Give Them Grace

This book was on my list for a while. I naturally gravitate toward fiction. And when I do get revved up for a non-fiction, it is usually one that still involves story: biographies, memoirs, etc. Reading instructive non-fiction takes intentionality and grit. But this book was a breath of fresh air for a mama needing some help and not any more dos and don’ts. I wish I had read it about 4 years ago….

There’s nothing new and earth-shattering here. But in a time when our basic beliefs about parenting have been indoctrinated by the present cultural climate of fear, and even within the church, the resounding war drum is that of control, the truth that we as parents have no power to save freed me of the impossible task of changing the hearts of my children. And as I kept reading, I began to wonder When did I start believing I ever could? 

Because I used to know that. And I used to trust it every day. I carried that truth around with me like a diamond ring. And then my little baby, whose heart was always sinful in a quiet way, became noisy in her sin. And I became noisy in return, giving birth to the struggle for power, both of us fighting for control of one another. It was little things at first: you will keep your shoes on, you will eat this dinner. But one thing led to another and before long, I was fighting for control of bigger things: you will say you’re sorry, you will love your sister, you will be kind to mama. And you will do it because you should. Because it’s good and right. Now do it.

At some point I forgot that she couldn’t. Should and could…..what a dark chasm that exists between those two! Should and could…those are my problems too. And I know as well as everyone else, more rules don’t make me want to do what I should. But grace does….

We read the promises of life for obedience and think that means that we can do it. The promises of life for obedience are not meant to build our self-confidence. They’re meant to make us long for obedience and then, when we fail again, they’re meant to crush us and drive us to Christ….The law won’t make [your children] good. It will make them despair of ever being good enough, and in that way it will make them open to the love, sacrifice, and welcome of their Savior, Jesus Christ.
pg. 35-36

Maybe you’re stuck in the tug-of-war with your own kids. Maybe somewhere along the line, you’ve forgotten some things too. Or maybe, after start over following start over following start over, you need some grace yourself.

Read it. Let that impossible task go, both the impossible task you ask of your kids- perfect obedience- and the impossible task you demand of yourself: perfect parenting.

The law says, “do this,” and it is never done. Grace says, “believe in this,” and everything is already done.
Martin Luther


Surprised by Oxford: A Memoir

Product Details

As I started planning intentionally for 2017 (which I do every December using Powersheets) I made a list of non-fiction books I wanted to read. I tend to trudge slowly through non-fiction, so when I saw the size of this book, I gave myself two months to read it. That was unnecessary. I should know better when it comes to memoirs and biographies. The story is always what drives me. And there’s a story here- a good one.

The book follows Carolyn’s first year at Oxford. She arrives lost, literally and figuratively. It’s about her finding her way, and The Way. I resonated with Carolyn. As I read I both sympathized with her struggle and was frustrated by her obstinacy (and my own?) Everything came back to me as I saw my younger self in her, trying to reconcile her past with truth. The reality of what she’s seen with the reality of what is unseen.

It doesn’t hurt that I got to live vicariously through her. Oh Oxford, how I long to be in your walls! My friend Sarah read this with me, and as we laughed about our passion and excitement for learning and with a small dose of wanting to relive our younger days, she said, “Listen….we can’t go to Hogwarts. But, surely, we could do a mini-term at Oxford.”

On March 24, I’ll be attending a lecture given by Carolyn: “Of Books and Babes: the Power of Story in Forming Identity.” If you are in Fort Worth and want to attend with me, let me know! But read it first….you’ll be glad you did.