Thursday, April 24, 2014

When We Get What We Don't Deserve...

On Monday night, K threw a temper tantrum at the dinner table.

While temper tantrums are not unheard of in my house, I highly recommend not throwing one at the dinner table.

Her family had finished eating dinner and dessert and she was still working on her veggies and mac and cheese.

Her family was cleaning up the kitchen. She was not happy that there was no one  left to sit and watch her eat. That no one wanted to grow any more gray hairs waiting for her to decide. That no one wanted to sit and drift away on the ebb and flow of time watching her slowly shovel one teeny tiny morsel after another.

She had warnings and cautions and ultimatums.

But she didn't heed those; she threw a temper tantrum. Because apparently with this child, bigger is always better.

There are always consequences to our choices. Always. We try to raise our kids so they know to make good choices and understand what happens when they make poor choices. 

But often the best teacher is a hard lesson.

K had a rough consequence. She fell straight off her chair, crashed into the floor, and sent her teeth through her bottom lip.

This isn't the first time this has happened. Not a year ago she was helping the husband outside move firewood, tripped, and landed her lip on the wood and sent her teeth through her lip. You'd think she'd learn to keep her lips out of her teeth. Or her teeth out of her lips.

So there was blood and tears.
There was ice.
There was medicine.
There was curiosity.
There was drama.
Then again, when isn't there drama?

And there was the husband. His hands bloody. His shirt bloodied.

Gentle. Calm. Efficient.

Mercy-full. Grace-full.

Even in spite of her bad choice which resulted in a rough consequence, the husband was that little girl's hero on Monday night.

He was my hero on Monday night.

You see, I don't do so well with blood. Especially when it has to do with the mouth. I have what I like to call a mouth phobia. The husband is charged with taking our girls to the dentist because I really don't like stuff that deals with the mouth. I get a serious case of the heebie jeebies smattered with a large dose of what often feels like panic and served with a small side of fear.

So when that girl plunged to the floor in all her diva drama and I realized that we had an event when I saw the blood, I sent the Eldest outside to get the husband. As I picked up my broken girl and carried her to the kitchen grabbing towels and wash cloths out of drawers on my way, I soothed her with mama-murmurings and waited for the cavalry.

And the cavalry fixed her right up; the husband is getting quite experienced at handling these kinds of things.

And three days later, her lip looks almost normal from the outside. The inside is a different matter.

And three days later, I'm reminded of how God deals with us when we make rotten or dire or straight up bad choices and we have mighty big consequences and He doesn't leave us to get what we rightfully deserve.

Instead He walks even that broken road with us. 
The road we willfully choose after we have ignored all of His warnings and cautions.
That road where we frolick right into that deep dark hole and there just don't seem to be band aids big enough to cover our scrapes and bruises.
After we have ignored His Truth because we are sometimes just a little bit...well...dumb.
Yeah, He walks even that road with us.

And instead of His wrath because we made a bad choice, He offers us His grace.

Instead of judgement, He offers us His mercy.

Instead of leaving us to get our just desserts, He offers us a new rag, a clean rag if we will but give Him our bloodied one.

And the thing with God, He's more concerned with our insides, with our heart, with our brokenness, than with our outsides.

He's not impressed with out facades and our masks and our pretending. He's not moved by our false bravado or our excuses or our justifications.

Nope, He wants the real deal and that real deal is found on the inside.

K's lip inside her mouth is probably a more accurate gauge of how her lip is healing, of how her heart is mending than how it looks on the outside. I mustered up some courage and I pulled her fat, puffy, swollen lip down and I looked at the mangled mess of her lip on the inside. And I admit, I squirmed a bit squeamish.

Aren't we all just a bit mangled and bloodied and maimed on the inside?

Aren't we all a bit of a mess on the inside trying to hold it fast together on the outside with nothing but a bit of flimsy twine or old, dried up rubber bands?

Aren't we all creatively contriving our next mask, our next facade, to cover up and hide our broken bits? 

We don't take spills and come out whole. 
We come out wounded.
We come out broken and bloodied and raw, too.
Scabbed and scarred and warrior wounded.
And Jesus takes all of that and offers us new, clean rags. 
Beauty for our ashes. Joy in our despair. Healing for our suffering. 
Mercy when we don't deserve it. Grace to wash over all of it.

K will have another scar to add to her growing collection.
Another scar to serve as a reminder of the power of her choices.
Another lesson to add to her growing repertoire.

But here's the thing about scars--they are grace indicators. They are landing strips of healing.
They are signs of growth. Of Jesus working.
They are signs of lessons, hopefully learned deep in the depths of our hearts so that what we learn would be an overflowing out of our hearts. 
They are signs that while we may have fallen, we got back up.

We might bear scars, but our scars become reminders of Jesus' scars. And His scars cover our own brokenness, heal our woundedness, not so we forget our brokenness, but so that we can move forward and be messengers of God's grace in the midst of our brokenness.

I've made lots of mistakes.
I have frolicked into my fair share of deep, dark holes.
And I have lots of scars to show for my willful choices.
But, God's grace is bigger than my mistakes. 
God's love for me is deeper than those deep, dark holes.
And sure I'm broken,
And sure I'm a bit of a mess.
But mostly I'm His Beloved. 
And He can use even me.
Scars and all.

Grace Always Rises,

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Happy Four-Day!

Today my babies turn 4.

I was 37 weeks and 1 day pregnant with thirteen and a half pounds of baby.
 I was 37 weeks and 1 day into a life-changer, a life-shaker. Filled with grace and hope. Bursting to push them forth into this bright, noisy, beautiful world so I could touch these little people I had grown inside for 37 weeks and 1 day. 
These little people I had fallen in love with.

Good Friday. 
Four years ago.
I labored hard one journey and began another.
One that I have needed much help on along the way.
One where I have learned I do not have to know it all, be it all, or do it all.
One where God has taught me grace and forgiveness and redemption and mercy.
One where I have laughed much and cried much and hoped much and loved much.

I have discovered motherhood is a state of being
It's not a place you end up because you had a kid. It's a mindset that you grow in to. I spent the first year after I had the Eldest growing in to being a mom. It was not pretty and it was not easy. I spent the first year as a mom of three figuring out how not to lose one, figuring out how exactly to keep three kids fed and watered, realizing that my laundry had just tripled, and learning just how little sleep one actually needed to survive.

Motherhood is the journey
The beautiful, hard, sometimes not so pretty journey we embark on to grow our kids. 
I spent a few years believing it was the place you ended up at, the end all-be all, the glorious arrival gate you disembarked at when you brought your baby home. 

I was misinformed.
That was just the starting gate.

Four years ago.

There's something about this birthday that strikes me different. 
I remember when the Eldest turned five and I thought, Now we're getting somewhere.  
But it's not five. It's four and I'm thinking, Now we're getting somewhere. 

Maybe it's because there's two. Maybe it's because I'm a nerd and there's symmetry with two and four and they were born on April 2 which is the fourth month 
and there's two of them and they are turning four.

Maybe it's because I can look back and see so much of God's grace on my journey and I find myself so thankful. Thankful that I have three beautiful girls and a crazy life and they have a daddy who dotes and who disciplines and a dog who puts up with their princess crowns and horseplay. 

Thankful that I have a God who sees and knows all of me...even the ugly parts...and loves me anyway. And loves me enough to lead me on roads where I'm changed. 

Thankful for the friends who held a baby, fed a baby, burped a baby, and got a shirt full of reflux as payment and then dared to come back and do it again. 

Thankful for my family who loved me even when I was rotten and sleep deprived and snarky and saved me from myself on more than one occasion. 

Thankful for the little Christ followers I see growing in the hearts of my little people. Thankful for how they look at the world because it fills my heart to overflowing.

It is well with my soul.

I'm thankful for the hard days because they make me appreciate the good days even more. For the sleepless nights spent feeding a baby or walking a baby because they won't ever be babies like that again. 

Thankful for the endless bottle feedings and bowls of baby cereal and mashed up bananas because there's no more bottles or baby cereal or mashed up bananas...
well maybe we still have mashed up bananas, but I don't do the mashing. 

Thankful for the sweet baby smell and the sweet baby sleep and the sweet baby sounds. 
Because now there's little kid smell which is sweet in a different way 
because it grows proportionally to the amount of sunshine they take in. 
And now there's little kid sleep which sometimes is fraught with anxiety and trouble 
or it's lovely and peaceful and deep. 
And now there's little kid sounds which mostly make me laugh 
and sometimes make me cry. 

This isn't really how I saw my life going.  
I didn't think I would be a mom of a set of twins or three daughters. 
But where we end up is rarely where we saw ourselves going. 
And to be honest, I'm so glad. 
I'm so grateful that I'm here and not where I thought I would be. 
I'm so grateful I'm up to my eyeballs in laundry and homework and projects and temper tantrums and dishes and cleaning and princess dresses and drama. 
Sure there are days when I want to disappear. 
But then one will say something about wanting real pixie dust or 
if the emblem in the center of my steering wheel is for when my car goes underwater like Lucy's in Despicable Me 2 and I laugh till I cry and 
I'm. just. so. grateful.

It is well with my soul.

God's plan is always the good one. There's always good and grace and joy and enough. 
Always enough. Maybe not enough of what we think we need. 
But enough of Him. Enough of Grace. 

And maybe four means so much because they have taught me so much. 
And it has been hard and it has been overwhelming and it has been...beautiful. 

Happy Birthday My Sweet Girls.

Grace Always Rises,