Taking It On The Road

“That heart ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something.”

Some day there will not be quiche ground into the carpets. Some day, there won’t be plastic cheese stick wrappers strewn about like so much tinsel. Some day, I won’t move a pile of clothes from the center seat and discover breakfast and last week’s homework. Some day. That day is definitely not today. And yes, I’m describing my car… the mobile city dump that it has become. Hubby keeps telling me I should institute a “no food in the car” policy. After all, it works for him the 2.3 times a week he transports the kids. I keep telling him that is as unrealistic as my asking him to enjoy shopping. Seriously, we live in the car… and I mean LIVE.

(Before you discount me as completely wacky and gross, I do clean the car regularly. Me and the shop vac are tight friends. Should we ever need to replace my car, I think maybe procuring a used mail truck, outfitting it with a microwave and a sink, and a few places to strap children would be ultimately practical and preferable.)

This morning when I woke up, like so many mornings lately, I struggled to discern which day of the week it was. The days all seem to gel like yesterday’s gravy into an amorphous state of repetition.  Yet, what was more important than the day was where I needed to point the car. Because direction is most important and logistics are a close second.

As we get ramped up for school and the daily grind, as we round out the summer with last minute camps and play dates, as we try to wring the last elements of freedom from a jam-packed summer as though once school starts there won’t be time for freedom, I am faced with a realization. My days of stay-at-home mom are essentially over. I am now mobile mama, taking the act on the road. The quiet afternoons at home for nap time, the leisurely time at the park playing, the let’s-stay-home-today kind of days that work for toddlers and preschoolers… they are a thing of the past. My role has morphed into a sort of food truck purveyor/ taxi driver/ U-Haul schleper of gear, snacks, a change of clothes, a kind smile, and a fresh water bottle. I should just hook up the trailer and drive that around town because our lives together are now spent traveling from event to event and my time with my kids is the 15 minutes between when one event ends and the next begins.

That isn’t much time to undo/redo/balance the messages each child receives outside of my influence. And yet, that remains my most important role… to shape my children, with God’s grace and guidance, into children who share His light wherever they go. Filtering and vetting are more important now than ever as I spend less time with them. My role is on the sidelines, backstage, behind the steering wheel. I’m trying to keep pertinent by joining in when I can… hopping on the horse for my own lesson, managing and volunteering. But coaches, teachers, the world outside my walls are the heavy influencers these days. And I must be intentional in what and who I allow to influence.

I must also be intentional in using those precious moments in the mommy mobile to mold and shape my kiddos. Glennon over at Momastery recently shared this letter to her kids, a letter she reads every night before school starts. I think it’s brilliant, intentional, and such a spot-on definition of compassion. Because this is where it counts most.

Dear Chase,
Hey, baby.
Tomorrow is a big day. Third grade – wow.
Chase – When I was in third grade, there was a little boy in my class named Adam.
Adam looked a little different and he wore funny clothes and sometimes he even smelled a little bit. Adam didn’t smile. He hung his head low and he never looked at anyone at all. Adam never did his homework. I don’t think his parents reminded him like yours do. The other kids teased Adam a lot. Whenever they did, his head hung lower and lower and lower. I never teased him, but I never told the other kids to stop, either.
And I never talked to Adam, not once. I never invited him to sit next to me at lunch, or to play with me at recess. Instead, he sat and played by himself. He must have been very lonely.
I still think about Adam every day. I wonder if Adam remembers me? Probably not. I bet if I’d asked him to play, just once, he’d still remember me.
I think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you.
So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.
Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heart- ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, Chase! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help! Whenever you feel compassion – be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means He trusts you and needs you.
Sometimes the magic of compassion will make you step into the middle of a bad situation right away.
Compassion might lead you to tell a teaser to stop it and then ask the teased kid to play. You might invite a left-out kid to sit next to you at lunch. You might choose a kid for your team first who usually gets chosen last. These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things.
Sometimes you will feel compassion but you won’t step in right away. That’s okay, too. You might choose instead to tell your teacher and then tell us. We are on your team – we are on your whole class’s team. Asking for help for someone who is hurting is not tattling, it is doing the right thing. If someone in your class needs help, please tell me, baby. We will make a plan to help together.
When God speaks to you by making your heart hurt for another, by giving you compassion, just do something. Please do not ignore God whispering to you. I so wish I had not ignored God when He spoke to me about Adam. I remember Him trying, I remember feeling compassion, but I chose fear over compassion. I wish I hadn’t. Adam could have used a friend and I could have, too.
Chase – We do not care if you are the smartest or fastest or coolest or funniest. There will be lots of contests at school, and we don’t care if you win a single one of them. We don’t care if you get straight As. We don’t care if the girls think you’re cute or whether you’re picked first or last for kickball at recess. We don’t care if you are your teacher’s favorite or not. We don’t care if you have the best clothes or most Pokemon cards or coolest gadgets. We just don’t care.
We don’t send you to school to become the best at anything at all. We already love you as much as we possibly could. You do not have to earn our love or pride and you can’t lose it. That’s done.
We send you to school to practice being brave and kind.
Kind people are brave people. Brave is not a feeling that you should wait for. It is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.
Trust me, baby, it is. It is more important.
Don’t try to be the best this year, honey.
Just be grateful and kind and brave. That’s all you ever need to be.
Take care of those classmates of yours, and your teacher, too. You Belong to Each Other. You are one lucky boy . . . with all of these new gifts to unwrap this year.
I love you so much that my heart might explode.
Enjoy and cherish your gifts.
And thank you for being my favorite gift of all time.

I think I’m going to print this out and mount it to the front of the glove box or hang it from the moon roof. Maybe make stickers out of it to paste on windows. Wonder if I could paint some interior part of the car with chalkboard paint or mount a magnet board somewhere? Intentional. It’s a short period of time, but the world depends on it. I can’t let the days slip by, the world influence in ways I wouldn’t agree to; I can’t let compassion and goodness and kindness and God-centered living go untaught. I’ve got 15 minutes and 15 minutes and 15 minutes. Go!

Leave a comment


  1. Kelly McIntosh

     /  August 17, 2013

    I can’t let the days slip by, the world influences in ways I wouldn’t agree to; Yes Ma’am!!

    Because direction is most important and logistics are a close second. Glad to know… HE is our Carpool Co-pilot (well, really HE is in the driver’s seat… He just let’s (trusts?) us drive!)

    THANKS for the encouragement… as we limp along towards school. J


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