Why Intent Matters

Disclaimer: As always, I do not write this as someone who has it all together – I write as someone trying to figure it all out. 

I’ve come to recognize the importance of intent when considering conflict and a hopeful resolution. Whether the conflict happens in the workplace, in friendship, in family, in the Church, or in marriage, I believe it’s important to always assume the best and seek true understanding of the heart behind the words/actions.

We are quick to expect grace but hesitant to offer it. 

I’ve written before about the current situation in which I find myself because of words that were misinterpreted and actions that were made mistakenly. “Mistakenly” is the key word. My intent was never to hurt this person. One of the mistakes I made was truly done innocently, and the other was misinterpreted because of the previous mistake. It didn’t help that these two mistakes were made within the same month.

Both times my heart was in the right place, but this person seemingly refuses to consider that. I understand – and acknowledged – that I caused hurt, but I also understand that it is all a misunderstanding and have sought forgiveness and grace to no avail. I’ve given up trying to explain/prove that my intentions were good and instead have chosen to give this person space. However, all of this has caused me to spend a great deal of time researching/contemplating intent and motive, both biblically and in general, both as an offender and the one offended.


Intention: an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result. The end or object intended; purpose.

Motive: something that causes a person to act in a certain way, do a certain thing, etc.; incentive. The goal or object of a person’s actions.

I posed a multi-level question on my Facebook page and loved the responses that I received. Here is the question: “How often do you consider intent/motives when someone has (intentionally or unintentionally) wronged/hurt you? Do you do this before you respond, or after? Do you think that intent is more important than what was done?”

And here are a few of the responses:

“I have these conversations with myself all the time when someone has done something to hurt me. I ask myself, “what is the likelihood that it was their intent to be hurtful or insensitive?” This doesn’t mean the issue is never brought up, but it does provide context that enables me to see things more clearly. One of the best pieces of advice i ever got was to assume the best about people until they prove you wrong.” – Becky

“This is a huge challenge for me. I’m married to an Enneagram 1, so I have to remember his intent is always for the greater good, but as an Enneagram 4, I’m always “But my FEELINGS!!!” and he’s always reminding me of his intent even if his message is received otherwise.” – Shannon

“Not as often as I should. My tendency is to feel first, act, then think. I am working on being more intentional about thinking about the feeling before I act on it, for this reason.” – Mikayla

“I really have struggled with this. I naturally lean towards adding in my interpretation of their actions. I’m working hard on taking people at face value.” – Alexis

“As I get older (and ideally more spiritually mature) I try to consider motives. Usually I’m better at considering them afterwards but I try to always respond in a controlled manner. I’m not always successful at this. It also depends on how close of a relationship I have with someone who has hurt me. This determines how far I’ll go to try to mediate vs just forget about it.” – Michelle

“I try and consider intent because the intent may have been poorly received by me because I misunderstood. My misunderstanding doesn’t mean they intentionally wronged me. This takes me time to arrive here because I can be quick to respond to my hurt. It’s a learning process.” – Johanna

“I think there’s always a backstory that we don’t know.” – Carla

“I think offense can be a choice, even if someone is being intentional, I can still decide to not be offended….heaping coals or perhaps, ‘let it go’. Definitely easier said than done but brings a lot of freedom when possible.” – Christa

“I find that the more spiritually fit I am, the less anyone or anything affects me. If I am restless, irritable or discontented, there’s something wrong in my spirit.” – Connie

“Intentions are always worth considering but impact really matters more than intentions. We need to own our responsibility for hurtful impact even when our intentions were not hurtful.” – Sarah

“I have come to see just how much communication improves when I take responsibility to make sure my noble intent is clear to the person I’m trying to communicate with.” – Lyndsey

“I am loving the opportunity to teach my children about perspective. About owning the mistakes we make and showing grace and understanding when things happen to us.” – Meredith

“As for the finding out that it was unintentional, it usually makes it easier to heal, unless their attitude about it is a “so what if it hurt you, I don’t care because I didn’t mean it that way” but then the hurt gravitates towards their lack of care rather than what they actually did first.” – Valerie

“Intent has the ability to change EVERYTHING.” – Amanda

“Always only afterward in retrospect. I strive to see the good in other people and I can be really naive about it. That’s not to say I’m a saint but I’ll often question myself and my motives before somebody else’s.” – Melissa

“Intention is everything. I will NEVER hold someone accountable when the consequences are not tied to the intent. However, if there is intent there, my reaction will be a bit different.” – Josh

“I don’t know that there’s one right answer. Intent certainly can be more important, but not always. Every situation is different.” – Bethany

“Intent is so important. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt (whatever it is) but seeing things from another’s perspective is key to healing and ultimately growth.” – Angie

“I think assuming the best of someone is wise in order to further maintain relationships. But, we learn in infanthood to trust/mistrust people according to Eric Erickson so it can be hard to 1) realize we mistrust others and 2) to endeavor to do better and 3) recognize when we aren’t and change our thought patterns in the moment.” – Danielle


Context is one of my favorite things in life. It’s one of my top StrengthsFinder strengths; it’s why I love history, why I love learning people’s stories. Context brings understanding and grace, because a person’s actions often don’t tell the entire story.

Biblically speaking, Peter is a perfect example. Peter had great intentions to follow Jesus but often fell flat on his face because he didn’t execute those intentions well. He had the faith to get out of the boat and walk on the water, but he also lost sight of Jesus in the midst of the wind and the waves and began to sink. What did he do? He called out to Jesus for help. His heart never wavered. He may have failed in the moment but his intentions were good and true. He’s the one Jesus chose to be the foundation of the Church (Matthew 16:18) and I think that’s telling. God doesn’t expect perfection – He expects obedience and faith.

More than once in Scripture we are told that the Lord knows our hearts. One of my favorite verses on this topic is this:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

If God looks at the heart, shouldn’t we?

We tend to get what we look for. If we look for the worst in people, we’ll get bucketloads of it. If we look for the best, we’ll get that.” – Karl Vaters

We all have past hurts that have shaped our view of people and of the world. It’s easy to assume that just because someone in our past intentionally hurt us that anything anyone does is also to inflict pain. But is that fair? Is that the best way to approach relationships?



This is already too long, so here are some resources I found if you want to read more.

Intent and motive are explored in several Bible passages:

Numbers 14: 40-44 (When the Israelites realized the consequences of their actions, they repented but the Lord knew their hearts and the reason behind their actions.)

Joshua 22:11-34 (Great example of not assuming that intentions are bad.)

1 Chronicles 19:2-3 (Our past experiences can make us overly suspicious of others. We should not assume that every action is meant for harm.)

From a corporate standpoint, this is an excellent article.  Here’s a quote from it:

When we make mistakes, we often blame the circumstances of the situation rather than take responsibility for the mistake. When other people make mistakes, we tend to over-emphasize the other person’s role in that mistake–we very quickly blame them!”

Here are some other articles I found on this subject:

https://www.christianpost.com/news/why-god-is-looking-at-your-heart.html

https://www.crosswalk.com/family/marriage/doctor-david/why-you-should-always-assume-positive-intent.html

https://www.christianitytoday.com/karl-vaters/2017/july/fellow-christian-assume-best.html


After all of this reading, discussion, and contemplation, I still believe that when we are wronged, we need to take the intent of the person into consideration. That doesn’t erase the hurt (and we must own our mistakes), but it can lessen it once we realize that they made a mistake. We ALL make mistakes. We are ALL imperfect. We ALL have backstories. We ALL do and say things we regret because we are sinful humans. Bottom line: We cannot hold others to an impossible standard that we ourselves could never attain. 

As Christians, we are to offer abundant grace and forgiveness because WE have been forgiven abundantly by our Lord and Savior. Who are we to harbor unforgiveness? I am not preaching here – I am well aware I am prone to hold on to resentment and it’s something I struggle with on a daily basis. That’s why I’m so thankful that God has given us His Word to remind us of the standard to which we are called:

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” – Romans 12:9-18

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” – 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:32

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” – Colossians 3:13

The next time someone “wrongs” me I pray that I can take their intent into consideration before I respond. Was it truly done maliciously? Were they actually trying to harm me in some fashion? Has their track record really been one of causing hurt? Or am I taking things too personally/the wrong way? Because intent matters.

Considering intent can make it far easier to offer abundant grace and forgiveness instead of being on the defensive and choosing anger and hurt. One path leads to stronger relationships; the other leads to resentment and loss. Which do we want more?


Questions for discussion and contemplation: When someone’s intentions and motive are pure, yet hurt occurs, what role should grace play? When the offender is remorseful and expresses that their intent was indeed pure and good, how should the one offended respond?

Trends (Others Telling You What to Do)

I have never been a fan of trends. In high school I even stopped wearing orange – which I loved – because it became trendy. I didn’t want to do something just because everyone else was doing it.

Ultimately, I’m a rebel at heart who doesn’t like being told what to do, say, or think. As a “good Christian girl” I never rebelled in the traditional sense, but I’ve found little ways to rebel whenever possible to satisfy that need. 😉

So, when I got this email yesterday I rolled my eyes:

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The haircut trends You NEED to know for summer. Yes, because you NEED to know what celebrities think about hair and what you should do with yours.

Why? Why do so many in our culture let someone else dictate what they should do with their hair? What they should wear? Why do you want to be like everyone else? 

I know this sounds like a rant, but it isn’t. I promise. I’m just thinking out loud and encouraging you to join in to discuss in the comments!

I simply do not understand why people follow trends set by the fashion industry/celebrities/strangers. In reality, you’re allowing someone else to control you, and your wallet. And all for what? To feel good about yourself? To feel like you “fit in” (even though, honestly, people aren’t thinking that much about what you’re wearing)?

You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

By telling you what you “should” be wearing and doing, the fashion industry is encouraging you to constantly give them your money. They make you think that you always need something new because your current wardrobe is outdated, everyone is judging your lack of trendiness, and therefore your perfectly good clothes are not worth wearing. And that’s why they make millions.

I wear clothes that are totally not trendy, but I don’t care. They are comfortable and in good condition. I buy new things occasionally, but I choose to spend our hard-earned money in other ways. Essentially, I refuse to be told what to do and what to buy, especially by people I don’t even know.


Are you a trend-follower? I’d genuinely love to dialogue about this in order to try to understand your perspective! Let’s discuss!

Sitting in the Meantime

When we saw TobyMac in March, he said something that resonated with me. He commented about the length of time between his album releases and said that’s because he needs to live life between albums so that he has something to sing about.

When I wrote the one and only song I’ve ever written, I told God that I was okay with never writing one again because it took sending Tori to Heaven to have the inspiration and ability to write it. If that’s what it takes, I’m good now 😉


I’ve been mostly quiet on here for a while now because life hasn’t given me much content lately – which is perfectly okay! I am completely satisfied with life going smoothly, which it mostly has been (normal mother-of-twins ordeals aside).

However, as I blogged earlier this week, I’m now in a situation providing me with content…a situation I sincerely wish could be resolved but it’s out of my control at this point.

I’ve been sitting in silence, not pressing this friend to reconcile or respond, not offering further explanation as to my intent or my heart. Just waiting.


Someone recently used the phrase “sitting in the meantime” and I loved it. That’s where I am – sitting in the period of waiting for resolution. I’ve relinquished control (difficult) and am being still before the Lord, waiting for His guidance and for my friend to reach out IF they choose to do so.

And it’s challenging.

Because, in the meantime, I just want to fix things. I want to talk. I want to meet up for coffee and explain, yet again, that my words were not said out of anger but love. That there has to be a huge misunderstanding because I thought everything was good between us, but clearly there was some harbored resentment that caused this to blow up. That everyone makes mistakes and grace should be offered abundantly. But I can’t. Not until the other person reaches out.

I don’t like being in the meantime. There is no defined timeline, no rule book, nothing for me to accomplish except to wait and to pray, to work on my own heart and to ask God to use this to grow my own character.

Life will go on if this friendship ends, but not without some grief on my part. Unresolved conflict is so very hard for me to live with especially when I feel I’ve done all I can to live at peace with others (Romans 12:18).

If you find yourself – now or in the future – “sitting in the meantime” with no end in sight, run to the Lord. Read His Word. Trust Him. Remember all the great things He has done in your life and in the lives of others. He isn’t just watching from the sidelines – He is right there in the meantime with you.

The Power of Words

I was in sixth grade when I realized the power of words for the first time. 

For whatever reason, I decided to write a letter – a very mean one – to someone who was a friend of mine, a friend who had done nothing wrong. To this day I have no idea why I wrote it, but I have never forgotten the lesson learned. That girl and I were never friends again and because we had hung out in the same group of friends, it made my life so awkward. I still feel shame when I think back to how I made that girl cry.

It happened again in high school with my best friend. I decided that I didn’t want to be friends anymore (eye roll) and wrote a letter. Sigh. My parents kept telling me to stop writing letters and that was the last time, THANKFULLY. She and I are still friends to this day (31 years and counting) and our friendship is stronger because of it, I think.

I can’t go back to sixth grade or high school (THANKFULLY) but I’ve tried to be very careful with my words ever since. While I certainly still make mistakes, I do what I can to avoid having difficult conversations via text/email because of the inability to read tone. I choose my words carefully and use abundant emojis to convey my emotions.

Everyone has a lens through which they perceive and process life, and we all have our own “settings” and filters through which we process information; because of that, I also do everything I can to assume the best when others write to me and never assume that they are being rude, mean, or angry. I read the tone as being friendly unless proven otherwise. I don’t know what may be behind the words, I don’t know what mood they are in or what is happening in their life, so I choose to believe they are being kind.

This week I was reminded that I can only control my words and my responses. I was reminded that, as well-meaning and good as I may think my words are, they are up for interpretation by the receiver and the result may be less than ideal.

I have, yet again, found myself in a situation where I may be losing a friend because of words (but NOT with a mean letter like sixth grade or high school!) even though that is the complete opposite of what I want. And it has been devastating. Looking back, I can see why this person took what I said the way that they did, and I can also see how this could have been avoided entirely had I done it in person. It was just easier to text, so I did. And now we’re in a mess.

I don’t write this for pity (I made the mistake). I don’t write this for gossip (hence the lack of details). I write this to encourage you to stop having difficult conversations with written words. Pick up the phone. Get together. FaceTime. Hear the person’s tone. Assume the best. Be willing to accept feedback and constructive criticism from those who love you. Offer abundant grace to your imperfect friend/family member. Don’t allow friendships to be destroyed because of misunderstandings that could have been avoided. 

I clearly still need to learn this lesson. Maybe this is why the Bible is filled with verses about using your words wisely.

I’m still praying that things will resolve and that we can grow stronger because of this conflict. But, I also know that we live in an imperfect world with imperfect humans and that may not be the reality. So, while I am grieving this apparent loss, I’m also renewing my determination to be careful with my words and to never have discussions via writing when they can be better resolved in person.

Friendships are too rare and too valuable to be lost over misunderstandings. Be wise with your words.

Perfectionism and Grace

I made this.

It was a labor of love for the twins’ upcoming festivities – something I saw on Pinterest and Etsy and realized even I could probably make it.

Even me.

Someone who is not naturally crafty. Someone who generally doesn’t attempt new things like this because I don’t like to fail. Because of this, I hesitate to try new things like this all too often.

Learning more about myself through the Enneagram has been so helpful. I am most definitely a 1. I denied it at first, but as I have lived with that knowledge for a while now, I see it daily. Things must be done perfectly by me if I’m going to do anything. If it doesn’t come naturally to me, I’m nervous to try it because I might not do well.

Perfectionism makes me an excellent writer and musician. But, perfectionism will not make me a better wife or mother. I’m learning to leave room for grace. For love. For learning.

Today I tried to make something new, and I love it. And I saved us money because buying these on Etsy are not cheap (and now I understand why 😂). It’s not perfect, but I’m choosing to not care. It was made out of love and I stepped out of my comfort zone to do it.

Eighty strips of fabric tied onto twine may not seem like a big deal to you, but it was a wonderful, confidence-building learning experience for me that will continue to be applied in my life.

Three Years: Tori’s Resurrection Day

It’s amazing that it has already been three years since our precious Tori entered the arms of Jesus.

Today could be a devastating, sad day. We could choose to dwell on what we “lost” that day, how our world changed, and that would be an acceptable way to spend the day given the circumstances. I mean, we did lose a child. The world would understand. But, as always, we choose to place our focus on where she is and how she is doing, as well as the fact that we will see her again someday and will never have to say goodbye.

Instead of the worldly form of grief, we choose peace.
Instead of blaming God, we choose faith.
Instead of tears, we choose joy.

We decided two years ago that we would always spend Tori’s Resurrection Day (also called Tori’s Day of Triumph) doing something fun as a family. The activities may vary from year to year, depending on the age of her siblings and their interests, but we want to always celebrate her life and her current/forever place of residence.

So, today we had breakfast at Cracker Barrel and had some fried apples (something she LOVED) together:

We went to see Tori’s tree at the Hershey Gardens for our second annual family photo in front of the tree:

We read “I Can Only Imagine: A Friendship with Jesus Now and Forever” to the boys – something we will do each year as we teach them about Tori, Heaven, and faith in Jesus.

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But most importantly, we enjoyed our time as a family:


I promise we aren’t perfect Christians, nor are we perfect people. We sought out the biblical examples of living after a loved one’s death, and we believe that this is how we are to live. The New Testament, especially, is FILLED with verses about death of fellow believers and how Christians should respond, and it’s always referenced with joy. With peace.

We trust that the God who created the universe can be trusted with every detail of our lives, even when we don’t understand the reasons. 

(If you’d like to hear me go more into depth about this and more, here’s a link to a speaking engagement I had in January. You can also read more in my book, Even So, Joy.)

One of the questions I ask in Even So, Joy is this: If we (as followers of Jesus) truly believe God and His promises, if we truly believe that Heaven is where we belong and where we will spend eternity, then why do we follow the world’s example and allow sorrow and grief to overcome us? It doesn’t have to be this way. 

Would anyone CHOOSE to lose a child? Absolutely not. And yet, we CAN choose our reaction and how we live our lives afterward. We see the example of David losing a child (albeit to very different circumstances) in 2 Samuel 12 and his response:

19 When David saw them whispering, he realized what had happened. “Is the child dead?” he asked.

“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”

20 Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions,[b]and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord. After that, he returned to the palace and was served food and ate.

21 His advisers were amazed. “We don’t understand you,” they told him. “While the child was still living, you wept and refused to eat. But now that the child is dead, you have stopped your mourning and are eating again.”

22 David replied, “I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, ‘Perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me.”

David got up. He worshiped the sovereign God he knew and trusted. He knew he would see his son again someday and chose to live life.

I think about it this way: If it were me that had died, I would NOT want my parents to stop living life. I would not want them to visit my grave (or, as we call it, Resurrection Site). I would want them to remember that the separation is not forever, that I am where we all, as Believers, are supposed to be. That I am finally HOME. 

Brennan and I chose then – and we choose now – to focus on Tori and how amazingly she is doing now. Tori can SMILE. Walk. Talk. Breathe. Play. Be with Jesus. How incredible is that?! Our precious baby girl was so broken here on earth; now she is healed and WHOLE. That is more than enough reason to rejoice!

Brennan and I know and believe that Heaven is real, that she is having an amazing time, and that we will join her someday. Every day is one day closer to that reunion!

You may not be in a situation like ours, but we all have our own challenges and life struggles. No matter what our circumstances, we each have a daily decision to make, a choice for how we view our journey; we have the opportunity to choose for it to be well with our souls and to focus on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2).

Every day, we each have a decision to make: where is your focus?

The Joy of Not Knowing

In our culture of Google bringing instant gratification to our curious minds, not knowing the answer or what is going to happen in life typically makes us feel anxious, unsettled. We think that knowing everything when we want to know it is the key to peace.

I don’t believe that is the case.

I write about this today as I am reflecting on March 26, 2016. We had no idea that would be our last day with Tori on this earth. Part of me wishes I had known…but, then I wonder for what purpose? So we could have treasured her more that day? We already did that well. So we could have been more “prepared” to say goodbye? We’d been preparing for fourteen months.

No, I think it’s this: Knowing would have helped us feel like we were in control of an impossible situation instead of trusting the One who actually IS in control.

I like being in control. I like when things go my way (I recently discovered that I’m an Enneagram 1 and I think I’ve accepted that 😉 ). But living like that doesn’t require faith. It doesn’t require trust. Why have faith if we’re going to just take control ourselves?

In this instance, I am certain that knowing the day and time of her final breath would NOT have brought peace. It would have brought anxiety. Instead, our sovereign and gracious God shielded us from that information and I’m so thankful. 

He was gracious to give us warning signs for about six weeks before she was set free from her earthly body. In the end, that’s all we really needed. We see that now.


Another way I’ve seen this idea of “not knowing being okay” play out is in regards to Newborn Screening.

The Pennsylvania NBS Advisory Panel has spent countless hours discussing the ethics of screening for certain diseases – ones with no treatment, specifically. They ponder whether or not it’s the right thing to tell parents that their child may someday develop a disease for which there is no treatment or cure. They wonder if they should screen for such diseases or leave it a mystery.

You may wonder why they would do that, as did I at first, but now I see it this way: if parents find out that their child will someday become symptomatic with a disease for which there is no treatment or cure, is it better for them to know (which will rob them of joy during the healthy times and fill them with worry and anxiety), or to wait until symptoms occur? They can’t change the situation either way, so for some diseases the panel believes that the ethical thing to do is to NOT screen until a treatment is available. And I believe this is the right thing to do.

Knowing doesn’t always bring peace or joy. Sometimes ignorance truly is bliss.


As followers of Jesus, we must trust the One we serve. We must trust that His way IS the best way, even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment. He must be the source of our joy, even when things in life do not go as we would prefer.

If we TRULY believe that God is sovereign, good, gracious, faithful, trustworthy, capable, then do we actually need to know everything? No. What we need is to put our faith into action and surrender that need. Faith brings joy, deep and unwavering joy.

Someday we’ll know, and we’ll praise Him in retrospect; but, I challenge you to praise Him now, in the uncertainty, because HE is certain and HE loves you.