Thursday, July 10, 2014

Seasons Of Grace: Revealing The Blessings That Are Already There

Finding Grace
What I love most about the summer is how everything feels so comfortable. We are not sick week after week, as seems to be the case during winter. We can choose to stay home and relax in the comfort of the air conditioning or go somewhere fun to refresh ourselves with water play. We enjoy veggies from grandma's garden and lower prices on fruit from the market. There is an abundance of activities, from picnics to parties, from swinging to swimming.

When it gets cold, I feel like I go into hibernation for part of the year, waiting for the world to thaw. But the winter months bring about a different kind of peace – there are warm fires, Christmas lights, hot tea, and cozy sweatpants. Each season has its highs and lows. And even if I start to miss the warmth of summer, what sustains me throughout that freeze is the memory of the time I spent in the sun – and the knowledge that it will one day come again.

I try to remember through all the season changes that attitude and perspective are what make life, and after all the sorrow and heartache I've witnessed or been apart of or read about, it seems impossible to NOT have a good attitude, when I realize what could be.

I'm one of those people who plans road trips by mapping out the restaurants and hotels at the exits along the way. Road trips can be fun, but they can be so much more fun if approached with meticulous forethought, right? You could eat at the perfect diner, pump gas at the cheapest station, and never have an emergency pee stop as long as you know where all the rest areas are!

Except this is life, and it doesn't always go according to our best laid plans. I've mentioned one of these road trips before...the one where Hannah and I got really sick just as it began...and the urgent care we stopped at along the way was closed because the doctor had gone up to Alaska to birth babies (Yes, seriously – that's what the sign said)...and we got snowed in on the way to our destination AND on the way back...and our car battery died and had to be replaced.
When Life Is Hard Attitude Counts

Despite all of that, it's still one of the best trips we've ever taken. We encountered so much grace on that journey. My baby was sick, but I learned to lean on my parental instincts a little more. We got stuck in Moab, Utah, which is a simply beautiful, quaint, majestic place to get snowed in. And the car battery died literally steps away from a mechanic shop.

We also got to spend Christmas in Colorado with family. It was all worth it.

And yet I wouldn't know that if I couldn't see it. That grace spills over into my life day after day – it is always there, whether or not I choose to look at it. And I suppose that's why I try to remember to look for it, and why I tend to write about the better parts of motherhood on this blog, or at least I have a habit of putting a happier spin on the tough parts, and why I almost always try to offer encouragement or a 'happy ending' in everything I write about.

I never, ever want to reach a place where I'm ignoring grace. We need to grab hold of our blessings. Sometimes I wonder if people think I'm too positive, too happy, too annoyingly 'look on the bright side'. I will admit that I believe I grew up facing situations that led me to develop that attitude as a defense mechanism – but I'm grateful for it.

Christ Brings Me Joy
I'm grateful to be living this life – to have precious moments to capture, to have opportunities to fight for what I believe in, to have comforts and joys and sorrows to share, and to have relationships to build along the way.

I'm grateful for it because I don't always feel that way. No one does, not all the time.
How Do I Find Joy Again In My LifeIn fact what I tend to feel most of the time is a sense of trying to find some quiet in the midst of a busy life. If I have a day when there have been extra messes or extra stresses (which seems to happen a lot when you have young children), I start to feel as though I'm losing myself, and I feel rushed to get to the end of the day, when I can find the quiet stillness again.

But one night a week or so ago, I cuddled with Hannah and Abram while I read them a couple of stories, and when we finished, I didn't feel so rushed. I suddenly had the urge to sing, something I haven't done much of since they were babies. I went through several verses of Amazing Grace while both kids snuggled up against me. I stopped at one point and Abram drowsily said, “Mama...sing. Sing, mama.”

So much sweetness. Abram ended up falling asleep in my arms, something he hasn't done in months. It was a rare, still moment. And in it, I found grace.

I hope I can remember to appreciate all the seasons – all the storms, all the sunshine, and all the cold. There is good to be found in it all. There is grace to be found in it all. And the seasons are always changing.