For By Grace

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Your grace, let it surround me,
Let faith change the atmosphere. – Remember, The Passion

Ephesians 2:8-9
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.

2 Corinthians 12:9

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Some days I find myself counting time relative to Kreade outgrowing his colic. Today I know so much more about why that first year of his life was so hard. More than a physical ailment, infant colic is often linked to temperament. Do I think that he suffered from tummy aches and discomfort for 11 months? Maybe. Do I think that his inherent personality contributed to his symptoms? For sure. Because most days even now Kreade can be difficult to live with.

Those days of waking up every 2-3 hours to nurse him  morning and night for eleven months straight seem so long ago. But I can never forget them. Those days of crying and bouncing and attempting to soothe will always stay with me. When Kreade cries now, at two years of age, all of the memories come flooding back.

And he is still so passionate in everything he does. Instead of tantruming because he wants to nurse, he tantrums in the grocery store when he has to sit in the shopping cart. Instead of crying because he couldn’t communicate what he needed or wanted as an infant, he still cries because language has been slow to come for him and we still don’t know what he needs or wants.

Honestly, I still wonder if he will ever make it one whole day without crying. It’s almost like his preferred method of communication. Like his emotions are just so overwhelming for things big and things that I perceive as small he just handles them by crying. He is all in or all out. Either screaming “Bye! Love you!” at the top of his lungs and being heard two miles away, or screaming “Nooooooooooo!” because he doesn’t want to leave and being heard four miles away.

It’s either Kreade’s way or no way. I wish that I could describe to you the volume, passion, and intensity of his tantrums. Which happen probably at least every hour that he is awake. And then there are his snuggles and hugs and kisses. He hugs with such effort and passion – you never want him to stop. He is the best hugger I know (except maybe for his Pa, could be that’s where he gets it from).

Some days he won’t eat because, well, because he doesn’t want to. Or because you gave him the wrong fork, not his Lightning McQueen fork. And he is so totally thrown off by this poor choice on your end he can’t calm down enough to even realize you quickly washed the Lightning fork and put it in his hand. Instead, he just keeps screaming and you skip straight to nap time and save lunch for when he wakes up.

I’ve never met a child like Kreade. And I have met a lot of children. I don’t think that there are many children out there like him. And he is already so misunderstood. I’ve gotten some nasty stares in the grocery store. And I’m sure that there are family and friends that think we are “spoiling” him. After all, he is two and really shouldn’t be crying so much all of the time. And while I’m sure that there are some things we could do better with him, I’d invite anyone who thinks we have created a naughty kid to spend a day with him. It’s not always that he means to be troublesome (although sometimes his intent is clear), he just is so different. Again, I wish that I could explain it. But those of you who have children who are passionate, spirited, and high-needs know exactly what I am talking about. Normal kids function on 100% and spirited kids function on 500%. No kidding.

And I refuse to completely break that spirit, because someday it is going to be such a good trait. He’ll go far, that boy, and do great things. Because he doesn’t take no for an answer and has the passion of probably a thousand suns, literally pouring his heart into everything he does. If you stop for a minute and block out the screams and tears and difficulty of the situation, your heart will realize the beauty of spirited children.

I wish that I was better at realizing the beauty in it all. But most days I still feel like I’m hanging on by a thread.

Parenting any child is hard and tiring. Parenting a spirited child is exhausting. EXHAUSTING! Exhausting!

Yesterday was a particularly rough day. it was rainy, and I was busy, and Kreade was extra loud and passionate (as in, running around with the slats I was trying to paint for his toddler bed hitting his sister on the head and laughing like he was at a Broadway show). I yelled and threatened and was so frustrated with him I almost cried.

Somedays, Kreade leaves me feeling like I’ll never be good enough.

I’ve been reading this book that my father in law let me borrow. I personally think that everyone should read it. I’ve been in tears through most of it. The stories of redemption and being saved from drug and other addictions by the love of Jesus are nothing short of a miracle. And they are beautiful, beautiful stories. The work that Teen Challenge does is amazing. I became interested in the subject of addiction after learning in one of my secular psychology classes that religious based addiction programs are significantly more effective than any other secular programs. Since then, this topic has really been on my heart.

And I love the stories.

These people have led hard lives. Lives fraught with doubt, anger, hardship, hopelessness, fear, regret… But it’s the hopelessness that stands out to me. And yet, one by one they finish their stories with voices that exude hope. As a reader, you can’t help but wonder how such an adverse life experience can end with a life full of hope.

It’s because of grace.

Grace: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their sanctification :  a virtue coming from God :  a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace : approval, favor, mercy, pardon.

I often wish that I had more of a ‘story’ to narrate my own life. It’s not that I am jealous of the hardship and heartbreak that these recovered addicts experienced. But I have often wished that I really knew just what I was saved from.

I don’t believe there is any greater way to understand and comprehend grace and forgiveness than to recover from addiction because of Jesus. Reading their stories causes me to look at Him with such awe for the exceptional act that grace in their lives is.

Approved of. Favored by. Extended mercy. Pardoned by God.

And while I do not have the experiences of an addict, I think that parenting might be the runner up when it comes to understanding and comprehending grace.

Not only do we, as Christian parents, have the privilege to extend grace to our children, we do so knowing that we ourselves have been covered in His grace.

Tried really hard but still had a bad day? Ended up yelling at your kids? Feeling exhausted and unworthy to be a parent? Feeling overwhelmed? Want to give up? Feeling bad that a choice or action or something you should have done but forgot to do is going to result in something catastrophic happening to your child as in maybe he will get chicken pox because I scheduled his immunization a month after the recommended time-frame or maybe she is going to catch a cold because I didn’t use the shopping cart cover in the grocery store and I really just feel like I suck at this whole parenting thing.

Grace.

No matter how much we mess up. No matter how much of a failure we think we are. No matter how inadequate we view ourselves as.

Grace.

Because He knows we are doing the best that we can.

You are favored by Him. You are approved of by Him. Mercy is extended to you by Him.

Even when your spirited two year old is screaming in the grocery store because you didn’t get to the race car shopping cart fast enough.

You are pardoned by Him.

All because of Grace.

So let’s remember that His grace is sufficient for us tired and weary parents. And that His strength is made perfect in our weakest moments – the ones where we just want to throw in the towel (or leave the grocery store crying along with our tantruming child).

And let’s remember that the POWER of Christs rests upon us.

And we can do this parenting thing!

Romans 5:19-21 NKJV

19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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The Boy I Never Wanted…

“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.” J.M. Barrie

“For each of us there is only one thing necessary: to fulfill our own destiny, according to God’s will, to be what God wants us to be. ” Thomas Merton

We all have them. Preconceived notions. Dreams about how life will be. Expectations. Desires.

And we never stop to think that life might turn out to be different than what we expect it to be. Different than what we imagined.

But reality suggests something different than our delusional expectations and oblivious wanderings down the road that we call life.

And then it hits us in the face. Like an acorn falling off a tree. Or a slap in the face. Faster than we could ever dream.

Harder than we could ever believe.

Our first baby was perfect. Looking back, she was probably as close to the perfection of baby Jesus as you could get without actually being Jesus. And we wandered through life, oblivious to reality, and enjoying our delusional wanderings. Dreaming of the next baby, hoping God would give us a boy…further adding to that picture of perfection: a boy and a girl. What could be better?

I always dreamed that I would have a baby boy. Having all sisters, it was hard not to. I always wanted a brother. And there was definitely a piece of my heart that longed for a son. You know, that sweet little baby boy face. With the perfect newborn pictures with sports themed props. That sweet little baby boy that would wear all of those adorable baby boy clothes that I had been googling over for years… The boy who would finally give me what I wanted for so long. A sidekick. A new, exciting adventure. The final piece in my picture of perfection. The boy I always dreamed of. The boy I always wanted.

But dreams are hardly reality.

And sometimes you get exactly the opposite of what you wish for.

Sometimes you get the boy you never wanted.

The cranky, screaming little ball of fury and rage that is more like a parasite than a sidekick. The one that screams loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear if you put him down God forbid for two seconds. The boy who is anything but sweet. The boy who is so hard to love, that your heart stops longing. The one that throws up on, and hates wearing all of the adorable clothes. The boy that is a horrendous adventure, your worst nightmare, and anything but perfection. The boy of my nightmares. The boy I never wanted.

And even when the incessant crying stops, more challenges arise. Now instead of screaming during mommy potty breaks we have moved to blood curdling screams throughout the entire grocery store. Terrifying screams in public places filled with people. Tantrums and meltdowns over the slightest stimuli. And don’t even mention the church nursery…I can’t remember the last time I was able to listen to an entire sermon.

He is what you call a high-needs child. For some reason, one that I still can’t understand, God gave him this temperament.

He was born with it and will live with it for the rest of his life. That’s just how temperament goes – it is stable over the lifespan.

I always wondered what it would be like to have a child with ADHD.

I think that I could have handled that.

I don’t handle the stares in the grocery stores. The admonishing looks as he is half pulling down my shirt our of sheer rage that I won’t let him swipe the credit card while simultaneously chucking a package of baby yogurt because he doesn’t want to put it on the belt. I have cried a few tears in the privacy of my euro-car many times after grocery store experiences. People just don’t understand. They don’t care. And they don’t want to.

And I worry so much that he is going to be totally misunderstood his entire life.

I mean, it took me 18 months of his life to finally understand him. To figure him out. 18 months of day in and day out to finally “know” this boy. So how will others every understand? And how will they ever come to appreciate his temperament for what it is?

Because the reality of the boy I never wanted is this: he was the boy I needed.

Other things I might have understood. I might have dealt with better. But I never would have grown.

Because God has a way of taking our plans and re-writing them to accomplish His plans. His plans in which we actually experience growth, instead of delusions of perfection.

Because we are not perfect. And neither is life.

And maybe Kreade will be misunderstood all of his life. His passion might be mistaken for behavioral problems. The feelings he feels so much more intensely than you or I may get him into trouble throughout his life. His energy might be a challenge in so many settings.

But he is the boy that I needed. The boy his daddy needed. The boy his sister needed.

The boy the world needed.

The boy that God wanted.

And his name will serve as a reminder. A guiding principle or belief. No matter what people think of him, he is loved. And God has a plan for this passionate, energetic, intensely feeling child. And he will be what God wants him to be.

Kreade, I want you always to remember that even though I never wanted a boy like you…I am so thankful that God gave you to us. Seeing the world through your passionate eyes is an experience that words really cannot describe. Everything is so much brighter in your eyes, so much more exciting, and so much more beautiful. You were the boy we needed. The boy who has taught us so many things – to trust, to let go of perfection, to breath.

I want you to know that God understands you and has created you with a purpose in mind. Use your passion to show the world His love. Use your energy for His glory. Use your intensity to be great for Him.

And if you feel as if others view who you are as anything less than perfect…remember this:

“”My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly will I rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 

Because the world may view your temperament as an infirmity, as I once did. But now I understand…God views it as a strength.

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