The mighty marvel of miraculous grace

I’ve been a real doozy lately.

Actually I take that back. I’ve been a real doozy except for a couple of Jesus-y hours on Friday when all of my kids were at school and my schedule was open and the sun was out and it was payday. I was a 21st century Mother Teresa for those two hours, as I often am when I have Vitamin D, cash in my pocket and zero responsibilities. I smile incessantly, even to the very animated driver blowing past me with a finger out his window as I enjoy the slow lane - what passionate bumper stickers you have, fine sir! I giggle at the ferocious dog hoping to devour my ankles as we cross paths along the sidewalk - what a cute little darling! I pick up litter I find in the parking lot - the butt of a Marlboro Red - how retro!

{I don't even think that Jesus picked up litter. I'm just saying.}

So that was Friday. Morning. Before 10am. And then there were all the other times.

Like the time this week that I turned coward with a dear friend and said, “I quit” instead of, “I am struggling.” And the time I rudely declined an invitation of generous hospitality because my Ali-centered agenda would be compromised. Or the time I bitterly returned an unexpected deposit that was mistakenly made into our checking account from a former employer. The time I prioritized vanity, spending longer in front of the mirror than my usual wash-and-go look because of the company I anticipated. All the times I numbed surfacing emotions with food rather than feeling what is hard to feel for the sake of healing. The times I made decisions hoping to garner Ali-attention behind a costume of false-humility.

Then add seventeen more pages to this list and that equals my week. So I guess you could say I’ve been a real treat - quite the poster child for sainthood. Except the opposite of that.

For a whole two hours a week when my life leaves me the heck alone, I'm a delightful peach, and then there are the other 166 hours - when the pressures of life build and instead of smiling, I’m the ferocious dog trying to bite ankles. (Minus when I’m sleeping. I’m a very good Christian when I’m sleeping. So long as my husband’s not snoring and the kids stay in their own beds and I don’t have to get up to pee, ah, never mind.)

I haven’t yet figured out how to align the stressors of my life with those two perfect hours each week, though I’ve tried - oh how I’ve tried. Mostly by making the stressors disappear, but my magic wand must be defective and people sort of frown at you when you forget to pick up your kids from school. So I’m learning that the way to best work through this thing called life is to bring a bit of that Jesus-y stuff into the stress.

At least I can say I tried.

Everyday I wake up, often spending an hour quiet and alone, anchoring my soul with God through prayer and writing. This time gifts me a posture of gratitude as I begin the morning routine, rousing kiddos from sleep and supporting them as they prepare for their day. My before-sunrise ritual breeds a fruitful morning of patience and peace and gentleness. There are a lot of "sweeties" and "honeys" and "it's okay, love, I'll clean it up for you."


Oh I get up early alright, and I miraculously find the discipline to spend in silence with my Jesus, journaling and prayer. I so desperately need that sacred space by which to launch myself each morning. But what in the wild world is wrong with me that I launch from hakuna matata and somehow land in CAN EVERYONE PLEASE JUST SHUT UP?  

Not even minutes after I have climbed the mountain of connection with the divine, I am thrusted into the role of chaos conductor in which we forcefully cram one hour into thirty very bossy minutes that feels like fifteen seconds. There is sighing and yelling and huffing and puffing. Eyes roll. Doors slam. Feet stomp. I say "are you kidding me" at least 78 times. It's all very not patient nor peaceful, and it leaves me begging “Why must gentleness even be a virtue to obtain?” Really God, gentleness? Surely that was a typo.

By the end of the first hour of the morning, I'm a complete asswipe. Whatever serenity now met me before the sun came up is instantly erased when my soft whisper, "Good morning, it's time to get up" is met with, "MOM TURN OFF THE LIGHTS AND GO AWAY I HATE EVERYONE." 

And yet by some miracle of God, my kids still walk out the front door 30 minutes later no longer yelling. They speak kindly to me and form the words "I love you" as they head to the bus stop. THEY TELL ME THEY LOVE ME OH MY GOD HOW?

And it's not just the kids. Each morning after I've already sprinted through a marathon of disgrace, the husband pulls me into his big shoulders and squeezes me small (which is not easy to do thanks to donuts), and he softly speaks I love you as he kisses my forehead. 

What in the what is happening?

I don’t even know how to walk one inch without stepping in my own stink and yet somehow I don’t smell like pig crap (wait, I don't, do I?) I’m a royal basket case and these people, they love me anyway. Or maybe I've bred a family of liars, but the consistency of the "I love yous" has me convinced that there really is a miracle at work in my house each and every doggone day. I don't deserve these humans but here they are, so full of love for this mess of a mom and wreck of a wife. Something supernatural must be unfolding for them to really love this doozy of a woman.

No matter how hard I try, I can't get that Jesus-y stuff to stay on just right. But that's just it. The mighty marvel of grace is that Jesus shows up anyway. What an extraordinary phenomenon - the glorious goodness of amazing grace picks up the lousy litter and swine manure of my broken life and shows up big, bright and bold in spite of me. Now that's Jesus-y! And that is grace, y'all!

First day of school 2018, at the bus stop. Grace upon grace upon grace upon grace.

First day of school 2018, at the bus stop. Grace upon grace upon grace upon grace.