Thursday, November 7, 2013

Grace to Grow

I'm not a morning person. I don't think I ever was a morning girl, though I don't remember disliking the day's first hours as a kid.  It's actually not mornings I dislike, because I think morning light is beautiful and the quiet moments before the busyness of day bring such hope; it's the getting up I find so hard. And once I'm up, it takes me a long while to become fully awake. I can get up and walk across the room to turn off my alarm clock multiple times before realizing what I'm doing, or, rather, what I should be doing. Contrary to what I've been told, the habit of rising early never makes getting up easier for me.

Nonetheless, early morning time-- the time alone without kids and all their needs to meet-- is really special when it happens. Morning devotions, stretching and exercising my troublesome back, and getting myself ready makes facing the day much more pleasant. I feel a little more prepared, a little more armed to face the battles I know hide behind unsuspecting corners of the day.

Yeah, motherhood is not for the faint of heart! It's a personal and daily battle I never expected to be so hard. It's just life really, not just motherhood. It's the Christian life. No wonder we are instructed to put on the full armor of God.

And so I march out of my bedroom each morning knowing I can't do it on my own strength; even when I try with all my might, I inevitably fail. So out I go knowing I desperately need the strength that comes only from God. And grace.

Lots and lots of grace.

I've been thinking about how I need that grace. I need forgiveness, I need encouragement, I need room to grow. Then, of course, I realize I must extend it to the measure I know I need it.

The other morning, last week I think, I had gotten up later than my alarm clock was set for. The day was started, and I was unprepared. Thankfully I had read my Bible and prayed-- so my heart was somewhat calmer than it would have been otherwise-- but I battled the fading away of peacefulness as I showered in a hurry. Then there was pounding at the door, over and over again, bang, bang, bang! I tried to say in a patient, non-irrated way, "One second! I'll be out in a minute!" More pounding. I tried to subdue my rising anger. "Guys, I can't answer right now! Just a second, please!" They are too old for this kind of rudeness...

I dry off in a hurry, run out of my bathroom with a towel wrapped around me and answer my bedroom door. Two boys. Huge grins. And breakfast for me.

In that moment I decided to withhold corrective words-- that could wait-- and I smiled and acted more thrilled than I felt. They thought they were doing something nice for me, and I needed to encourage them with my eager thankfulness. And grace. 

We all needed grace.


School has been going well, but we're getting near that time when a break would be nice. One day last week I decided we'd take a good chunk of our school time and do art. The kids made several things, including these fall trees with q-tips. They were happy to skip the normal workload. A sort of grace after 10 weeks of solid school days...

A few days ago, Michael decided he was going to wash the windows. I had not asked or made a suggestion, he just offered one afternoon. In fact, he didn't actually offer: I passed by as he was gathering his supplies. I was reluctant because I know what to expect when an unsupervised boy has a bucket of warm sudsy water, and it doesn't usually involve things becoming cleaner! I almost said no.

Then I remembered how much we all need room to grow. I mean really, what kid just offers to work all afternoon?! I have a really awesome kid, and here I was about to say no because I didn't think he'd do a good enough job! What would that do to him? Would that encourage his initiative to work? Would that communicate confidence in him?

Our kids need encouragement, not squelching of good motives. I helped him get set up, made a few suggestions, and let him work. He washed those windows to the best of his 10 year old ability, and even today I noticed how much cleaner the downstair windows are in comparison to the upstairs. I am more thankful for him than I am for clean windows, but clean-ish windows are a nice perk!

It's neat to see some long term parenting goals beginning to realize: I've always desired to train able children who look for needs and willingly meet those needs. I am thankful.

Today I found an open, but nearly full, carton of chicken broth in the cabinet. I remember asking someone to put it in the fridge last night, but whoever it was accidentally put it in the wrong place. Of course I needed that chicken broth tonight for dinner, and when I discovered it I felt like hunting down the person who put it in the wrong place and allowed it to spoil!

But wait, the cabinet is where we put the chicken broth when we get back from the store. It was an honest mistake. Grace, remember grace. There is so much a kid has to learn. I don't ever remember specifically saying that an open carton of chicken broth needs to be refrigerated. So I let it go. It doesn't matter whose fault it was. They will learn and remember those things eventually.

I fully admit I can be too hard on my kids. I want to learn to extend grace more freely. And I want to model it to the observant eyes of my kids.

(Our school room: It has a way to go still, but I'd like to show some before and after pictures eventually.  We are still re-configuring some rooms upstairs, and there's a door-shaped hole in the wall adjacent to this area. There are interior and exterior doors to paint, and some more workspace to build.)


"Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city, 
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early 
and go late to rest, 
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep."
Ps. 127:1-2

"Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; 
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you."
Ps. 128:1-2

"Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established."
Prov. 16:3

"Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious, merciful, and righteous."
Ps. 112:4

"I love the LORD, because he has heard 
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on Him as long as I live."
Ps. 116:1-2

"Turn to me and be gracious to me
as is your way with those who love your name.
Keep steady my steps according to your promise, 
and let no iniquity get dominion over me.

"Make your face shine upon your servant, 
and teach me your statutes."
Ps.119: 132-133; 135

Because of God's gracious and merciful nature, because of His lovingkindness, I pray that He would teach me His statutes and establish the works of my hands so that my life would magnify His name.


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