Grace in the big feelings when they aren’t mine

I have been blocked from my blog for a few weeks but finally found a way around that. It’s always interesting living somewhere that internet sites get blocked. We haven’t even thought about using YouTube in ages because we just got out of the habit, since we could never get to it. So for all those who have posted something on FB, FB Messenger or Instagram or sent me a message via any of those, I apologize, I just haven’t been able to get onto those sites for some time and have stopped trying. I think in my psychology class in college it was called “learned helplessness.”

There is so much to share about the last weeks. Nothing earth-shattering, but there have been lots of weddings, babies, visits, interesting interactions and whatnot. Not sure when I’ll get all that posted. I have a tendency to get so stuck in getting things “up-to-date” that I never get back into the “present.” Living in the present is not something I come by naturally. At all. But, God in his grace and mercy to me, has given me some great influences to help me see that things actually don’t fall apart as often and terribly as I expect them to if I don’t have all my bases covered before proceeding. That’s a sneaky way that perfectionism colors how I operate. Glory to God, he gave me a very present-minded husband who shakes his head in bafflement when I’m stuck in my “gotta-get-this-done-before-I-can-enjoy-that” place. He also gave me a kindred spirit, Jenny, who is present-minded and able to respond with “Sure! Let’s do it!” to lots of stuff and jump in. These kind of people make me stand in awe. And in an amazing gift of grace, I’ve actually seen it impacting me. You know what I mean by that being a gift of grace, right? There are lots of amazing people who do amazing things and have amazing ideas that are pertinent to me but somehow I remain an observer, never actually “taking it in.” So, the fact that my hubs and Jenny’s present-mindedness has actually influenced me and is slowly changing me over time – that’s a gift of grace. These present-minded people are on to something – life is more fun when you can live in the moment a bit. That’s not to say that us “think ahead” planners are in the wrong, of course. That’s not where I intended to go with this post, but there it is.

So I’m writing about something more present and rehearsing where I saw God’s grace yesterday. There were a few moments that stood out to me and I could feel it, the empowering that didn’t come from me.

Hannah & Emmett played most of the day outside yesterday, which is a mom’s dream really. They were deeply engrossed in some adventure they were having and they actually got along THE WHOLE TIME they were playing. We are talking hours. That miracle is not lost on me and there were a lot of “thank you’s” being lifted up to heaven for that. Normally, I would try to correlate what possibly helped them do this all day – what did I feed them? Did they sleep better than usual? Did I say some magic words that morning? Did I change the order of our school activities? It’s a lot of me (what did I do?) But that’s the pits about humanity – we’re all folded in on ourselves. Yesterday there was grace to just appreciate it and be thankful. That was God.

At one point I stepped out the front door to see Hannah dumping some dirt she dug up on our front porch. Tidiness here is truly next to godliness and though I could never measure up to local standards of tidiness, I at least like to have the entry to our home not covered in dirt clods. I promptly gave her the shocked stink-eye and said something to the effect of, “What in the world are you doing?! You’re making a terrible mess! Why did that seem like a good idea?!” I always think that I’m going to try to understand my child first, but “What in the…?” usually beats me to the punch. And here’s where something remarkable happened. My dear first-born, who can put a fight in anything, turn anything around to being someone else’s fault, looked at me with her big blueberry eyes and said, without glowering or yelling, “I know it’s a mess and I’m going to sweep it all up when I’m done.” And grace met me here to just say, “Ok, honey. Thanks.” Instead of continuing to emphasize why what she’s doing isn’t a good idea. These are the little/big victories. I proceeded to go inside and find mud in my kitchen sink, including in the pot I was soaking. To which, of course, I responded with shouting from the kitchen, “WHO PUT MUD IN MY SINK?!” and stomped out to see who looked guiltiest. Emmett and Annabel, eyes big and innocent, both said, “not me.” I believed them. A mom just knows ‘the look.’ I went outside to find my first-born, who was using that dirt she was tossing to plant some beans. I asked her, “Are you the one who put mud in my sink?!” Her look told that she was the guilty party before she even said, “yes.” Of course I launched in again to why that was not a good choice and all about dirt+where we wash dishes+we eat off dishes=yuck. And again, without any yelling or trying to throw it back at me, she said, “sorry about that mom, I’ll come in and clean it all up.” I felt compelled to add, “Good! But I’m not talking about later, I’m talking about pronto!” Do you know that spirited girl, who has trained me to brace myself for these kinds of situations, promptly came in and washed the sink and the pot and even the counter around it? It was one of those precious moments, a gift, where I could tell her thank you and talk with her about integrity – doing the right thing when no one else is looking and going above and beyond what the expectations are. Words of life came to me to speak into that precious girl. “Do you know who I see at work in you?” Big hug, big smile and she says, “Jesus!” “That’s right, precious. And it’s beautiful.” Before becoming a parent, I thought that I’d have lots of these moments and that I’d lean toward these kinds of interactions. I was dismayed to discover that between exhaustion, messes and being over-stimulated – I tend more toward freaking out first instead of being calm, reasonable and discerning. So every time that mom who I thought I’d be shows up, I’m thrilled and I see what a gift of grace she is to have around.

My sweet boy Emmett has been particularly intense these days. Big feelings are making regular appearances in places and ways that I really can’t figure out. I’m a big fan of “emotion-coaching” (have you read the book, “Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child”?) but I find myself at a loss a lot these days with how to coach this fella. We had some minor explosions during school that really came out of left-field for me and I wasn’t sure how to bring him back but eventually we found our way. Again, being present-minded shows up here. Instead of trying to log what happened, what helped, make a correlation and a plan for the next time this happens, I just told the Lord, “thanks” and moved on. Not long after, Emmett came in from outside face red, tears streaming down cheeks and he ran to his bed, not responding to my inquiries about what made him sad and how I could help him. I followed him to his room and rubbed his back and did all the emotion-coaching kind of stuff – you know “You look sad…” and stuff. Turns out the old soap container he was using for his potion broke and he was wracked with disappointment. I offered to help him look for the other container I had just given him and he accepted that offer. I was being really calm (and was feeling pretty good about that) but before I knew it, he was throwing the broken one out the front door screaming, “It’s never going to work! Forget it!” and running, crying back to his room. This is where grace met me because, honestly, I was done trying to enter into that mess. I didn’t know what else to do and I was frustrated that he was not giving me much to work with. I decided to leave him to it. If he wants to be stuck in his frustration, fine. Then a thought arises in me, “how do I move toward my boy right now?” That’s the Holy Spirit. So I went to him, rubbed his back again and out of my mouth came, “You know, there’s a special potion that moms and kids have made together for a long time and it helps sad children feel a little bit better. You want to make it with me? It’s called hot cocoa.” How about that for some God-given creativity? Thanks, Lord! He perked up a bit and we started off to the kitchen and then creativity strikes him, “mom, don’t you have an empty ketchup bottle?” (a long story having to do with having a baby in Thailand) and as I’m telling him, “no” I realize that we just inherited another bottle of ketchup from our dear friend, Deb, who recently moved back to the U.S. (thanks Deb!). “You know, son, actually if we consolidate the ketchup into one bottle, you can have the other one.” That hot cocoa never got made because that boy was off again, on his potion-making adventures. Grace to move toward him, grace for him to get up out of his puddle and try again and grace to come up with some solutions. And then grace again to recognize it all. There was also grace to get a lot done at home today (with the kids playing outside and getting along). There is something really remarkable about how much more keen my eyes are to see the grace gifts when I’m not completely buried under housework. 🙂







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