On Friday it was “Muffins with Moms” at the elementary school.

Lucy lives for that stuff, so I had it marked up in my calendar for a long time to go on that little date with her.

But it just so happened that that special date was the same time we were supposed to meet up with some out-of-town friends (we were heading to a friend’s cabin in the mountains, and it had been in the works for a while as well).  I let them know I needed to push our departure time back just a tad.  First of all, this is my baby, my last in elementary school and I have a hard time missing anything at the elementary school with that girl of mine.  But second, I pictured her wandering around by herself in the midst of all those happy mom-and-daughter duos and I just can’t do that.

Of course everyone was fine to wait 15 minutes longer to get out of town (we were driving), and all was well.  Lucy and I planned to walk to the school so I could get picked up from there, but by the time I got everything situated to leave the kids overnight and tried to check off my morning list we had to zoom over there in the car.  That morning school hour is sometimes tricky traffic-wise to get out of our neighborhood, and my frustration mounted as we got stuck behind this black suburban that was obviously not in a hurry like I was.  I zipped past them when I could break free, and pulled up in the midst of the Muffins with Moms hoopla.

Low and behold, guess who pulled up right behind me?  You got it, the black suburban.

And out hopped one of my very favorite young families from church.

They have three little kids, one of them a pretty small baby, and although we were laughing together about my hot-rod driving, I was sure embarrassed.

I share this story because I love that that cute family knew, with no judgement, that I had a “story.”  No questions asked, just love and some laughing…and some muffins.  They had a story too: just a cute family driving normal to get to the school 🙂

I’ve been thinking about that little moment since then.  Because everyone has a story.

We continued on our way up to the cabin with our friends and as we got the chance to catch up I was in awe of some of their stories.   We are really good friends yet I didn’t know the depth and breadth of some of the things they are dealing with right now.  Every single one of those six couples up there has something pretty large and dark they are dealing with.  And it makes me love them even more, and made Dave and me both tear up as we talked it over on one of our drives.  Sometimes we all deal with things we think are going to rip our hearts out and crush us.  And then life keeps going.  So you put on a smiling face and go out to face the world.  Because there is no other choice.  You get busy living or you get busy letting it eat away your soul.  These parents are busy living.  And doing.  And nurturing.  And loving.  And I’m so grateful to know a little more of their stories so I can have more empathy, not only for what they are going through, but what a random stranger on the street may be going through.

To further the “story” motif, on the way to the cabin there was a motorcycle driver who was driving us all a little nutty.  He didn’t seem to know which lane he wanted to be in and we had a hard time passing him.  As the husbands complained about how he didn’t know what he was doing, my friend mentioned that she likes to make up stories for things like that to always give people the benefit of the doubt.  “He’s probably so nervous on the turns of this canyon,” and “maybe he’s thinking about his mom who is sick,” or “his pants are bugging him and he’s trying to figure out a place to turn off.”  Ha!  You get the idea.  I love that she had that little built in mechanism for when people are driving her crazy, because, yes, everyone has a story.  And most of the time we don’t know that story.  We just need to be gentle and love more.

I love that God knows ALL our stories, big and little, and that He is willing to give us all the benefit of the doubt and to keep cheering us on no matter how hot-rod we drive or how many mistakes we make.  How I hope to be more like Him as I deal with others around me, and give myself the benefit of the doubt as well…even when I fall off of a step while jumping in my exercise class this morning (so embarrassing…I have a big rug burn on my arm to show for it), and deal with a “recess incident” that happened with Lucy at school yesterday.  The stories keep coming.  And we keep keeping on.

I’m so glad that cute family from church was gentle with me on that muffin morning last week, and made me think so much about the stories people carry around.   


  1. On one of the hardest personal days of my life, I pulled up to a tollbooth that I *knew* was the "take ticket" lane (as opposed to Easy Pass-EastCoaster, here!) and pushed the button over and over, getting progressively angrier when it didn't produce a ticket. I was honestly too "in my head" about the stresses of my life to even consider how to fix my problem (or even what the problem may be!). A man got out of his car behind me and I thought, "oh, great", gearing up for an argument about how I was holding up traffic when (I was convicned)
    it was not me but the deficient machine!! Instead, he so politely explained that I was in the wrong toll lane and handed me a ticket he had walked to the adjacent lane to get himself. It was years ago but something I never forgot. Here's a man who could understandably be angered to have gone from 60 to 0 on a highway but, instead, he showed me grace on a day I needed it.

  2. This is such a great post, one that I hope I can refer back to on days that I get a little too easily frustrated. It's so easy to forget everyone's "story" and get caught up in my own haste. Also – I love the way your friends talked about the motorcycle rider's story while on the road. I need to keep that in mind when I'm in the thick of Seattle commuter traffic – that sort of "story" telling would make it oh so much better! 🙂

  3. It drives my kids crazy when I make up stories about people, but I think it's a good strategy myself. Also, when we are in the midst of a trial, even a trial that is lifelong, I think it's so easy to get caught up in our own story. I am caring for my mom who has Alzheimer's to help take some pressure off my dad who is getting cancer treatment. I find myself thinking "if only people knew MY story, or MY heartache right now. But then, I stop and remember that EVERYONE has a story. Some stories are at a high point, some are at a low, but we all have stories. One of my favorite quotes is "be kind. for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about".

  4. I really needed to hear something like this. There are so many times when I lose sight of what others may be going through. Things I probably have no idea about. Thanks for the perspective. 🙂 By the way, we also had Muffins with Mom today and it was awesome. Being around my 7 year old and seeing how happy she is to have me there makes my heart swell.

  5. Wow! I love the insight you pull from every day situations. Thank you for not keeping this to yourself. Such a great reminder to give others the benefit of the doubt and to slow down a little. XOXO

  6. I love this! I just taught a group of special needs direct care staff about this very topic the other day so it has been on my mind. Thank you for adding to my pondering. I love how you stay positive.

  7. So true! One of my greatest lessons after my newborn son died. I realized that everyone has a story and we often don't know what it is.

  8. This is something I try to tell my family. Everyone has a story. You don't know what it is, so be patient and kind. I am so glad you posted it, as I think it will be a good one to share with them. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Oh I needed this today. No matter what stage of life you are in… EVERYONE has a story that would make you cry. No one has it easy… no matter what anyone else says. (And sometimes, I have to really remind myself of that – like yesterday when a hs student tailgates me out of our neighborhood and is waving lovely hand gestures in my direction. Even he has a story that would help me have empathy for him.)

    Thank you for your timely and helpful reminder.

  10. Shawni, I love this post. Thank you for sharing it- even though you were not proud of your "hot rod" moment. We all have moments. And we all have stories. So true. I love the way your friend looks for the best in others. Sounds like you have such great friends. -Lisa

  11. I love this! Such a great reminder of something that has crossed my mind before. I will sometimes say to my children, "you don't know what kind of day that person woke up to." I think I'll try to bring it home even more by adding a "story" to some of their days. It just make it that much more "real". Thank you for reminding me of this! Happy Mother's Day!

  12. I make up the same kinds of stories in my head, especially for speeding drivers! "He just got a call that his wife's in labor!" or "She's racing to pick up a sick kid from school." I think a quick prayer that the car and its occupants arrive safely at their destination (and have taught our girls to do the same each time an ambulance, police car, or fire truck passes, both that they're able to help the person in need and that the first responders return home safely to their family). I often catch myself marveling at the sheer number of independent AND interconnected life-stories swirling around me on a daily basis and love hearing that others do the same! ❤

  13. Your story was you were running late because you over scheduled. That is usually why people speed and whiz past other drivers. There was a baby in that vehicle. It's was morning school traffic with kids in most cars. It was cause of a getaway and muffins, not a doctor's appointment or work or emergency, thank goodness. You felt guilty when you realized you would be talking to the people in that other vehicle, but were glad the people were kind about it. It's nice they chose the good words in front of their kids. I think this story reminded me to plan for extra time and not overschedule. If an accident happened with an injury would running late really look good on that police report?

    1. You are exactly right on each of those things. I was for sure in the wrong, that's why it hit me so much that that cute family gave me the benefit of the doubt and loved me anyway.

      Happy Mother's Day!

  14. I think this is a great reminder. It struck me today that this might in fact be easier to do when someone is acting jerky, or looks like they might have struggles…versus being gracious to those who look like they have the perfect life. I thought of this today when a visiting family walked into church and sat in front of me with five handsome boys all dressed up so cute, and two darling girls (one being a brand new baby)…they looked like a picture perfect family. As we started chatting however it came out that the father has just been diagnosed with ALS and doesn't have very long to live. I thought about how there are even people in our close circles that we might not minister to, or check on, or recognize all the ways they may be hurting because things look fine. Just thinking how much you are right that everyone needs grace and love and understanding. All have hard things, all do dumb things, all of us annoy each other at times. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Love this post! You have no idea how much I needed this message. Absolutely divine intervention as well as I usually check in almost daily but missed a couple days and got this on the exact day I needed it!

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