By the Grace of God


There is so much I want to say. For weeks now I've been compiling blog posts in my head. Letting the words come while I work, nurse, clean, and play. I think about them when I'm driving, when I'm waiting, and when I'm just trying to go to sleep.

I have so many words. I just don't have time to write them.

So here I am, furiously typing this right here, right now (pausing every few minutes to put someone's paci back in), knowing that my time is short and I'd better get to the point. Quickly.

We've been a family of 5 now for four months, and they have been nothing short of wonderful. 

I wish you could just come over and be with us for a day. You would have so much fun! My kids are so smart and creative and funny. Just today I found Cupcake with an empty lotion bottle pretending to wash her hair. I watched her squirt the imaginary soap into her hand, rub it in her hair, and then rinse it out by shaking her head and mimicking the sound of running water.

It was adorable! Until I realized that the lotion bottle wasn't empty. And she wasn't exactly pretending.

It's those little messes that take up so much of my day. I feel like nothing else gets laundry...and blog posts.

I bounce from one thing to another all day, and I often have to remind myself to just stop and be still. It's amazing how if I just sit on the floor, they will come, arms open, faces smiling, and hands ready to play. They love to be next to me, on top of me, and all around me. They just can't get enough of me.

It's smothering sometimes, but all in all it's a really good thing because I love them.

Actually, I adore them. Like I just want to wrap them up and kiss them all over and just soak in their laughter. Their joy brings me such happiness!

If they would just laugh and play all the time, I think my life would be perfect.

But they don't. They also cry and whine and hit one another and pull my hair and rip the cover off of my favorite books.

It's in those moments that all the joy and sunshine disappears, and I just can't wait to get out of here. I stick my headphones in and do my best to ignore the trail of tears following me everywhere I go. I lock myself in my room and pout just as if I were the unruly toddler.

For every time out and gentle correction I give my children, I am reminded that God is correcting me too. I'm so much like my kids. I throw a fit when I don't get what I want. I cry when I'm really tired or hungry. And I get so absorbed in my life that I forget that the world doesn't actually revolve around me.

In fact, some mornings I wake up and all I want to do is complain. They won't stop crying. They got up t0o early. They threw their cereal on the floor because the bowl wasn't the right color.

They can be very, very frustrating.

But they aren't the problem. I am the problem. It's that part of me that rebels against the refining work of God. It's my sin nature thinking and saying and doing the things I don't want to do.

It's humbling to go through your day with your sin ever before you. To see yourself in the wants and whims of your children. It makes me all the more grateful for God's grace.

I love going places with my children. Even in the few short months we've all been together, I've gotten several comments and questions from strangers, but they all really boils down to this: How do you do it?

If I was being honest I probably would have said something to the affect of, "I'm hanging on by the skin of my teeth and praying that bedtime comes quickly." But that's not exactly something you tell a stranger.

So instead I just smile and say the same thing every time, "By the grace of God." 

The first time I said it, I was half joking, but as my words met my ears I knew them to be true. Every smile, every tear, every lesson, every gentle correction. All of them are God's unmerited favor. 

As I was rocking Little Bear to sleep a few days ago I started to sing an old hymn that brought tears to my eyes.
"What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God is prayer! Oh what needs we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God is prayer."
I started to think over the needless pain I carry in my heart: the discontentment and frustration when things don't go exactly like I planned. I get upset with myself, fearing I'll never be good enough. I find myself chasing after my kids, unable to keep up and falling short in the process. 

It's enough to run any mother ragged, but God never intended for me to do motherhood on my own strength. He never meant for me to carry the burden of sin any farther than the cross. He invites me to lay down my burden and to yoke together with him. To let him pull and let him lead. 

And even when I'm tired and life is full of chaos, God's favor never changes. He doesn't love me because of what I do or even who I am. He loves me because of Jesus.

That's how I parent my children. Not on my own merit or my own strength, but simply resting in the free gift of grace. I'll never be a perfect parent. I'll never get it all right, but because of grace I don't have to. 

Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus!

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