Where Grace Abounds

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
My mother used to read us “One Minute Bedtime Stories”…. it was a collection of short tales.  Most of which had a moral to the story.
“The Boy Who Called Wolf”
“Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch”…and then the one that made no sense to me as a child…..but has become remarkably clear this past week….

Want to find this book again! 🙂

The story goes……a man lived in a house much too small with 5 children, a nagging wife, and a leaky faucet.
On the verge of insanity from the noise and clamor, he sought the counsel of an old wise man about what could be done of all the strife and chaos in his home.

The wise old man kindly instructed him to bring inside from his yard his pig, his chicken and his cow.  

Confused, the young man went home and did as he was told.
For three days, he endured the added noise, mess, pooping creatures, shedding fur and activity in his home before he returned to the old man in complete frustration.  
“Old man” he said, “what have you done?  My house is a disaster, there is no room to lie down and sleep and the noise is deafening”!

The wise old man then instructed him to go home and put his cow, his pig and his chicken back in the yard.

After doing so, the man was amazed at the peace and quiet in his home.  Suddenly this children didn’t seem so loud, his wife seemed more pleasant and the leaky faucet provided a lovely “white noise” to the ambiance of their home.

While (I would like to believe) C has never had a day in his life with a nagging wife 🙂 (ha!), we do in fact have a couple leaks and our apartment often seems busting at the seams with our two-legged-treasures.  At times I feel stir crazy remembering the days I could simply open the back door and usher them out to the wide woods and vast lake to run off (or swim off) some steam.

This week, we’ve been blessed to have a multitude of houseguests, colleagues and family visiting.  In and out our doors.  Many pots of coffee.  Tour-guiding (as its always an excuse to see parts of Bangkok when we have guests).  Wonderful, encouraging fellowship and conversations.  And a bit of furniture rearranging and bed changes.
Its been a full house.  Full hearts.  Full days!

Which is why tonight, Im finding myself a bit at a loss with the eerie peace and quiet that is mine.
You see…I only have 4 children right now.
Only 4!!
(perspective is everything, huh?)

Our guests have departed for the week until they return Friday.  And C on a whim, decided to take Evie and Gigi with him to a conference for 2 nights.  His mom is there as well so its a great way for the little girls to get some time with him in this crazy season of travel….and to play with grandma!
Homework with the big kids with no two-year-old dinner time hissy fits to interrupt concentration.
Really weird!
I don’t think Ive EVER been in my own home without a baby or a toddler in……years!

Dinner with 4 “big kids”.  No one needed me to cut their food.  No bib to put on or dumped bowls of rice to clean off the floor.  Everyone bathed and got themselves ready for bed.  They independently got their own drinks and brushed their own teeth.  No one “needed” me.
I felt naked.  Useless.  Lost.
I was inclined to curl up in the fetal position and rock on the floor.
But settled for something far more dignified to cope with my disorientation…..
I ate nutella.
From the jar.
…with a spoon.

I did some paperwork after dinner and found it remarkably odd to not have my two year old underfoot ripping my print-offs from the printer and smearing the not-yet-dried ink with her eager hands to help.  My youngest at home tonight is a wee 7 years old and Im already feeling a tinge of “empty-nest-syndrome”.

C and I used to joke when the twins were tiny, that we didn’t understand why people stressed about their first baby.  Because certainly, having twins had to be seven times harder than having a singleton, right? 🙂
But then I shift and I look at Michelle Duggar and can. not. imagine!!!
My life is a cakewalk!!

Perspective.  Its all perspective!

When people occasionally say to me, “I don’t know how you do it“, I usually have to laugh and sincerely respond in kind.  More often than not, I don’t think I could “walk a mile in their shoes”.  Because honestly, God calls each of us to shoulder burdens that He alone can give us grace for, which others around us can’t imagine carrying!  I look at the single mom.  The career woman.  The friend patiently waiting for God to bring her a husband.  The mom to special-needs kids.  The “Hannah’s” longing for a child and struggling through infertility.  The wife whose husband has been unfaithful. The moms who have said goodbye to babies far too early.  I look at all of their lives and can’t imagine walking their shoes.
I see you ladies and I salute you!!
Your toils feel like a thankless job at times, I know.
Your steadfastness and virtue go seemingly overlooked too often.
Your weary soul tires in persevering through tiring days and sleepless nights with tear-stained pillows!
But He sees and your faithfulness to what He has called you to and it does not go unnoticed!

There is nothing extraordinary about my life friends!  I feel extremely humbled when people make awed references to me being a mom of 6 kids, living overseas as a missionary wife.  Because very frankly, those are the things God has given me grace to do.  There is no badge of honor that Ive done anything to earn.  He’s instilled in me a love for travel and adventure.  The thought of moving to a foreign country is far less frightening to me than the thought of being a full-time working mom…or of having my husband shipped off with the military….or of dealing with a handicap in a child.
You amazing mommas take those things in stride.

My upbringing with 10 brothers and sisters equipped me for life with many small children.  I love hospitality….having people in our home….having our house full of kids and noise and guests.
Do I get overwhelmed?  Absolutely.
But its a role I feel uniquely suited for and equipped through a strength that is not my own.  
At this present moment, God has not equipped me to support a spouse through terminal health issues.
He has not called me to trust Him through a major financial crisis.
He has not prepared me to deal with a chronic relational stress.
But for some of you, that is the road He has asked you to walk.

2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound one very good work. 

We’re not so different you and I.
Both grasping for grace….
Friends, I think we each waste a lot of time looking at iconic women around us and feeling like we don’t measure up.  The spiritual supermodel.  The homeschooling mom.  The Pinterest-party Martha Stewarts who install temporary lighting for her child’s 4th birthday that we all secretly despise. 🙂
Do we spend more time feeling inadequate about who we want to be, rather than embracing who God has equipped us to be?  We, every one of us, have situations unique to us that God is beckoning us to fall on His grace for.
Maybe he has not led you to parent six kids….and He’s not led me to minister to a husband burnt out in his job.  But its the same grace we both fall on!
The pedestals have to be taken down.  Calling.  Obedience.  Walking in Grace.  They are there for each of us in beautifully unusual and diverse forms.

Someday, nights like tonight are going to be my “norm”.
There will be a lot more time and a lot less mess.  But grace will be needed for that season as well.
Someday Ill need grace for an empty nest…..and Im sure there will be a lot of Nutella consumed when that sad day arrives.
That same “grace thats brought me safe thus far” will continue to lead me Home.
May His grace abound in each of our lives as we humbly walk the path He’s prepared before us….not looking to the right or the left in comparison…wishing anthothers grace could be ours…but trusting our grace gifts from God, perfectly suited for our individual needs, heartaches, passions and pursuits.

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