Thursday, March 17, 2011

Grace Like a Child's

The boys use unkind tones with one another and their patience seems non-existent. With edgy frustration, I correct them constantly.
The older two have trouble staying focused on their schoolwork. I am bothered by their distractibility.
They forget to pick up after themselves and they'd always rather play or make art.
I fuss at her for not being ready on time.
She misplaces things, often, and it flies all over me. And every time it happens, I am quick to remind her of how frequently she does this.
She asks 20 questions about Jesus and demons and the Pharisees and I become exasperated that I cannot even get through a chapter of the New Testament without all of why's and what's. She is such a skeptic, I think to myself, annoyed by her unending dialectic.
They tend toward selfishness with their stuff and their space and I tell them to share and treat one another the way they would want to be treated. But it seems they don't listen.
I pray for patience. I don't like my tone. And I can't seem to change as quickly as I'd like to. Or at all.
Many days, I'd rather write or read or make art than teach them math or grammar.
I struggle to be ready on time and have them ready too.
This morning I lost my phone.
Distracted by e-mail, I forget to finish breakfast.
I read through one chapter of the New Testament with them and ask 20 questions in my head. I'm not brave enough to voice them like she does.
I keep my chocolate out of their reach and don't share my soda. The mama deserves a few things of her own, I rationalize.
They mess up all day long. And so do I, their messes often mirroring my own and vice versa.
Instead of the circle of life, we are the circle of mess.
They are desperately searching for assurance that they are just as loved when they screw up. And I'm searching for it too.
In case you can't tell, there's been a lot of mess around here, literal mess and soul mess. And with that comes desperate longing for grace and forgiveness and consolation that we are still okay.
Recently Blondie turned 10 and requested a trip to Build A Bear, just the two of us. On the way we had a conversation that went something like this:
Mommy, do you miss me being a baby?
Yes, sometimes I do. Sometimes I wish I could go back and start over because I feel like I'd be a better mom.
But you can't be a perfect mom. Everyone makes mistakes. Even if you started over you wouldn't necessarily be better. Nobody can be a perfect mommy.
I turned away so she wouldn't see the tears and I scribbled our short, profound dialogue on a piece of scrap paper when I stopped at the next red light.
Often I wonder why she's not the mommy. At times, she seems wiser. And she is certainly more gracious. All three of them are so very forgiving each time I ask their forgiveness, something I do a lot of and yet probably not enough of. They never deny me grace, not even for a second.
They don't expect me, at 37, to be perfect. But I have a default tendency to expect them, at 10, 7 and 3, to get it right more than they get it wrong.
It stings to write that but it's the truth.
Jesus says that the kingdom belongs to "such as these," that we grown-ups would be wise to take off our blurry, scratched, grown-up lenses and see the world like a child sees it. That we should model our faith after little ones.
The upside-down-ness of it all gets me every time.
Desperately, I pray that He will grow up my grace and my faith to be more like theirs.
And in one way they do listen to what I say about treating others the way they want to be treated...they teach me, through their unconditional love toward a failing, flailing mama, how to love them.


  1. Blondie, Brownie, and Cupcake are gifts to you, and you are a gift to them. Let's everyone tell one another Thank.You. Now, open the gifts and let the oohing and ahhing begin. Let this day be a party. A grace party.

    At least it's gonna be when I get there . . .


  2. You just described my daily interactions with my girls and the guilt I feel routinely. Thanks for pointing me back to the Cross!

  3. Scooper,
    There is no pretending about your writing. Your words are from the heart. A heart that seeks to know Him better and wants to do better by her children, too. What a wonderful memory you and Blondie have made together. Thank you for sharing. love ya xxooxxooxxooxxoo

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this. It seems that our messes are quite similar, for I always expect perfection from them but yet their little lives resound with the grace of God. Mine needs to do that more. What a good word you have spoken!

  5. "But I have a default tendency to expect them, at 10, 7 and 3, to get it right more than they get it wrong."

    Take out the 3 year old child, and I could have said this about myself. This is something I've been working on all school year. Things like if MY bedroom is messy, or MY PJs were left on the bathroom floor, then how can I expect the 7 or 10 year old to do any different? Yet so often it seems I do expect more from them than I do from myself. So lately, I've been trying to have so much more grace yet have boundaries and good parenting going on at the same time. Such a delicate balancing act....

  6. I hide my chocolate too! We (mommies) are learning on the job everyday. At the end of every day, my patience may be empty, but my heart is full. I try to focus on the love, but it doesn't always work...good luck!

  7. Oh how I understand the place you are in. I feel lost, inadequate to deal with the cards I'm playing with right now. I want to crawl under the covers and hide. Today was the hardest in a long time...thank goodness God prompted Lisa to call. She knew I need a friendly voice, one who understood and will pray. One who would understand how stressed I am and that I'm close to the breaking point. One who will not judge when I use less than poignant language.
    Life is hard right now. I'm empty.
    But I know this...I love you.

  8. BEST POST EVER!!!!! I want to print it out and tape it on my wall!!! Thank you for putting into words so well of what I am living. I am constantly ashamed of my attitude and in need of grace just the same. Love it! Don't ever stop!! Like a great cheese...just gets better and better with time..or is it wine? I think it's wine...

    A. Z Smith

  9. Oh...what a beautifully transparent, touching post! I am really not stalking your blog (lol), but I added it to google reader, and have been waiting for a new post. So, thank you! Have you been to the homeschool conference? I have, and your words echo the heart of the message that I am taking away from the sessions so far. You should be a featured speaker next year! Have a great weekend. (Christy from CC)

  10. Hello, This is my first visit to your blog and I will be back!! This post hit home - I'm a HS mom as well with a 6 and 8 year old, plus a 4 and 18 month old. I love the picture you painted and once again I'm reminded of my thankfulness for grace - from my family and my Father!! I read on and on, but don't have the time to comment on each post, but know this I was blessed. I hope and pray you make it to She Speaks - I was there in '09 and it's worth every effort you make. Blessings, Jill

  11. So beautiful. And encouraging. And vulnerable.

    A ministry to me today when I'm wondering who has the stamina for THIS?


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