"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

02 November 2008

Marriage Monday, November

Today's topic is centered around the word "grace".

There are quite a few definitions for the word grace.
I usually think of my youngest daughter's movements when dancing. She is "graceful". She has an elegance in her motions. My oldest daughter had alot of grace when riding her horse. She had an elegant form.

But, today I am using the definition "the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God; the influence or spirit of God operating in humans." (Webster's College Dictionary, c.1991)

Do we have homes full of grace??
Is our church a place of grace?

No pun intended, but my church, Grace Fellowship, definitely understands and applies this word. When we first became members, my husband and I were amazed at how aptly named the church was. They know how to extend grace in any situation, with any person, whether the person is born again or not. At least, that is what we have observed thus far.
But...can I say the same thing about my Christian marriage and family?

Well, we are trying as a family. It is definitely more evident since we have become members of a church that teaches the concept of grace very eloquently. It is modeled. So....my husband and I are trying to model it here at home.

Some things we have learned/ways we try to extend grace in our marriage/family:

1. Our love we have for our 2 daughters is just a taste of what God's love for all of us is like. Except it is wider. And higher. And more forgiving. And totally unconditional. We are trying, with the Lord's guidance, to be this way with our daughters.

2. To keep our marriage intact, and to raise our children with godly values, takes much prayer and dependence on God. We need to shepherd our own children. And we are the ones who are responsible, ultimately, for their spiritual growth, until they are old enough to be on their own. We learned when they were little, that the church we were in at the time was not meeting our needs when it came to helping us raise our children. We started praying. The Lord led us to where we are now and our children are in vital, growing children and teen programs. Are we leaving it up to the church to train and teach our children? No. But...it is a blessing from God to have the guidance and role models to aid us on the journey of parenthood.

3. Totally accept each other. Just because. We are all different. Some little characteristics in my daughters I see in my self and in my husband. That is normal. That is nature. Some temperaments are due to nurture. Either way, we understand that each one of us is unique. Because we have viewed our daughters and each other as a part of this family, and we accept each other, we have a sense of peace and security. Children need that. So do adults!

4. Promote peace, forgiveness, love, patience, kindness, joy, faithfulness, and self control. (hey...the fruits of the Spirit! Galatians 5: 22-23!) We try to practice these "fruits of the spirit". Does this mean our home is always this perfect place?
NO! My children, my husband and I often struggle with impatience. With speaking what first comes to mind, which trust me, is not always kind, gentle or joyful. We are not perfect. But...this is where "grace" comes in. We understand that we all are sinners. We keep moving forward and try to understand the other person's feelings or emotions and accept them for that. Yes, children will get angry. So will parents. Anger is an emotion. We are trying to teach our children (and our selves at times!) how to be angry and not sin. Or how to rein in the anger, or give it to God. The same with any negative emotion. And because we are learning to do that, with grace, the fruits of the Spirit are seen more often.

4.High Expectations without perfectionism. We have high expectations in regards to our 2 daughters in many areas: education/school work, extracurricular activities (violin lessons, orchestra, ballet, riding lessons, service projects, youth group, drama ministry), chores at home, time management, choices of friends, Godly values and our belief system, purity, career goals. I am sure there are more but those are the ones that come to mind. We don't expect our daughters to be perfect. They are not robots. They are sinners, same as we are. But...they both have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior in the last 4 years. We do expect to see some growth. They will falter and fall. We do too. But... the high expectations we place on them now, might linger with them when it is time to leave for college. We are expecting them to lead Godly lives with good character and to extend grace to others. They are less likely to fail because of those high expectations. If they fail, we have promised them that we will still love them, we will be gentle with them, and in this, we are extending grace. It is the only way to role model the way God extends grace to us when we fail Him.

5. Giving of our time, showing respect, appreciating friends, learning to let go, consistent discipline, consistent punishments, set boundaries: all of these concepts are ones that godly parents need to have in place in their home. We also need them as adults! We try to give each other time. This could be a whole other post!
Respecting each other is huge. My husband does not toleate disrespect very well. And I, as a teacher, certainly don't. We have learned from many new friendships at our church, that respect is key for a healthy family. There is respect for our church building, for the people and for the leadership. We are trying to bring that into our home as well. Even when a child or spouse makes the wrong choice, or sins, we can still respect that person. We have had to discipline our children or even punish them but we still respect them.
We appreciate their friends. By doing so, we are extending the concept of grace to include others and to help them feel welcome in our home.
By learning to let go (with our teen), we are teaching her that we trust her. If she screws up, we might have to punish her (take away the computer, turn off the texting, have her miss an activity) but we will still be showing her love. How? because this is how God is with us! When we mess up, He extends His grace to us...He is merciful. He allows us to repent and He continues to love us!

My husband and I are trying to do this more and more as a couple, too.
We are not perfect. My husband deals with an issue that extends to his sinful past. I deal with things that have hindered my walk with Christ. Sometimes we argue. Sometimes we yell! But...as we continue to learn from God, from our pastor, from other leaders, from our friends and from each other, we are learning to extend grace to each other.....and to the family. We try to keep each other accountable for our known struggles. We apologize and forgive each other. We believe in apologizing to our children when we are wrong or when we have "lost it" with them. All of these things are what "grace" implies.

"grace, grace, God's grace.
Grace that is greater than all our sins."

"For by grace you have been saved through faith.....it is the gift of God."
Ephesians 2: 8

The word "acceptable" here in this Scripture means "full of favor, kindness, goodwill, and grace" :

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."
Psalm 19: 14

This is my goal as a Christian wife and mom.

How about you?

Where does the concept of "grace" fit into your marriage??

AND....please scroll down to the post below, click on Robyn's link to read more about grace in the Christian Marriage. Enjoy the day....and remember to vote tomorrow, all you USA citizens!!!!


Susanne said...

An excellent teaching and commentary on grace within a family, Faith. Sometimes we extend grace to others and forget about extending it within our own families. What a good reminder that we need that with the ones we love the most, too!

Denise said...

This was a really nice post sweetie.

MiPa said...

Wonderful lessons to put into practice in our lives and our families. Thank you.

Susan said...

Hey Faith,

This was just GREAT. Looks like we were on the same page with our thoughts on how to walk in grace.

Thanks for sharing today.


the voice of melody said...

Your post is an excellent reminder that just as we all need grace, we must also be willing to give it. Without conditions. It's sometimes harder to do than we'd like but something we still must do as mature Christians.

Where would I be without God's grace? I'd rather not think about it!

Many sweet blessings!

tali said...

hi Faith, well i fail alot in the area of grace, acceptance and respect with one person in particular. My man. I am getting better at it, but there are times when i feel myself being disrespectful and i try to stop but often too late!! It's mostly in regards to chores and tidiness. My husband does everything based on speed, but i'm more about doing it efficiently so it doesn't have be redone or harder to do later...it's my mum in me! It's an area my man and i can learn from each other...so i can mellow out more and he can be more tidy. I pray about it all the time. And all i can do is change myself.

BP said...

You made many good points about grace in the family. God bless you.

e-Mom said...

You and your husband seem to have a grace-filled family life. Just awesome! I was also pleased to read this: they both have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior in the last 4 years. Well done, Faith! Hugs, e-Mom

Constance said...

Our Pastor reminded us recently that we are created for relationship; relationship to the Father and to one another. Since we live in a fallen world and we all struggle with our inner, sinful natures it explains why wounds from those close to us, hurt the worst.

When someone close to me hurts me either unintentionally or through a moment of selfishness, I say to myself,

"They meant to say the right thing" and I am amazed at how somehting so simple can remind me of how weak and insufficient we all are, in our own strength. Truly, the more we practice mercy and grace to others, the less we are offended so easily! I also believe we are more sensitive to the way mercy & grace are extended to us! Sometimes, it's easy to lose sight of that!


The Surrendered Scribe said...

What you share is exactly what I think of grace as well. It sounds like you have a blessed family. I saw your Adirondack pix and have to tell you that is my favorite place on Earth. I'm originally from Upstate NY and have friends in Speculator. I have pictures all over the house of nature scenes, so yours brought such a smile.