Keep walking

Yesterday was Monday, in all its exhausting glory.  The weekend shot by unusually fast, it seemed, and I felt unready to jump back into school.  Then the dog got sick and gave me a pseudo-reprieve;  instead of school I ended up spending the morning at the vet.  The dog’s on steroids now, with a guarded prognosis… some scary-sounding auto immune thing.  Poor baby.  She’s only 7.  We go back Thursday for more lab work– hoping she’ll make it.

After I got home and settled the lethargic dog on a crib mattress in the garage, I walked into the house to find the 16 year old explaining a math lesson to the younger kids, bless his heart.  The kids were ignoring him listening with varying levels of utter boredom pretended attention, seemingly unaware that they will indeed need to learn this stuff, bless their lil hearts.  Nevermind that of his own free will he was taking time and energy to help them.

I mustered reasonable good humor as I asked them to thank their brother for his help.  We then moved on through lunch and afternoon house cleanups.  In the process I wrestled with a few attitudes, had a long talk with a kid.  Went for a walk with a child who spent the first half of the walk deliberately walking 10 feet behind me.  Came back in and had more conversations with other kids about other familiar issues.  Got dinner done.  Wrestled with a few more major ‘tudes, not the least of which by that time was my own.  By the time John got home, I was ready to spit nails.  Good thing God didn’t so equip me.  But the cranky words– they were spitting freely.

The attitudes were ones we’ve discussed for months years. The words were ones I’ve repeated many times: “This is your math, you need to care enough to work til you understand it.”  “Even if you don’t want to ______, it is still your job to obey with good humor.” Yada, yada, yada.  On any given day, I address issues in a huge variety of ways.  Outright disobedience earns consequences.  Rudeness does too.  But also I talk with my kids. I speak fervently, passionately, creatively.  Sometimes with frustration, sometimes with humor, sometimes even with tears.  I care about them, and and I tell them that.

But still eyes glaze over. The same problems happen again and again.  And hopelessness overtakes my mind, at least some days.

Days like yesterday when I see no progress.  No change.  I feel like I’ll be doing this every Monday  (and Tuesday and Wednesday and…..) for the foreseeable future, never making a lick of difference.

I think it’s no coincidence that over the weekend a guest pastor at our church told me the story of Joshua and that big old Jericho wall.  The wall that those Israelites were told to walk around.  I bet when God told them to march around the wall, they wondered what was going on.  They wondered how their puny walking could possibly be making a lick of difference.

And it didn’t make a difference on that first day.  Nor on the second, or the third, or even the sixth.

How thrilled do you think they were to be walking around that big old city after the first day or two?

And on that seventh day, when God told them to march around 7 times, do ya think some of them were tired of marching?  Do you think some of them were wanting to stay in their tents and take a nap?

I don’t know, because the Bible doesn’t really say.   But judging by myself yesterday, I’m guessing there may have been a doubter or two in the bunch.

Wow, do I want to see some walls falling down.  I want to see progress. I passionately want healed hearts for wounded ones.  I want kids to smile into my eyes instead of stone-walling when I smile at them. To lean into my embrace instead of stiffening.  I want kids to care enough about learning that they will ask about unknown words.  I want them to try hard at math and reading, and yeah, I confess, I even want them to remember 7×9 and 17-9 from one day to the next.

I’m not seeing it yet. Not for all the kids anyway. And that’s really, really hard for me. Crazy hard.

But you know what?  Today my job is just to keep marching.  Whether or not those walls fall down.  Whether or not I see progress today or next month or next year.

Keep marching, knowing that imperfect parents and imperfect kids will always have struggles.

Keep marching, remembering that it is God who gives the increase.

Keep marching, trusting that my God does indeed make walls fall down.

Keep marching.


  1. Amazing post Mary. So glad to know I’m not the only one that could spit nails given the opportunity. It gets wearing repeating stuff over and over but you are right..we gotta keep marching.

    Now I have that Veggie Tales song in my head 🙂

  2. Thanks Mary for another encouraging post. Sometimes I get so tired and it feels like I’m not making progress. This was really good to hear!

  3. I needed to read this today. Sometimes the attitudes I get in return for my efforts make me think I am on the wrong path. Then without warning a teeny tiny breakthrough in the attitudes reminds me that this is exactly why I am on this path. Posts like this are refreshing and encourage me to get a new pair of sandals and keep marching. Thank you for the encouragement, Mary.

  4. I am another who needed to read this today. Thanks for the encouragement as I walk yet again “around the city walls”.


  5. Thank you so very much for this post! Today for me was yesterday for you — (did that make sense?). Some days my wounded ones seem so far from healing and even further from wanting to be healed. I, too, will keep walking (and will keep my nails to myself).

    Your blog is an inspiration to me and, though I don’t often leave a reply, I read your posts daily. Thank you for your encouragement, your stories, and for sharing you and your family with us.

  6. Wow. Keep marching … AND … writing!! Thanks for sharing your heart with us.

  7. So needed to read this. Thank you, Mary!

  8. awesome post! thank you for sharing your so personal struggles so honestly. It gave me a lift !

  9. A much needed word. God continues to be faithful…..

  10. thanks for this, mary. I get tired of those “talks” too, when it seems I’m pouring my whole soul into how to teach a child and they don’t care enough to hear me. Thanks for the pep talk.

  11. I hear you, hon. Oh how I hear you! I feel like I am batting my head up against a tree many days dealing with this headstrong daughter of mine. Argh.

    I too shall try to just keep walking. Her walls will fall down eventually.


  12. Thanks so much for those scripture verses. I have been praying much lately about very similar issues in our home. I have indeed grown weary in well doing. God’s words are like the sun shining through the clouds and giving that much needed touch of warmth. God bless.

  13. Thank you Mary for your encouragement and humour… what a blessing you are for opening up to us all to share what we all struggle with!! I have found Kevin Lehman’s book “Have a new kid by Friday” to be packed with wonderful ideas about how you can talk less and get more changes in your children… ah, the wonderful world of consequences (B doesn’t happen until A is completed, etc)
    Keep on keeping on!

  14. Thank You! That hit the spot!

  15. Mary,
    Your last several sentences have brought me to tears because although my circumstances are different, I completely and utterly understand, through my own struggles with a wayward teen, what you are feeling. I truly appreciate the words of encouragement.

  16. You know, I read your blog (and your husband’s) religiously, and I have always pictured you to have “perfect” kids. Obedient, everyone getting along, etc. I really admired you and wished I could be as good of a mom, but knowing that I never would measure up.

    And then reading today’s post, it hit me that your kids are just like anyone else’s, including mine! We are really struggling with our 17 year old, and his desire to have friends at “any cost.” It would be so easy to check out, but I know that I have to keep trying. Or keep marching.

    Thank you for this post. I really needed it today.

  17. I so needed to hear this today as I shepherd and instruct my young children. I need a change of heart as much as they do. Thanks for this encouragement.

  18. Wow! I needed that! Tough evening herevyesterday……..I will keep on walking!

  19. donna moore says:

    My yesterday was very similar. Great post. Reminded me of a book I just read The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck. A troubled youth is given the reminder to “keep walking home”…..God is waiting patiently with love.

  20. for whatever reason I could not see this post on Tuesday..but then it hit was because I needed it this morning…3rd day of the still feeling less than par from a cold that I slept through the day on monday..and re-working motivation in this house again like I do each day..and feeling less than happy about it..but realizing I need to preservere and keep trying or as you put it “keep marching”

    Thank you!

  21. Thank you for this real post. I love the analogy of Jericho. I will remember that on my tough days.

  22. Thank you for this post. Mondays are rough here too. Lots of tears from all ages every Monday it seems. I often feel like I am making ZERO progress with the “tudes” as well. Thanks for the reminder to keep marching! It’s exhausting, BUT this is the Lord’s work- it’s easy to forget that in the midst of the chaos.

  23. I think you are dead on. Thanks, Mary!

  24. Oh wow. I needed this. I had me a day just like that yesterday. Being very sleep-deprived with a newborn, I try to be extra careful of my words. I was good til suppertime. Then I lost it. And spent 20 minutes in my bedroom crying it out. The constantness of doing it again overwhelms by times. But I must also remember, that God constantly reminds and corrects me, without lecturing in a loud voice. 🙂

  25. I just love this post – thank you so much for your God-inspired words and the lesson in them. What a simple mantra “Keep Marching” that you can easily repeat to yourself – aloud or in your head – whenever you need to. Thank you.

  26. Exactly what I needed to hear today! Thanks for encouraging me with the scripture and story, and also with the knowledge that we are not alone in our struggles!

  27. Love this. Thank you.

  28. Thanks so much, Mary, know I know again I´m not alone with my struggeling. Right now I hardly see the silver line at the horizont (though it´s surely there).Let´s keep on marching … it´s a lot easier to do it together

  29. Take care…we all care!


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