Parenting with Grace

I have a confession to make. I parent with a tremendous amount of grace. Not in a “oh-look-how-gracefully-she-parents-her-children” type of way. No, I mean I am constantly asking the Lord for grace to try again, thanking Him that tomorrow is another day, and full of gratefulness that my children are also generally forgiving and fairly resilient. 

This parenting gig is no joke. The older I get and the more life throws our direction I realize that most of us parents don’t really know exactly what we are doing. We can arm ourselves with God’s Word, stand on His promises, ask for wisdom and discernment… and yet, many times it still feels like we are shooting from the hip. These tiny little humans that the Lord entrusted to us didn’t come with manuals. So sometimes in our weaker moments we are left feeling ill-equipped and do a whole lot of praying that we don’t mess this whole thing up. Can I tell you something? You can multiply this feeling by a thousand for the parent of a child with special needs. 

We’ve got one shot at parenting, and we don’t want to mess it up. As parents of a child with special needs, we find ourselves in the very unique position of being our child’s medical coordinator, educational advocate, therapy coordinator, records keeper, and insurance protector. We work hard to make a way for our children and to try to give them every opportunity to reach their highest potential. In a world where “raising awareness” has become more about the t-shirt, ice bucket, or bumper sticker than about true heart change and acceptance, we find ourselves grasping for ways to make a place for our children. Compile this with everyday things like having a job, being a wife and mother, and parenting other children besides your child with special needs, and shooting from the hip quickly becomes an understatement. There. Is. No. Manual. For. This. 

Having a child with disabilities is a tricky little dance. It’s two steps forward and two steps back. Many times, as we delight in our son’s newfound accomplishments, we see an old one slip away. It’s easy to get caught up in the daunting task of grappling with what has been gained and what has been lost. We are trying desperately just to communicate with our child and to make sure he knows he is loved. Most parents of children with special needs function on about three to four hours of sleep because disabilities like autism have no time zone. Our emotions run high and our energy low. This is the perfect recipe for imperfect parenting and the need for grace. 

Dear Parents, I hope you will remember that we can parent with grace. I’m finding more and more in this role of a special needs parent, that if I just offer up all I have and as much as I can, the Lord will cover all my imperfections with His grace. 

I’m willing to bet that we all get a little snippy, lose our cool, throw patience out the window, burn dinner, miss the appointment, and wonder what-in-the-world we are doing. I’m also willing to bet that the deeper issues we occasionally struggle with are not foreign to fellow parents who walk this journey with us. So, breathe deep and let yourself rest just a little knowing that you are not alone and that in all our inadequacies, God’s grace is sufficient. 

There is such a thing as imperfect progress. Thank the Lord! 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

First published at Irresistible Church

http://irresistiblechurch.org/parenting-grace/

 

New Life through Death: Beauty Comes Through Times of Brokenness

As a parent, there are just some things that you try to shield your children from. You try your hardest to balance the realities of life with the truths of heaven, covered by a veil of protection from the depths of the pain and suffering that this world has to offer. There are times when God allows that veil of protection to be torn away and the fullness of tragedy and the frailty of this life come billowing in. Throughout these past few weeks, that’s exactly what has happened. There was no escaping what God had planned. There was no protecting ourselves or our children from having a loved one suddenly and tragically taken from earth. With all our inadequacies, we were forced to try to explain the unexplainable.

I am no great theologian, but I do know this truth: God has always been super at being Sovereign. You see, the same God that spoke the world into creation, who said “Let there be light” and there was, who created you and I, who knows how many hairs we have on our heads, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, who spoke about prophecies that we are watching come to fruition before our very eyes, is the same God who allowed this tragedy in our lives. Do I understand it? Not at all. Am I heartbroken? Completely. Do I doubt God or His goodness? No. Do I believe God has a plan and a purpose for all of this? Absolutely.

And so it was with hurting hearts but unshaken faith that we began to explain to our daughter, Grace, about the terrible wreck that took who she considered her “Uncle Pasha” away. She cried and cried. She asked questions. Then, in an unwavering voice she said, “Well, I know where Pasha is. He is in heaven cause I know he loved Jesus.”

Grace has been asking deep questions about Salvation, our need for grace, God, Jesus, Heaven, and Hell for about the last year. We have spent a great deal of time sharing with her about faith and what it means to “ask Jesus into your heart.” We went slowly. Our greatest fear was that she would make a decision to become a Christian just because she thought we wanted her to. Our greatest desire is for our children’s faith to be their own. So, patiently and ever so carefully we have shared about Jesus with Grace. Grace knew all the “answers” but we have been waiting for the day when Jesus would cause her head and her heart to collide in a way so that she had to, wanted to, couldn’t wait to ask Jesus to be her Savior because she needs Him.

I watched Grace watch others. As much as we tried, there was no way to fully protect her from the sorrow and grief we all were feeling. Grace watched. 

As I was tucking Grace into bed one of these seemingly endless nights, she began to recount all that she had noticed. She had noticed how devastated and hopeless some people were grieving and compared that to others who seemed to be grieving their loss, while clinging to hope.  “I guess that’s cause the ones who have hope know Jesus and they know that Pasha is in heaven and they will get to see him again. Right mom?”   “Yes, baby. That’s exactly right.” I could almost actually see her little brain at work, processing and taking it all in.

We arrived early the morning of the funeral. We were very busy trying to prepare everything and to make sure that the “Celebration of Pasha’s life” would be everything it should be. I was busy just trying to hold it all together.  I watched my little girl stare at the wooden box at the front of the sanctuary. “Momma, don’t these peopleknow that Pasha is not in there? He is in heaven!” “Yes baby, we know.” Then, without hesitation she said, “Momma, I am ready. I need to ask Jesus into my heart.” There was about ten minutes until the service started.

Looking back, I cringe at my response. Ten minutes. That’s all we had. I was an emotional basket case and was trying my hardest to remain composed as I was about to stand in front of a room full of people and address them all. I didn’t want to rush with Grace. I wanted to have time to visit with her and pray together. “I am so excited that you are ready, Grace! Why don’t we visit about it after the service? We will have time then.”

We sat in a room full of people, gathered together in Jesus’ name. Just as the bible promises, God’s presence filled the room as we praised God for who He is, who Pasha was in Him, and for others to experience new life in Christ. God’s word says that He is near to the broken hearted, and that is just what He did- He was near.  In that moment, all the brokenness of our hearts met with all the goodness of God and it was a beautiful service. As the pastor invited people to come forward to pray and to do business with God, I felt a little tap on my arm.  “Momma, I gotta go forward. I gotta ask Jesus into my heart right now!”  It was almost as if Grace was politely saying Hey Mom, Im going forward to ask Jesus into my heart. You can go with me or Im going by myself! There was urgency in her voice and excitement in her eyes. It was time.

There, on the front step of the sanctuary, our sweet Grace prayed the most beautiful prayer we had ever heard. It was a simple prayer, wrapped in the faith of a child and the grace of God.  Our Grace asked Jesus to forgive her of her sins and invited Him into her heart. We cried tears of joy as Grace smiled the biggest smile and she radiated joy.

I’ve not heard of too many people being saved at a funeral, but Grace was. I praise God for the gentle way He has pursued Grace over these few years. I am so thankful for God’s promises and truths that we have been able to share with our daughter. Most of all, I am so thankful that God would use the life and testimony of Pasha as the final catalyst for Grace’s salvation.  I am so thankful for Pasha, this boy that we loved as our own, and for the life he lived. I am thankful for the great love and example that he shared with our little girl.

Grace has a new birthday now. She began her new life in Christ on March 11, 2015. I can’t help but think that as Grace’s name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and as all of heaven rejoiced in her decision, that our sweet Pasha was there celebrating as well. We praise God that He can use tragedy to bring about something triumphant and blessings from brokenness. 

I firmly believe that God is not done using the testimony of Pasha’s life for His glory. I firmly believe that as God continues to write Grace’s life story, He will use her for His glory as well. Our God is not a haphazard or careless God. God is super at being Sovereign. It is in Him that we rejoice. It is in His hands that we place our broken hearts. It is in the hope and grace of the cross that we have the power to press on. It is by the blood of Christ that we are saved…including our sweet Grace. Hallelujah!

Grace Salvation.jpg

Celebrating Grace's spiritual birthday! We had cupcakes and wrote the date in her bible to celebrate her new life in Christ!