It may not have been my brightest shining moment as a young mother.  It was another "first", and I was stumped as to how the perfect mother (which I certainly was not) would  handle the situation.  Katie was five years old, and I had asked her to do something.  Honestly, I can't even remember the "something".... I would guess it was to pick up her toys, or some equally annoying overwhelming task that she just didn't want to do.  So, in her five-year-old frustration, she loudly announced that she was running away.

I was shocked... flabbergasted... defeated... knowing I had totally failed as a mother - what five-year-old wants to run away from home?   I had a few choices as I determined my response.

I could:
1.  Apologize for asking her to complete such an unreasonable task and beg for her forgiveness.
2.  Tell her how much I loved her and cuddle up on the couch offering a favorite movie and snack.
3.  Remind her of the fact that she had her own room painted the color of her choice.
4.  Teach her once more about the starving children in Africa that so needed a home like hers.

None of those choices appealed to me, nor did they seem to me to offer a strong enough response that I felt in my heart.  I know mothers are supposed to have all the answers and react with motherly love even in discipline with gentleness and understanding...

So I mustered all the self control that I could and wisely responded, "Okay, honey, I will get your suitcase; it is under your bed.  Let's get packing."

Her immediate reaction was simply... startled, but being the determined strong-willed daughter that she was, Katie rallied with the idea.  She joined me in her bedroom where I had already added a pair of shorts, a shirt, and her pajamas to the open little pink suitcase.  "Hmm," I said matter-of-factly, "you better go get your toothbrush."  I felt her glance of disbelief behind me, but she wasn't going to back down, so off she headed to the bathroom returning with toothbrush and toothpaste in hand.

We closed the suitcase, and I asked that she carefully latch it as she didn't want anything to fall out on the street.  "You're going to let me cross the street??"  I just nodded, "well, I guess you will have to.  Please be careful and look both ways."

I could read her mind... Surely she won't let me cross the street...  She then announced that she thought she would go to Grandma's where she knew she wouldn't have to pick up her toys.  (Grandma lived in Louisville at that time about eight miles away.)

Then I did something I would never have imagined myself doing.... I ushered her out onto the porch with her little pink suitcase, and I shut the front door between us.

My thoughts:  I have now ruined this child for life.... there will be hours and millions of dollars of therapy to correct my mothering mishap.  She will probably hate me for the rest of her life.  How could any mother agree to a five-year-old crossing the street alone let alone running away... and helping her pack?  I had just likely won the failed mother of the century award..

Her thoughts: (I'm guessing went something like this)   Well, that didn't go like I expected.  What do I do now?  If I go back in, she wins and I will be picking up my toys.  If I stay out here, I will get hungry.  I think it must be lunchtime.  Maybe I will tell her I know how sad she and Daddy will be if I'm not here... and then who would play with Kellie.  I will tell her they need me too much.... so I guess I will just pick up the stupid toys.

Of course I had the perfect vantage point from the window as I tearfully watched her struggle unfold. She did walk off the porch once.. to the driveway and then quickly returned.  The first knock at the door came as she was "very thirsty", but I replied that since she had already run away from our home, I couldn't give her anything... unless she decided to return.  (Not sure that was the best parenting, but I was doing the best I could.  She had only been outside seven minutes, so I knew she wasn't yet to dehydrated stage.)

Her second knock and quiet statement went something like this.  "Momma, this is a pretty good house, and you are a pretty good mom.  I think I better stay here for a while.  I will pick up my toys.  Then can I have some water?"

With overwhelming joy complete with tears, I gathered her in my arms and told her I was thrilled with her decision, that I loved her, and that she could have a drink of water first, then pick up her toys.  Throughout the day we talked about forgiveness and frustration and what to do with all of it.  We shared the events with Frank, who assured her that he was very happy with her decision.

She let him know that it was extremely hot outside that day..

And... She never ran away again...

Oh friends, aren't you thankful that we have the perfect parent who always know the best and desires the best for us?  Our Heavenly Father offers us grace and mercy through His perfect will and plan to have a relationship with each of His children.  And still... many of us feel the need to walk, or even run from Him.  We are those strong-willed... the Bible sometimes refers to them as "stiff-necked".. children so desiring our own will and way.

My goal as a mother has always been to strive to honor God like the Proverbs 31 model,
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Often my day went more like:
She wears sweat pants and a teeshirt and is tired and overwhelmed,
she may be laughing often at herself,
she offers advice sometimes asked for... and other times, not...
her desire is to teach her children well even if she doesn't quote the verse exactly right..

So as I review and thank God for my four children this morning, I "camp" on this verse from 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17... the perfect Father heaps these blessing on all of us..

 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,  encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.


  1. The only other thing I would have done, take a picture when she wasn't looking ;) Great story, and a great start to my morning. Hope you had a restful Mother's Day!