Wednesday Wisdom Tip: Show, Don’t Tell {Give Away Day}

Today I am so excited to have a guest – my new friend Jennifer Dukes Lee. I couldn’t help but like Jennifer right away. For beginners, we’re both Iowa girls! Second, well…we’ve both struggled a lot with approval and are ready to put it behind us! In fact, helping others find God’s unconditional approval is another thing we share. Here’s my friend, Jennifer….




I wrote a book earlier this year about how we don’t have to earn anyone’s approval, and how God loves us just as we are. It’s been the cry of my heart for years – not only in my online ministry, but in my offline life. I want people to know they have nothing to prove to anyone – that they are “preapproved” in Christ Jesus.

And I’ve got a daughter who won’t let me forget it.

“Remember what your book is about, Mom,” Lydia tells me with a sly grin, anytime she sees me stumbling into old patterns of behavior.

(She’s 12, and quite accidentally, she has turned into a mighty fine accountability partner.)

Lydia’s gentle nudges are a reminder that the words I write in a book are words to be lived in my everyday life.  I need to live the contents of the book, not only for my own spiritual health, but for the sake of my two daughters, who are watching.

Life lessons are – as the saying goes – often “caught,” not taught.

As parents, we want our children to know that their identity is securely established through Jesus Christ. But we have to regularly ask ourselves: Are we living out the truth of our own Christ identity? What lessons are our children “catching?” Do they see us scowl at our reflections, or do they see us embracing the people God created us to be? Do they see us yearning for the approval of peers on social media? Do they see us run from the camera at the beach, while making deft use of Instagram filters to soften those ever-deepening wrinkles?

And this: Do our children observe us living risk-free lives, because we fear the possibility of failing before a live audience? Or do they see us walking obediently into the places God asks us to serve?

As parents, we are called by God to live the truths that we want our children to believe about themselves.
And we are daily presented with opportunities to teach them out loud with our actions.

I taught writing for several years at a nearby college, and I regularly told my students that “showing, not telling” helps a story come alive more vividly for the reader.

The same can be said of the work of a parent. We will help our children if we do more than tell them the truth. The most memorable lessons are the ones we show.


Jennifer Dukes Lee is a storyteller and a grace dweller. She is author of Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval—and Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. The book is for any woman who needs to know that she has nothing to prove — that she’s “preapproved” in Christ. Jennifer is a writer for Dayspring’s (in)courage and an editor at She blogs at

Today I have the honor of giving away a copy of Love Idol (which, by the way, I read in two days – yes, it is that good)!

To be entered for a chance to win, simply share one area you “caught” from someone in your life. If it’s just one of those busy days, just comment “I’m in!” I’ll announce the winner tomorrow! (When I’m having another give away by the way!)



  1. I remember finally “catching” from a friend that not every part of my story should be shared with certain people. Some parts are only for those that God has prepared to hear and handle….while other parts are so precious that they are meant only for my Heavenly Father and I to share together. It really was in some ways a sweet relief to realize that I’m not called to share every little detail with every person I share my testimony with.

    1. Lynn Cowell says:

      Tara, what beautiful wisdom your friend passed on to you!

  2. I caught from someone in my Sunday School class that sometimes you need to tell your self to “shut up”. Those hard situations you are in might be better without saying anything. She’s very forthright so that’s how it’s said in my head lots of times which helps.

    1. Biting the tongue is hard sometimes, yes? But worth it. Grateful for your words here, Amy.

  3. I’m in!!! Love to have a copy!

  4. One thing I “caught” as a young girl is that, while many people around me want me to listen and help them, when I need a listening ear, they run the opposite direction . . . FAST. Sometimes the only one who is willing to listen is Abba God.

  5. Life lessons are “caught,” not taught…..just took my breath away! I’m a recent “empty-nester” of four wonderful adult “kids” but I’m STILL learning!! Those words resonated with me!! As hard as it is to raise infants, toddlers, and teens, it is just as important to have the frame of mind that as adults they do not need approval from others, just HIS unconditional love! Whether it’s looking for approval from family, or others, we all need to get caught & taught!! Would love a good read….

  6. I was very blessed growing up to have wonderful, Godly parents. I “caught” from both of them that God wants us to give of every talent we have to help others, selflessly. Whether it be mechanical, electrical, baking, cleaning or even listening, God wants us to share out talents to help others.

  7. My best life lessons were caught, not taught! I remember as a young girl watching my Grandmama sitting silent many times! I later found out she was having problems of her own and spent quiet time alone with the Lord! What a wonderful life lesson she gave to me. I am a Nana now, with a 5 year old, and 16 mo. old grand-daughters living with us……what a great reminder that we are their silent teachers! Would love to read this wonderful book! I’m in!

  8. I “caught” that sharing your relationship with Christ doesn’t have to be preachy but it can be reading your bible every day and living what you read. My mom and grandma taught me the quiet sharing of a great relationship with Jesus.

  9. Jessica W. says:

    Thanks for the great post! I’ve been caught quite a few times by my kids on not being happy with myself. Most times it is y 6 year old daughter who I have to be careful what I say about myself. I’m trying to teach her to love herself for who she is, but I will look at my belly which carried 4 babies with a little disgust. I’m healthy, I workout, I eat clean, I feed my kids clean food, I love them unconditionally so I need to stop obsessing about a little stretched out skin.

  10. Sylvia Stewart says:

    Just today, I was reminded of the importance of just ‘reflecting’ God clearly (and honestly!)… made me think about a novel I read awhile back “The Light Between Two Oceans” about a lighthouse keeper and included descriptions of the care needed/taken for the lighthouse to be able to faithfully put out light… Need to keep God’s grace before me so I can rest in it, and reflect it!!!!

  11. I “caught” later in life, being a good listener is sometimes all the person speaking is needing. I learned my husband, family, friends, sometimes just need a good listener…….when I so badly wanted to add my own opinions or comments. Thank you for life lessons.

  12. Deanna Mason says:

    I caught my mother’s love for creativity!

  13. One thing I ‘caught’ from my grandmother has always stuck with me and is something I passed on to my daughter. My ‘Oma’ was a seamstress and owned her fabric store in a small town in Eastern NC. I would spend a couple of weeks every summer with her and she would let me sew an outfit. I was making a pair of shorts when I sewed a little too close to the outer edge. So I cut the strings and ‘re-sewed’ the mistake without taking the stitches out. Oma asked me why I didn’t take the stitches out and I told her no one would even notice. She said, ‘but YOU’LL know it’s there.” She didn’t make me take the stitches out… She allowed me to make that decision on my own. What a wonderful lesson in making sure you always do your best- even though you don’t think anyone will notice. God notices everything…

  14. Love to have a copy. Definitely need this and would love to share with my daughter

  15. I’d “catch” my Mom, sitting quietly, reading her Bible. Her life exemplified the ways of Christ – she could be fiesty but was never mean-spirited. She truly walked the walk which drew me into a relationship with Christ at an early age! I’d love to have a copy of the book!

    1. Lynn Cowell says:

      Deb, my Mom did the same. Day after day, when I came down the stairs to go to school, there she was. Always in her chair spending time with Jesus! I am so glad she demonstrated the best way to start the day!

  16. Would love to share this book together with my daughter. And that she may pass this book to her best friend to remind her Christ loves her.

  17. Halona Luna says:

    I’m in I would love a copy!!

  18. Loving my children unconditionally may appear or sound easy, but as they meander towards adulthood and make their own choices its a little tougher. I’ve learned a lot through watching others around me and seeking Christ.

    1. Lynn Cowell says:

      Friend…I couldn’t agree with you more! Jesus, give us the ability to keep giving love even when things don’t go as planned! We can’t do it without you!

  19. I “caught” that having a child like relationship with God, even as a 60 year old grandma will bring you closer to, with and desire God more in your life. My mom is a Methodist Pastor (only recently) and she has this amazing child like desire for God. When a miracle happens or a prayer is answered she giggles like a little girl and smiles for days and days. Watching her and her life makes me want my walk with God to be closer, stronger and full of His glory.

    1. Lynn Cowell says:

      Paige – what a beautiful thing to catch! Just last night, I was hanging out in the pool with my youngest girl when she asked, (really she stated), “Why does it feel like no one is happy? Why does every one take life so seriously when there is so much to be joyful about?” My girl would like your grandma!

  20. Melissa K. says:

    My 7 year old daughter “caught” me when she said, “Mom, you never laugh.” Ouch! Am I really so busy “taking care of business” that I forget to laugh? I guess so. I try to create moments to laugh more often.

  21. My catch was from Mandisa’s song “Overcomer” last summer. I’d been feeling so weighed down by my self-imposed “failures” in parenting, and had just yelled at the kids as we left for church. That song came on, and it really hit me – I’m not a victim, it isn’t just up to me, I can overcome anything with my Father. I never had a song impact me like that before, but so cool how God used it to redirect my attitude. I started learning to really give the struggles to Him at that point, that my kids’ lives weren’t all entirely up to me.

  22. I “caught” from brother if I want to make friends easier, I need to smile, smile, smile and make others feel special by engaging them in conversation and taking an interest in their lives.

  23. I caught servant-hood from the example of my mother. I am also working on catching the habit of not taking serving to the level of codependency! Blessings!

  24. I’m in! I need to read this! Thanks for offering this give away!

  25. My kids catch me exercising and eating healthy quite often, and it sparks them to try new things. I always tell them that we need to take care of our bodies because God gave them to us. I want to make sure they know we are just being healthy – not trying to win an earthly beauty contest.

  26. I’m trying to keep myself from expressing negative things about my appearance so to keep my daughter who will be built just like me from developing the same negative views about herself. I picked that up from Shari Braendel at a Hearts at home conference.

  27. I “caught” myself not being as positive as I should be about the struggles that occur in front of my 12 year old. I am learning to find a positive out of the negative and I need to be that example to my daughter.

  28. this sounds like a book for me. I am 41 yrs. old and still seek my mom’s approval knowing I will never get it. so I will definitely order this book. Because in my heart the only one’s approval I need is God’s. thanks for this article today.

    1. I would hope my kids see me read my bible everyday but they probably catch me in my angry moments more often than I like to admit. But I know God is working on it

      1. Bless you, Amy. I’ve prayed for you today, for your feelings about your mom, and for you to offer grace to yourself, just as God offers His grace toward you. Shine on, sister. You are brave because you’re a mama!

  29. One of my uncles was usually very quiet at family gatherings. As a bold 8 year old I asked him why he didn’t talk much. His response was “when your mouth is moving you aren’t learning anything. You have to be quiet and listen in order to learn”. I’ll never forget that!

  30. Kelly Knott says:

    I caught unconditional love from a wonderful lady in my church. She loved me as a child and taught me in an afternoon bible class called The Good News Club. She inspired me all the way into adulthood. She is with The Lord now and I pray that I caught as many Godly qualities as possible from her. Margerite Kern showed me Gods love in beautiful and practical ways. She was a very contagious lady!

  31. hmmm…I am going to have to think on this today…but in the meantime…I am in!!

  32. Mary-Margaret says:

    I am in and NEED to read this book! Lately I have been struggling with the “want” to know that I am valued by others and that I provide true, pure value to others. I want to know that others care for me, love me, approve of me, etc. I know that God loves me just the way I am, and his love is all that matters, but it is just hard for me to truly live this out. I love how you say that as parents, we are called by God to live the truths that we want our children to believe about themselves. I’ve written this in my devotional book. Thank you!

  33. I’m in & would love to win a copy of the book. Over half-a-century in age & still struggle with a need for approval tho’ I am moving ever closer to getting my identity from being a loved, cherished daughter of God. From my dad I caught the importance of integrity – doing the right thing even when others aren’t around. From my mom I caught a sense of selflessness – the feelings & needs of loved one will at times be more important than my own.

  34. Kristin Perez says:

    In my codependency I let others approval or disapproval define my self worth. I am slowly learning to trust God for my significance. Would love a copy of the book! Thank You

    1. Venus Ann says:

      Got a moment to expand a little, because of how I “see” myself, it’s hard to believe that anybody else would or could see anything any differently. I’ve always struggled with self-image & self-worth. I’m working on it & this book sounds like just what I need. Thanks for sharing!

  35. Jennifer D. says:

    I caught not to long ago that there is no way to compare my insides to others outsides. What I see for others via Facebook,Instagram, etc. Is what I am comparing my worst too. No one is going to put their worst out there for everyone to see. I only see their best.

  36. Annette A says:

    From my Grannie I caught so many lessons to mention them all, yet two that always stand out very often to me in my daily life: First, She told we should pray for people, rather than talk about them to others. She said to me, “you don’t know what is going on in someone’s life unless ‘they’ tell you so pray for them.” She was a praying women. Secondly, when me and my twin sister spent the night with her, which was as often as mama and daddy would let us, she would turn the tv off before supper not to be turned on again until morning, then after supper, sit beside my papa and read from the KJV Bible. Many lessons caught there……and thankful for those lessons and her!

  37. Katherine Perkins says:

    I “caught” from my grandmothers and my mom the hunger for a vibrant prayer life!

  38. I “caught” that … He knows. I’ve been being mentored from a friend who is more mature in her walk with The Lord. I’ve learned that even when I cry, lash out, get angry, or am good and praising and worshiping … God knows. He knows what’s going on & how I feel. Once I caught that, I’m not afraid to talk to him when I’m upset or struggling… Cause He knows anyway!!!

  39. Pam DeJesus says:

    I caught positiveness from my Mom. She taught me to look at things from a positive perspective and to always think positively. Not to dwell on the negative and what you can not change.

  40. michelle r says:

    I caught the desire as a teenager to teach and help with children. I also found Jude 22 that reaffirms that desire. It says, and of some, having compassion, making a difference. I’m thankful for the older women in my life at that point who saw a scrawny teenager and saw someone they could share their love of Jesus with and 30 + years later, I’m still going, still loving teaching kids about Jesus trying to make a difference!

  41. Eva Menelaws says:

    I’m in. I would love a copy of this book as the struggle for approval is one I share.

  42. Oh in! This has been a daily struggle for me! Oh how I want to please God and not worry so much about the pleasing and approval of the world…but so easily get *caught up* with this struggle!

  43. Michele Morin says:

    I “caught” a love of learning very early, and it must have been from my teachers.

  44. I’m in. Would love to share with my daughter and niece.

  45. I’m in. Thanks for the blog

  46. Elisha Goedel says:

    I “caught” from my grandfather, that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE deserves grace & selfless service. Despite his life -long battle with depression he SHOWED love to everyone! Even those who caused him pain. Starting at a young age, he would take me to nursing homes and we would visit with people that he knew noone else did. It wasn’t until I was much older and chose a career in nursing, did his passion in serving selflessly to others, especially those that Noone else would, truly came full circle. I don’t think anyone loved me more than him. Through him I met Christ. Not because of the word and stories he shared, but mostly through the actions he displayed at all times! I praise God that His servant is home, eternally! And when I’m struggling to give grace & love to those who seem to not deserve it, I remember my grandfather and try to emulate him.

    1. Lynn Cowell says:

      Elisha – what a beautiful investment! THAT is love!

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