More Grace

We have had some REALLY good days lately.  The girls are in such a sweet spot.  We’re mobile, they’re getting along, we’re on a schedule (and they can deal with reasonable changes to the schedule,) I’m keeping up with work, I’m being active most days of the week, and our house isn’t a total disaster.

To get here, I’ve had to let some things go.

No part of our dinner last night was homemade (unless you want to count my impressive culinary techniques of “boiling water for pasta,” “microwaving vegetables,” and “opening a jar of pasta sauce” as home cooking). Clean laundry might sit in a hamper for a week.  This morning’s Target haul is still sitting in bags, unpacked, while I write this blog post.  I ate Zoe’s sandwich leftovers for lunch.  I haven’t sat down for a formal Bible study time since Sunday. Zoe excitedly shouted “Clifford!!!” at Barnes and Noble story time yesterday, and I think the other moms thought that she recognized him from the books—but it’s definitely from the show. I blow my coffee budget by one coffee a week every week.

But this is life right now.  And I’m writing this while I finish my cup of coffee, before I grade papers, before I put away the Target haul and wash the bottles and clean up from the morning—writing while my heart remembers the scene right before naptime:

I was dancing with my girls—both of them—to “Your Grace Is Enough.”

We probably listened to the song ten times.  Each time the song ended, Zoe would just keep dancing like the groove machine she is, saying “more grace! More grace!”, fully expecting that I would play the song again.

Zoe gets it. 

I spent so much of my life being afraid of failure.  I didn’t make the jump rope team in third grade, and literally never tried out for a sports team again.  In junior high, I was on a recreational swim team but I wouldn’t go to meets because the thought of trying my hardest and losing stressed me out too much.  I went through struggles in high school and college and hid them way too long.  And in 2006, I met the Lord in a place of desperate need and said I guess grace will have to do, because I have no options left.

I was the most reluctant grace recipient ever.  Like I GUESS I’ll take it, but man, I WISH I could have earned it.  If only You had given me more time before hitting rock bottom, I might have created my own grace and not needed You for it! 

I’m so thankful that God grows us over time and not all at once, because 2006 Sarah would have been majorly freaked out by 2014 Sarah with her sometimes stay at home mom, sometimes consultant, sometimes professor, sometimes hands-on and sometimes Clifford-on, “letting some things go to focus on what matters most” instead of “trying to be good at all the things” self.

In the past, I didn’t always apply myself fully because I didn’t want to try my hardest and not be pleased with the results.  I thought “grace” was an excuse for not trying.

Now I know that grace is the reason I CAN try.

Grace gives me the freedom to try my hardest and give my all, knowing that any results are up to God anyway and that failure or success don’t define me.

Grace gives me the freedom to stop trying in areas that don’t matter to me, and to focus on where God has called me, trusting that He will make all things work together for my good and that the responsibility of making life work is off of me.  Grace is letting go of my need for perfection and letting something better and more lasting define me and guide me.

Grace is dancing through life, living as the me that I was created to be, saying “more grace!”, fully expecting that more grace will come.

Because it will.


Coffee Date

It’s been a while since I’ve done a coffee date-style post (although, don’t worry, there’s been plenty of coffee consumed).  Here are a few things about my life that I’d share with you if we were having coffee.

-Life with two: getting easier.

I am hesitant to put this into writing (because if mothering has taught me anything, it’s that as soon as you find something that works for a stage, the stage changes…) but I think I’ve found a good rhythm with the two girls.

Photo on 10-24-14 at 4.16 PM #4Riley’s face says it all.  GASP! 

About two months ago, I sat down and listed Zoe’s main needs (peer socialization, exposure to kind adults at church, arts and crafts, music, some unstructured play time in our house, time outside, and physical play,) my daytime needs (finishing work projects, some exercise, seeing other moms, and getting the heck out of the house), Riley’s needs (eat, nap, and get bathed from time to time), and our household needs (buying groceries, food prep, bottle washing, Target trips, not living in a hovel).  This is actually a rather annoying amount of things to juggle without a plan, so instead of looking at each week as a blank canvas and trying to figure out how to fit all this in, I made a weekly schedule that include all of these needs.

Now, Sunday through Thursday, my job each day is just to execute “the schedule,” adjusting as needed based on the girls’ needs that day.  For everyone’s sanity, this schedule includes 20-25 minutes of TV for Zoe.  It also includes a valiant effort at getting the girls to nap together (which works most days for at least 20 minutes—THANK YOU, JESUS!) and an iced coffee around 1 pm.

When Daddy’s home on the weekends, we change things up, but during the weekdays everyone seems happy and my sanity is intact—so I’m not changing a thing until I need to.

Also, did you notice that I’m letting the girls sit next to each other in that picture?! That hadn’t happened since Riley was about 3 weeks old because Zoe was getting violent with Riley. Happily, a few weeks ago, she decided she loves Riley and wants to be a great sister.  It was like someone suddenly flipped her switch from “destroy the invader” to “love your sister with all your heart, soul and mind,” so although our massive intervention efforts had to have helped, I ultimately give God praise for softening her heart towards her sister.

My day-to-day life is SO much better now that going to the bathroom is no longer a perilous choice between taking two kids (one of whom can’t sit up and thus needs a baby carrier) into my tiny bathroom, or peeing as quickly as I can hoping I won’t come back to screams and blood.  Zoe’s day is no longer spent in and out of time-out.  And Riley has an adoring fan and playmate instead of a need for a restraining order.

IMG_3629Buddies! My soul sings.

-Ministry anecdotes: they write themselves

A few weeks ago, David shared with the congregation how we sing “Jesus Loves Me” to Zoe before bedtime and naptime.  After the service, I shared with him that earlier that week, she had screamed, “No ‘Jesus!’ Want ‘Bout That Bass!'” before naptime.

You guys probably won’t get that update from the pulpit.


(Related: that disconcerting moment when your daughter rattles off in her little 23 month old voice, “yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size 2.”  Right, because you’re a 2T…needless to say, I am paying more attention to song lyrics now).

This theologically rich exchange also occurred last Sunday:

Zoe: (trying to grab my keys away from me) “NOOOOOOOOOO! MINE!!!!”
Me: “Zoe, who’s the boss?”
Zoe: “Jesus.”

Boom! goes the dynamite.

-Taking care of business:

I’ve been contemplative for the last few months about what type of professional life and family life I want to have in the next two years now that I know I have two girls.  The question before me: am I building a job for myself, or a business? 

While I really want to build a business, I’ve concluded that for at least the next next year or two, I am just building and maintaining a job for myself—a job that has the potential to become a business, and that is set up on sound business principles, but is just a part-time job of no more than 8-10 hrs a week.  I can always build a business (how braggy does that sound? But you know what I mean), but these “little years” are the only time I’ll have these girls home full time with me.  I see an impact from my efforts with them and I don’t want to regret missing out on this time, so I’m capping myself off at a very small number of clients per year.  Just call me a boutique consulting firm.  Ha.

In the meantime, I can still implement principles like diversifying my client base and utilizing good accounting practices that will pay off if I do “go bigger” in future years, so thinking those things through has been fun.

-Date nights: 

One of the main reasons I like working is that I like to make money.  I don’t care about accumulating wealth; to me, money is just a tool to pursue what you value.  And one of the things I value most is this guy.

photo 1Just a normal night by our pool overlooking the water, dressed up in our house clothes.
Or date night.  You decide.

I don’t write a ton about our married life on here because my husband is an adult and can share his own narrative with you (also, I don’t know if people really want to read much about their pastor as written by his wife. Hashtag potential awkwardness).

But let me just say this about our married life: having two kids kinda makes you partners in controlling chaos.  And escaping the chaos is OH SO IMPORTANT.

Me as a mom of one: should we have the sitter come before she goes to bed, or afterwards? I don’t know. I don’t want to traumatize her!  Maybe afterwards.  And there’s only one or two sitters that I really trust…ok, here’s a 3 page document about all of Zoe’s preferences.  Even though she’s sleeping and will likely be sleeping the entire time you’re gone.

Me as a mom of two: You have a pulse and two arms? Cool.  We’ll see you later.  AFTER THEY ARE ASLEEP.  

Yes, that is exaggerated.

But my point is, the intense feeling of I NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS HOUSE ALONE WITH MY HUSBAND strikes way more often with two than with one, so I’m so glad that I am working and it is financially possible for us to have a few date nights a month.  Also, Zoe thinks the sitters are her friends and talks about them all the time and even prays for them to come, so I am really thankful for them.

I harbor a secret dream of writing a book.  There.  It’s out there.  And although sometimes I just have time to write a grocery list or a Facebook post, I’m trying to keep writing something every week.

What’s new with you?!!