Thanksgiving Grace


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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Tomorrow, I will gather my family around a table full of lovingly-made, delicious food, and we will indulge in feasting, conversation, beloved traditions, and spending extended time together. Tomorrow, I will remind my daughter of what day it is and its significance and help her remember all the wonderful things that we have to be thankful for.

But I don’t just want to leave thanksgiving on Thanksgiving. I want it to be a part of every day. I want to make sure that I don’t forget my blessings the rest of the year. I don’t want to forget them. Not ever.

Over the course of this month, I have been inspired by and written on grace. I have one week left and I know that there is still so much that I have yet to learn about the kaleidoscope facets and beauty of grace that I am simultaneously floored and chomping at the bit to see what comes next in this journey of mine.

I never want to forget the grace that has been lavished on me, both by the God I love and serve and the people with whom I share my life. In these holidays (and every day), let’s determine to extravagantly extend the grace we so desperately need ourselves, dear ones, and fill our homes with safety, love, kindness, and mercy.

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When I am Graceless


There comes a point in just about every evening when a switch is flipped within me. A moment when I go from gentle, loving, patient, ever-bearing Mommy to a weary, prickly, cranky woman who wants nothing more than for her child to go the eff to sleep and for a lion’s portion of quiet to reign in my house again for the little time that I have left before my body requires me to sleep before  getting up and doing it all over again. In those moments, I have to admit to being largely graceless.

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Weighted on the Side of Grace


There’s a war between guilt and grace

And they’re fighting for a sacred space.

“Grace Wins Every Time” — Matthew West

My soul laid in broken pieces at my feet, cracked and smashed, shattered and bleeding. The pieces never seemed to stop falling, like the late fall leaves outside that seemed to flutter endlessly to the ground. My poor soul was in so many pieces that, if it were a vase, I would despair of it ever being put back together again. Even if it were, would it ever be strong and stalwart again? Would it ever be able to stand upright without fear of collapsing inward? Would my soul, so battered and broken by my own failures and actions, by rejection and judgement from others, ever again stand a chance at wholeness? I didn’t think so.

I could hide it. I did hide it and well. I swathed it in velvet, let it appear whole and soft when really it was trembling and fractured beneath. The pretty-on-the-outside covering was to hide the sensitive, nerve-baring cracks as much as it was to pretend at wholeness. It fooled everyone but me, everyone but those who dared to look painfully closely, and especially everyone but the One who formed my fingers and toes, my heart, lungs, and innermost being.

The One I don’t fool is God. I can’t fool God. Isn’t that wonderful? Yes, that’s what I said: wonderful! No matter who I think I might be fooling, I cannot fool the God of the universe. An artist knows their handiwork. So does God. He Knows me and Sees me.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14 NIV)

God sees my soul for what it is: fractured, scarred, and scared. He sees those broken pieces of self, sees the guilt that wars with grace, and weights the scales. Gathering those pieces of me, He puts His finger on the side of grace, tipping the odds in my favor, in His mercy and love.

I am messy. I have made mistakes and had to make amends. I have gotten it horribly wrong before. Yet God still calls me wonderful.

You, dear friend, are messy. You have made mistakes. You have gotten it horribly wrong before. You have been crushed by your actions and those of others. But God still calls you wonderful. He still loves you as is. Guilt and grace war for the sacred space in your soul, too, and God still gathers up your pieces and puts His finger on grace’s side of the scale.

Do not fear your broken soul; God doesn’t. Sometimes that which has been broken and repaired is even stronger than when it first started out. Let God pick up your pieces. Watch how tenderly He handles those jagged and painful parts of you, coaxing and bringing about healing, clarity, and growth from their ragged edges.

Listen to His tender whisper: “I love you. I love your brokenness. I love your soul. I am here. You are not in this fight alone.”

Our brokenness doesn’t frighten God. Not one bit. In fact, He only draws us closer. Here, take my hand, and let’s lean into our brokenness today, you and me. Then we can see what grace has in store for us.

 

Giving As You Would Have Given To You


We have often heard what is touted as The Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). Have you ever thought, though, that that includes not only our actions but our reactions to people, too? Have you ever had a situation in which you longed and hoped for the best-case reaction from someone(s) but, instead, got the absolute opposite?

  • Instead of compassion, you were judged.
  • Instead of mercy and forgiveness, you were rejected.
  • Instead of support, you were abandoned.

Being truthful, coming clean, sharing our faults, shortcomings, vulnerabilities, or our need for help are often very difficult and even frightening. That fear is often built on the anticipation of a bad reaction from those to whom we must tell these things, and many of us have felt the pain of those fears realized at one time or another.

One of the most popular quotes over the past year (with over 51 million Google results and numerous memes floating about Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) is: “Be the person you needed when you were younger” (Ayesha A. Siddiqi). What would our world be like if we gave the reactions that we wished we had received in our difficult moments? Better yet, what if we gave responses instead of reactions? “To react” is defined by Merriam-Webster as action or feeling as a result of a stimulus or situation. “To respond” is defined by the same as giving an answer to something. The former implies a visceral outcome, built on emotion. The latter implies conscious effort and thought given before speaking or acting. Now, that is not say that ours will always be the response that the other person would expressly desire but, in taking time to think, there is less chance of us allowing our emotions to hold sway and cause us to be discourteous, dismissive of, or even cruel to others in their heavy moments.

What if we gave responses instead of reactions? What if we took the time to consider? To consider humanity, fallibility, and kindness.  We can give compassion instead of judgement, mercy instead of rejection, and support instead of abandonment. How much better would our world be if we remembered the responses that we needed in our tough times and then gifted those responses to others? How many spirits might be spared, hearts edified, or even  relationships saved? Taking a pause is not always easy to remember or to do but I dare say that it undoubtedly worth it.

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