This, like every thing I try and say here, has quite a long story behind it. My husband teases me about this incessantly. The stories usually involve food, but this one actually does not. So anyway, if you want the point, skip down. I'm warning you, it's going to be long. Otherwise, read on...
Three years ago this fall a couple of godly, Titus 2 type women at our church began a small group aimed at studying what the Bible had to say about mothering and encouraging one another. It was a small group of us, but the Presence of the Lord was there, and it was so neat to see how the Father orchestrated the makeup of our group perfectly. Our church is full of young mothers, and astonishingly, there were only maybe eight of us that came regularly. A lot of our meetings ended up almost like mini counseling sessions. It was one of those milestones in my life. An ebenezer, if you will. The Lord showed up and changed my life.
When we first began meeting, we all took a week and kind of gave our testimony, how we grew up, how we got saved, things we had been through, and often concluded with what our life then looked like, struggles and all. We were very open, and we were able to pray for one another and speak into each others lives.
At this point, I had just had Noah, our fifth child. I was in my third year of homeschooling, and while I had daily life down pretty well (schedules, napping, meals, etc.) I was somewhat of a mess when it came to practically loving my children. Sure, I loved them, but I was perpetually frustrated and angry, and had been for a very long time. I knew that the majority of my "stuff" stemmed from my past, but had no clue how to get through it. Honestly, I am still learning and working through it, but just realizing where my struggles were coming from helped tremendously.
I don't think I've ever really told the story of my childhood here, but basically I had two very screwed up, former hippy parents that loved God, but were too busy dealing with their own stuff and with each other to really disciple me. My Mom had been into drugs and alcohol when I was very young, leaving me to carry a responsibility for my younger sisters that was grossly inappropriate. My Dad was a truck driver, so he was gone a lot. We lived next door to my grandmother, two great aunts, and aunt which was very good, but made for very codependent relationships. My Dad was never really able to be the spiritual leader and head of our home, and my Mom was never forced to grow up and be responsible. I had too many bosses, but no real authority. Someone was always there to take my side against whichever adult was trying to discipline me.
What really affected me long term, though, was that when I was fourteen, just getting into the intense part of my life when I desperately needed my parents to be parents, my Mom fell back into heavy drug and alcohol abuse, and unfortunately, my Dad just checked out. So I learned that moms and daughters hate each other and communicate through yelling, and while my Dad loved us, he was impossible for me to please. It was your classic situation of I made straight As in every subject, every time, but it was always, "Why not an A+?" Literally. I, being the oldest, was held to an unattainable expectation of perfection that left me with unrealistic standards for and expectations of myself, and unfortunately, my children as well.
So basically, I loved my children fiercely, but hadn't learned so great how to show it. I was trapped in patterns I had learned while growing up with no idea how to escape, but desperate to overcome.
Thankfully, when Anna was very young (and so was I) I was aware of enough of some off these things to know that my discipling her and my growing in the Lord was going to be intense, and I knew I could do nothing, nothing in my own strength, especially raise children that loved the Lord passionately. I talked to the Father about this A LOT, and he showed me very clearly, that His grace was sufficient, that His power would be made perfect in my weakness. That everything was about Himself, and nothing was about me. That He was covering me, and my mothering, in His grace. That He saw my heart, and my helplessness, and He was going to show Himself strong. I believe this was a big part of why He sheltered me in the early part of my marriage, so that I could hear from Him alone and be taught of Him. And this is also why this blog is called what it is. God's grace is what my life is about.
So I had always had this encouragement in my heart, but it didn't do much to change the fact that I was angry and my daughter's room was ridiculously clean for a six year old. The silverware in the play kitchen was always lined up just so. Always. My life growing up had been seriously out of control, with no one in control, so by golly, I was going to micro manage life now.
And there I sat, trusting God to do His good work in me, but feeling like I'm failing miserably. I'm tired of being depressed, tired of being mad and not even knowing why, and tired of yelling at my kids. At this point, I had not really made the connection between what I grew up under and how it was now coming out of my heart in a raging torrent of ugliness. Being in this group opened my eyes to that. It was the beginning of my redemption.
One day, soon after the group began, I was listening to a teaching series on raising/parenting your children in grace. I was very overwhelmed at this point in life, desperate and crying out to the Lord for change. I knew the way I was often treating Anna particularly was not fair, and not kind. But I didn't know how to get past it. I don't remember exactly what was said, but somehow through it, the Lord spoke to me, almost audibly, and said, "She is your grace. Her name means grace. I am covering her in grace, and I am covering you in grace. Despite your mistakes and your failings, I am covering both of you as you learn how to mother her. I gave you grace in her, through her, and you are both covered in it." I am not an overly emotional person by nature, but I lost it right then. I can get pretty emotional even now when I think about it. Learning how to love her and show it has been a process, and truthfully still is, but I have the assurance in my heart and in my spirit that it is all about Him. He is teaching me.So at this point, I began longing to have another little girl, and knew her name was to be Grace. Those of you that have been reading for awhile know that our children's names all have significant importance and meaning, and are often a picture not only of who they are and who they are called to be, but also of what the Lord was doing in our life at that time. So I wanted another girl to name Grace and bring grace into our home even more fully. To set before our eyes daily a reminder of what He has done.
The Father started out my life as a mother by giving me grace and graciousness in Anna. Caleb is very brave and devoted to God. Ethan is strong and bold, makes up worship songs on his own, and is gaining much wisdom through his love of reading. (There are two Ethans in the Bible he was named after, one was appointed by King David to lead worship in the temple, and the other is described as being very wise, even being compared to Solomon.) Moriah is a picture of God's provision, the Lord being our teacher, and came early to be born on Rosh Hashanah, signifying a new season of life in our family. Noah has brought rest, peace, and comfort in a significant way to me (being an infant during this very intense time I was going through) and also to my grandmother and great aunt who were in the middle of losing their home when he was an infant. While we were moving them out, they were able to rock, hold, and sing hymns to him that I'm sure brought much comfort to their hearts. And Haven is Haven. Since his birth I have learned volumes about the Father being my haven, and I know Haven is also called to be that to many, and I particularly see that as his role when he is a husband and father.
So I have been waiting for Grace...
And she is coming.
I wanted to wait until my twenty week ultrasound to know for sure she was in fact a she, and yesterday, I got to see her sweet little face in a 3D ultrasound.
The story of my Grace.
"All thy children shall be taught of the Lord
and great shall be the peace of thy children."