It was a night like many others, maybe busier, when I heard the sweetest sound from my daughter’s room.

“Mom, will you pray with me?”

Don’t worry, this isn’t where I tell you this was the culmination of our perfectly orchestrated Bible times together or my own well-placed plan taking effect.

Because trust me, this wasn’t what perfection or glamorous ‘momming’ looked like— elbow-deep in cat throw-up, my hair hanging in my eyes, trying to breathe out of my mouth so I didn’t have to smell what was in front of me. In my hurry to see both my children to bed, to clean the carpet after our cat laid down some mystery vomit, to find a moment in the quiet house for myself that night, I didn’t see the spiritual need of my nine-year-old. But God did.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m oh-so-joyful at these precious works of the Creator’s hands. These little pieces of my heart outside my body. But I’ll admit, sometimes I’m weary. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed. All the ways I’m falling short, especially when it comes to passing on the love and wisdom of the Lord, weighs on my shoulders.

I speak into those dark nights, Lord, how do I teach my children perfection when my hands are soiled? What about when my hands are empty?

Often my good intentions hit the intersection of my reality—rushed bedtimes, an exhausting day of misbehavior, my own spiritual cup running on empty, when I don’t know the ‘right’ words, my ever-expanding to-do list filling my brain and suffocating my heart.

In the last year, our family has been through a lot. My own heart has been broken and on the mend a thousand times over. I didn’t mean for it to happen, but our prayer and Bible times together as a family became far and few between. And several months ago, I wondered, where do I even start to bring God back into our daily lives?

But that’s when my savior said, Stop, just stop worrying. I’ll take it from here.

And little by little, I started talking more about God in our day-to-day busy schedules. We started reading the Bible together. Praying together. I stopped worrying about having all the right answers, a perfect plan, or if I was doing enough, but instead enjoyed that time together. And there are still nights when my earthly, dirty hands take over.

Just like that night three months ago, when I heard the urgency and uncertainty in my daughter’s voice. My favorite verse from when I first put my trust in the Lord as a teenager came ringing back, “Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10 (NIV).

As I held a dirty rag and felt all the failures from earlier in the evening, when I rushed our family prayer time, when I wasn’t as patient as I could’ve been tucking in my youngest daughter, my older daughter asked me to pray.

At first, I called back, “Yes, of course. We’ll pray. Just a minute.”

“No, I mean…” Her voice timid and quiet. “Remember how I said I prayed to accept Jesus into my heart on my own when I was three?”

I stopped scrubbing. My heart fluttered. “Yes.”

“Well, I don’t think I really understood what that meant. But now I do. Would you pray with me?”

Dirtied rag still in hand, I peeked into her bedroom. Tears pricked my eyes.

How unworthy, how soiled, how imperfect I was and am as a Jesus mentor, and yet here we were. Here she was coming to the throne just like I’d prayed since her birth. Here was Jesus in the midst of my failures, making all things new in my child. Using my soiled, sometimes broken, many times empty hands for his purpose.

Still, that’s all he’s ever asked for— a humble, willing heart. Not perfection.

I kneeled at her bedside that night (don’t worry, I washed my hands!) and helped my girl pray, welcoming her into the family of God. I may have done my best to plant the seeds, but it was the work of the Holy Spirit, the grace of the Father, and the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ who took my meager offerings and made them bloom.

In Isaiah 55:10-11 (NIV), his promise sinks deep in this momma’s heart, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

His will, his seeds, growing from the sweet soil of my daughter’s heart.

I pray you will be encouraged today, dear moms. Perhaps you’re wearing your knees out praying for that wayward child who you poured the Word of God into, but feel like you’ve planted the seeds into a cement wall. Maybe you’re just so tired by the end of the day, it’s hard to find the time and spiritual energy to pray with your children. My heart feels for you. Just know whatever you do in his name doesn’t go unnoticed. He sees every ounce of love you have for your child. He sees every seed you plant. And he’s working all things together for his glory and your good. Just be still…and know.

Where have you felt inadequate to plant the Lord’s seeds, only to have him graciously surprise you with the fruit of his hand?