Today marks the beginning of BloPoMo (blog posting month) and, last night, I found myself at somewhat of a loss. This year, I decided that I wanted a structure to write to, lean into, and learn from in the act. I have other individual ideas for other BloPoMo writings that I will do as secondary pieces but I wanted to tie the bulk of them together somehow. But I was having no lightning strikes, no ideas, and today was fast approaching. However, as I mused over it, one word kept floating to the front of my mind, almost like a passing thought, but it kept coming back. That particular word just happens to be my watchword for this year.
I began 2016 with determining to look for, notice, acknowledge, and extend grace this year. To extend it to those around, to my precocious daughter, to my hard-working husband, to my imperfect self. To see grace in the actions of those around me and with whom I interact every day. To acknowledge the grace that is extended to me each day amidst my multitude of faults and imperfections. Last year I wrote about longing for grace, longing for the sort of grace that I want to cultivate so deeply in my life that my daughter will see it written on my skin like fingerprints and extended from me as naturally as breathing. I don’t want to teach her to be a doormat, no. But I do want to teach her to have a heart for others. That through the grace I show, she will come to know God’s grace and love for her, a love so much deeper and broader and higher and wider than even mine and her father’s for her.
Right now, my students and I are reading through A Christmas Carol before their field trip to see the play at a local theatre right before Thanksgiving. Today, as we read through Scrooge’s visit from Marley, I took great pains to explain to the students the points that Marley was making about his condemnation and how it came about. At Scrooge’s attempt at compliment in mentioning Marley’s adroitness in business matter, Marley laments:
“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
It held up its chain at arm’s length, as if that were the cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon the ground again.
“At this time of the rolling year,” the spectre said “I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode! Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!” 
Marley is tortured with the regret that he spent his life with his eyes turned inward, with no kind words for anyone, committing no actions to benefit anyone but himself. That he offered no comfort, no help, no grace, no love to anyone else. I reminded the students that we, as a species, are interdependent. We are built for fellowship, for friendship, relationship, community. We are built to go through and do life together. We do not do well on our own as a species; we need each other and, therefore, we need to support each other. None of us are getting out of this alive, as the quote says, so we need to be in this together, doing for each other, loving and supporting each other, and doing life together.
I don’t just want to be a Noticer of grace. I want to be a Giver. So part of this project will be not to only record where I find grace and where I think it is important, necessary, and loving. It is also to get me thinking about perhaps the different ways we can show grace that don’t fall under the obvious answers. That is my hope anyway, and I am glad that you are on this journey with me.
 A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, http://www.stormfax.com/1dickens.htm