Monday, January 31, 2011

Reconciling and Applying Grace

In today's world, how do we reconcile the many meanings of the word "grace?"  To most people, grace is a physical trait, an attractive attribute, or possibly a personality trait of a merciful person.
To me, having been raised in a Christian home in the Bible Belt, my inner answer to "what is Grace?" always involved God.  I saw a definition recently something to the effect of, "God's love for undeserving people," and that's probably closest to what comes to mind for me. 
The definitions are really all intertwined, depending on how technical you want to get, I suppose.  A person can be merciful and full of grace without being physically graceful or elegant.  Grace or good will can exist between persons who claim no interaction with God.  Christians who claim God's grace, may not be so kind or merciful in day to day life.  But still, the underlying meaning of grace, is the same isn't it?
Look up grace on and notice the tone of each definition...words like elegance, pleasing, favor, clemency, mercy; all are positive attributes.
Many definitions state or indicate that grace is freely given or given even when undeserved (cross-reference definition of mercy).
So my point here is, how do we get a grasp on grace? If this is something I aspire to, and hopefully others do as well, we must know how to obtain it.  How do you obtain something you can't touch? And how do you know when you've gotten there?
I have a no means a definitive answer...just a theory.  I think it is sort of like having a conscience.  We all make choices daily; we choose our words and our actions, sometimes carefully and sometimes hastily.  Either way, we get that "gut feeling" when we chose wrong, don't we?  I'm suggesting that maybe grace is what results when we respond to any situation with a pleasing tone; with kindness, with mercy, regardless of self.   And not just respond this way, but automatically respond this way, putting little thought into what the "right" response is.
Because after all, I think grace is self-less. Our human natures tend to look out for self, give a little while still holding on, extend grace as a reciprocation rather than an upfront offering.  I think if we want to exude grace, we have to let go of self first.  I'll be the first to admit, I haven't a clue how to really do that!
Still I am trying to grasp grace and apply it daily.
Some days I think extending grace to others means keeping my mouth shut! Some days it might mean listening with out trying to "fix it."  Some days it might mean forgiving even when it seems foolish to do so.
What do you think grace means? What does it feel like? Do you have it in your spirit and do you share it with others?
Please share and thanks for reading my ramblings!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Read the quote and let it inspire your post: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. -Maya Angelou
So I'm gonna try this writer's workshop thing, and since it's my first time, well that makes me a writer's workshop...

first-timer (what did you think I was gonna say- hehe?).

So here goes:
About 7 years ago, I really thought I might die of drowning. Drowning in my own pool of overwhelmed feelings that come with being a first-time Mom. There is most definitely nothing anyone could have told me to prepare for the loss of identity I would encounter when I became a Mom. Don't get me wrong! Becoming a Mom was also one of the most joyous events of my life.

BUT, since I am no underachiever (sarcasm here), I not only became a first-time Mom, I also quit (almost cold-turkey- LOL) a job that I really liked and felt like I was good at, at the same time. Now while there is something to be said for a "clean break" this was not the time for it! I had effectively cut myself off from all the friends and co-workers I had socialized with and worked with for years. It was a lonely existence!

As I've said before, I've never been one for large groups of friends; I just tend to have one or two close girlfriends at a time. As a new Mom, I went through several awkward friendships, where we were more acquaintances than anything else, but neither of us wanted to give up on possibly developing a friendship.

So anyway, this girl (I'll call her Amy) was another Mom from our Expectant Parents class. My husband and I immediately identified with her and her hubby and that doesn't happen too often. We made plans to keep in touch and update each other on the new babies when they arrived, even though we lived 30 or so miles apart and geting together with newborns wasn't all that convenient.

Long story, short, a few months go by; eventually the girls (babies) both celebrated first birthdays. Amy, her husband, and daughter all came to our birthday party. It was rather odd, but really what wasn't that day? I went ape-nuts over this one-year-old birthday party! Looking back I still wonder what I was thinking...

Ok, back on track here...I continued to talk to Amy by phone and I think most of the time we were able to share stories and advice that helped each other out, at least for adult conversation. One thing I had never mentioned to anyone was how disconnected I felt after Sweet Pea (my daughter) was born. As a matter of fact, I felt so out-of-sorts, that she was at least a year old before I felt "normal" again. Well on one particular day, I happened to mention this to Amy sort of off-handed and jokingly to see if she would agree.

What happened next was just weird; it was one of those silences where you could literally hear a pin drop! She didn't change the subject, she didn't make an excuse to get off the phone, she just didn't say or do anything! I had to ask if she was still there, and eventually I had to end the call.
I did attempt to maintain contact as if this never happened, but pretty soon the "friendship" fizzled.

Amy made me feel like a WHACK-O! Her lack of support, encouragement, oh I don't know, WORDS, seriously made me feel like there was something wrong with me! And you know what, try as I might, I can never shake that feeling! Thank goodness, one really good thing that came from the situation was me being more open with other first-time Moms I knew. I mean I don't think I had post-partum psychosis or anything, but the baby blues don't last for over a year! Post partum depression is real; it is dibilitating (mostly mentally for me, but for some in a physical way as well), and it is something we should not down-play to our friends and families. It's important for all of us as women, wives, and Moms to have support from peers. And real friends would listen and not make us feel like a nut-job when we shared something very personal.

So, I didn't handle that friendship situation with much grace, but I know if the tables were ever turned, I could.

Check out some of the other entries at

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

At 35 years old, I am still trying to figure out why some friendships stand the test of time while others fade away or end on a sour note. I know I am not a perfect friend and have certainly made my share of mistakes in friendships throughout my life. Overall, however, I am an extremely loyal person; when I reconnect or make the effort to reconnect with an old friend it is out of true desire to hear how they've been and reestablish the relationship.
So what makes some people handle this so differently? How do I handle this sort of rejection with grace?
I have always been of the mindset that when you chose someone as a friend at some point in your life, they will have a special place in your heart forever. There are certainly the occasions when I have discovered a friend was not who I thought her to be, but I can still be courteous when we run into each other.
So overall, what makes a friendship crumble? Do you handle it with grace or sulk a little first? What does handling it with grace look like?
Here are a couple of definitions for grace to get you thinking...
  • elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action
  • a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment
  • favor or good will
  • mercy, clemency, pardon

Give me your thoughts!

More to come later today...
I just read a really humorous story about women and grace. Check it out...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What's in a name?

So I have been contemplating this whole blogging thing for some time now. To blog or not to blog? That was the question...
Obviously, I am a real amateur at this; in fact, it may be more accurate to say, I have no idea what I am doing!
Still I have chosen to press on!
My reasons are quite selfish, or at least, they started that way. Being a stay at home wife and mother can sometimes be a thankless existence and I was searching for an outlet. A way to "interact" with other wives and mothers without actually leaving my home. A little "mental stimulation" if you will.
So the product is this blog.
Then the struggle was, "what to call it?" I wanted it to be something catchy and cool; something that would be easily remembered and draw people in. All of my first 20 or so choices were taken.
During this process, I began some new Bible Studies and was being introduced to new passages, verses, and concepts from the Bible. It was during one of these lessons that I think I found the purpose for my blog.
I have a daughter who is 6, and every day, my heart is heavy for her. I know the challenges I have faced growing up; the self-confidence issues, the never feeling good enough, the feeling like a failure if what I attempted wasn't perfect the first time.
Bare with me...I'm getting to the point, I promise...
I realized that all my life, I have been trying to answer the question, "Who Am I?" One of the reasons I think the question never truly gets answered is two-fold: one, hopefully, I am always changing (at least a little as I learn in life), and two, the question is always changing too. For example, how many times have you asked yourself "who am I" on a really bad or really emotional day? Your answer to yourself would be totally different than on a good day, right?
So anyway, back to my point, during one of these online Bible Studies, it was said (paraphrasing here) that God has called each of us to a purpose. But, because He also made us all unique, no two of us are called to EXACTLY the same purpose.
So rather than comparing myself to other women, or saying I want to be as good a Mom as she is, for example, my new goal is to glean from as many people in as many situations as possible.
Gleaning is defined as
- to gather slowly and laboriously, bit by bit
- to learn, discover, or find out, usually little by little or slowly
So now back to my purpose for this blog. I would like to honestly share with you along this gleaning journey! Hopefully I can glean from you and we can all pay it forward by sharing our experience and knowledge with others!
Let the gleaning begin!