Your grace finds me

There’s been some radio silence around here the last several months.  Mostly because the new school year (yes, I know it’s half over now. Seriously. HALF.OVER) threw my schedule & my brain for a loop. A little bit because my son will be a Freshman next year and I.can’t.even. As I was doing a little site clean up, found this post in the drafts.  Not sure why I never hit publish. Probably because it was time to pick up a kid or drop off a kid or cook a meal. Or I was curled up in a ball sucking my thumb, overcome with grief that my son will be a FRESHMAN next year. {There’s a theme here, people.} But here it is…with a few extras added because I’m just now finding this.

Oh, today!  I had really forgotten how rough my Tuesday mornings are once The Voice and The Blacklist start back up!  In TV time around here, that’s the 7PM-10PM time slot.  But because we don’t start until the kids are in bed, it’s usually 8:30 or 8:45 before we start watching.  That puts us in bed much later than normal.  It’s SO worth it though…until morning.

The season premiere of both shows was last night.  It was actually 9PM before we got started.  With the benefit of fast forwarding commercials and such, we got done a little before 11:30 and headed to bed.  I’ve been REALLY good this school year about going to bed around 10 every night so that I’m not so tired during the day, so this was a huge change to my normal schedule.  And wake-up time this morning proved that!

I slept through my alarm (actually I kept hitting snooze, but totally don’t remember doing it) and woke up about 30 minutes late.  That put all of us having to scramble.  With all the patience I could muster the first thing in the morning and without coffee yet, I let the kids know this was a morning to hustle.  And they did.

We got out the door the latest we have all year.  And as I watched the clock, I really started to worry that Payne would be tardy, which meant Addi would probably be tardy, too.  As we pulled out of the driveway, I thanked the kids for great they did and apologized for making us late.  I could see the stress on Payne’s face as he watched the clock.  As I started to pray for our day as we drove, I prayed that God would extend grace to the kids for their mom’s mistake.  I prayed that he would allow us to arrive to both schools on time.  Looking at the clock, I knew it would take God to get us there.

Our first light didn’t offer much encouragement.  The line was much longer than normal, which meant it took a couple of cycles for us to get through.  But I had prayed for grace for the kids.

We got through that light and the rest of the drive was totally smooth.  Payne got to school with a few minutes to spare.  Then it was off to Addi’s school.  Because of the later start time, traffic was heavier than usual.  But I had prayed for grace.  Addi made it school with a couple of minutes to spare.

As I pulled out of her parking lot to head home, I thanked God for the grace he gave my kids. And that got me thinking.  There have been so many times in my life that someone else’s decision, someone else’s mistake, someone else’s shortcoming could have had a negative impact on me.  But I had God’s grace.  He allowed me to not suffer the consequences of someone else’s actions.  Just like my kids didn’t have to suffer the consequences of my tardiness this morning.

I know that there are times that we can’t escape the consequences of someone else’s actions…or our’s for that matter.  But even in that, there’s grace for us.  Grace to rise above. Grace to just get through. Grace to get through knowing your son will be a FRESHMAN next year, and you’ll survive it. And maybe even enjoy it if you’ll get your thumb out of your mouth and get up off the floor.

If I’m being totally honest, sometimes I can be a bit slow at extending grace to others. My frustrations and emotions get going full steam ahead and I forget that my reactions should be led by grace. Because lessons & consequences don’t have to be laced with hurtful words and extreme emotions to stick. The lessons I’ve learned the most from in life are the ones where, yes, I still had a consequence, but the reactions of those around me were led by grace first.

As this year comes to an end tonight, I’m thankful for God’s grace in 2015. I’m thankful for the grace of others in my life this year. And I pray that I lead with grace in 2016. Happy new year friends! May your’s be filled with grace.

The things you remember

So, two years ago I wrote this little Open Letter that I thought a handful of people might read.  24 hours after writing I realized I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It’s funny the things you remember.  I remember writing the blog and publishing a little nervously. I remember going to dinner that night and noticing that my “views” were a little higher that what was normal.  I remember going to bed and thinking this was the biggest reach that any blog of mine had ever had.  I remember waking up on Sunday morning to an overflowing comments stream, comment and shares galore on Facebook and texts from friends telling me how “big” my blog was getting.

I remember feeling overwhelmed at all of it.  I remember getting to a point where I didn’t even want to check my phone or my site because I just didn’t have the brain power to respond to another comment.  I remember a friend from high school and a former co-worker both offering to navigate this PR world that I was so unfamiliar with.

I remember things seeming to slow down, only to be contacted by two national news agencies to do interviews about my little letter. My little letter, that came from the heart of a mom who wanted better for my son and better for a struggling young man.

I remember kindness. From strangers, from friends, from family. I remember those who disagreed with me and didn’t like what I said, but opened the door for good conversation.

I also remember that is was the first time I realized how thick my skin was. I still can’t wrap my head around people wishing cancer on my kids or hoping I would die or my husband would leave me because they didn’t like my blog. My brain doesn’t work that way. But I remember reading one of the nastiest comments in those first 24 hours and my immediate reaction was feeling sorry for the guy who wrote it. I remember the moment I realized I wasn’t taking those words in.

See, this little letter was what all of my posts are…my heart. Out there for all the world to see.  Although its scale was grander than anything else I’ve ever written, my heart was the same. And when all of the attention went away, I was in the same place I was before I hit publish that day.

I was in my little corner of the world with my people. The only real change? I learned that after many years of worrying what anyone and everyone thought, I was free of that curse. To say I don’t care isn’t right.  I deeply care that I reflect Christ. I want strangers, friends, family…anyone…to see that.  But a reflection of Christ isn’t comfortable for everyone, so people aren’t always going to like me or what I say.  And that’s ok.

The thing I most remember? Realizing that for the first time in my life, I truly believed what my Father said about me and  without even consciously trying, heard His words above the hate, the hurt and the ugly.

It’s funny how this little letter has come up now and again over these last 2 years. It doesn’t happen as often now.  But that lovely Memories feature on Facebook brought back a lot of memories for me yesterday and today.  I’m glad it did.

It took me back to the place where the thing I remember most is HIS voice alone can drown out hundreds. And what HE says is good.

I know the plan

For a planner like me, someone who really likes to know the next step, this is a truth I’ve had to learn to trust in. But His plan is ALWAYS better than mine. And there’s a peace in the not knowing the whole plan because it allows me to live in the right now. And, to be honest, if I could see the whole plan I’d probably be too overwhelmed to move forward. His plan + my future. #SheReadsTruth 

Guest Post: Teach Me to Braid: If My Child Marries Yours

Earlier today a friend of mine since middle school shared a link to a blog. The title caught my eye. Then tears filled them.  As a mom, I pray often for my son’s future wife and my daughter’s future husband.  But as a mom, I so covet the prayers of others, too.  This gave me such a new and powerful perspective on praying for my future family.  I loved it so much, that I reached out to Em, the author of this beautiful post and the blog Teach Me to Braid, and asked if I could share with all of you.  She graciously said yes!

If you love what you read here, please visit her blog, Teach Me To Braid.  

If My Child Marries Yours

If my child marries yours…

I just want you to know that I’m praying for you.

When I’m awake at night – feeding babies, burping babies, giving tylenol to a feverish toddler, covering up chilly toes, tucking green monkeys under little arms – I think of you. Because chances are, you’re awake too, doing the same sorts of things. Taking care of tiny children that I already love because they will someday hold the hearts that are beating against my chest tonight.

I’m praying that you’ll stand firm against the pressures to overcommit and hyper-schedule, that you’ll shut out the voices that tell you you’re not doing enough, that your kids aren’t doing enough.

I’m praying you’ll have the wisdom to know when to pick that crying baby up out of her crib and when to just sit outside her door, your fingertips pressed to the wood, willing her to feel your love and comfort and just finally fall asleep.

I’m praying that you will take those children to church…that the mothers and fathers of our future grandchildren will grow up knowing what it means to worship, even when that means missing out-of-town basketball tournaments and marathon sleepovers.

I’m praying that your love for and commitment to your spouse will swell with each year you’re together, that you will grow to love the legacy you are creating just as much as you adore the person you’re creating it with.

I’m praying that you take lots of pictures so that I can see where our grandchildren got their sticky-out ears and their mischievous grins.

I’m praying that Jesus will give you just enough strength each day to keep you from losing it but not so much that you forget Who that strength comes from.

I’m praying that we will be friends.

Will you pray those things for me too?

I don’t really pray for your child. Maybe I should. My husband does that, and I think it’s wonderful. But chances are, your child is just fine. And chances are, a lot of the time, you aren’t. Chances are, if you’re anything like me, you’re very tired. And some days, you get so discouraged. Sometimes, your temper erupts, your selfishness wins, and your smile is fake. Sometimes you forget to change the baby’s diaper, to spend time being silly with your toddler, to really see your spouse. So it’s you I am praying for right now, in the still darkness, with this baby fist pressed up under my chin and this sweet, sleepy breath on my ear. May you feel these prayers when you need them the most.

We are in this together, you and I. We are building something beautiful with each onesie folded, each invisible owie kissed, each story read.

You don’t know how much it means to me that you give your children everything you have every single day…even on days when it’s not much at all. Because your child will fall asleep next to mine for fifty-some years. Your child will be the one holding my child’s hand when our first grandchild is born. And when they face the darkest days of their lives, it will be your child and mine, facing into the struggle together.

I’m pretty sure that our longest days – the ones that are brim-full with hair-pulling moments, impossible messes, and toddler meltdowns – those are the days that we are fashioning hearts. And someday, one of the hearts I’m helping create will crash into one of your love-crafted hearts, and what spills out as a result of that jolt…it’s kind of up to us. I promise to tend to these hearts with utmost care, to plant in them humility and peace and selflessness…especially selflessness. I promise to plant Jesus seeds in these hearts every chance I get. And I promise to keep praying for you.

I’m praying that you will hug your boy tight when he’s sad or lonely or scared. Because someday, my girl – all grown beautiful with babies of her own – will be sad or lonely or scared. And he’ll need to know how to hold her. Teach him.

And let your daughters hear you speak righteous words that bring life and hope. Because someday, my sons will be worn and weary, and the words you’re placing in your daughters’ minds today just might become the balm to my sons’ souls.

I’m doing my best to do the same. And sometimes…much of the time…I fail. Pray for me too.

Someday we will sit on opposite sides of the aisle…all fancy and with gobs of tissues tucked into our fists. We’ll watch our silly, sticky, sweet babies somehow transform into brides and grooms and make the same promises to one another that we ourselves have kept…against all odds and only by His grace. And we will watch these children create families of their own with the ingredients we have given them. The ingredients we are slipping into their souls today.

But until then, I’m sitting here in the dark with babies in my arms.

And I’m praying for you.

Because I wasn’t born silent #Charleston

I’m opinionated. (Shocker, I know.) And I usually don’t have a problem finding the words.  Or saying the words I find. It’s a blessing and a curse.  But I’m having trouble with words, thoughts, emotions today.  But as I read from one of my favs on Facebook, Jamie the Very Worst Missionary, I felt this deep conviction. Almost a sickness about silence.  Her words said it best, “To be honest, I still don’t know what to say, but I can’t keep saying nothing while my neighbor is terrorized by hate and violence.  I was born white, but not silent.”

And that’s just it.  I still don’t know exactly what to say. Or how to say it. But jumbling the words up a bit is better than silence. Praying my heart is seen if my words aren’t perfect, while still speaking, is better than the sin of silence.  Because silence, inaction…that’s sin.

By now we’ve all heard about the Charleston, SC church shooting.  By now we all know that 9 of the 12 Bible Study attendees are now with Jesus.  By now we all know a white man walked into a church BECAUSE the attendees were black and opened fire for the same reason. He is racist and decided to take black lives.

Last night, my heart ached. I cried. This struck me on so many levels. It was in church. A place where people go to seek refuge, seek Jesus. A place that is perceived as safe.  It was random…no connection to the people, no motive drawing him to a specific place or person.  It was fueled by a hatred that my mind can’t process.  I don’t understand hating a person, group of people or race of people to the point of taking lives. I just don’t understand it. My mind can’t wrap around it. I guess that’s good.

Today, I’ve had great pride as voices in the Christian community have stood individually, but united collectively, not trying to gloss this over. Or make it anything less than the heinous crime that it was.  And I’ve sat heartbroken as others in the Christian community speak out about “not making this about race”.

Friends, if ever I wanted you to hear me say something this is it. Racism is real and I will no longer be silent as I watch my neighbors (whether in my home town or on the other side of the world) face terrorism for their skin color. I was born white, but I wasn’t born silent.

I have a voice.  Maybe my voice doesn’t reach the masses, but it reaches some. And if one person sees racism in a new light, then my voice has made a difference.  I will not sit by as my white brothers and sisters try to say that we shouldn’t assume this is about race.  I will not sit by as others who say they love Jesus refuse to see the racial divide present in this country and act in a completely contrary way to Christ by sweeping things under the rug.

Racism is real. This is a hate crime. There is a divide between black and white. There is a divide in the church…especially the American church.

There is a fear of addressing racism because we might say something wrong, so nothing is said at all. There is the fear of offending someone, so silence is chosen. But in the silence, the divide grows wider.

I was blessed to be raised in a household that believed we were all created in the image of God. Each and every one of us. I was blessed to be raised in a racially diverse community and attend racially diverse schools. It honestly made me rather naive about racism until I was in my late teens or early twenties.  But I’m not naive anymore.  I’m heartbroken.

In these words today, in this little blog post, I want to use my voice to say that I see you, Charleston.  I see all of you who are victimized daily because of the color of your skin.  I won’t tell you I understand, because I don’t.  I won’t tell you that I know how you feel, because I can’t.  But I see you.  I stand with you and I stand behind you.  And I will not remain silent.  I will not just share a post on Facebook that has words that move me.  I will use my voice.  Because I was born white, I cannot remain silent.