It was a long and tiring day. Bedtime had finally arrived, and I was going through our nightly ritual with my youngest son. Every evening we have the same routine: he climbs in bed, arranges his stuffed animals, and snuggles with his special blankie. Then I cover him up, sing three songs, and pray before turning out the light and shutting the door. It’s a sweet and meaningful ritual. It provides safety and security for my son, and it’s a rhythm that he’s come to depend on.

Still, many nights, it feels more like a checkmark on my to-do list, than a sweet moment with my son. If you have multiple children, I know you can relate to the bedtime countdown. There are so many things to do each day, and once your children are in bed, sometimes it’s nice to have some time to yourself.

This night, however, as I sang his songs, I became aware of the tension in my body. I could feel myself rushing through the songs to get to the end. Then, I looked at my son and remembered he’d had a long day at school. It had been a busy afternoon and evening. I had hugged him during the day, but I had never taken time to really hold him.

Feeling compelled to give him some touch time, I leaned over the bed and laid my head on his chest, wrapping my arm around him. I kept singing.

Quietly, gently, I felt his fingers in my hair. While I sang, he gently played with the strands of my hair.

The song ended. I laid my hand on his chest and prayed for him. Then, I wished him a good night sleep, told him I loved him, and shut the door.

Every time I think about that interaction, I feel emotional. I instinctively knew that my son needed to be touched. I made an intentional choice to reach out and give him what he needed. What surprised me was his reaction. He touched me back. Not only that, he played with my hair.

Friends, I didn’t know that I needed to be touched too. That gentleness was a gift.

Raising boys is a challenge. Every boy mom knows that there’s a lot more yelling, rough and tumble, and grunge than there is gentleness. Yet sometimes, like a rainbow showing up after the most violent thunderstorm, a moment of sweetness bursts through and surprises me in the most beautiful way.

My fierce and gentle boy

Isn’t that typical of real life? The sweetest moments are often unexpected. They are the sprinkles on the ice cream of reality. It’s easy to miss them in the busyness of life, but when we find them, we can choose to cherish them.

Parenting is one of the hardest challenges and callings that I have been given in life, but I’m encouraged to know that I’m not alone. Our Savior, the Good Shepherd, cares for our children more than we do. Jesus has plenty of time for children, and He loves them very much.

Here’s the bigger encouragement though. The Good Shepherd cares for Moms too. He has compassion for our struggles, our weariness, our pain, and our worries. He wants to lead us with his gentleness.

He gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 40:11b

Just like my son showed gentleness to me as I sang with him that evening, God shows even greater gentleness in the way that He shows me mercy as I stumble along in this mothering journey. He gently leads me: both in green pastures and in the valleys, walking me into paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. (Psalm 23)

In the chaos of everyday life, I want to intentionally look for and cherish the gentle moments He provides.

Pause, Renew, Next: Take a deep breath and slowly exhale. Sit with the knowledge that Your Good Shepherd is leading you. He knows your struggles. He knows the journey ahead and the path you’ve already taken, and He shows you gentleness. If you have time for Scripture study today, pull out Psalm 23 and Isaiah 40, and notice the way that in these passages the Lord leads, guides, and renews His people.

May you be aware of all of the “sprinkles” the Lord sends your way this week.

Pause, Renew, Next!