Painted in WaterlogueI spend my days teaching a three year old and a one year old.

“Say, ‘Yes Ma’am.’”

“Honey, hold my hand.”

“Don’t whine. Mommy doesn’t respond to whining.”

We work on listening, sharing, being sweet, and first time obedience around here. No, I don’t count to three (“Oneeeee, twooooo, I’m almost to three!”). But I’ve had my share of repeating a command three times, so I might as well have been counting.

My heart has been overjoyed by the sweetness and love from my little girls.

“Mom, I love you so much. You’re my mother.”

“Mom, I obey.”

“Here you go, Evie,  you can play with it.”

And my heart has been overwhelmed and frustrated by bickering, delayed obedience, and whiny attitudes.

Some days are smooth sailing, and others are like charting through rough waters.

In all of these moments, I long for obedient children. Who doesn’t?

Obedient children are like fresh produce in a well tended garden.

They are joy (Proverbs 15:20).

But as much as I desire my children to obey me the first time I call, I want to always long for heart change even more.

I want to teach them the Gospel every. single. day.

“Honey, you are a sinner, that’s why it’s hard for you to obey. But Jesus came to die for sin. He died for Mommy’s sin.”

Because real fruit  is more than “Yes ma’am and No sir.” It goes much deeper than that.

It’s a heart that’s been completely changed by God. A heart that loves God. And even a young child can begin to understand what that means.

My three and one year old don’t comprehend the Gospel. But every time I teach them the importance of “Obeying Mommy,” I want to pray just as earnestly that one day they will.

That one day they will understand that Someone obeyed perfectly for all the times they did not.

That Someone never showed disrespect to His Mommy, was unkind to His sister, and He always obeyed the first time.

My children need rules. They need to understand there are consequences for sinful actions. They need the Law.

Because it is the Law that drives us to grace (Gal 3:24).

Generally speaking, the Law is when Scripture says “Do,” and the Gospel is when Scripture says “Done.”

It is the Law that shows me my failure, my selfishness, and my inability to love God from a pure heart.

It is the Law that drives me to the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.

And it is the Law, as I stand on grace, that helps me to become more like Christ.

I obey the Law because my heart and soul believe the Gospel.

Without the Law, I wouldn’t understand how beautiful the Good News is.

We used to sing a song in Sunday School growing up,

Painted in Waterlogue
My girls

Good News! Good News! 

Christ died for me,

Good News! Good News! 

If I believe,

Good News! Good News!

I’m saved eternally,

That’s wonderful, extra, Good News!

Tomorrow, I will teach my children to obey. I will tell them what the Bible says is right and wrong. But then I will share the Gospel with them.

And even in the hardest of moments, that’s wonderful, extra, good news.


Top photo courtesy of my dear friend, Amy Grimme.




6 thoughts on “When My Children Don’t Obey

  1. Really enjoyed this post–especially the emphasis on the truth that “real fruit” is more than just outward obedience; rather a heart that loves the Lord Jesus Christ. My husband and I have an 18 month old little girl and are preparing to welcome another baby into our family in early June –I am just curious if you have any suggestions for putting two “babies” to sleep–as you have similar age gaps between your girls–my husband sometimes works late, and so wouldn’t be able to help me with their bedtime routine–just curious if you had any ideas/suggestions for juggling that!!! I’ve been praying about how to do it and was wondering if you had any ideas from your own experience–thank you–:-) Rebekah — (

    1. Hey Rebekah,
      My girls are exactly 18 months apart as well 🙂 The first four months with my newborn she slept in our room…so my bedtime routine with my 18 month old was pretty much the same. I would just put my newborn in a swing or bouncy seat on the floor while I got my older daughter to bed. Once they got older, I was able to bath them together, get them ready for bed together, and then I would read separate books to them (putting my younger daughter in the crib with board books while I read to my older daughter and prayed with her). Now that they are 3 and 19 months, they do the entire bedtime routine together. Sometimes my 19 month old still wiggles away when we are reading books and I will give her a board book to look at 🙂
      Thanks for the encouragement, Rebekah! I hope that helps! So happy for you to have two little ones…it’s wonderful 🙂


  2. GraceAnna, I am close friends with Rebecca Maddox and stumbled across your blog through an instagram photo she posted….(long story, social media, you know!) Anyway, I have heard her talk about you and encourage me with examples from your mothering. I also have 2 little ones- 2 years and 9 months. Reading your blog, especially this post, has been so encouraging to my heart. I am in a particularly dry season as a mama where, between listening to whining for snacks and the teething struggles of my youngest, I am tempted to turn into a zombie who goes thru the motions of mothering and discipline instead of crying out to my God to help to be purposeful and loving in my care/words.
    Thanks for your words of encouragement! Maybe someday our paths will cross here in this big city 🙂

    Jen Martin

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