Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Grace and Ice Cream

Sometimes I get it right. I actually listen to the still small voice, the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit, and move with Him.

Today was a tough day for my oldest son. I've written about his early life here. While life is so normal with him now that I hardly remember those early days, sometimes the reminder is fierce. I don't know if he needed more sleep last night or what, but he was just a grump, yelling at everyone, especially me all morning. Every time I crossed him, no matter how calmly and directly I spoke, he screamed, "Why are you so mean?!?" And refused to listen to me. 

I tried talking him down, ignoring the outbursts, and sending him to his room. I let him lay on my bed to cry it out. Nothing seemed to work.

In the early afternoon an idea began to form. What if I did something radical? Something filled with grace? What if I loved Him like I have been loved?

After checking with my husband and receiving his blessing, I told Ben to grab his shoes. 

"Why?!? Where are we going? I don't want to go! I don't even know where my shoes are!"

I told him to get his shoes and he could stay in the car if he chose. Grumbling, he climbed into the backseat. 

In the car, praying under my breath, I asked him if he knew what a mulligan was. I explained that a mulligan is a do-over. If you swing wildly in golf and your ball flies in the wrong direction, you can have another turn...without penalty.

I asked him if that's how his day went, if he needed a mulligan. Relieved, he agreed that he did. He asked me how we were going to do it and I said that I can't think of any better way to recharge a day than with ice cream.

After we received our cones and parked ourselves on the tiny tables outside, I asked Ben if he felt like he deserved ice cream on this day. Sheepishly, he said he didn't. 

"That, my son, is what God does for us. It's grace. We don't deserve His forgiveness or His love, but He offers them freely. Grace is different from mercy. Mercy is when you deserve punishment, but you are spared. Like when we deserve death because of our sin, but Jesus already paid that price. Grace is when we get something good that we don't forgiveness, or love, or peace, or..."

"Or ice cream?" piped in my cheeky boy. 


Thursday, July 18, 2013


You're wooing me, again, wanting me to draw near to You, to let You whisper to my heart. I can feel it with a gentle nudge to put down the remote, with the picture popping up in my mind of the last place I read Your Word, and with the gnawing sense of restlessness. 

As I reach for the remote anyway, I briefly wonder why it is that I push You away. 

Television doesn't satisfy and I can find nothing I want to watch. Checking my phone, I find no messages, no new Facebook notifications. 

The kids are finally asleep, the husband is at work, and it's quiet here...such a rare event. Yet, I still find myself reluctant to speak to You. By now there is growing unease deep inside me. I've ignored You for too long and now there's guilt. What happened to the daily plan I had to read Your Word? I have no follow-through. I'm forever inconsistent. And lazy.

But that's not really You talking, is it?

You are gentle and kind. You are happy to have me near, to listen to me as I yammer on about my excuses, my fears, my hurts. 

Hurt is what kept me away this time. A scab was picked from a wound I thought long healed. Rather than run to You, I ruminated on it and medicated with my old foe, gluttony. I thought I'd licked that. Funny...thinking I could conquer a habitual sin without You. Of course temptation would swoop in when my resistance was low and vulnerability high. I nursed it by hiding from You.

So now there's sin, too. Hurt and sin and any number of emotions that go with both, keeping me from humbling myself and laying them at Your feet. 

I feel stuck. 

I reach for the remote again, to fill the silence, numb the ache...but something stops me. Is this what I want? More stuffing, more numbing, more uneasiness?

No, it's not. 

I want to be free. I want the weight lifted. I want the hurt healed. 
But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. I John 1:9
I want You. 

I'm sorry I ran, sorry I hid, sorry I stuffed. I'm sorry I sinned. Please forgive me. My feelings were hurt and I ran around the mountain yet another time. 

But You were waiting, and You're here now, breathing new life into me and filling me with peace. You're reminding me:
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9a
And it's only because of that grace that you so freely offer that I can raise my voice with the apostle Paul and echo:
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9b