Thursday night.  We are due at small group by 6:00.  Mark is leading the study.  

5:00... I am frantically trying to get dinner in the oven.  Watching the clock impatiently...Where is Mark?  

5:10... I place dinner in the oven.  It is barely in before I have to pull some out to put on the kids' plates. 

5:20... They eat while I rush around and pack up the bag, grab Bibles, notebooks, set clothes out for Mark.

5:30... Mark is still not home.  We have to leave in 15 minutes and he's not here yet.  I refill drinks, get Ella more enchiladas, get myself ready.

5:35... Mark calls.  He's on his way home.  He'll walk so we won't have to pick him up.  I get the kids cleaned up.

5:45... We're supposed to be leaving right now and Mark is still not home. 

5:50... I hear the door, run for the shower, turn it on for him.  Remind him that we need to leave.  NOW.  I help with shoes and jackets, and get a plate ready for Mark.  Out the door we go.  It's 6:04 when we get into the van.  I drive, Mark eats, the kids point out all the Christmas lights. 

6:17... We arrive at small group.  The passage is James 4.  What causes fights and quarrels among you?  Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?  You want something but don't get it.... 

In preparation for our study I'd read something by C.J. Mahaney.  He wrote: "Whenever there's conflict, there's a sinful craving that hasn't been satisfied yet."  He suggested that when you enter your next conflict, stop and ask yourself, "What do I want that I am not getting right now?"  The answer to that question will reveal what is fueling your quarrels.  We talked about that tonight at small group.  Getting to the heart of the issue; the sinful craving, and then dealing with that.

8:20... Heading home.  It is already past the kids' bedtime, *and* my parents want to come over when we get home so that they can give Ella her birthday gift, early.  I just want the kids to get some sleep.  I am already grumbly in my spirit when Ella pipes up from the back seat, where she has just finished her small-group snack: a cracker and half of a muffin,  "Mommy, I'm hungryyyy.  I want more to eat."  So Isaac chimes in: "And I'm hungry too!"  Isaias would have whined about that, too, probably, except that he was already whining about the fact that I'd taken his snack away from him for his disobedience on the way out to the van.

And me?  Well, I responded with something along the lines of [insert snapping, crabby tone here]:  "You know what?  I happen to be hungry too.  I've not eaten since lunch.  You each had a plate of enchiladas and the snack you just finished off.  I have not eaten anything.  So please stop whining about it.  If you'd like something to eat when we get home, we can figure it out then."  You know, something kind of... quarrelly.  And grumpy.  And I stew about it the whole way home.  Me and my martyr self.

We walk in the door, Mark and Isaias head to deal with the discipline issue, I dial mom's number and pass the phone to Ella so that she can tell them we're home.  And then I pull stuff off the couch so that there's actually seating when they arrive.  Grumbly me. 

And then I head into the other room to unload our stuff, and hear Ella dragging the chair across the kitchen floor and clattering around.  A few minutes later she walks towards me.  She's holding a plate with a heated enchilada.  She'd popped it into the microwave herself.  In her other hand she had a glass of iced tea.  And she had a smile on her face.  I knelt down beside her to receive her offering.  And I cried.   I was reminded then of that other verse we'd read tonight.  The sixth verse of James 4:  "But he gives us more grace."  More grace.  Unmerited favor.  Such grace, this.  God's love for me in this outstretched offering.  Before I'd even acknowledged my sin before him.  

Mahaney's question was,  What do you want that you aren't getting right now?  What I had wanted was some peace.  Mark home by 4:30, dinner in the oven on time, and a nice, unhurried meal together as a family.  And then I wanted recognition for the sacrifices I'd made for everyone.  You know, all the running around I'd done-- neglecting even a meal for myself-- to get everyone ready and out the door on time.  Oh, and I would have liked an apology from Mark, too.  Though I know he worked hard today and couldn't help the time he arrived home.  I wanted an apology anyway.  And I wanted to be able to arrive at small group early, maybe, for once.  I.  Wanted.  

And yet, with my sinful, icky self fully evident to all, most notably God, He gives grace.  It came tonight in the form of a plate of reheated enchiladas and a glass of iced tea.  


  1. Stacey, This post reminds me of most days. I know that I am getting upset on those days because things aren't going the way I planned.
    Sometimes I am able to remember that God is in control, not me. Most Sunday mornings on the way to church, when the clock is forever telling me we are going to be late, I close my eyes and pray that I know HE is in charge. Everytime I do that we get to church on time :-) HIS GRACE!
    Thank you for the reminder.

  2. Oh Stacy,
    This was beautiful... and much-needed... and your little girl is precious.
    Thank you for these words, my friend.

  3. This one really spoke to me, Stacy. Thanks for sharing. Oh, and that Ella --what a treasure!

  4. The heated up plate and iced tea made ME cry, too. What a sweet girl.

  5. Though I am not a blogger, I love checking in on other adoptive families from time to time. Your post brought tears to my eyes. How many times have I been short because things are not going as I wanted or expected. Thank you for reminding me of the grace we so freely receive every day. You are obviously imparting some very important life lessons on your little girl. Absolutely precious.

  6. Stacy,
    This is what I love so much about you! You are so honest not only about your sin but how God works it for His glory and your good. I would love for your Ella and my little girl to play together. I think they would get along so well.
    There are many times my girl helps me see grace when I am not being very grace filled. Isn't God kind!
    Thanks for this...I am encouraged cuz the grouchy mama lives at my house too :o)

  7. (Grabbing a tissue) -- I have had a grumbly couple of days, and all on a week when I should be soooooo thankful. The simple servant's heart displayed in little Ella is beautiful. I am touched and rebuked all at once! Thank you for sharing this.

  8. Yep. Crying over your reheated enchiladas along with you. What a sweet, sweet, gracious little girl you have. Your post was all too familiar to me. Thank you! Though, I must say, I think your daughter must have seen those traits somewhere before...: )

  9. Ella. I think you should marry Micah. :) Such a tender heart, Stacy. I would have cried, too, kneeling beside that sweet girl. Thank you for sharing Mahaney's words with such a relevant application! Love you.

  10. I love this story.
    It is really neat to see Ella become so able to really care for others! I can't wait to see what God has for her!
    I think this is key (in part) to the Christian life! Realizing what we do and do not deserve. We deserve death. Instead, God shows us what Love is by sending His son, FOR US! Amazing.

  11. Wow. I am with Elise - I would have cried too! Sugar, I cried just reading it!


  12. Thank you, Stacy, for your authentic self..your testimony of such a gracious family who loves you. So very encouraging!

  13. Stacy,
    Two weeks ago, this same night (minus the enchiladas) happened at our house, and I was the grumpy, need-not-met one. I can so relate. Thank you for the reminder of MORE GRACE. I need it, and I need to shower it on my husband. Thank you.

  14. Oh my word, Stacy, I am totally crying after reading this post. I love how God speaks to us in the simple, everyday things. Or the small, cute people we are related to. : ) Thanks for sharing this poignant story. I am thinking of that song we used to sing at CCF: "Mercy triumphs over judgment. Only the blood of Jesus..." Thank God for MERCY!!! Oh how I need it...
    And I am a grumbler with my kids more often than I'd like to admit. THANK YOU for your transparency with your little "interaction" in the van with the hungry kids. I so appreciate your honesty; it's (unfortunately) nice to know I'm not alone, and your example and thoughts from your Bible Study give me encouragement and lots to chew on. Thanks for being a light, Stacy! Love you. Hugs to you and your sweet family ~ Camee

  15. Stacy,
    I also had tears reading this story, and probably because like everyone else, we can relate. I appreciate your honesty and your humility, two traits that I most highly value in others.

    (Michelle's) Carrie :)


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