Surrounded by Grace

Like the wind, Grace finds us wherever we are and won’t leave us however we were found. ~ Ann Voskamp

I woke up late. On days like this it is hard not to begin to rush immediately. As a hurrier, I feel the lost time, but I’m discovering that for me, hurry is fueled by worry. And I’m a worrier …

I worry about time lost and goals not met; about messes and cleaning up, about appearance and reality, I think about inability and dreams not realized and then I worry and when I worry, I hurry.

Our internal worlds can feel chaotic and scary and we put on a brave face, pushing aside our concerns, but without the help of Someone greater than our deepest fears and insecurities, the worry turns into hurry and we suffer at every turn. Relationships feel rushed, conversations become merely functional, eyes are blind to the wonder of the world around us, meals become a mad mangle of food, and instead of mindfully giving thanks and taking time to discuss the day and hear from the hearts we love, we just eat.

This morning I woke up late and began to scurry around the house … picking up legos, gathering laundry, making lists and plunging the kids’ breakfast dishes into a sink full of sudsy water, doing hair, packing snacks and filling water bottles, signing papers …  and as I moved on to yet another task, I found myself mentally asking “What is your hurry?”

I’m asking myself that question a lot lately, and when I notice hurry consuming me, I try to take a deep breath in and when I breathe out, I try to release my worries, and when I do I slow down and accept peace. I can’t contrive peace on my own. I can pray for it and I can receive it. I can even be a peace maker, but I have to accept peace in order to live in peace.

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give peace to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”

(John 14:27, NLV)

I love how the Amplified Bible expounds on this

“Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.”

With all the kids in school this morning I am resting in this peace. I’m slowing down on training wheels, because when noon hits I will go from sitting at a bakery reading and praying and writing, to a car and then a house filled with loud, energetic kids with needs (and if I know my kids, there will be at least one of them that is demanding or cranky). As I sit here, I am readying my heart and my attitude to meet each request and need with grace. I can’t do it on my own. I just can’t — none of us can — so I am grateful for this:

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

(2 Cor. 12:9, NIV)

And isn’t that so encouraging? It is easy to get caught up in feeling ill equipped for the tasks or the life we’re given, and yet we were never meant to go it alone.

***

It was much easier to slow down and drink in the goodness of the life I’ve been given this summer when I had only two of my kids to care for, when school wasn’t part of our days, when the rush of the fall wasn’t upon us.

This morning it is easy to take things slowly when I only have myself to take care of, and when I pick up the kids this afternoon, my tendency will be to look at all that needs to be done and to hurry, but when the inclination to hurry rises up, I’m going to breathe out my worry and breathe in peace, because when we slow down we see clearly, and beautiful things happen in the slow moments.

Every once in a while when I am trying to remind myself that life isn’t a race, I make French Onion Soup. Taking the time to caramelize five pounds of onions, forces you to slow down. You’d think something as simple as onion soup would be quick to make, but as simple as French food is, the recipes are often time-consuming — not difficult, as long as you take the time.

Low and slow … that’s the only way to caramelize onions. If you try to speed up the process you will end up with brown, burnt, and bitter onions that aren’t good for anything. When you turn the temperature down and you let the onions almost sweat …

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they will slowly turn golden …

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they will begin to release their hidden sweetness …

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and their color will deepen …

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They will decrease in volume …

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and exponentially increase in flavor.

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And when you splash white wine into the pan …

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Ooh la la!

When I make French Onion soup, it is always for a special occasion, like an in-house date night or when my little sister visits from Canada and we send the guys out and have a girls’ night. As I stir the onions and wait, I am reminded that the best things in life take time.

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I was twenty before I even met Matt. My friends were in and out of relationships through high school and college, but when Matt walked into my life fifteen years ago, I knew. From the time he picked me up for our first date, I knew he had been worth the wait — all the lonely times, the hours I spent wondering what was wrong with me — why no one ever chose me, all disappeared …

A good thing is worth the wait.

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My sisters and I weren’t close growing up. We got along and we supported each other when we needed to, but we weren’t really friends. Now I consider them my best friends. Often the gifts we’re given don’t seem like gifts until some time has passed, we mature and we value our differences, and we recognize what we’ve had all along.

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I am in a season of parenting that is often painful. There are these four little hearts and huge wills, and I want them to just trust what I say — to obey because it is what is best for them. The thing is, they have their own ideas. So often we are not in calm and quiet conversation, but rather in boot camp. It takes more time and patience than I thought it would and the results are years away. There are times (it may even happen this afternoon), when I want to throw my hands up in frustration and shout “Because I said to!”

I have a friend who has these incredible, mostly grown up kids, and I used to wonder how she lucked out. Do you ever feel like you got a bad apple? On my most desperate of parenting days, I do, but my friend is always quick to remind me that her kids are the way they are because of a lot of prayer and grace, and the faithfulness of a Father who is also loving us into what he created us to be.

***

In a way, I’m like an onion. Cut into me, and I may bring you to tears. Rush me, and I’ll become bitter. Turn up the heat and I’ll burn-out. When I think of my heart and who I am in my raw state, I can easily become discouraged, but there’s this:

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and rich in faithful love.”

Psalm 103:8, HCSB

And like the onions need time and care, so I need shepherding — to be led.

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths …

Psalm 23:1-3, HCSB

There is nothing rushed in his leading; He does not demand change. He surrounds us with grace; He invites us to follow and to rest;  and as we do, he transforms and renews. He restores our broken parts, and brings wholeness.

In just a few minutes I will pick up my kids, my little onions. And as I am confronted with every minute of peace, love, chaos or confusion this afternoon, I pray that I will remember that the Lord is compassionate with me, He is slow to anger and abounding in love.  And in the moments where things don’t go as planned, attitudes explode, words are harsh, or hearts are hurt, we will hold onto grace. May I respond to them in gentleness, allowing them to grow, knowing that the best things take time.

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Brokenness Aside, All Sons and Daughters
© 2011 Integrity’s Alleluia! Music


 

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5 thoughts on “Surrounded by Grace

  1. I identify with the season you are in, I’m in it, I’m that mom of 4 miles away in the valley, but love that our Heavenly Father is truly the glue and foundation that holds our family together. I’m thankful for you and this blog it has helped me to identify hurry and to embrace my role as a wife and mother and rest knowing that He is in control. Thank you Lindsey!

  2. I never cry… except when I read your blog 🙂 Thanks for helping me to feel all the feels. Haha! You’ve always been my favourite reminder that it’s okay not to pretend to be strong all the time.

    Thank you for reminding me to slow down. Thank you for reminding me to enjoy the ride. I love you and your words.

    You are such a blessing.

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