presented by cj:

give us grace
as i sit here with a huge pile of laundry on the couch listening to the dryer fluff yet another load, both my boys in bed, i look at our mantle. fire is going, simple advent candles burning, there is one more stocking hanging up this year. last Christmas was so hard. it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. i think about all the Lord did to grow our family in such an amazing, special, difficult way. i think about the lives that were connected, the people moved to help strangers, and all the pain of waiting and not knowing and hopes up and down and bank accounts wasting away and the thousands upon thousands of pieces of paperwork to bring our son home. i think about that smile on his face when i patted his little back when we arrived, this time knowing we were his mom and dad. i think about the sigh of relief as we walked through the revolving doors at baggage claim to be greeted with cheers and tears and hugs as we introduced our son. i think about the sleepless nights, the laughter, the slobbery kisses, standing before the judge who declared us mom and dad forever, Kai getting his first taste of sugar by literally diving into his birthday cake. his first steps and hearing him say “mama” for the first time – the absolute sweetest sound i have ever heard in my life. it seems so fresh and yet so long ago. all done by God’s grace. this was such a beautiful year. 
it was also one of the hardest years we’ve ever experienced. being a parent is no small and no easy task. when you become a parent, you have to start over in a sense. you have to learn your spouse in a new way. you have to see your finances in a new light. you have to learn your child at every new stage they enter, and for us we also had attachment to think about, which is a whole other thing. you have to get into a new routine. first you have to find one, then you actually have to do it. you have to give up things you really valued at one point. if you are mom, you quickly have to come to terms with the fact that you will never have a private moment to yourself ever again. little eyes will always be watching your every move. you have to learn parts of yourself you didn’t even know were there or you were capable of (both the good and the bad).  at the end of the day, you have to give yourself grace to know you are still learning and will never be perfect. i titled this blog “give us grace” because my original intent after many experiences back to back to back was to rail about how parents don’t get enough grace from our culture, from people who don’t have kids yet (yes i was one of those too), and even from other parents. but i’m not going to do that, at least not now and not the way i started this blog over a month ago.
now, all of those things are true: parents don’t get enough grace, our culture hardly values human life at any stage, much less an innocent child. children are seen as a nuisance, not a blessing. i see that in the faces of strangers every time Kai cries or throws a fit in public. i see it in the look of surprise on strangers’ faces when they ask “is he yours?” sometimes they ask this because of our ethnic differences, and sometimes because i look like i’m 16.
as i was driving yesterday listening to Kai babble in the back seat, it just hit me. how ironic, how interesting, that Jesus would come to us as a baby. the Promised King & Savior, came into our world as a screaming newborn. a thing that i have no doubt was an annoyance to people. it annoyed so many that they wouldn’t even give grace to a young woman who was clearly in labor and offer her a place to stay. no one wanted to make room in the inn for a screaming newborn that might interrupt their sleep. i have always, always loved Mary, but now that i’m a mom and get the lack of grace, i wonder how in the world she did it. 
how did she handle the lack of grace? how did she handle the scandal around town about her?  how did she handle the ignorant and inappropriate questions and comments and glances? and it never ended for her. if anything, it probably got worse as her son would grow up teaching people older than him in the temple, and then would claim to be the Messiah. i know she was not a perfect woman, but there are days when i just want to lose it on people. there are days where some have actually made me cry. 
but i think i know how she “kept it together.” it was because of her son. he came to give us grace, the grace that we don’t deserve but desperately need. when everyone else was lacking in grace, he was bathing her in it. and it’s because of that grace that we extend to others, even when it’s not deserved. one of the hardest lessons for me this year was to learn to hold my tongue and respond to ignorance with grace and compassion. when someone said a racist comment about my child and the mama bear claws were about to rip them to pieces, my husband (who is a little less passionately bold than i) reminded me that i’m teaching my son how to give grace in those moments. just like i would love it if people would look past the surface, i need to do the same for them. it’s what Christ did for us. he looked past the surface, and at the ugliest, worst parts of us, and he still chose to give us grace. 
we need more grace. it’s why i am so thankful that His mercies are new each morning. we need to give each other grace, to humbly listen and press in and look past the surface. how different would it be if we started to do that? next time you are at the grocery store and you are annoyed by the kid throwing a fit, look past the surface. maybe his blood sugar is low. maybe he had a bad day at school. maybe he has some special needs. look past the tantrum and give some grace, and smile at the mama and give her grace too. look past the hurtful remarks and see that they too, like you, are sinners in need of grace. and help them understand as best you can. 
there is no greater gift than the gift of grace. i pray that you experience that gift, and that you freely extend it to others. 
Grace, Grace, God’s Grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, Grace, God’s Grace

Grace that is greater than all our sin
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