Monday was one of THOSE days. A day you'd rather just forget about and file away in the "no good, very bad, horrible, awful" category. The kids were naughty. All. The. Day. Long. I think we'd already had approximately five time outs by the time we left the house to go grocery shopping mid-morning. Maddie was testing me all day, hearing consequences and then barreling right through, questioning whether I had the gumption to follow through.
Sam was just plain squirrelly and a total pest to his sister. The two of them went at it, fighting and screaming and tattling and hurting each other.
By the time dinner rolled around, I was exhausted, spent, and completely done. A few friends joined us for dinner and my spirits lifted despite the chaos that continued around us throughout the dinner hour and into the evening.
Maddie had been warned repeatedly that if she couldn't get a handle on her attitude that she would not be able to stay at the beginning of small group. After her Daddy gave her one last, stern warning, she looked right at us before testing again. We sent her to her room, sobbing, screaming, wailing uncontrollably (an extrovert's worst consequence ever: to miss out!) This went on for many, many minutes as our friends gathered downstairs.
I went up eventually, held her in my arms, talked through the significance of her actions and the importance of honoring her parents. We discussed our total inability to obey apart from God's divine intervention in our lives and the power of his Spirit in us. Though there is always grace and forgiveness and complete love, there are also consequences for our choices. I explained that she was not going to be able to stay for the beginning of our group but she could come down to say goodnight to everyone. She eventually stopped sniffing and together we greeted our guests.
Then Verne and Melody showed up with presents. Big ones. Sleeping bags. (Maddie's been asking for a sleeping bag for a month now but I just hadn't found quite the right thing). I wish I had recorded her face, her voice, her demeanor. It's as if her whole body lit up with joy. "This is the best present EVER!!!" she exclaimed as she ran around, carrying her cozy gift with her.
Sam jumped right in, too, and on his face was the smile that melts this Mama's grief all away. Pure, dripping joy.
I turned to Verne and told him, "You have no idea how much we needed this. How much I needed this. Thank you." And he gave me a big Verne hug.
As we whisked them off to bed (missing the party, upholding the consequence), they snuggled down in their new sleeping bags, smiling and giddy and joy-filled. I reminded them of God's grace. In our most undeserving, sinful, rebellious state, he came at Christmas. Not to destroy us, but to give us life abundant. Those gifts, the sleeping bags, were a reminder that God's love covers all our sins like a big, cozy, warm blanket. At the end of the day, we can just snuggle up in grace, in the very presence of God himself, because of what Christ has done.
It's such good news.