How to Build Emotional Intelligence in your Child

Pointers for Parents are regular inspirations to bring hope and encouragement to parents. I hope to build a bridge between parents and teachers as it pertains to the education of children and how we can work together for the betterment of our kids.

michelle-in-front-of-yonahMost of us have heard of IQ, or Intelligence Quotient.  We have done everything we know how to do to increase the IQ of our children.  We played Mozart for them in utero.  We read to them every day as infants. We taught them to count when climbing stairs as a toddler. All in an effort to prepare them developmentally and to increase their chances to be intelligent, smart people.

But have you heard of EQ, Emotional Quotient?  Or EI, emotional intelligence? Those two terms are defined as the capability of individuals to recognize their own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior and to manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or to achieve one’s goal.  In short, it is the ability to relate to and get along with others.  As much time as we spend trying to increase our children’s IQ, we have heard very little on how to increase their EQ.  We have always thought these skills are developed naturally within the family, but that is no longer so. If we want children who are empathetic to others, who show compassion, who know how to relate in positive ways to those around them there are some things we can do.

  • Explain to them what it means. It seems like this should be a natural thing, but it’s not really. When kids experience strong emotions, they need them to be explained.  Of course in the heat of a tantrum isn’t really the time to do so.  But afterwards, once things have settled, it is a good thing to have a conversation, a debrief of sorts, and talk about how to express anger in appropriate ways.  Or if there is heartbreak, you might have to hug them while they cry, and explain that life is full of heartbreak and that it is okay to hurt and cry, but to get stuck there isn’t healthy.  Then show them some ways to move forward. Do not discount their emotions, for they are intense and real. The key is to acknowledge the depth of them, and then teach how to fit emotional responses into life so they do not take over. All of this has to be age appropriate to the child, and may have to be repeated often, but teaching them the language of emotions will benefit them for life.
  • Model what it looks like.  When you show your children what healthy emotions look like they will imitate it.  If you don’t handle your emotions in a healthy way, that can be a scary thing!  This may take some growing on your part, but it will be worth it if your whole family relates to one another better.  When children see their parents yelling at people in traffic, or hear them complaining about a teacher, or losing control at a ball game, they think this is how to relate.  It is important to remember they are always watching.  You don’t have to be perfect, but when you mishandle your emotions be sure to go back and say, “I shouldn’t have reacted that way.  It would have been better if I had….”  That way, even in our errors, they are learning.
  • Do not make assumptions. Do not assume they know what you meant.  Do not assume they will figure it out on their own. Do not assume they are being taught.  Do not assume that will know what to do when they see or feel strong emotions.  The world we live in has discarded the importance of teaching these skills. The evidence shows that we live in a narcissistic culture, where low emotional intelligence is paraded on television and all over social media.  People do not show empathy and they feel it is their right to attack others if they so choose.  Do not assume your child will learn differently.  What you yell at the TV during election season matters.  Yikes!  How you teach your children to react to hard things will determine if they have high or low EQ.

By being intentional in our teaching of appropriate emotional responses, our children will benefit greatly. These basic actions can make a huge difference in their lives.  They will not only be smart in their acquisition of knowledge, but they will also be able to relate that knowledge to the world around them.  Their relationships will be healthier in all areas of life, which will make them happier and more successful adults.  Who doesn’t want that for their children?

Down in the Valley

michelle-in-front-of-yonahDown in the valley, the wind is carrying the truth with it.  Down in the valley, tragedy and triumph are intertwined like poison ivy on a mighty oak.  Down in the valley, surrounded by glorious color and golden sun, the seasons change. The steadfast mountains remind us that we are but temporary residents, and that they are the long term occupants of the valley.  The momentum of the breeze flows around the foothills.  The circular flow of life is evident, down in the valley.

Two days.  Two celebrations. Cobalt blue sky, white fluffy clouds, foliage of yellow and orange.  White chairs.  Flowers.  Friends.  Family.


Tragedy forces a celebration of a life lived.  An orchard, bearing the name of its planter, waves as the wind blows the small trees.  They are stretching their arms skyward, as if reaching for him.  The young man will no longer walk among them, but will instead, look down from his place of peace.  On this day the adventurer is celebrated with perfectly spoken words, tears, and heartfelt songs.  Mountains surround those that grieve with an embrace of comfort, in this place he loved so much.  Balloons dance in the current as the grief is released upwards.  Memories are shared in fellowship and laughter around feasting tables and with slides of a life cut short.  Flames lick the night sky with sparks flying high in a familiar tradition on this piece of land, until they burn themselves out and silence floats like ashes to the ground.


Twenty-four hours pass and romance arrives in the valley.  Another celebration of love in a different form.  Bridesmaids and groomsmen dressed in finery line up to share the whispers of the wind. Friends and family gather on the lawn waiting for love to make its entrance. Breathing in the beauty of the bride, the groom is overwhelmed to tears.  The same mountains that grieved yesterday, caress the tender moment of love’s kiss.  The trees sway to the rhythm of the music played and sung.  Fellowship and laughter around feasting tables and pictures of lives just starting out. Cake is cut. Traditions ensue, until the car disappears down the winding road to new beginnings.


Two days.  Two very different moments in time.  Down in the valley, all nature bears witness to the ebbs and flows of life. Down in the valley, tears represent both life and death. They are reminders that life is precious and that it must be celebrated…down in the valley.



Conference Days

Tidbits for Teachers are regular SHORT inspirations to bring hope and encouragement to teachers in all settings.  I hope to give you a shot in the arm and remind you why you chose this career in the first place.

Conference days are long and full of stress.  A balancing act between telling the truth gently, and getting the point across.  Not every meeting is smooth sailing and it takes tact to successfully navigate the more delicate ones.  Then there are the meetings that are a pleasure to have.  If only every conference could go with ease, but just as every student is different so is every parent.  Some require kid gloves, some are not very respectful, and thankfully there are some who gifts to teachers.  Their encouragement and support is a treasure.  As you approach the day, and fill your mind with positive thoughts, remember to thank those parents who back you up.  The others?  Pray to survive them intact.

Take a deep breath, put on your best teacher smile, word everything you say carefully, and go forth like the front line warriors you are. You got this. May the force be with you.

Working With the Littles

michelle-yonah-33-of-33I started working with kids when I was in high school.  In fact, one of my first jobs was working with preschoolers at Kindercare.  Later on, armed with my degree and my extensive experience as a 20-year-old, I took on a first grade classroom.  That was before I moved on to the intermediate level (grades 3, 4, and 5) for the next 18 years.  My heart has always loved the wonder of young children.  Not to mention, they are so stinking cute!

This year, when my friend Libby went back into the classroom after a couple year absence, I volunteered to come in one day a week to help out and dragged my business partner Mary along with me.  The first day with those kindergarteners was the most fun I have had in a long time. I had forgotten how adorable the Littles are.  Now, it is a bright spot in my week.

cupcakes.jpgYesterday, they had picture day, Hispanic Heritage Day, and curriculum night.  Yes.  All three on the same day. (I bow to all the teachers.)  Mary had another engagement, so I went on my own to help in whatever way I could.  Being in south Hall, the school has a high population of Hispanic students therefore, Hispanic Heritage Day is very well attended.  The students were gone for pictures when I got to the classroom, but the families and food were arriving steadily…flan, rice pudding, cake, and mountains of jello.  I never knew jello (they call it jelly) was a Hispanic food, but it came in all kinds of festive shapes and colors. Rainbow layers.  Cubes.  Stars. It was a whole level of jello preparation that I had not seen before.  It was impressive.  Not even kidding.


The tables were already set up so I jumped right in with putting the homemade treats out.  When Libby got to the room she said I could help serve plates.  No problem.  I have done at least 1 million class parties in my lifetime, this would be a piece-of-cake…literally.  That was before I found out there was a rotation schedule, and there were actually 6 classrooms of kids that would be coming through, with their parents and siblings as well.  Quickly, I amended my original class-party-expert assessment of the situation from piece-of-cake to Code Red.

Each group had what felt like 5 minutes to come in, sit down, be served, eat, clean up, and get out the door. Any teacher of Littles can tell you that allowing them to serve themselves is your worst nightmare, especially when there are two tables of food, so I dawned some rubber gloves and got to work making plates as fast as possible.  The first group was there before you could count to 3.  Libby was madly handing out the drinks as I threw food on plates.  Once they were all served I began to make plates for the next group, at the same time the parents and siblings were coming through the line. I tried not to reach over, or cut anyone off but I was in my serious get-it-done mode.  The noise level was rising and Libby, being the fabulous teacher she is, put on some quiet Hispanic guitar music (Am I allowed to use quiet and Hispanic music in the same sentence?) and asked the kids if they could hear the music.  They stopped talking to listen.  She is brilliant.  One boy even said, “That is fancy music.” I think maybe classical guitar isn’t something he hears every day.


By the time the next group came, there were pre-made plates for everyone. I could spend the rest of the allotted time making more for the next group.  It actually felt as if we were getting ahead.  As serving plates emptied, I refilled them with extra dishes that didn’t make the already full table before.  The kids didn’t complain about the fact that everyone had different items on their plates. I knew that as long as there were cupcakes things would be smooth.  Cupcakes solve all the problems.  Licking mounds of icing translates to every culture.

flanThe food held out, which was questionable in the beginning. Though what remained was mostly jello, every student, parent, and sibling got to eat.  The cupcakes disappeared after the fourth group, but the fifth and sixth were unaware, so there was no uprising.  When the last group was complete and I was feeling quite accomplished, I finally looked up from my task.  It looked as if a bomb had gone off in the room.  There was jello of every color on almost every surface.  There was chocolate cake ground into the floor.  Icing everywhere.  Then I remembered.  The Littles…they are messy. By this time, Libby was as frazzled as I was, but with her kindergarten teacher smile you would never know it.  However, all teachers speak frazzled-teacher body language, so I sent her outside to recess so they could run off their sugar…before lunch.

jelloDid I say jello was everywhere?  Did you know that if you try to sweep jello it actually rolls across the floor leaving a sticky slug-like trail behind it?  Did you know that when it rolls it picks up all the sand and dirt on the floor?  Did you know that chocolate cake smooshed and smeared into the floor doesn’t look like chocolate cake?  Did you know that cupcake icing sticks to tables like dried playdough?  Or maybe that WAS dried play dough…I’m not sure. Needless to say the clean-up of little tables and chairs took as much energy as serving food to the Littles.  When I finally arrived at my car, I basked in the quiet for a moment and as I looked in the rearview mirror I noticed orange and purple icing all over my face.  I wondered how long it had been there and why no one had told me it as there, but then I thought probably no one even noticed in the frantic pace of the morning.  I didn’t even care because I was sitting down for the first time in hours.  `

Today, I have taken Advil to ease the pain.  I am babying my body because it isn’t as young as it used to be.  Bending over tables for hours at a time isn’t something I do anymore.  I have an ice pack on my back and my feet are elevated so the swelling in my knee will go down.  As I refill my ice pack, I pray for all the teachers of the Littles.  That God would bless them greatly for their hard work.  That he would strengthen them so they could work those 3-special-events-in-one-day days.  That he would surround them with people who will support them in all that they do…because they do so very much.  That they will know how amazing they are.  That they will feel hope and encouragement. That they would get the respect they deserve.  That they will know how important they are.  And that they will get some much needed rest and that their bodies would be strong, because one day for a couple of hours about did me in!

How to Build Self-Confidence in Kids


Pointers for Parents are regular inspirations to bring hope and encouragement to parents. I hope to build a bridge between parents and teachers as it pertains to the education of children and how we can work together for the betterment of our kids.


I have been hearing lately that kids are too confident and that as parents we have overdone the self-esteem thing to the point that our kids cannot handle even the small failures of life. That may be true to some degree for some kids, but I think that in actuality what we are seeing is false bravado that is covering deep rooted insecurity.  It is a trend that happens when kids are expected to be good at EVERYTHING.  All academic areas, all extracurricular activities, all community service, all faith based deeds, in every part of their lives kids are saddled with expectations to succeed.  Add to that our culture’s desire to protect kids from pain of every kind and you have a recipe for disaster.  A false sense of security is a cover for the feeling kids have that they are imposters. Students who struggle in school seem even more susceptible to these feelings of insecurity because they believe they will never be good enough.  Underneath it all is a heart that wants to be accepted as they are, for who they are, no strings attached.

How can we as parents build up our children, without placing unrealistic expectations on them? How can we help them to know they are valuable, even if they don’t do everything well? I believe to build strong adults we have to pour truth into our kids.

  • They have to know they are loved. Tell them.  Not the I-love-how-you-do-something kind of love.  The I-Love-You-for-you kind of love.  Encourage them that your love is not based on what they do or do not do.
  • They have to understand the reality, that they are not good at everything. AND THAT IS OKAY.  None of us is good at everything, but that each of us is good at something.  That something is our gift to the world and where we will thrive.
  • They need to know that comparison to others brings death. That may sound extreme, but it is true. When we compare ourselves, we will never see our own potential.  We will always look at our lack, and that leads to dark places of feeling like a failure.  Teach them that being unique is a blessing.
  • They need to celebrate their differences. Our world makes this difficult because it tells them that different is good, but then only rewards those that are the same.  TV sends mixed messages that create dissonance in kids’ minds.  Finding positive aspects in their differences is a key to believing in themselves.
  • They need to be aware of their weaknesses. It’s true.  Kids don’t seem to know that it is okay to have weaknesses.  I love to tell them how bad I am at math.  Their eyes get big when I admit to them that I cannot understand how math works.  It is like they think that all grown-ups know everything.  NOT TRUE.  Once they understand that, they experience relief in admitting their struggles.
  • They have to be their own advocate. Once they know they have weaknesses, and that it is okay to talk about them, they have to learn to deal with them.  They have to build in some coping strategies and to let others know what works for them and what doesn’t.  If they need quiet in order to work, they need to learn to ask for it.  If they work best standing up, they need to respectfully ask for a standing desk. Parents cannot and should not follow them around forever, they need to learn to self-advocate. When they do it empowers them and that makes them feel like they have worth.
  • They need to know that they are made in God’s image. Most kids don’t see themselves that way.  Heck, most adults don’t see themselves that way either.  But if we all knew, and really believed, that God created us, and that he doesn’t make mistakes, our confidence in who we are would not need to be shored up.  If we saw every other person as a unique creation, we would stop comparing and begin receiving others for who they are and just as importantly receiving ourselves for who we are.  If kids knew this truth…that their true selves are beautiful because they were created as individuals with gifts, talents and abilities to share with the world around them…we would have a less anxious, more confident world.

I Wasn’t Invited



IMG_9778To the parents of World Racers who weren’t invited:

There are host of reasons for not being invited.  The thought processes for these things are as varied as the stars in the sky, and just as individual.  Racers sometimes think we can’t afford to go, so they don’t invite us.  Or they believe that launch will simply prolong a goodbye that is already putting them in an emotional state. Some of them have the idea that this is their thing and for us to be present might somehow take that away from them. Some of them want to bond with their teammates and they feel torn between the past and the present moment. Or by the time PVTs (parent vision trips) roll around later on in their race, they have grown in the Lord so much, they hesitate to disturb that growth by bringing us into the midst of it.  Some Racers have begun to gain some independence, and for the first time begin to feel like adults in their minds, to bring us into that space threatens to send them back into childhood. Some of them don’t want us to have the financial pressure to make the trip. Others simply want to show us they are doing well without us. And yes, there are a few, who are estranged with us and do not want contact.  Here’s the thing, your racer has a reason for the choice to leave you out of the mix, and the majority of the time it isn’t personal.  Truly.  It is about them, not about you.  Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • They still love you.
  • They do not want their choice to do this on their own to devastate you.
  • They don’t.
  • They don’t mind telling you their reasons.
  • They are not personal.
  • Ask them.
  • They still love you.
  • They are spreading their wings…some of them for the first time.
  • Let them.
  • This is something you prayed for since they were young.
  • They are following God, on their own.
  • Remember that.
  • It is a good thing.
  • Goodbyes are hard no matter where you are.
  • They worry about you.
  • They probably won’t tell you that.
  • They still love you.
  • They are as scared to be on their own as you are.
  • They won’t tell you that either.
  • They might not even know it.
  • Supporting them emotionally is just as important as supporting them financially.
  • Actually, more so.
  • Being honest about your feelings is important too.
  • Honest heartfelt conversations need to be had.
  • We do tend to ‘take over’ from time to time as parents.
  • Managing them has been our job for so long, it is hard to stop.
  • They still love you.
  • They really want to be grown-ups and make us proud.
  • To do that, they have to separate from us.
  • It is painful on both sides.
  • Growing pains always are.
  • The pain will be worth it.
  • They still love you.
  • They are excited about becoming their own person.
  • You should be too.
  • It is okay to be sad at the same time.
  • It is a grieving process as your role in their life changes.
  • Not being invited hurts.
  • Separation always does.
  • They still love you.
  • Would you really want them to stay dependent on you forever?
  • They see that wouldn’t be healthy.
  • We know they are right.
  • They are making steps to change themselves.
  • It is not personal.
  • Their time in the world expands their vision.
  • It will expand yours too.
  • They will still love you.


Be the Salt

Tidbits for Teachers are regular inspirations to bring hope and encouragement to teachers in all settings.  I hope to give you a shot in the arm and remind you why you chose this career in the first place.


Are you bored yet?  The weeks between Labor Day and Thanksgiving seem to crawl by.  The only weeks that are slower are the ones between Christmas and spring break.  It is the long monotonous days that tempt you to fall into a rut.  It is also the long monotonous days that you have uninterrupted instructional time, meaning they can be some of the most productive days of the year.  The trick is to keep the daily grind interesting enough that it doesn’t bore your students to tears.  In other words, you have to be the salt, and spice things up.

  • Salt is used as seasoning, to enhance flavor.  In a classroom, you are the salt.  You are the one who brings out the natural “flavors” of your students’ individuality.  You are the one who blends them together to make a cohesive whole, using their distinct differences to create classroom magic.  Boring isn’t a part of that creation.  Being the salt requires innovation and passion that spills out and makes the whole room interesting.
  • Salt is also a preservative.  It makes things last longer.  You preserve learning and make it a part of every minute of the day.  It doesn’t have to be a formal lesson for students to learn something.  Teaching them how to get along with one another, preserves peace.  Cheering them on, preserves their confidence.  Correcting their behavior, preserves respect.  In the midst of long weeks, you have the ability to be a preservative as you go throughout the days.
  • Salt has healing properties. You see the wounds, and you know the exact amount of salt to apply to bring healing and not more pain.  You stop bullies.  You encourage effort.  You wipe away tears.  You teach emotional health.  It’s not in your plans, but you do it anyway because you know that smart kids don’t get as far as emotionally healthy ones.  Every classroom needs some salt to survive the long days in the trenches. Every teacher has the ability to be the salt.

 Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other.” Mark 9:50

Risking It

michelle-yonah-33-of-33Risk.  The exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a dangerous chance. To risk is to jump into the unknown.  To risk is to be unaware of the outcome.  To risk is to measure the cost of an action and to choose it anyway.  Lives are built to take risks.  Getting out of bed is a risk.  Driving a car is a risk.  Exposure to chance of injury or loss is a daily occurrence multiplied times 10,000. There is no need to leave the comfort zone so carefully constructed.  There is no need to leave the house of my own making. Risk will find me there.

tightrope-walkerManaging risk is subconsciously done in awake moments.  Every decision can be narrowed down to risk vs. reward.  Is it worth it?  Is is peril or purpose?  Is it jeopardy or joy?  Consciousness takes a holiday and Unconsciousness has the upper hand.  The Un- means not.  Not thinking.  Not considering.  Not actively choosing.  Allowing life to ‘happen-to’ instead of choosing it. By not choosing, I am choosing. Risk exists, no matter if I manage it or not.  It is a constant. It is independent of my choices.

Physical risk is to be avoided to prevent injury.  Emotional risk is evaded for fear of heartbreak.  Spiritual risk is dodged for too many reasons to list here.  All chances taken are just that, chances…which may or may not work out.  Much fear rises up, or no fear at all.  Over thinking, or not thinking.  Intentional choice, or a roll of the dice.

risk-takerSafety takes preeminence over risk.  Why would I run into danger when I could be safe?  Why would I take a chance when I can stay where I am?  Taking no risks is far easier than putting myself out there. Vulnerability strips me naked. Transparency means I am seen. Risking exposure of my true self is daunting, because failure is an option, rejection is a possibility, injury is 100% likely.  Children do not risk-manage their lives, because they are natural risk takers. Or I say so, but the reality is they don’t know the risks, and therefore do not feel the need to control their environment. They learn how to do that once pain becomes a reality.  I have a lifetime of avoiding pain of all kinds.  It is second nature now.  Unconscious behavior shaped by protective walls and bubbles. Until, out-of-control happens without my permission.  Then all bets are off.  Risk becomes the enemy. Conscious risk management = being in control.  Safety becomes an idol.  Walls get taller, bubbles get bigger.


Unless.  Unless my eyes open to see.  I am not safe.  Control is an illusion.  Safety is a prison of sorts.  From my cell, I cannot get hurt, but I cannot be known either.  How badly do I want to be known? To belong?  To have deep connection? Bad enough to risk?  Bad enough to take a chance?  There is danger.  There is uncertainty. There is fear.  The question is, can I afford to take the risk? Will it be worth the cost? If I hedge my bets, I might come out ahead or I might not.  But isn’t that better than living in a prison cell of my own construction. Maybe a better question is…Can I afford NOT to take a risk?

Dealing with Report Cards

Pointers for Parents are regular SHORT inspirations to bring hope and encouragement to parents. I hope to build a bridge between parents and teachers as it pertains to the education of children and how we can work together for the betterment of our kids.


Just the thought of report cards causes the strongest parent among us to cringe.  The heart beats harder, the breathing becomes shallow, and knots in the stomach feel like writhing snakes.  Maybe that is an extreme reaction, but for parents of kids who struggle in school, it can be reality.  Somehow when our kids fail, we think we have failed as a parent in some way.  The truth is that even parents who do everything right can still have a child who struggles to learn, so let’s just take the parent guilt right off the table.  There is no point in placing blame, because that only delays moving forward.  Report cards do not measure parenting skills.  They do not measure teaching skills either.  They measure a child’s progress based on assignments given on a given day.  The point of a report card is to give information about the learner.  If a student scores poorly, it tells those working with the child what areas need more support.  That is NOT a bad thing and it does not reflect on you as a parent.  The best way to help your child is to remember some things.

  • The report card is not about you.
  • The report card is not about the teacher.
  • The report card is about your child’s learning.
  • It is not their identity.
  • There are nine weeks before report cards go out.
  • You should not be surprised at your child’s grades.
  • Read the take home papers…every week.
  • Communicate with the teacher BEFORE report cards go out to see how you can help your child.

(That’s why I wrote this blog a couple of weeks before the grading period is up.  :) )

  • Allow your child to experience their own consequences.
  • You cannot do their work for them.
  • Encourage your child that grades do not determine if he/she is valuable.
  • Sit down and work with them on improving areas of weakness.
  • Do not discount or diminish them.
  • Point out areas of strength.
  • Support those things fully.
  • Recognize that not every student is good at every subject.
  • Perfectionism stifles and crushes the spirit of a child.
  • Be okay with “good enough” on some things.
  • Remember in light of a whole life, grades on report cards are not that important.
  • Enjoy your children while they are still children.

Calm the Storm

IMG_9816I have been studying Matthew 14:22-36 lately.  It is the story of Jesus walking on the water, and Peter jumping out of the boat.  I have always loved this story, not just because of the obvious miracle of walking on water, but because I think it shows the frailty of his disciples.  I can totally relate to them.  If you don’t know the story it goes like this.

Jesus had had a long day. He had just come from his hometown where he was not received at all.  He had gotten word that his cousin and friend John had just been beheaded.  My guess is that his spirit was grieving, yet the people kept coming to hear his stories.  They followed him everywhere.  They did without sustenance in order to listen. He ministered to them until evening, when the disciples tried to send them away to get food.  Jesus would not allow it because he saw they were hungry…spiritually hungry.  Instead, he performed a miracle and multiplied the fishes and the loaves, so he could continue to feed their souls.  Like I said, it was a busy day.  I can imagine how badly he needed some “alone” time.  In order to find some, he sent the disciples on ahead in the boat.  I notice they didn’t hesitate.  Never asked how he would get across, or when he would be with them again, at least not on the record.  I bet they were beat too.


He climbed a mountain to be with God. Basically, he went camping. I so love him for that.  I get it, because it is where I find God, too.  After his hike, he soaked up the rest and the solitude. From on that mountain, he looked down on the lake that his friends were crossing.  He saw the storm coming their way, from his vantage point.  He saw their plight, and he moved to act.  Right before dawn, he walks to meet his friends.


On. The. Water.

If that were not enough, it says the wind and waves were buffeting them. In case that term is unfamiliar to you it means, the action of striking someone or something repeatedly and violently.   In other words, the storm was intense. If I were in that boat, in a storm, and I saw a man coming towards me walking on the water I would freak.  No doubt.  Trembling wouldn’t begin to describe my actions.  I’d be screaming, and considering if I could swim to shore.  These guys were cowering in fear.  Jesus tells them, “It’s me!  Don’t be afraid!”  Haha.  Right.

peter-sinkingOnly Peter sort of believes him, and says, “If it’s you Lord tell me to come to you.”  Notice the if.  Peter was willing, and you have to commend him on his belief that if it really is the Lord, he is willing to obey.  Yet, at the same time, Peter tells Jesus what to tell him. “If it is you, tell me to come to you.” He doesn’t wait for the Lord to express his desires, which are to still the storm. He takes it upon himself to decide what God would want, which he thinks is for him to come out on the water.  I can see Jesus with a smirk on his face and a twinkle in his eye as he gives the command, “Come!”  It is like he says, ‘If that is what you want to do Peter, give it a try.’

Always the impulsive risk taker, Peter once again goes forward in boldness, but at least he asked permission this time.  He steps out of that boat and he walks on the water.  What an adrenaline rush that must have been…kind of like the old days version of skydiving or bungee jumping.  He goes, but in short order he begins to look at what he has gotten himself into.  Self- doubt rushes at him in the whipping of the wind.  The waves remind him of his humanity. I wonder if he thought, “I should have stayed in the boat with the other guys. What have I done?”  His act-now-think-later actions causing him to be in survival mode.  He begins to sink.  He cries out to be rescued.  Jesus pulls him out.


It is the story I have heard since I was a child.  We praise Peter for stepping out, we hope to have the kind of faith it takes to jump out of the boat. But there is this thing in my head that stops at the last part of the story where Jesus says, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  He is saying Peter had doubt.  Hmmm…he doesn’t applaud the actions of Peter, but instead gives a bit of caution.

Because of this last statement, I interpret this passage a bit differently than I have heard it preached.  I hear the voice of Peter’s friend, not with rebuking condemnation, but with a bit of mischief and maybe some sarcasm in his tone.  Peter’s doubt was different than his companions, but it was still doubt.  They were terrified from the get go.  Never considered anything but fear.  Peter, on the other hand, jumps out of the boat in what he thinks is a bold move that turns out to be not such a good idea.  His doubt was not in looking at the waves, it was in questioning the ability of Christ to come to him.  He felt it was up to him to do the work of getting to Christ, when in reality if he had waited, Jesus was coming to him.  Jesus saw the need and was coming to meet it. So the question was more like, why did you doubt ME?  Why did you question if I would come to you in the midst of the storm?  I can so relate to Peter in this.  I have jumped out of the boat.  I have made my first steps, but now the storm is buffeting me.  My eyes are on the waves that threaten to overtake me, and instead of trusting that my rescuer is coming to me, I am trying desperately to get to him.  He is asking me, ‘Do you have so little faith that I will come to you?’

You may not have resigned your job, or had your last paycheck, but I bet there is an area in your life where the boat is rocking.  It seems most of my friends lately have one thing or another going on in their lives where the storm is intense.  The waves are huge.  The wind is whipping. There is trembling.  Fear has stolen our security. The storm’s job is to reveal where our security lies…in our own abilities, in our boats, or in the climate that used to be so unchanging but now is shifting like sand.  Even the security in our faith is questionable as we franticly strive, while we are sinking. Working for reward. This favored story has taken on new meaning for me. In watching the weaknesses of the inner circle of Christ, I have seen myself.  I have recognized my need to wait on him to come to me, instead of preforming to get to him.  In reality, he is longing to still my storm, if I will stop interrupting him with my “great acts of faith,” which is all he wanted from the beginning.