New Patterns of Grace

Mother’s Day. An opportunity to remember the effort, love, and sacrifices my own mom made for me. A chance to be thankful for the brave birth mothers who helped make me a mother. A day to look on my children with love and awe and marvel at the reasons I am allowed to partake in this day.

me and the girls

Looking upon the year leading up to this day, reflecting on the changes, the growth, the disappointments, the trials, and the joy; my heart feels both heavy and lighter at the same time.

A day to reflect. How am I doing as a mother? The most important role I will ever fill. Am I still stuck in some of the patterns of the year before? Or, am I moving toward what the Lord has for me? Am I pushing past old destructive ways? Am I looking for patterns which lead to life for my family?

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These questions fill my mind and to be honest, they’ve been keeping me awake at night.

As moms, we are so hard on ourselves. Second guessing decisions. Replaying scenarios in our minds. Beating ourselves up for our shortcomings. Allowing guilt and sometimes even condemnation to steal our days. Comparing ourselves to others or to some ideal we hold in our mind. Seeing our children’s behavior as a reflection of our own failures.

These are patterns which lead to death for ourselves and our families.

The Lord is revealing a different way to me.

It begins with grace.

Grace: Favor or goodwill. A manifestation of favor. Mercy. Pardon. Unmerited favor and love of God. The influence or Spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.

Ahh..Just reading the word grace, followed by the definition is like a deep breath. My body loosens. My shoulders drop. My breathing slows.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2: 4-10

Oh those words, the Lord’s words to us, well up in me like an everlasting flowing river. A river of grace and mercy. His love for me was alive and well when I was dead in my trespasses. 

On your worst day. He loved you.

On my worst day. He loved me.

Am I loving that way? Am I loving my family when they behave well? Am I loving them when they are acting in an undesirable way?

Are my facial expressions conveying love and grace?

Is my tone showing love despite their behavior?

Are my words leading to life for my family regardless of how they are acting?

Through His grace and love pouring into me, He is showing me how to extend grace to my family. He is reminding me to be patient with myself. He is showing me when I just need to breathe. He is showing me how to love my children and care deeply for them, while still separating myself from their choices. He is opening my eyes to what a heartfelt apology can bring to my loved ones. He is lowering my shoulders and filling me with His breath, His grace, His love.

3 grace-filled statements for mom’s this Mother’s day, taken right from the Ephesians 2 verses above:

  1. We are no longer dead to our sin. We are made alive by Christ. I can breathe easier and become unstuck because He has freed me from my sin.
  2. We are saved by faith, not by our works. I am not saved based on anything I have done or anything I will do. I am saved based on who He is and what He has already done on the cross.
  3. We were created by God to the good works He prepared for us to do. No longer do I need to strive in my own power, my own wisdom and knowledge. He has gone before me and prepared the way.

This good, good news of the cross and His love and grace over me, frees me to rest. Rest in Him.

by the lake

Dear momma, find your rest in  Him. Allow Him to reveal His grace to you. Be filled with His unconditional love. Rest in His everlasting river of mercy. He loves you so much. This year, begin your new patterns of grace.

Humbling Through Homeschool

We often receive curious looks and questions when people learn that we went from being fully emerged in public school to being fully emerged in our homeschool.  We were in the thick of public school. Not only were our two children in public school from kindergarten on, but I was teaching public school, and loving it. I loved my students.  I loved their families. I loved putting myself into helping my students succeed. I loved forming relationships with my students. I found so much fulfillment in teaching them.

“Why would you leave that?” is the question that follows the skeptical looks.

The Lord made it clear that it was time for a change. Our family followed in obedience. You can read more about that decision here: Overcoming School

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First Day of Ostreim Academy 2016

I mistakenly thought the decision to follow in obedience and begin homeschool was the lesson. I didn’t realize that with each passing week, it was me that was receiving an ongoing lesson.

I am the teacher, right? But, the Holy Spirit is my teacher. What’s on the lesson plan on a weekly basis? Humility.

Again, Lord? Humility again?

Yes. As I read through chapter 6 of Galatians, the lesson plan is clear. The application to me as my child’s instructor, is clear.

Galatians 6:3-4,  For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

Since beginning homeschooling my children about 18 months ago, the lessons for me have come at a rapidfire pace. Lessons on spending less money due to going down to one income. Lessons on the importance of teaching my children the Word. Lessons on being more flexible on how our day is structured. Lessons on the unique learning styles of my children. But one consistent lesson that has remained from day one until now is humility.

Who knew that homeschooling was going to bring even more growth to me than for my children?

I love Paul’s straightforward approach. My paraphrase, “If you think you are something, you are wrong!”

Sitting down to help my husband with a tax document, these verses came alive for me and my lesson on humility glared at me straight in the face.

“We just need to create a table for these expenses. We will fill in these totals and then total these columns. The total for this row will go there,” my husband rattles off the instructions.

I stare at the document in his hand. Then back at the computer screen. A full minute must have passed before I managed to say, “What?”

Riffling through his papers, he halfway mumbles, “What? What part are you saying what to?”

“The whole thing. What do you want me to do?” my head hurts at the same time as being completely blank.

He continues on with a longer explanation and my brain slowly begins to engage enough to know how to at least begin the task.

Creating the empty columns and rows and titles begins to flow. I am doing okay until it’s time to start entering information.

“Enter this number here,” he requests.

Okay, I can do that.

“Now total this section here,” he continues.

Uh oh. The glazing over is back. What? Where did he say to put the number? What number goes there? I am hesitant to ask my questions. He’s going to groan in frustration, right? At least show a small annoyance that I am not understanding.

I am expecting that reaction because that’s what I do. When the girls are not understanding a direction or a problem on their math. It’s just about impossible to answer without showing at least some sign that I am frustrated. I just gave the direction. They couldn’t possibly need me to say it again.

Now my distraction working with my husband has nothing to do with my lack of understanding but it has everything to do with the Lord showing me my less than humble attitude when teaching my children.

Oh, Lord, you are right. I am waiting on a sharp word from my husband or a sigh of frustration, because those are behaviors I have when teaching my girls. 

This prideful attitude didn’t just appear. It’s been here all along. It didn’t get exercised on a daily basis prior to homeschooling. It also didn’t get refined prior to homeschooling.

My words of disappointment or my groans of frustration are telling my children that I really think I am something.

Further down in Galatians, Paul continues, And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9.

During morning chores and Bible time, grace-filled words ring from my tongue. Warm greetings and compliments come easy at the beginning of the day.

Hours into the morning, when blood sugars are running low, the to-do list is piling up along with the dishes, and the push and pull of the world is heavy at work, weariness sets in. Where a soft tone once was, now there’s a growing volume to my voice. Where patience was once in abundance, now hastiness is creeping in. Where encouraging words once flowed, now a sharp tongue is heard.

It’s at this point in our day when my weariness in doing good has set in and my pride, my thinking I am really something, has heightened.

My futile attempts to do good at this point are just that, futile. I have turned my back on the grace the Lord so lavishly bestows on me and I am walking in my own prideful flesh.

Time for some more restoration. Mending of my brokenness. Filling of the Spirit.

Time for the incredible reminder that God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8.

If that doesn’t bring the necessary humbling, what will?

Dear Lord, thank you for your lessons. Thank you for your refinement. Thank you for never leaving me the same as I was yesterday. And, Lord, my loving Heavenly Father, thank you for your abundance of grace raining over me. 

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