Have you ever had one of those days? It was a crazy enough week with my husband traveling all week and my kids are involved in sports, youth groups and play instruments (and that doesn’t include my inner city buddy in the mix)  but then another one of my kids got sick.  I couldn’t believe it.  Three of us went down with influenza right before Christmas (again when my husband was traveling.  Seems to be a pattern here).  At one point last night my son’s fever was so high and his color was so ashen, I called urgent care and they told me if his fever went up a tenth of a degree, I needed to bring him in.  The driveway still needed to be shoveled and my daughter needed help with her homework.  Calgon…take me away.

This morning while I was shoveling the driveway at 6 am (yes, we have a snow blower but no, I couldn’t get it started), I was feeling pretty sorry for me.  I wasn’t feel 100% and frankly, I am tired of taking out the trash, tired of helping my kids with math I can’t figure out and doing all the driving to games, lessons and practices. My husband has traveled for the 23 years we have been married and sometimes it is tiring and hard.  I wanted to start crying but with the below zero temps, I figured my tears and snot would freeze and then I’d have a snotsicle to contend with.

Some of my friends have said they would be praying for me while my husband was traveling.  One friend asked God to give me extra grace this week. And although I want “grace” to show up and shovel my driveway, make my son’s fever go away and take out the trash, that isn’t how it went down. But I did receive that extra dose of grace that my friend prayed for and it came right in the middle of my frozen little pity party in the driveway, exactly when I needed it.

One of the moms at my kids’ school has been battling cancer (see blogs: Pew Lifting and My Hero has a New Purse) and the prognosis is not looking very good. I pray for she and her family almost every day and today while I was shoveling, God in his grace brought her and her family to mind.  And as I began to pray for them, grace showed up. I was suddenly overwhelmed with a tremendous sense of embarrassment and gratitude. Embarrassment that I was complaining about essentially nothing compared to what so many people like this family have to endure.  Gratitude that although I was not feeling great, I had the energy and stamina to get out of bed, get dressed and shovel my driveway.  And as I shoveled and prayed for this dear family, the cold didn’t feel so bad anymore, the pain in my back from shoveling didn’t seem to hurt quite as badly and I turned my frozen frown upside down.  I knew in that moment that extra grace had been bestowed upon my undeserving heart and mind and in an instant, it changed everything.

“Dear God, thank you that you don’t love me less when I whine than you do when I am praying for a sweet mom and her family.  Thank you that you cover me with grace without judgment.  Thank you that when my circumstances do not seem to get better, you have the power and the willingness to change my entire perspective and attitude when I really need it. Thank you that I have a driveway to shovel, that my husband has a job and that these aging legs and arms can still lift heaping piles of snow with the best of them.  And thank you that when I remember to realize how blessed I am, my anger and pity are replaced with gratitude and love and I am able to pray for people who have real problems. Thank you for your grace that isn’t a cliché or a fairy tale, but that it shows up right when I need it and reminds me how much you love and care for your children.  In Your Name, Amen.”