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Living Grace by Grace

“Mom? Is Jesus bigger than monsters?”

Norah and I usually have important conversations like this when she’s sitting on the toilet.

“Yes, honey. He is.”

“Then why does He always look like…regular size in the Bible?”

Looking back, I really should’ve taken the opportunity here to reinforce that monsters are not, in fact, real. I didn’t. Instead I launched into a big, theological explanation about spiritual bodies and how God took on a man body when He came to save us so that He could identify with us in all things. Hmmm…Well, in any case, she was happy with my answer because we ended by singing He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands.

Lately I have felt like our life is in upheaval. Scratch that. I’ve felt like that since we added another child to our family and we became a circus act. As I’m sure so many of you can identify, some days it’s all I can do to get the kids dressed. What the heck am I doing with the rest of our day? I’m not sure…except it may include one of the following: pulling out my hair, crying or holding a child who is, singing Elena’s name to the tune of thirty different songs, enthusiastically encouraging them to SLOW DOWN or CHILL OUT, fishing unknown and slimy objects out of my baby’s mouth, or playing Octonauts (“the one where Barnacles is asleep and it’s Tweak’s birthday” *Disclaimer: this episode doesn’t exist. I always play it wrong because I have no idea what is supposed to happen because it is not a real story. But apparently the story is real and the same in both of my kids’ minds.*). In any case, there is one thing that is the same every single day. The grace of Jesus. I cling to it like my life depends on it. Because it literally does. I cannot step forward in my day, my home, my relationships with my family unless grace has made a stepping stone for me first. The days that I try…whew. Those are bad days.

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And I think that’s why we’ve been having more conversations about God lately too. As I’m clinging to Jesus in every single second, it seems that He broadens the grace stone to include my children, and our atmosphere becomes safe to explore questions. Yes, I’m clinging to Him for a bucket load of patience and wisdom, desperate for His presence because I’m only human in a home with three “silly souls,” as Norah says. His presence comes with His gift of grace, and I can see them being drawn to Him.

If there’s anything I’m learning in this season, it’s to seize the moment to talk about Jesus. I need His grace moment by moment, so why wouldn’t they? And why not teach them to turn toward Him or think about Him in connection with every day things? By infusing our day with references to Jesus, saying things like “Oh, the Bible talks about that too!” when they bring up things about nature or people, or even showing them in the Bible what God says about their sin provides fodder for their thoughts. You’d be amazed at how much kids think about things and mull over them if you talk about them often enough. They aren’t too small to begin to understand and to begin to come to conclusions about God on their own.

The other day I got really mad because Norah was picking fights with Micah and knowingly pushing his buttons just to make him cry. I had tried disciplining and talking and having them reenact the fight with her doing the right thing instead of the wrong thing, but nothing worked. Finally I sat her down and showed her in Proverbs where it says God hates when people knowingly cause strife with each other. It was kind of a last resort, I’m-outta-ideas-here, plan. But, surprisingly, she really listened to me. I could see that she heard me and she realized it was serious. It hasn’t completely stopped the behavior, but she has brought it up to me several times. Taking the time to infuse the moment with Jesus helped her realize that her actions affect others in a bigger way, not just that she’ll get into trouble with Mommy if Mommy hears her being ugly.

But infusing the moment with Jesus and His grace extends beyond discipline. I overheard Norah all alone in the bathroom singing about why we worship Him, telling all her barrettes to worship too. It inspires beautiful conversations about what God is like and how He has brought us freedom from sin, though sometimes the questions they ask can be hard to answer. I love knowing that Jesus has grace with me when I am confused or struggling with something, so I can extend that grace to my kids when they bring up something they don’t understand about God or about why we have sin or why bad things happen. I don’t have to have all the answers, but I also don’t have to feel stressed or pressured to “set them straight” when they have genuine questions. Grace for all of us means that I can be open that I’m still learning and growing too, always pointing to a good God who willingly and gently teaches us.

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I’m not gonna lie, though. Sometimes the questions stump me or make me realize I better up my game. Like when Micah asked tonight, “Mom, how can Jesus like, hold the world in His hands and still be inside it?” And sometimes…well, sometimes we have conversations like this:

Me: The armor of God is the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness —
Micah: The breast milk of righteousness?!?

And I think God and I have a pretty good laugh. So when I’m singing Elena’s name, I sing that Jesus loves her. When I’m playing the mystery Octonauts episode, sometimes they pray for help to accomplish their mission. When we’re struggling through “BIG EMOTIONS”, we remember that God also has big emotions, but He helps us control them. And when some of our conversations turn silly, we laugh with Jesus because He has a sense of humor too. We are learning to live moment by moment, grace by grace.

PS. Here’s another picture of my cute baby.Why yes, those are pants hanging out of the Duplo bin. And no, I’m not totally positive as to whether they are clean or dirty.

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