Today, as I begin to type this, it’s December 18th. Seven days until Christmas. I started planning Christmas in September. How to make a few extra dollars for holiday spending. What gifts would be meaningful for our children and others we love. What activities we would pick to celebrate the season. What I would cook for the people coming into our home. I was ready to enjoy and embrace this season. And today? Right now? I’m sitting in the driveway with three sick sleeping children. The first one came down with an eye infection on December 3rd, and here we are. Sleepless nights. Runny noses. Fevers burning. We missed the teddy bear tea and the Santa visit. Instead we rocked and wiped tears and gave medicine at all hours. We missed family pizza night and gift exchange with aunts and uncles and cousins. Instead we scheduled sick visits and picked up prescriptions and paid co pays. We missed the Christmas concert and our date and all the parties. Instead we gave midnight sips of water to pitiful coughing babies and took temperatures and rocked some more. It hasn’t been what we planned. No magic. No occasions to wear the precious matching Christmas dresses that I bought months ago. No lights. No holiday treats. No shopping trips. And now? Seven days until Christmas? When we’ve all but missed it? Grace.
My beautiful and divinely perfect word I picked as my word of the year way back in January. Grace. Before I knew the challenges and the triumphs this year would bring. Before I knew how plans would crumble and intentions would fall short. Before I could have ever imagined the joyful and the devastating news this year would bring, God whispered Grace into my heart. Before I knew. He knew.
This year, new life burst into the world renewing my faith in miracles. Because nothing is more miraculous than a new baby. Fearfully and wonderfully made. A miracle. Every time. A true wonder of His love. And His grace.
And also, though? This year, lives were lost in the most devastating and heart wrenching ways. Thrusting my family into grief and change. Breaking our hearts. And changing us forever. And He wept with me. In His grace, Jesus wept.
And He knew there would also be a million little moments when I would call out for grace. In the mundaneness of life. When the smallest things feel so big in the moment. When dinner overflows in the oven and makes a burnt and smoky mess while the kids cry for dinner. When I struggle to find the courage to back away from a commitment that isn’t working for my family. When I just can’t get it together for a Selah group to launch and I have to call it off. When a blowout diaper happens (every week) in the library parking lot. When I am covered in spit up and burning with fever from mastitis, and the doorbell rings. When every child is screaming and I look at Jordan and leave the room. And while we’re at it - when my two year old’s poop rolls across my sister’s living room floor and stops by her mother in law. Being a new mom of three? God knew I needed to learn to give and receive a lot of grace this year.
Grace for myself - one mama to three children. Loving them my hardest. Doing my very best for them every day. Sometimes falling short. But always trying hard. And that is enough.
And grace for my girls, tiny and wobbly in this great big world. Looking for guidance and love and kindness. Learning to give grace as they receive it.
Grace for my husband, quietly there keeping us all together. Encouraging me. Pouring into the girls. Doing his best. Truly.
And grace for my fellow mamas. Working. Stay at home. Messy. Neat. Mismatched. Monogrammed. So many differences between us, but our love flows strong and deep. And that’s enough. Mamas? It’s enough.
And then, grace for those whose stories I don’t know. Who may seem lost or angry or alone, but who need grace. To heal. To believe in good again. To see God in how they are treated. Grace for them, too.
And now? Six days until Christmas as I finish writing this post? Grace brings me home. To finish the year. To help me embrace a Christmas season so unlike what I planned. We’ve missed all the festivities. We haven’t even seen Santa yet. But we’ve seen God. When Raines brings Mae a blanket because she’s shivering with fever. It’s grace. And when Mae brings me water because I’m coughing uncontrollably. It’s grace. And when Jordan holds Bonnie half the night because she doesn’t want to be put down. It’s all beautiful grace. It’s God.
This year has made me really consider the days before Jesus was born. Nothing was going according to plan for Mary and Joseph. They couldn’t even get a room where they could have their baby. But somehow, in the middle of the chaos, when everything was going wrong, God appeared in His perfect timing. And it was all as it should be.
So as the days tick away in 2018? And I think back on the year? Maybe it was the year that nothing went according to plan. Right down to a sick and sniffling Christmas. Chaotic. Exhausting. Devastating. Different from how I ever imagined. Or maybe? It was the year God appeared in His perfect timing. Amidst the chaos. And showed me His grace. Over and over. And everything is as it should be.