the ugly side of grace

Grace is a miracle.  Poems have been written about its beauty.  Songs have been sung declaring its praise. Stories have been told explaining its power.  And in each of these, there is first something horribly wrong and ugly that is in need of grace’s gentle touch.

photo 1

Just over eight years ago, I had the worst day of my life.  My husband told me that he no longer loved me, that he was in love with someone else, and that our marriage was over.  Just typing that sentence still breaks my heart.

We sold our big, beautiful home.  We both hired lawyers and started the divorce proceedings.   I started therapy. Our children started therapy. He started therapy. And I tried to start over.  I rented a small home in the neighboring city.  I tried my best to take care of the kids and create a new normal.   And I cried. I cried about the lies. I cried for my children. I cried at the thought of being alone.  I also prayed.  I prayed for hope. I prayed for joy.  I prayed that my soon to be ex-husband would be hit by a bus.  And secretly, in the depth of my soul, I prayed that by some miracle, we could be together again.

As the months went on, my lying, cheating husband began having a change of heart. Friends and family would come and tell me how he had changed.  How he was gentler… how he had been humbled.  I, understandably, wanted nothing to do with him.  I was not going to be a “weak” woman and take him back.  I remember sitting across from my dear friend, Susan.  She was telling me how much he had changed and how much he wanted his wife back.  I looked her straight in the eyes and said, “I will never, never take that bastard back.”  Without flinching, she replied with perfect love, “I don’t think never means what you think it means.”

The word never did not mean what I thought it meant.  This broken and afraid man had changed and he did want our marriage restored.  He started to pursue me.  He started asking for grace.

I had a huge decision to make.  Do I risk everything and take back a man who had stomped and crushed my heart?  Or, do I risk everything and start my life all over without the only man I had ever loved?  I was afraid, but I knew how I wanted my story to read.  I knew I wanted the miracle.  So, I sided with grace.  It was the most courageous thing I have ever done.  I learned that weak women don’t take their cheating husbands back.  Kick ass women do.


One of my favorite songs is Grace by U2.  Here is the last verse:

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

And that is the main problem with grace… it only comes after pain.  Grace can only intervene when there has been heartbreak and hurt.  It was made for the ugly things.

I am not going to lie, it wasn’t easy.  The divorce was so far along, that we had to pay our lawyers to stop it.   For the first few years, many of our days were painful and rough.  However, now that I am this far from the climb out of the ugliest place of my life, I can see the fruit of grace.  My marriage is a place of utter safety and freedom.  My husband and I feel more loved and known than we ever have before, and in a deep and honest way.   We are naturally hopeful in seemingly hopeless situations.  When life throws us or our friends a curve ball, we have hope that love will win and time will heal.  Mostly, we are extremely graceful.  Not only with each other, but with ourselves.

Now, when I hear poems, songs, or stories of grace, I hear my story.  I feel the pain and ugliness that must come.  I cry for the hopelessness that must proceed it.  I morn the dreams that must die.  All the ugly is worth knowing and feeling the fullness of grace… to completely feel hope… to completely feel the rebirth.  I know that choosing grace was not only the craziest thing I have ever done, but also the bravest.  It gave me one of the most beautiful miracles I have ever witnessed… my marriage.

this guy

I am so very grateful for this man.

He loves me.  He appreciates all I do and all I am.  At the same time, he loves me when I have nothing left to give and I don’t know who I am anymore.

He loves our girls.  He knows each girl and loves them deeply.  He purposely takes time to spend with each girl individually.   My girls know they are loved by their daddy.

He loves people.  I love watching Andy when we are exploring cities.  He sees people that so many others overlook.  He stops, he asks questions, he makes friends.  I remember once we were in downtown Los Angeles and Andy heard the voice of a homeless man he had met last year.  He walked up to him, called him by name, and chatted with him for a while.  This man lives on skid row.  He is poor in his pockets and in his soul.  I stood there and watched Andy let this man know that he is seen and known.

He loves God.  He isn’t a man that will go around quoting the bible, but he loves the Lord with all his heart and loves His word.  He doesn’t just read what the Bible says, but lives it.  He cares for the poor. He loves his neighbors. He forgives those who hurt him.

Today he let me sleep in.  When I woke up, he had made me one of my favorite breakfasts.  And when I woke up from a three hour nap today, he didn’t act like I was a lazy good for nothing, he was glad for me.  I think he might have even missed me a little.

I thankful for the twenty some years we have spent together and fifty some we have left.

brave enough for the both of us

We had a family shoot this morning.  I love family shoots.  We have had a lot of holiday mini shoots lately.  I love them too… but they are not the same as the full family shoot.  I love spending an hour or more with a family. I love having time to get to know each child. I love seeing how the family loves each other.  All of that takes time.

But with that time, comes moments like these.  This adorable look is one his father can do.  They both can lift one eye brow just so.  He loves it and his father loves it.

When Andy and I decided to start a photography business this year, I never knew it was going to help me fall in love with people more.

I am grateful Andy was brave enough for both of us to say yes to this adventure. I am also thankful for Andy… but that is another day.

making me new

All day I have had this song in my head.   
As I started cleaning up from the day I saw my new tomato plants growing in my windowsill.  They seemed to hold what my heart is daring to hold today.  
So thankful for beautiful things made out of us.  So thankful I am being made new.  

thankful for homeschooling

This month I am doing a thankful project.  When I began this project, I knew that one blessing that I  would have to list would be homeschooling.  As I was making my list of why I am so thankful for homeschooling, I started to realize that I am not only thankful for the experience of teaching my children at home.  I am also eternally grateful and indebted  for all that homeschooling has taught me.  When people talk about homeschooling, they often mention  the benefits for the children.  However, there is this small secret that doesn’t seem to get as much press as I think it deserves. Homeschooling changes the heart of the teacher.  So while I am so thankful for all the wonderful, and not so wonderful, moments that homeschooling has brought my family, I am also so thankful for how it has changed me.

I am thankful that when one of the girls was interested in a specific topic, we were able to stop and learn more about it.  It has helped me be excited about life- about things that I am excited about and what excites them. 

I am thankful that when my child had a hard time learning something, we were able to stop and take our time until they understood the concept.  It has made me an understanding person.

I am thankful for all the experiments and projects that have sat, grown and mutated on my kitchen counter.  It has made me a patient person.  

I am thankful that I have not only taught my children to read, but to have a love for the written word.  I love days that I look around my living room and each girl has her nose in  a book.  It has made me a more confident person.

I am thankful that I have so many moments of just being with my girls.  We have sat under trees and talked… and sometimes just napped.  It has made me person who can slow down and just be.

I am thankful for the days when we couldn’t put a book down, so I would read and read and read while my girls sat and listened.  It has made me a passionate person… who doesn’t stop until I am satisfied.

I am thankful for the days when everything has gone wrong; when I have lost my temper or the girls have fought.  It has taught me grace. 

I am thankful for all the time I have had with my girls.  I don’t feel like I missed a moment of their childhood. It has made me a joyful person.

I am thankful for the moments that I have had to let things go; let the dishes, the laundry and the cooking go. It has killed the perfectionist in me. 
I am thankful that I had to dig deep and believe that I could teach my girls.  It has taught me how to be brave.    

    I can’t imagine I am the only one that feels this way.  I am sure there are lists and lists of things we have learned from homeschooling.  And not only homeschooling, but parenthood in general.  I wonder, what is it that homeschooling or parenthood has taught you?  Did you realize that when you gave birth to one life that you would be so reborn yourself?  
    I know I didn’t.   But, oh how I am thankful for it.