This afternoon I sat in my shady corner of the deck next to our pool, and watched my kids splash into the water one by one.  With only one child in the water, waves were small.   But as more kids splashed and leaped their way in, the water got choppier, the waves bigger, the decibel level higher. That’s life in a family.  The more people in the family, the choppier the waves.

As a mom I can sometimes feel overwhelmed by so many waves roiling in different directions. There are days where I barely go five minutes without dealing with issues.  If I’m not reminding someone for the gazillionth time not to use that biting tone with a sibling, I’m asking that a job be redone correctly, or requiring a redo of a reply to me that was way too sassy.   Always, issues.  With no guarantee I’m making any headway.

But this evening I was gifted with a glimpse, a moment of sun sparkling down into my forest of ‘issues’.   I’d assigned my 12 year old daughter the week’s cookie-baking, a mere 10 dozen or so.  I’ve given her this job almost every week for the past year, and every week she greets this request with sighs and eye-rolling.  (I’m still working on that issue.)

The cookie project started as my sneaky way of giving her more reading practice. She came home from Ethiopia 3 years ago knowing 20 words of English.  Early on, this job would have been impossible.  Two years in, it was still a difficult task.  She despised it at first.  Didn’t understand so many things.  No surprise.   There’s so. much. to learn when coming to a whole new world. “What is ‘Nestle Toll House Morsel’, Mom?”

But gradually, slowly, she has come to master cookie baking.  This afternoon I caught a look of pure peaceful absorption on her face as she leaned over her cookie sheet, neatly, precisely laying balls of cookie dough down.  And this is a child who doesn’t find peace easily.  She’s gone from hating the task to really owning it, to caring about the outcome.

A few minutes later when I asked her to run help a sibling find a shoe, she counseled me to set the timer for nine minutes exactly.  Not eight. Not ten. She knew exactly how she wanted those cookies, and she wanted to make sure I’d finish them properly.  Whether she cares to admit it or not, she’s come to take pride in knowing how to make cookies well.

If I’d caved in to her complaints, given up and reassigned the job during those early months of cranky cookie baking, she wouldn’t be at this stage of mastery right now.  She wouldn’t get to experience the satisfaction of being truly good at this.  And I’d have missed  the pleasure of seeing her absorbed and engaged in doing something so well.

Glory hallelujah, perseverance really does pay off.

Yes, as with all things in life, I need to remember balance.  Every day I remind myself to not over-expect, to model contentment with now, to praise the good that’s there.   But it is wonderful to have these brief shining moments where I see fruit of effort with perfect clarity.   Where the end of the difficult path is illuminated, and I see there really is hope for the future.  My kids are learning, benefiting from my dogged persistence, my insistence that they work on things that are not easy or convenient.

And in teaching them, I am learning and relearning the very same lesson.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

And sometimes that harvest looks like perfect chocolate chip cookies.


  1. Wow, I so needed to read this today. Feeling very overwhelmed with what feels like constant waves. God is so good to show you such a clear vision like this one. Praying He’ll so graciously give me such a boost soon.

  2. Rebekah says:

    What a wonderful blessing to see the perseverance, on your part and hers, pay off. You are speaking my language when it comes to teaching and training and then getting to see the thrill of them mastering a skill. (Skills that many will not try, much less master, until after they are grown, like homemade cookie baking!)

    Thank you for sharing your ups and downs. God is so gracious to give us peaks into what He is doing in the lives of our children and also in our own lives!

  3. Sue from Buffalo says:

    Thank you for sharing that. I think I really needed to hear it today.

  4. Good for you Both… staying power within the family 🙂

    Wow! 10 dozen cookies!?! I hope a good cookie scoop is used.
    Several times I’ve been asked how come my cookies are so nice and round. Gotta be the cookie scoop. Knowing I should use it comes from my former job working in a cafeteria.

  5. Charlie says:

    Those cookies look wonderful.
    I have a similar experience. My husband always makes our choc. chip cookies. Once we were watching my sister’s twin babies and he wanted to make the cookies. He was frustrated that he had to hold the one baby and make the cookies at the same time. I didn’t let him off the hook by taking both babies myself and by the end of it he was so proud of himself that he had managed to take care of the little guy and make an entire batch. Nice to see loved ones gain pride in a job well done! I love your stories. They bring up so many nice memories for me.

  6. One of my personal favorite things to harvest! Well done, Mary! Enjoy! =)

  7. Rebekah says:

    Mary, thank you for being such a great example of persistent love, consistent discipline, and constant nurturing! I pray that I will mother my children in the same way – you are an inspiration! 🙂

  8. Your posts are a blessing to me every day. There’s such encouragement in hearing both the trials and successes from someone who’s walking this road a little bit in front of me (especially after a tough week). Thanks for sharing your struggles and successes with us.

  9. This must be a theme I need to pick up, every one of the blogs I read has had a post with this theme recently. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Thank you for sharing this. We also have two girls who have had complicated lives before they came to us and, although they have come a long way in the last two years, sometimes it seems like it is “two steps forward, one step back.” It is nice to be reminded that things do get better and that it is best to focus on the steps that are forward instead of the steps that go backwards.

  11. Kathleen says:

    I’m having trouble with the line “a mere 10 dozen”…that’s a lot, big family or not for one girl to do.
    I am very glad to hear that she’s gifted at it, and I’m glad that your hard work with her paid off. That’s a big accomplishment on BOTH your parts! That’s wonderful news. How long does that take to bake all of them I wonder? Do you have more than one oven?
    Great….all thos talk about cookies has me thinking about them! LOL! Have a good day! 🙂

    • Hi Kathleen,
      It takes her about an hour a week. We have a convection oven, so she can bake about 3 dozen at a time. She usually has a sibling or two helping her load pans, but she is in charge of the project. It’s not the easiest job in the world, but there are harder ones out there too! 🙂

  12. Thank you, Mary. We have recently been surprised to find that God has gifted us with another child, due in February. I have been completely overwhelmed and fearful. Thank you for your encouragement.