A Standard of Grace

Grace is such a funny thing.  How much have I longed to be shown grace?  How grateful have I been when I’ve been on the receiving end of heartfelt forgiveness when I’ve fallen short?  Oh, if I could articulate how I’ve anxiously awaited the reaction of a friend when I know I’ve been wrong, and longed to hear an “it’s okay, we all make mistakes.”  Because that is the truth.  We do all make mistakes.  We are all just going about this life thing the best way we know how, and that means that it gets messy and we sometimes do it wrong.  Sometimes we hurt each other and we don’t even mean to.  And, if we’re being honest, sometimes we mean to.

Here’s the thing about grace–it’s so much easier to receive than to give. I know my own intentions and boy do I know how to act like I deserve a pardon when I’ve been hurtful. So, how is it that I am so slow to pardon others when I’m the one who has been hurt? Can I really receive hurt and return grace? Can I forgive whole-hearted, as I am forgiven? Sometimes, more than I’d like to admit, the answer is no. More often, particularly lately, my response when I have been wronged is bitterness. Or, bitter’s good friend, withdrawal. If you can’t uphold the standard of never making a mistake that hurts me, then I guess you can’t stay. Is this really what I want to communicate?

I’ve been working through some things lately and this past week I was settling on bitterness rather than graciousness. Then, I came across Ann Voskamp’s beautiful http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/07/the-great-challenge-facing-all-women-why-women-need-to-stop-judging-each-other/. The context is a little different from what I’d been thinking on–mothers judgment of each other–but these words stuck out to me:

Heaven forbid any woman would set up her life as a standard instead of making grace the standard of her life.

Oops.

Here I am, with bitterness as my life’s standard, asking others to choose grace for me when I ask.

No more.

Let’s walk together grace-fully, shall we?

these days

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Is my husband so good-looking or what? I took the above photo on a date night we had recently (thanks to the Maggiano’s gift card we had from some sweet friends) and, oh my. First of all, you should to there and eat all of their carbs right away! Secondly, I really love going out with Trent. It’s sweet to have dedicated time together, which we never seem to get enough of lately. Going out somewhere reminds me of when we first started dating, when everything was new and exciting–all kinds of frenetic energy & the feeling that anything could happen with the future looming in front of us, all big and full of every possibility. I’m so glad to be where we are, and I’m not sure I’d go back if I could, because I like living here & now, but I sure do like to remember sometimes.

The rest of the photos below are nearly-8-month-old Ailey, because I have to. Can’t help it. Sorry, bye.

She is sweet and funny and starting to get opinionated. If you’re looking for something fun to do, I highly recommend watching a teeny human grow into their personhood. It really is the best. I can’t believe this is my gig–hanging out with this bean.

Happy weekend.

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good evenings

Tonight was a really great evening. We dropped Ailey at our friends’ place (we swap Wednesdays caring for each other’s mini humans) and headed out!

Once you have children, a child-less date night is such a breath of fresh air. At least for me, when we spend time together as a family, so much of my focus is all about the baby. That’s just where we’re at right now, because she’s an infant, and would you figure, those infants can’t do anything for themselves! So, even though I am totally in love with being a family of three, it’s always nice to get undivided attention on just the two of us, Trent and I. And he is really great.

We weren’t feeling particularly creative in the date department, so we got dinner at Garbanzo (think Chipotle, just with Mediterranean food, so heaven, basically) and watched The Grand Budapest Hotel at my favorite theater around here. There is unlimited popcorn and Arnold Palmer involved, I mean, come on.

I loved it. So subtly funny. Wes Anderson, you dog.

And my favorite big human was with me, so who can complain?

I didn’t take a single picture the whole night and my phone was solidly in my pocket, not being checked, almost the whole time. It was glorious.

Weary

Today I wear my weariness like a cloak, heavy across my back. I am worn down. I might not even be able to tell you all of the reasons why, and honestly, by themselves, most of them are small. But you know how the small things, heaped high on one another add up to big things. We all do.

So I am taking a moment and a deep breath. And I’m drinking in these words of my Jesus that remind me that I don’t have to carry these things around, heavy on my back, for a second. I hope they’ll be a refreshing reminder for you too.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)

A Series of Unfortunate(ish) Events

This past weekend was just ridiculous. 

Thursday, we found out that Trent’s job is instating mandatory overtime indefinitely.  Since he already works two jobs, we’re not thrilled that they’re adding time to his already super busy schedule.  Our time together is at such a premium as it is, so it’s disappointing to say the least.  The bright side is that it’s mandatory overtime, which means more monies!  Which we will need, considering how the rest of the weekend went.

Friday, not even hours after a big grocery shopping trip, our fridge bit the dust and totally stopped fridge-ing.  You know.  So, it was a mad dash to find a fridge for hopefully a good deal so that we didn’t also lose all of our groceries.  We did find one.  It was still a pretty big purchase.  Appliances are just crazy.

Saturday, we went to the local dojo (hehe, a dojo in the middle of suburbia) to see a friend test for his black belt (Go, Nick, go!)  Ailey witnessed her first ever karate and seemed to love it, which is pretty fun.  No major expenses that day, thank God.

Sunday, we were lazing about, as you do on Sunday afternoons, and the cat jumped up on the bed right next to Ailey and me, scratched around a bit on our comforter, and proceeded to empty his bladder.  Right in front of me!  Clearly, we are dealing with a cat teenager here.  So, in my haste to save our mattress, I stripped off the sheets and comforter at lightning speeds (you’ve never seen me do laundry so fast, let me tell you), and threw them right into the washing machine (extra hot!).  Guess who left their iPhone on the bed (husband)?  Guess who didn’t see it until it was too late (wife)?  Oops.

Needless to say, we are having a rough go of it.  I’m thankful that all of these things are just minor inconveniences in the grand scheme of things, but man.  Sometimes, it doesn’t seem like things are going to go right.  But, then, as I scan back through the paragraphs I’ve just typed, words like “refrigerator” and “iPhone” and “extra monies” jump out at me.  And here is the bottom line: we have a lot more than we need.  Yes, it’s frustrating when the things that we’re accustomed to are broken or lost.  But, in this moment, instead of being annoyed, I’m going to be thankful that we’ve had the means to save for an unexpected refrigerator meltdown and that we’ll be getting a few extra bucks if Trent is required to be at work longer hours.

Also, our new fridge has a pretty sweet ice maker, so Arnold Palmers all around!

Do You Think About Death?

I stumbled across this article
in the New Yorker, written by Roger Angell. He’s 93 and has some fascinating things to say about life once you’ve lost many loved ones.

I read it and cried, because this is something I think about often. Do you? Sometimes it seems so sad and hopeless to imagine life in my later years and having to say goodbye to so many people. But Angell’s words encouraged me a little. We endure.

And I am grateful for the hope of heaven and that goodbyes are only temporary.

photo of my grandparents, on their honeymoon in 1947

So long, Maryland

Well, Ailey and I returned to the west(ish), so we are officially back in Colorado for the long haul. After three weeks in Maryland visiting family, it really felt like we lived there. And I guess in some ways, it should. I am a born and raised Marylander. My soul is chock-full of crab cakes and beltway traffic, if souls can be full of such things. I was surprised at how quickly I slipped back into routine there, even now that I have a daughter who wasn’t yet a part of my life when I lived there. But, you know, driving familiar roads and just seeing all of the same sights that I had just stopped noticing after 23 years, and oh, the rain! It just feels like home is supposed to.

So, now we are back in Colorado, where the air is thinner and the mountains are in view, and now that feels like home in a different way. Growing up is so weird and beautiful. I must be maturing if I can attest to the beauty of it, since historically I’ve resisted growing up with every fiber of my being. It’s hard not to cling to the familiarity of youth, isn’t it?  But now it isn’t so bad, this growing thing.  If I have to age, I suppose I should do it gracefully and enjoy the new experiences each stage of life brings my way.

Anyway, here we are, growing up, and along with that, cutting a different path and sorting out the details of a new life for this little family. Ailey will grow up familiar with mountain vistas and so much snow and very little rain–so differently than I did (not to mention legal marijuana, so there’s that). Life is weird.