grace under fire

I spent all day rejecting grace, until it burst into flames. 

I was in the darkest depths of not living up to my own pre-Thanksgiving expectations when my husband yelled out “FIRE!” 

The day before turkey day, furiously washing dishes at the sink while murmuring my frustrations about everything going wrong, his shout caught my attention and I whipped around to see that in fact there was a fire. In our oven. That I had started while angrily deciding at the last minute that I was going to bake a pecan pie. It’s my grandmother’s recipe, a family tradition, what’s one more thing? 

Except I was already bubbling with internal pressure. The weight of my to-do list was an Instapot of emotions about to burst. Hosting Thanksgiving while also mothering a toddler and breastfeeding a baby, going to THREE different stores to find ham hocks for the green bean recipe, coordinating multiple families about arrival times and side dishes…

My social media feed was brimming with words of encouragement about not worrying about the perfect holiday and how important it is to be present with family instead. But instead I became a frantic madwoman trying to do it all and basically failing at everything. The rolls I attempted from scratch ended up tasting like gummy biscuits. The more I cleaned the more I saw a need for more cleaning. The washer started leaking. I ignored all the nice platitudes about giving yourself grace and started seething at my inability to do anything right.

 I was not in a place that was willing to pray or look to God. I knew I should, I knew my priorities were screwy, but I was deliberate in my stubborn ways. I chose to stew and ruminate and continue to get more flustered. And that’s when the sticky contents of the pie spilled over to the bottom of the oven. 

Upon seeing that I had in fact started a fire, thankfully I reacted quickly. Thankfully the expandable sink faucet could reach the flames and the fire was put out fairly easily. Thankfully my husband was in the other room and saw the light of the fire. Thankfully our biggest problem afterwards was cleaning up a smoke filled, puddled pile of burnt corn syrup and not anything more serious. Thankfully my husband extends me grace far more often than I ever offer it to myself. And thankfully our toddler now thinks I’m some kind of hero because I put out a fire while he watched in amazement. 

I was a total brat leading up to the night before Thanksgiving. But with this forceful shift in perspective I can now prepare my heart for true gratitude, an acceptance of grace, and a slightly tinged slice of pie.

Laps in the kitchen

I know God hears me as I pace the kitchen at 3:00 in the morning, my newborn son nestled against my chest in the stretchy knit of a baby wrap. It’s become our new routine, me groggy from a few weeks that have felt like one never-ending day, He faithful and encouraging.

I feel His presence wrap around me like the sling in which my sweet baby has found peace. It’s not lost on me that like this baby so desperately needs to be settled down after a period of fussing and crying, I so desperately need these late night hours with God to be soothed by the one who loves me unconditionally.

As baby and I circle the kitchen island for the seventeenth time, He’s here. He’s with me while I silently exclaim my simultaneous gratitude, exhaustion, praise, and worry. I know He hears me while I mumble worship songs as lullabies, hushed so as not to wake the rest of the house.

It’s become the only stillness in my day in a time when honestly I’m just trying to survive…

my C-section recovery, the wound still raw and sore

our first born still grappling with how rocked his little world has become

my husband still scrambling to support me when more often than not he’s unsure how

and this tiny, precious, little miracle, still adjusting to life outside the warm embrace of the womb…

Nothing is figured out. Nothing is cohesive. Nothing seems certain. Nothing, that is, apart from my date with God at 3:00 AM.

He settles me down and walks me around, hushing and swaying in a soothing rhythm. He’s reminding me that though sleeplessness is circumstantial, His faithfulness is forever. And in hearing Him, we walk on.

He needed it more

It had been a day. The demanding, whining, limit pushing kind of day. The counting down until bedtime kind of day. You know, where you start fantasizing about how you’ll spend your time once the kids are asleep? It was about forty minutes before bedtime, a Netflix marathon of Great British Baking Show dangling right in front of me, when I realized our toddler needed a bath. 

There was no way we could push it back another night, we had already stretched those limits as it were. I started dreading the task, fully knowing he would fight it. I was low on energy and not sure I could summon the patience needed to pull this off. 

I started thinking about how much I needed some self care, a bubble bath perhaps. After the day I had, I really needed a luxurious way to unwind and reset my mind. Then I looked at my sweet boy, genuinely struggling with his own emotions and burnout, and realized he needed it more. 

He had been fighting a virus that kicked his butt all week. His energy was drained and his emotions high. He didn’t know that eventually he would feel like himself again, all he knew was in this moment he felt crappy and it might be like this forever. 

Moreover, his teething baby brother was consuming most of mom’s attention and time. His tank was running on empty, and the only way he could express that was through outbursts and tantrums. As the adage goes, “he wasn’t giving me a hard time, he was having a hard time.” 

We often meet our children’s nasty attitude with reaction rather than empathy. But in that moment I realized my ugliest moments are often met with God’s strongest grace. And while I would have loved a spa worthy bubble bath experience, he needed it more.

He helped gather all the necessary supplies: bath bomb, candles, bubbles, a relaxing playlist. We dimmed the lights. I even dug around in his closet for the soft robe he got for Christmas last year. He practiced smelling the bath bomb’s fragrance as it disintegrated into the water. It was altogether adorable and a little ridiculous. It was certainly ‘extra,’ but that’s also my little guy, he’s as extra as they come. 

Eventually the mellow music was replaced by the Lion King soundtrack and the bubbles were popped with a splashing gusto, but for a few minutes our guest bathroom was transformed into a luxury spa. And after that bath, wrapped up in his robe and towel twisted atop his head, he smiled and hugged me. He may have needed that do-over, but I needed it more.