I started typing out this blog last night while simultaneously watching the first game of the World Series, The Cardinal’s against The Red Sox. Why? Because I had a crazy day yesterday and I like to put my thoughts down while they are fresh. I like to journal life as it happens.

It all started out when Angel and Starr woke up late yesterday morning. They didn’t set their alarm for the time we had discussed the night before. “That’s ok I said, we all oversleep once in a while.” Next, they took 2 1/2 hours to get ready for school. Seriously? Something tells me they were playing around and not trying real hard. Finally, they had an argument that I had to be the referee over. Even so, by God’s grace, I was still keeping my cool up through that point.

Then when we had 1 hour left and a whole bunch of stuff to try to accomplish before needing to leave to take the girls to some classes, Starr decided to empty the electric pencil sharpener. After putting it back together, she couldn’t get it to work which meant she couldn’t sharpen her pencil and OF COURSE there were no other sharpened pencils in the house.

I’m a really positive person so I’m not trying to be negative about myself, but the reality about my personality is, focusing is not my top strength. Okay, okay, it’s actually not a strength for me at all, in the natural.

Have you ever met one of those people before who seem to be able to handle about 20 things at once. They seem to have this natural gift and this special brain that allows them to have the ability to juggle a ton of things at one time. Well, I’m not one of them, which makes me especially thankful for the grace of God! I am well aware that for me – deep thinking, slow moving, non-multitasking Sandra – to be keeping up with the normal demands of everyday life, homeschooling my girls, contributing to my blog whenever I feel I have something worthwhile to say, getting ready to publish a book and being able to remain in peace a majority of the time is ONLY possible by God’s grace and I plan to never forget it!

It’s really cool how productive we can be when living our lives through God’s empowerment that comes as a result of us choosing to put our faith in His grace (His unmerited favor). I wish I had a recording of how often I used to basically run around in circles, so unproductive over the years when I was trying so hard, but trying in my own strength. I’m a believer that when we do choose to live surrendered to the grace of God, we will also live sensitive to the leading of the Spirit in our lives. That’s good news because the Spirit always leads us into productivity. The opposite is true for the times we choose instead to lean on our own self effort to get us by. During those times, since we are going it full force in our own strength, whether it be for a few minutes, a few hours, a few weeks, a few months, a few years, or a lifetime – the bad news is, us disregarding the Holy Spirit goes right along with us trying to live life on our own.

Now back to my story. See, told you I get off track. But that last paragraph was a good off track. I don’t mind getting off track at all if it’s a Spirit-led detour! Things were going good for most of the morning until I got caught up in the busyness of the moment – and yes, I was already beginning to feel anxious thinking of everything I had to do in the next hour, before Starr showed up with the pencil sharpener. I chose anxiety when I stopped receiving God’s grace and kicked it in high gear with my self effort to try to get through on my own. Out of the grace zone, I returned back to living life through my own natural weakness of ‘lack of focus’ instead of through Christ’s power in me and a pencil sharpener, of all things, set me off.

I pretty much lost it over the broken pencil sharpener. “Starr, don’t you have another sharpened pencil somewhere in this house?” “Give me the pencil sharpener so I can fix it (rolling my eyes)” It didn’t work. “Get your little hand held manual sharpener out so I can sharpen this pencil. Go, go, go.” As you can see, my tone was not gentle as I wrote that it should be in a recent post titled, “How To Get Along With People Better.” I’m not done yet either. Then I got Angel involved and told her to get her manual sharpener after finding out Starr’s wouldn’t work only to find out Angel’s wouldn’t work either so I threw it away right there on the spot without consulting with Angel, moving her to tears.

I then blurted out to Starr to just use a pen to do her Math. Wow, imagine that. I could have done that 10 minutes earlier and stayed in peace, but instead I decided to force things to go my way through gritted teeth and hurt the feelings of my two 10 year olds in the process. The girls started working on their Math with their backs to me, probably just to keep me from seeing how much I had hurt them, but of course, I knew.

I don’t mess with guilt and condemnation anymore because I finally ‘got it’ that Jesus paid the price for all of our sins and the guilt and condemnation that tags along with sin, but I absolutely believe in taking responsibility for my actions. After waiting about 10 minutes I said, “Girls, turn around and let Mom talk to you.” We had a long talk about how, even though the girls had made some poor choices earlier that morning and done some things that added stress to our schedule, that I am still responsible for how I handle life and should have never spoken to them in the downgrading tone that I just did. I told them, “Even if I am frustrated, anxious and stressed, I never have the right to take it out on you or anyone else. I alone am still responsible for the way I treat people.” I went on to explain how I should have handled the situation. So I said, “The truth is, I really didn’t want you to empty the pencil sharpener at that time Starr. I needed you girls to get going on your Math, but I should have taken the simple route and calmly said to you, “Starr, this is not the best time to empty that. Do you have another pencil you can use? If not, just go ahead and use a pen.”

I like to use life to teach life lessons. I don’t mind eating some mud in order to do it because I am solid in knowing who I am in Christ now and getting more solid everyday, so talking about my mistakes openly to help my girls learn how to handle life, or to help those who read my blog posts feel like they can relate, doesn’t bother me anymore. I believe the biggest reason for this is that I no longer allow the devil to bury me under guilt and condemnation when I blow it. I don’t live feeling bad about myself which I believe was the biggest thing in the past that would keep me from openly being able to admit my sins. I couldn’t take feeling any worse than I already did in those days, so instead of being open about myself I would get crabby, make excuses and play the blame game.

As you know, I talk about how important right believing is and here you can see how, when my wrong belief of feeling like I was a person guilty and condemned, turned into a right belief that Jesus paid the price for my sin and my guilt at the cross and gave me His righteousness in exchange, well…it has simply changed everything for me! Look at how right believing in this particular area of my life now causes me to respond to situations in a much more positive way. The same will happen for everyone who let’s God change their wrong believing into right believing and it is a lifetime journey for all of us.

I apologized and asked my girls if they would come over and give me a hug and if they could forgive me. They did both and they also apologized to me and asked for my forgiveness for not setting their alarm correctly, not starting school on time and not trying to work out their own differences before pulling me into the scene when they had an argument. I appreciated them taking responsibility for their actions as well.

While driving to their classes we had an awesome conversation about freely forgiving each other whenever we need to and how wonderful it was for all of us to be together in the car, having been forgiven by each other, therefore enjoying no breech in our relationship. I asked the girls if they still felt upset at me for the way I treated them and they said, “nope, not at all.” I felt the same toward them, just like it had never happened. We talked about how it felt to let God’s grace help us forgive in such a genuine way and how amazing it also felt to be on the other end of genuine forgiveness, having received it freely from those we have hurt.

Once again, yesterday afternoon as I took another opportunity to talk with the girls about what had happened that morning, I said to them, “Always remember when you become parents someday and remember for all of your current relationships with people that speaking in a calm, loving tone is always the best way to go and brings the best results! People end up liking others the most who they see showing the most respect to both, them and other people”

Just as a way of encouragement for all the moms reading this, I told a friend just a few days ago that I’m not so sure that some of the greatest lessons my girls have learned have not come on my worst days, because they’ve seen me apologize and be real with them about not being perfect on those days. This then opened their hearts up to being able to be the same way with each other and with Steve and I. This openness with each other and the free forgiveness we give each other in our family is a huge part of our close connection.

I also told my friend that the way I see it now is, I’m in Christ rather I have a good day or a bad day. On a good day I’ll give Him all the glory for helping me do things right and on a bad day I’ll learn whatever lesson I need to learn, very possibly get a blog post or Facebook post out of it, and end up giving him glory in the end on the bad days as well!

But wait…I’m actually not done with my day yet.

If you can believe it, after all that, I got mad at my husband last night for what I considered a lack of communication, and I yelled at him. All the people who know Steve are going, really? you had to yell? Steve even had to tell me I needed to go in the bedroom and calm down or something. He’s probably only done that 4 times in our 22 year marriage so that gives you an idea.

The basis of the problem was that I got upset when I found out our Dish receiver on the TV in our hearth room decided to stop working a few minutes before the time the 1st game of the World Series was about to start. Thankfully we have another TV downstairs that we were able to watch the game on, but I had a plan to clean all my fruits and veggies for the week while watching the game in our hearth room that opens up from the kitchen. There were other things that transpired, but the main thing that was driving my bad attitude was that I wasn’t going to get what I wanted and it stressed me out. That probably hasn’t ever happened to anyone else, right? Ha!

Steve was right to correct me because it was wrong the way I was speaking (actually yelling) at him. But thank God that once again, I felt no condemnation, took responsibility for my sin, apologized to Steve and asked him for his forgiveness and we had a couple of very similar conversations to the ones the girls and I had earlier in the day about how wonderful it feels to be a family who is willing to freely forgive by God’s grace.

It does something wonderful to the atmosphere when we take ahold of God’s grace in life, take responsibility, stop making excuses, stop blaming and are willing to both extend forgiveness and receive forgiveness whenever we need it.

Isn’t it interesting that because our family knows that we are already going to freely forgive each other before we ever do anything wrong (with no strings attached and without adding on any guilt trip), that this actually puts us in a state of rest with each other and gives us the desire to treat each other with more and more love everyday instead of seeing what all we can get away with. Sound familiar? It’s exactly what happens to us when we believe that we are freely forgiven by God for all our sins (past, present and future sins – see Hebrews 10:10, 12, 14, 17, 18). It removes our anxiety, sets us at rest and causes us to love Him all the more. When we believe this way we have chosen to hold right believing in yet another area of our lives!

Well, as it turns out, the Cardinal’s didn’t have such a good day either; but that doesn’t change their identity. They are still the St. Louis Cardinals with Fans who love watching them play the game of baseball and I am still a daughter of God, constantly being flooded by His love!

If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!

Sandra McCollom

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Alexandra

I love to read this. Not only because I can relate to the ways, the fits, the rage and even cursing in my case. (Yep I’m Christian)… But also you taking responsabillty for your sin and hurting your girls at that moment, and how it changes the atmosphere, being transparant and admitting the mistake. That takes courage! I can learn from this… talking about it still causes me to fall into the blame-game trap. I need to step back at that point. I have to keep it real (and short and simple I guess). Focussing on taking responsability and leave… Read more »

Savarapu Krishna

I am so glad to read this today and preparing on .. to preach tomorrow. We are praying for tomorrow’s Sunday service to be held successfully and believe that they will be blessed of this message.. thank you