, Huntington Beach:

My parents, Luke and I were heading back to the car after Luke had surfed.  A slightly disheveled man approached us, with a  plastic bucket-thing in his hands.  He nervously smiled, showing his very crooked teeth, and I saw a light in his eyes.  With a child-like speech impediment, the man asked if we would consider donating to his cause:  He was in a recovery program…Now three months clean and sober, and trying to help raise funds for the mission that helped him.

There was something completely irresistible about this guy, and we simply couldn’t brush him off.  (I’m not proud to say that I more typically would pass by someone like him.)

My dad and I each opened our wallets, fumbling for something to give the man.  And as we found our dollars, he went on to tell us that he played drums for the worship team at his church, and his Pastor even bought a new drum set just for him to play on.  (he beamed, adding, “it was a big promotion.”)

I wanted to hug him.
(I should have hugged him.)

We wished him well, and he walked on, with a bit of a skip in his step.

And at that moment I felt like God was speaking to me.  And what I heard was, “I love that guy.  He’s MY BOY.”

And I knew how he felt.

That man had obviously made some bad choices in his life.  And he was far from attractive to this world.
But he was God’s kid as much as me, or my sons, or anyone in the universe is God’s kid.  How many people had already rejected this guy?  How many “no’s” and “give-ups” and “get a life’s” had he already heard, either out loud or through another’s gestures?

And really, wasn’t this man somebody’s son?  Sometime, a long time ago, he was a baby, then a boy…then an awkward teenager…and whatever happened to him, or however he landed where he is today…None of it was outside of God’s loving eyes.  And every single day of this man’s life, God’s heart for this man was “Will someone please just love him?  Will someone please encourage my son?”

And when I let myself go there…Oh my heart can break.  Because they’re everywhere:  People with pain, and fear, and unmet needs.  And sometimes they are OUR kids, or our parents, or maybe even us.  And then we know very well the power of offering even a small gesture of love or support.

Since that day at Huntington Beach, this theme has somewhat haunted me, in a good kind of haunting way…And now I am seeing people with different eyes.  People on the street.  People I pass.

Even the people in my daily life–the ones that annoy me, and I mostly try to avoid…Might God be quietly pleading with me on their behalf—”Oh just give them a chance.  Sure, they’re annoying, but I really love them, and I’m kind of looking for someone to–You know–love them anyways?”

If there is one thing that parenting has taught me, I believe it is the tiniest slice of understanding God’s heart for His kids.  If I love my four boys with such an individual, deep, and unconditional love, then I can only begin to fathom the depths of God’s love for His children.

And if I am most blessed by others loving my boys–despite their weirdnesses and weaknesses, then I think it’s pretty clear what would most bless our Heavenly Father.

Yes…Loving His children:  Practically and purposefully.  The ones that are easy to love, and the ones that are hard to love.  The cute ones and the disheveled ones.  The ones with smooth speech and those that trip over their words.  The strong and the weak, the overcomers, and the ones that have not yet overcome.

Maybe most importantly– the ones that are obviously not being looked after by anyone else.

And it doesn’t have to be so complicated.  What do I want people to do for my kids?  I’m guessing the same is God’s desire for how we might love His kidsEncourage them.  Include them.  Speak well of them.  Maybe give them a meal, or a hug, or a ride somewhere.  

Overlook their annoyances, and notice what makes them special.

And that, my friends, is what I’ve been thinking about lately.

If you have learned any specific lessons about God’s heart through your parenting or other experiences, I hope you’ll share in comments below.  You are always an encouragement to me!

Aloha, thanks for being there!


8 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Thinking about: Life Lessons from Parenting, and a Homeless Man.”

  1. That was beautiful Monica. If it wasn’t 3:00 am California time I would call you. I love the connection that you drew between how you are feeling towards your kids and how God feels about that man on the beach.

    It is so easy to pass judgement on other people just by the way they look or the way they are acting. But you never know what a person is going through or has been through. I am learning to not pass judgement on anyone because like the saying goes….”unless you have walked in their shoes”…. And it’s impossible to walk in someone else’s shoes.

    I have had the same thoughts about how everybody was once an innocent baby, then a small toddler etc….just needing to be loved. Maybe we should look at everyone that way. Love covers a multitude of sin right?

    Here is the dilemma though. When you wear your heart on your sleeve and really begin to love people, you are bound to get hurt by some of them. Is it worth it? …….. I believe so.

    I love you my friend.

  2. Great post, Monica. As I read it, a song came to my mind from when I was a teenager and attended a nationwide church youth conference. We sang a song there and some of the lines were, “he’s precious in the eyes of Jesus, he’s precious in the eyes of a King…when will you realize the one you criticize is precious in the eyes of Jesus?” Everyone is precious in God’s eyes, and in their mother’s eyes or someone’s eyes. And “good on ya” for recognizing the precious-ness of the gentleman you met the other day. :-)

  3. Since I was there with you that day, I remember we all felt pretty good about helping that guy out. A couple days before that, we were in a shop in Laguna Beach, and the gal in the shop was distressed about a homeless guy sitting on the sidewalk in front of her store. She wasn’t so worried about her business, as she was the man. She said Laguna is really good about helping homeless people, and he shouldn’t have to live like that (though he wasn’t asking people for money). She said “he’s a person too”. When we walked out of the store, she was bent down to his level, talking to him. Whether he got help or not, we don’t know, but we sure saw one of God’s angels in her. She said it was hard for her to do, but she did it–and I know he’ll never forget her act of kindness.

  4. Beautiful and so true, Monica! From parenting, I have learned that my sons ( and everyone,really) needs the most love ( and kindness and patience) at times they are the most “unloveable”. It is not my place to judge, just to choose kindness. This is true of my 5 year old in a melt down and a “jerky” man in the next lane who is teaching my kids about road rage. Parenthood has taught me patience and to withhold judgement. Lessons I am still learning. Every. Single. Day.

  5. Wow, just wow. What an amazing and humbling reminder. I never completely understood it either before having a kid of our own, but gosh how that all changes once you imagine others around you as someone’s child. Thank you for sharing…always.

  6. Beautiful! Thanks for the encouraging words of wisdom…our father in heaven is so good and I cannot even begin our understand how truly deep his love is!

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