G. R. A. C. E.

My glimpse of grace.

My glimpse of grace.

Lately I've been seeing this word a lot. GRACE. It's such a nice sounding word and I've heard it my whole life but don't feel that I've ever truly grasped it's meaning. It's also a popular name, in fact, it was almost CC's name until a person I know named her baby Grace.

God's GRACE. What's all the hype about? I didn't have some crazy conversion to my faith--I grew up in church, I accepted Jesus in my heart when I was 7 years old. I knew from a very young age that Jesus was the only way. Yes, I drifted throughout my adolescence, I sinned (and still do) as all people do, but I never went to rehab and/or relapsed on drugs, I never was much of a party girl, I didn't have an earth-shattering realization of God and His grace. It's freaks me out a little if I'm being completely honest because I think to myself sometimes, "oh my goodness, is something bad going to happen--am I going to fall flat on my face and do something awful in order for me to have this crazy grace moment?!" I've expressed this fear in the past to Rob and to other participants in a small group I was in at church and the general concensus was that I was blessed to have not had some crazy story and that I've still had moments in my life that have revealed the grace of God. This is very true but I still find myself peeking around the corner in angst at times. 

God's

Relief

At

Christ's

Expense

I looked up this acronym because I wondered if one existed already. Much like the acronym for FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) that I learned long ago, this acronym for grace helps me put God's character in a nutshell, as silly and impossible that pretty much is. Have you ever had a thought or a feeling that was so complex that it was so hard to dissect and put into words that made sense? That's grace for me. It's so vast and so complex to me that it's hard to pin point what exactly it means. This acronym simplifies it well for me because I tend to make things more complicated than they are sometimes. God's grace really is a simple concept if you truly think about it. It can be summed up to one word: sacrifice. God's relief at Christ's expense...Jesus, God's only Son was a living sacrifice to atone for all of our screwups, to put it bluntly. While this is a hard concept for me to accept after a lifetime of knowing Jesus, I feel that as I've gotten older and more spiritually mature, and as I'm now a parent myself, I'm slowly but surely beginning to understand grace better. As I've mentioned in a previous post, I have a bad habit of thinking of God as being a dictator, in that if I screw up, if I get frustrated and a not-so-nice word mutters out of my mouth, or if I completely lose it on my unruly 3-year-old, something bad is coming my way. One Hundred percent of the time, I immediately feel guilty and I apologize for my attitude and pray for forgiveness, still with the thought that I'm going to really get it from God. That isn't grace and it surely isn't how God works. I know this but yet I still struggle with truly knowing God's character. I'm a work in progress though. Grace, right?

I picked up a book at Target last week called Grace Not Perfection and whoa buddy was it written for me! You would think that God breathed the author, Emily Ley's, words right into her book because it basically encompasses the majority of my guilts, thoughts and prayers as of late. Even some of her stories are insanely parallel to my own, including a story about her surrendering her will and plan to God and how that happened through the birth of her first child. I too had a supernatural God moment in the birth of my second child, CC. Of course Bo was our miracle baby (as was CC but Bo was a whole different kind of miracle) but my entire pregnancy and then birth of CC did not go as planned at all and resulted in a much-feared, much-dreaded C-section where I literally had nothing to grasp but Jesus. I was laid out on an operating table, not able to move, praying in my head, "I trust you, Lord. Please don't let me die. I trust you, Lord", over and over. April 20, 2017 was a pivotal moment in my walk with God. I had set out on a journey months before, seeking to really know His character and boy did He show it! Even in my doubts and my sin, even in every ugly corner of my being, He showered me with grace.

I still struggle everyday with the concept of grace, I am super duper hard on myself and I drag myself through the mud but when I'm in the middle of giving myself a fat lip and a black eye because of one reason or another, I stop mid-punch and remember that Jesus paid it all already. I remember that God loves me (and you!) so much that He let His Son die a horrible death. He could have easily bypassed the death altogether, He could have plowed over the soldiers nailing His Son to the cross but He didn't. Why? Because He loves us that much. Because of His amazing grace.

PART II: Caught Between Two Worlds

I started 2016 reading, "the prayer of jabez: breaking through to the blessed life" by bruce wilkinson. the book made my heart skip a beat and put a pep in my step after such a dark several months. this piece was created during that new awakening season.

I started 2016 reading, "the prayer of jabez: breaking through to the blessed life" by bruce wilkinson. the book made my heart skip a beat and put a pep in my step after such a dark several months. this piece was created during that new awakening season.

Here I sit a week after writing my last post feeling the same as I did last week. I must admit I sat down last week and started writing as a way of venting and release but as I got underway with my story, my stress began to lift and my vent became a feeling of gratitude as I went back in my mind’s eye to the tangible blessings He’s given me.

So after a week of toddler throwdown tantrums, infant neediness, running from pillar to post with errands, and tidying the house, to being mentally overwhelmed trying to keep up with M+P social media, filling orders, and so on, I found myself frazzled and mentally spent this morning after church. I thought back to my last post and all that has taken place since Bo was born. All the ups and downs. All the unanswered prayers. All the answered prayers. All the tragedy. All the blessings.

Bo was such a happy baby and I just sort of stuck him to my hip and took him wherever I went (still do except now he can walk, thankfully, because he’s heavy), even to the basement to work on orders. He would play in his exercauser while I would sit on the cold basement floor, painting my signs by hand. I remember Rob’s uncle Frank came over during one of these painting sessions and snapped a picture with his phone. I was looking a hot mess in my paint clothes with Bo hanging out—I remember him telling me something about looking back on that picture someday and seeing where I started. Humble beginnings I guess?

When Bo was about 9 months old, Rob and I found out I was pregnant with baby #2. I wasn’t happy about it at all. I was so enraptured by Bo that I couldn’t fathom loving another baby like I did him and I swore he’d be the only child even though I always said I wanted 3 kids someday. It took me a while but I started to warm up to the idea of another child and as soon as I was really beginning to accept and embrace my second pregnancy, my world got rocked. I got a call from my cousin, Brittney, around 7 a.m. on July 15, 2015 that her little sister, Callie, had died at the age of 25. The circumstances around her death were so tragic, and too much to fully grasp and understand. I wanted to throw up when I hung up with Britt. Instead, I called my mom and my brother in tears to relay the message, then began to arrange for me and Bo to fly to Alabama to be with my family for the funeral arrangements. Rob stayed behind to work. Up until the day I found out about Callie’s death, I had started to think of baby names but nothing completely stuck, however as I reflected on all the times I had with her and the memories from my childhood, I shared with Rob that I thought it’d be nice to name the baby Callie if it was a girl. Unfortunately though, the day I got the call about my cousin was the day I started to miscarry that baby. That was a Wednesday—I had started to spot a little so I called my midwife’s office—they said to try and take it easy and not to lift anything heavy which was easier said that done since I would be traveling from New York to Alabama with an 11 month old and two layovers. The entire time I was in Alabama, the spotting continued and about two hours after I landed back in New York that Sunday, I was having a full-on miscarriage. It was not a fun process and I think the emotions of the previous days with my cousin’s funeral and traveling compacted the situation. I was sad and emotionally overwhelmed but more than anything, I felt guilty. I thought because I didn’t think I wanted more kids and because I didn’t embrace my pregnancy at first, that the miscarriage was my punishment and that God took the baby away because I didn’t want it bad enough. Of course I know God doesn’t work that way but at the time, I was really beating myself up about it. Eventually I healed from my miscarriage—physically and emotionally—it gave me a different outlook on some things and it opened my eyes to the potential of what God had in store for me. Bo turned a year old the following month, then we turned around and flew to South Carolina for my other cousin’s wedding that I helped decorate and coordinate. Life continued and I trucked along, juggling life and trying to really live and love each day even though I missed home. Shortly after Bo’s birthday, we found out I was pregnant again. This time I was still reluctant but really tried to push aside the thoughts I previously had when I was pregnant with baby #2. My brother and I had always been close and I wanted that for Bo, so I tried to keep that thought in the forefront of my mind. I was actually getting excited of the thought of Bo being a big brother because I could totally picture it and I knew he’d be the best big brother, especially to a sister—I don’t know why but I kept picturing him having a sister. From early on in my third pregnancy, I felt like I’d have a girl so again, I told Rob I wanted to use the name Callie if it was a girl. That November we made the trek from New York to Alabama for Thanksgiving and for my brother’s wedding. Before Thanksgiving dinner, I pulled my cousin Callie’s Mom, Sam, aside (Sam is my mom’s first cousin—their moms were sisters) and asked for her blessing to call our baby Callie if it were a girl and she tearfully said yes. The following Friday, December 4, 2015, I went to my midwife’s office for my 12 week sonogram. I went in thinking all was right with the world only to be sucker punched by the sonographer—she informed me that there was no heartbeat and that it appeared that the “fetus” had stopped growing at 9 weeks. Talk about a punch in the gut! I had Bo with me so I tried not to show much emotion because I didn’t want to upset him but inside, I could feel my heart aching. The doctor came in and explained what the next sequence of events would be as far as passing the baby because my body hadn’t naturally started the process. Two days later was the 5 year mark of me living in New York, the day that would have been my cousin, Callie’s 26th birthday, and the day that I was scheduled to attend my good friend Alex’s baby shower that I had helped decorate and organize. I left the shower and went home to start the medication that would make my body start miscarrying. I didn’t want to do it. My midwife said that I could take some time and see if maybe my body would start the process but that I didn’t need to be at home by myself when I did it which is why I had decided to do it when I did because Rob would be going to work the next morning. When the medication kicked in, the next several hours were filled with calls to the midwife, standing in the shower, towels, and praying for it to be over. I went back for another sonogram a few days later only to find out that I didn’t pass everything so I had to do another round of medication which left me in excruciating pain physically and emotionally. It took me 3 months to pass everything—I refused a D&C but that would have been the next step. Thank the Lord I didn’t have to go to that step because to me, they would have been even more emotionally trying. That February Alex had her baby at home—I remember that day like it was yesterday—I was so beyond excited for her but I kept having little breakdown moments where I’d be so happy but sobbing my eyeballs out. I finally got to her house to meet her baby boy, RayJ, and I had to leave before I could even hold him—I could barely get two words out before I’d be sobbing. I realized that day that I was finally truly mourning the losses I had. I knew that the first miscarriage I had, if the baby had survived, would be born within a few weeks of baby RayJ. That realization hit me like a ton of bricks that I wasn’t expecting. I held on to Bo tight and thanked God for him more than ever.

In June of 2016 I turned 30 and was ready to take on what God had for me next. I was ready for a new start and a breath of fresh air but had no idea I was about to enter a dry desert—wow the cactus flowers that popped up though!—it’s amazing the beauty you can find in a desert place when you’re clinging to Jesus. 

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