Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Grace: Extending and Receiving

         The change of seasons is always so refreshing.  While I've never been a huge proponent of change, I always welcome the passing of one season and the beginning of the next.  Since most of our winter was spent indoors, away from the rest of the world, due to some intense germ sharing, I think we welcomed spring with even more excitement and appreciation this year.  I enjoyed the quality time we had together these past months, but to open the windows....to venture outdoors and breathe in the fresh air....to hear the birds chirping and watch little ones explore with joy.....has been such a gift.

And I'm reminded that sometimes we just appreciate more when we've had to wait, when we've experienced a different season and we're ready for something new........when it's not what we've come to expect.

        While our attendance has been ridiculously sporadic, we try to attend a MOPS group once a week.  Recently we made it on a week where we watched a video on parenting, specifically related to course correction.  The woman spoke about correcting your children and mentioned that as a child her parents were very strict with her.  While she did believe this to be beneficial, she also wondered if sometimes we, as adults, have a difficult time receiving grace as a result of a "strict" upbringing.  I was hesitant to agree, until she explained the following.  She then shared that with her children, when it comes to a time that she needs to correct their behavior, and they know what is to come, she will sometimes choose to show them grace instead.  When a pattern has been set.....the child knows the behavior was not acceptable....you step in and discuss this with your child, and even mention what the consequence should be....BUT.....just then, when they least expect it - least deserve it, you show them grace.  And remind them, that this is what Christ did, and does, for us.

        I decided to try this.  With a three (almost four) year old.  I thought it would be way over his head, but wanted to try anyway.  I don't remember what he had done, but he was upset because he knew I was upset with his behavior.  The tears rolled down his face and he apologized.  We talked about what he had done, what he should have done and he knew what was coming.  The dreaded.....time out (in).  (It still amazes me that this pains him so).  BUT.....I told him I was going to show him grace instead.  "I don't like grace!" he declared.  And yet, when he learned what grace was......he thanked me, and a smile broke through the tears.  It was a sweet moment, but I still assumed it was beyond him.  That is, until, a few days later.....  He was eating his oatmeal, while a big chocolate sprinkled doughnut sat in front of him.  He played with the sprinkles and obediently ate his oatmeal without argument.  He was 90% finished with his oatmeal, and I told him to go ahead and eat the doughnut.  He looked at me doubtfully and asked "even though I didn't finish my cereal?"  I assured him that I meant what I said and he thanked me and then paused......"Is that crace, momma?"  (that's not a typo, he literally said Crace : )  While I realize it was in reference to eating a doughnut, the fact that he made the connection blew me away.  It wasn't expected....he didn't do anything to deserve it....he hadn't even asked for it.  Both times we talked about how Jesus shows us grace, and I marveled at what an amazing opportunity this was.....and how much more these little ones understand than I give them credit for.

         I'm not sure, but I think the change in weather has softened us all a bit too.  I can feel it in myself....more relaxed, more patience with my family.  The boys have been so much more loving towards one another.  Caleb sat in school today, listening to me while rubbing Levi's head and giving him kisses periodically.  He has also chosen to add on to our prayers lately......"and thank you God for making meme and pops.....for making my friends.....please keep us safe....thank you for ice cream and the plants growing."  So precious.  With Levi, I think I've most noticed the progress in school and his wanting to be a part of everything.  It's been a gradual change, but comparing where he is now to the beginning of the school year is amazing.  He would have sat for 5 seconds and then left the room, only to come back and leave 20 more times in the 45 minutes or so that school was in session.  Now, most days he stays the whole time.  He sits in his chair, listening and gets up to be involved in any activity we do.  There used to be times that Caleb would do a worksheet and Levi would just look at a book or watch Caleb for a moment.  Now he must be working on his own paper, full participating.  You can't get anything past him.....he knows if he is missing out, if he's not fully involved....and so he's experiencing so much more.....with awe and eagerness....it's priceless to witness.

        It's still a learning process for me.....this recognizing everything as grace, everything as a gift.  But right now, in the midst of this refreshing change of seasons, sweetness and growth in my boys, and hope for what is soon to come, I feel overwhelmed by grace.


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