Sunday, March 23, 2014

Refreshing Grace

Two weeks ago I got the AMAZING opportunity to attend an adoption retreat. It is called Created for Care, and it was 450 adoptive moms at a beautiful location for a weekend of refreshment, encouragement, fellowship, and no dishes or kids.

Going into the weekend I was a little nervous. I was meeting up with some girls from South Carolina that I knew for one year in high school. We weren't even great friends at that time. Thanks to Facebook though, we have stayed connected, and years later our paths have merged on the adoption trail. I was also wondering what I needed to go to the retreat for. Our adoption story is short and easy, to the praise of the Lord. Our transition into life with Jonathan was easy and he is the PERFECT baby. I have no behavioral issues yet, he is only 10 months old. Everything that I thought this conference would offer, I didn't think I had issues with. I was still excited for some time away from kids, and daily responsibility though.

Adam was gone the whole week before I left, and on Thursday, I'm certain everyone survived ONLY because I knew that on Friday I got to leave. It was ugly. Like…I would be mortified if someone had been hiding in my house that day and saw how I acted. I felt like it had been a long time coming…but I snapped. My flesh had fully taken over, and there was no walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

I went to bed Thursday night exhausted. I knew I had to get up early to get on the road and wouldn't even see the kids before I left. I was so defeated about how the day before…and really moments of each day leading up to that had gone. I was not a picture of Jesus to my kids. I was not anything at all that I say I want them to be. I fail daily and felt so defeated. I felt like a terrible mother that had all the best intentions going to bed each night…but most of the time failed daily before my feet ever even touched the floor the next morning. 

That was what I was wearing going into the weekend, that I had exhausted the amount of grace I was allowed…and I was a failure. During the very beginning of the weekend I felt like God whispered to me through a song, This is Amazing Grace by Phil Wickham. 

[Verse 1:]
Who breaks the power of sin and darkness
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder
Who leaves us breathless in awe and wonder
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
You would lay down Your life
That I would be set free
Jesus, I sing for
All that You've done for me

[Verse 2:]
Who brings our chaos back into order
Who makes the orphan a son and daughter
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

Who rules the nations with truth and justice
Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave

I had always heard that people had a hard time receiving grace but had never understood. I fully understand now. I feel like constant failures wear me down more than random BIG failures. My daily routine consisted of me not being who I wanted to be, and no matter how hard I tried…it didn't work. EVER!

So the thought of God's grace never running out on me was one of my first thoughts of the weekend. As I figured out again how to relax and unwind without the possibility of someone somewhere needing something…my mind had the chance to unpack what God's unending grace meant for me. A few things that I came to understand are these…

1. God's grace isn't a back up plan for me. It is the only way I survive. I need to be thankful for moments in my life that highlight my need for His grace, as opposed to avoiding them.

2. Satan wants nothing more than for me to believe the lie that grace has run out on me. The Gospel tells me that while I was still helpless, Christ died for me. If that was my state when He saved me then I can't get any worse. :) If I believe that I have failed my children too many times then I will stop working my hardest to guide them in a way that will point them to Jesus. My failure, if treated properly is a HUGE benefit to my children. I am not their standard. Jesus is. I will fail them. Jesus won't. I don't want them to rely on me and want to be like me. I want them to seek after Jesus and have their lives look like HIS. 

3. There is nothing on Pinterest to help me with this. There seem to be a billion plans on how to raise good children, potty train children in 3 days and 5 steps, 100 acts of service that will make your child the most considerate person on the planet, a million different spiritually centered crafts and activities for Jesus holidays (Christmas and Easter) and on and on and on. And honestly…it exhausts me. I LOVE PINTEREST! Don't get me wrong. :) BUT… raising children in the way the Lord would want me to is something that I can only learn and do well from spending time communing with Him. Reading my Bible, HIS words that He has given me for ALL I need. Prayer- constant communication with Him. Not just listing what I need, but listening. If I only talked to friends that way I talk to God usually- I wouldn't have any friends anymore. Being in a constant state of dependence and repentance when I fall short. If my life is FULL of Jesus and His word, and His will…that will overflow from my life. Not my anger…my desire for comfort…my in patience…but JESUS! I am a vessel that the Holy Spirit wants to work through. I have been fully equipped with Christ living in me. Pinterest would be a much easier way for me to teach my kids about Jesus than to live what He has called me to live. Living like Jesus requires sacrifice and daily dying to myself. Pinterest please! Haha. 

4. God knows JUST what I need. I had no amazing adoption break throughs at Created for Care. I just had time away with Jesus. I need to fight for that daily in a house of 3 little ones 4 years old and under. During the Date with God time at C4C, a time where they set up lots of different creative stations and ways to commune with God, I sat in a corner and read my Bible the WHOLE time. I couldn't get enough. It literally felt like water to my thirsty soul. I was empty and needed to be filled. Just as He promises…He filled me. Then I realize that I am filled to be emptied again. I knew that as soon as I got home I would quickly be emptied…drained dry…but I was reminded the importance of being filled daily. 

I came back ready to squeeze my boys and continue training in righteousness. That was 2 weeks ago and yesterday was another ugly day. But God. His grace is amazing and His love unfailing. I did not believe Satan's lies yesterday. Sometimes I want to laugh when people ask me what I do all day. Besides the never ending chores that regenerate themselves daily, I am an instrument of righteousness in the lives of my children that are out of relationship with Jesus. It's exhausting. So to you momma's in the same boat…carry on. Drown in His grace. Correct and punish for the sake of righteousness…again.  And rejoice that God does the work, and that He has chosen us for the hardest job in the world. For those of you that aren't a mom…encourage one that you know with truth from scripture. It's what they need and it will mean the world to them.

I'm so thankful for my weekend away. I'm thankful for sweet time with new friends. I'm thankful for God's faithfulness to me. I'm thankful for my in-laws that worked hard to take care of my kids so I could have time away. I'm thankful for the lesson I learned and will continue to learn. I hope this has encouraged some of you.

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