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?

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.

Expectations and Grace

I had one of those “I feel like I’m failing” moments yesterday when both babies were fussy (most of the day) and I couldn’t figure out what they needed.

All parents have these moments where we feel like we have no idea what we’re doing. It’s a normal part of this journey.

While I try to not fall into the comparison trap, it happens, especially in those areas in which I am the least confident. It’s SO easy to see another mom with her children (whether online or in person) and compare your performance to hers, making yourself feel disappointed and like a failure. When it comes to social media, it’s likely more “performance” than reality, anyway!

When I finally got them to nap, I had a chance to think. How many of these self-imposed expectations are actually relevant to the care of my babies and how many of them are merely an effort to measure up to my perception of what the perfect mother looks like?

And I realized something important: my babies don’t think that I’m a failure, that I don’t know what I am doing most days.

To them, my presence is enough. I walk into a room and (most of the time) they smile wide. They are thrilled just to be in my arms. So why do I compare myself to unfair, self-imposed ideals and expectations?

They don’t compare like we do because they have NO idea what other moms do. I am the only mother they know! If I were actually failing, they would have absolutely no idea. Therefore, there is no way for them to be disappointed (until much later 😉) in me.

Isn’t that freeing?

My babies delight in me. They love me. And their opinion (meaning what brings them joy, security, and comfort) should be the only one that matters (God and my husband aside) when it comes to parenting them as infants.

THANKFULLY they don’t have social media to show them what other moms are doing with their infants, and I need to remember that. And maybe I need to reduce my social media consumption on days when I’m feeling like that.

This realization is the first of many reminders throughout my life to show grace to myself during these (sometimes difficult) days of infancy with twins. And toddlerhood. And childhood.

After all, their joy is what matters right now, not my comparison to what I think others are doing. ❤️

Hunter’s Hope Symposium 2017 – Day One

Symposium time is here!

It's the one time each year we are surrounded by people from all over the world who understand exactly what we have been through. It's the week where we can let our guard down and enjoy these precious moments with our Leukodystrophy family knowing that we fit in here, that we are "normal" here.

None of us would have chosen to be in this position, to be in this "family" of such suffering and grief, but we cherish the relationships and the joy that have come out of everything we have endured.

If grief and pain were measurable, the weight of it just from these precious families here would be astronomical in size; every family here has lost – or will lose – a beloved child (or two), something which has been called the most painful thing a human can endure; and yet, all we see are smiles, joy, friendships, authenticity, and an appreciation for each and every moment. We see hope. And it's amazing.

This is our third year at the Symposium and it's the first one I have been slightly hesitant to attend, for reasons I am still deciphering.

Perhaps it's this: Tori was with us for the first one and she was cherished by all; last year she had gone to Heaven a mere four months earlier and everyone remembered her; will she be remembered this year?

Perhaps this: we now seem to fall into the category of parents who lost their children "a while ago" and it's strange. It's a different feeling being here now, a year after she went to Heaven…not a bad feeling, of course, just different.

I watch the parents with their living children and am amazed at how distant that feels. The suction machines, the feeding pumps – sounds so familiar and yet such a distant memory because I haven't heard them or thought about them in a year. Something that was once part of my daily life now feels like a lifetime away.

I'm not caring for Tori constantly now, and I'm not necessarily grieving anymore (though it will never fully be over), so it's a strange place to be. It's just Brennan and me now.

Perhaps it's strange to be here because it's a time when we're forced to remember that this was our life for fourteen months, and that we did lose our precious daughter. In daily life it's easier to move on because of distractions and tasks. Even though we talk about Tori daily and think of her all the time, it's different somehow to be here surrounded by other families going through the same thing we did.

Despite my emotions through which I am sorting (thanks for letting me process above), I am so happy that we are able to be here again. We're praying that next year we will have a new baby with us ❤️

As always, I will blog about the new research findings and everything else we learn throughout the week. So thankful for Hunter's Hope and all that they do to support Leukodystrophy families.

It's going to be a great week!

Grace in the Midst of Pain

Many have told us that they are amazed by the grace with which we are walking through this tragic and painful time.

We are amazed, too.

I’ve heard it said that trials bring out your true character. I must admit that I am surprised at who I have been throughout this journey.

Before this happened, I wasn’t always happy with who I had become. We had many unexpected changes in the past year; some had hardened my heart and left me bitter and unable to show grace easily. Add sleep deprivation into the mix and you have the perfect storm. These were mostly internal struggles – on the outside I was able to keep everything normal and in control.

Lately, bitterness has been trying to creep back into my heart because of the actions of a few people who are choosing to take out their inability to deal with Tori’s diagnosis on us. The “who” isn’t important – it’s the “what” that matters, and I choose to share this in hopes that it will impact someone and they will choose to treat families like us differently.

As if Krabbe weren’t enough to deal with, we are being forced to deal with irrational, selfish drama that makes no sense to us at all. People are making assumptions about us and they are wrong. Period. 

No matter how hard we try, we can’t seem to please a few certain people and it has caused so much additional stress and pain in our lives.

Tori is our first and only priority.

And yet, we still have so much grace in our hearts even in the midst of this pain and added drama.

Brennan said it so well this morning: 

  

Brennan and I are SO far from perfect. We are human, we make mistakes. But I can tell you this: we are loving, kind, joyful, non-judgmental people. 

We are so thankful for every single note or gift of encouragement that comes our way. We try to acknowledge all of these things publicly but sometimes we forget in the midst of taking care of Tori.

I wish you all could be a fly on the wall in our home, seeing what a day in our lives looks like, especially for me during the day when I am on my own caring for Tori.

This is my basic schedule:

  • 6:30am – feed Tori (40 mins)
  • 8:00am – give first med
  • 9:00am – give second med
  • 9:30am – try to shower quickly
  • 10:30am – feed Tori (40 mins)
  • 11:30am – 2:30pm – Early Intervention (not daily)
  • 2:30pm – feed Tori and give med
  • 3:30pm – give second med
  • 4:30pm – maybe start dinner 
  • 5:30pm – Brennan gets home 
  • 6:30pm – feed Tori 
  • 7:30pm – bath time (every other day)
  • 8:30pm – family time (maybe)
  • 9:30pm – give first med
  • 10:30pm – give second med and feed Tori 
  • 11:30pm – hopefully sleeping 

In between all of those things mentioned, I am also:

  • Giving eye drops
  • Putting face cream on
  • Putting splints on periodically
  • Suctioning her mouth 
  • Cleaning up spit up
  • Changing diapers
  • Changing her position 
  • Turning her giraffe back on all the time 
  • Doing vision and physical therapy
  • Holding her for hours if she needs or wants to be held
  • Updating Team Tori while she sleeps in my arms
  • Putting Essential Oils on her feet and diffusing them
  • Maybe getting one chore done
  • Maybe eating meals 
  • Preparing her milk for the next day
  • Venting her g-tube when she heaves
  • And the list goes on…

I do NOT say all of this for accolades or attention. I simply want to show that taking care of a baby like Tori is incredibly time consuming.

I rarely get to do anything for myself, and I don’t mind at all (as long as I can shower! Tori appreciates that, haha). This is my calling in life and I fully give myself to Tori and her care. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now that she has started to have swallowing issues, we cannot leave her unattended at all.

She hates the car, so I rarely leave the house. We are working on solutions (including trying a new car seat), but for the time being we take her to the doctor and to church. That’s it. She likes planes and trains, not the car.

While I try to post pictures of everything that has been sent to Tori, and while I try to put her in every outfit, it is a challenge. I fail. It is nothing personal, I promise. 

Tori has a huge pile of outfits that she has yet to wear! She has quite the wardrobe! 😄 I love posting pictures of her in all of the outfits that others have so generously given as a way to honor their gift, so I try my best to dress her in every outfit.

But, some days Tori doesn’t let me take pictures. Sometimes she needs to stay in pajamas and be comfortable. 

Tori is my priority, along with Brennan. 

I can’t believe that I even have to post this, but it is important to me that it be made known.

I do not judge others, for any reason. I do not hold grudges, and I don’t like that people are spreading rumors about us that are absolutely untrue. 

My husband is amazing and he is one of the best men I have ever known. The way he cares for Tori along with providing for our family is remarkable. He has such a pure heart and is so loving and good. ❤️

Please don’t assume things about us. Don’t tell us we are wrong about things when only we really know our hearts.

If you have a perceived problem with us, please come to us directly. Do not post passive-aggressive and vague statuses about us. Do not publicly slander us. Please. We don’t deserve this.

We have enough to deal with and may need to start establishing boundaries for our health and well-being, and that makes us sad. We have chosen to surround ourselves with positive, loving, helpful people, and we will continue to do so.

I’m sorry that not everyone is dealing with her diagnosis well. But I do believe that it is a choice to continue to show grace, to love her, to be part of her life as long as we have her. And it is definitely a choice to be sensitive to the needs and feelings of parents of terminally ill children. 

Grace and love abound in our home. Anyone who enters through our front door can see that. We do not intentionally leave people out or refuse to acknowledge things. 

Please show us (and other families like us) grace and love. It is the least you can do. 

Taking care of our precious baby girl is the most important part of our lives right now and nothing can or will change that.

Patience and Grace

I have been learning a lot about grace in the past few years – mostly pertaining to how infrequently I offer it in my daily life. The book “Grace” by Max Lucado was eye-opening and I was so challenged by it when I read it a few years ago. 

A practical example? Most of my early driving years were in Southern California. Enough said. 😉 I am much better now in that area.

I have found that patience and grace go hand in hand: for example, being willing to be patient with people is often a form of grace (think Bill Engvall’s “Here’s Your Sign” stories). 

I always try to remember that I usually don’t know the back story behind someone’s behavior or attitude and that helps me to be graceful toward them…usually. Do they deserve my patience and kindness? Yes.

When I became a parent, I was amazed at how naturally patient with Tori I became (I now believe that God gives mothers an extra dose of patience and grace for their babies, especially given the sleep-deprivation that accompanies motherhood). Granted, she was also the perfect baby for the first four months and was rarely fussy or irritable. She didn’t sleep much, but she was at least happy about it.

Throughout the past two months with Tori’s increased/constant irritability, decreased sleeping hours, and the added stress of a terminal diagnosis, I have had to make a conscious decision many times a day to show a new level of patience and grace toward her and the situation. She can’t help how she feels and she doesn’t have any other way of telling me that she is uncomfortable.



I fully admit that the first two weeks of this behavior change were frustrating and I was not very patient. I assumed that the fussiness was simply a growth spurt or something like that, and, given that I haven’t had a full night of sleep in about ten months, its constant presence wore me down quickly. 

However, it is amazing how the word “terminal” can totally transform your attitude in an instant. 

Now, I recognize that a day may come when I would do anything to hear that cry again. To be up all night with her, as sleep-deprived as I would be. To comfort her and hold her. Just one more time.

Edit

I pray that this lesson doesn’t fade away as quickly as it came, because it applies to everyone I meet and not just Tori. We have no idea how many days are left in our lives or the lives of others. We cannot imagine what impact our kindness and patience may have on someone’s hurting heart. 

And so, grace continues to be the primary lesson the Lord is having me learn thus far during this wonderful journey of motherhood. It is often accompanied by the lessons of selflessness, humility, and patience. And I am so thankful for the changed person I am becoming, even though the lessons aren’t easy.