Raw. Real. Graced.

"I'm sorry," I whisper, "I am so sorry."

I rub his little check and whisper it again.  "Mama," he says.

That's all.  Not the beginning of a sentence.  Tis its own sentence.  A statement...mama, MY mama.

Deeper my heart sinks into itself because if I could take back my actions, if I could take back my words from moments before, I would.  But I can't.  Funny thing about life...it doesn't promise any do-overs.  

I settle him in his crib and slowly close the door to his room.  I put his big brothers to bed with two chapters and a begged-for third of the latest book.  I close the book to begs for more.  But not tonight, the next chapter is not of that book.  It's of me.  It's a begging of forgiveness from them...toward me.  For the same moments I can't do over.

No.  We can't take them back.  We can't do them over.  But oh--sweet forgiveness!  The same God that gave me this life in which I can have no do-overs promises me mercy for those same moments if only I ask.  And oh how I ask!  

Grace.  It's taken me well over 30 years to learn REAL GRACE.  Not a meal-time prayer?  Not the smooth elegance with which some move?  No...grace. REAL, RAW GRACE.

Because you see, in the screen of my computer before I begin to type, before it is brought to life from its dark slumber, I see a woman.  Tears.  Gray hairs.  Misplaced hairs.  Little makeup and what's there...smudged.  I want to hug her.  Ask her what on earth is the matter. But I know.  She's me.  She's mad, frustrated, burdened.  She is real and the pain is raw.

And she is tired of pretending she's the only one who is not perfect.  So she hits the keys on the keyboard and brings the monitor to life.  Tonight it ends, this dance of masqueraded perfection that so many like her try to wear so...perfectly.  Tonight she reaches out and hopes, PRAYS that if her flinging off of the mask can help just ONE other person to fling of theirs she can feel better about this imperfect world we live in.

The keys begin to fly and REAL unfolds onto the electronic page.  It will be RAW but that is what she feels it will take to shake others to the realization that ALL are burdened, ALL are imperfect, and we ALL must lean on each other.  We must. Because only then can we see the earthly example of the grace of Him, the grace our Father has for us.  For you.  For me...

I had been reading some new blogs with common themes--find the JOY in life, everyday no matter what.  YES!  Absolutely! One calls it "skimming the cream."  In other words, skim the cream off the top and partake of the joyous milk of life.  That one writer, she encourages us to do that in our writings, our emails, our banter and chatter throughout the day, our blogs, and--yes--our Facebook postings.  Let the world see your joy not our sorrow.  True, perhaps.  Yet I beg you...let your joy be real.  Let it be raw. Be unafraid to let us see all your sides.  Allow us to see those moments when you have had to dig deep through the sorrow, through the pain in order to find that joy.

My mind is saturated with musings of others in this FB, Twitter, and Pinterest world, and so are most others' minds too.  And before we know it we can begin to feel overwhelmed.  So many ideas, so many wonderful happy lives, so many updates...and then...we look in the mirror and we see...us.  

Us. Without the Pinterest worthy DIY projects, dinners, and clothes.  Without the bodies or faces worthy of posting online because so many others look better, run more, eat healthier.  Without the kids kids getting straight A's consistently every quarter of every year, or always hitting the ball out of the park for that grand slam just in time to win the game.  Without the fancy homes and cars, all clean and polished.  Without spouses who always look great, smell good, and do ANYTHING for us at any time of day regardless of well, anything.  Without her talent or his genius.  Without.  Without.  Without...

WE, yes WE, you and I and million other people.  We did this.  We both created this and yet we despise it.  It temporarily lifts, and consistently drops us, all at the same time.  

We let the world know of our wonders and joys yet fail to mention we struggle daily too.  Because you do.  You know that right?  Each and every one of us does.  WE ALL STRUGGLE.  Let it be known, right along with your joys.  You needn't air your dirty laundry.  You needn't lose your positive outlook on life.  All you need to say, even if just sometimes, is "Today...I struggle.  Please grant me grace."  Because we will.  He will.  Let it be known.  

And just maybe a million other souls will be inspired to be real.  To be raw.  To bear their hearts, their vulnerabilities, and ask for grace.  And it shall be given.

So let me take the lead.  Let me tell you of my moments this day that, if I could have a do-over on, I would...

In a matter of minutes, I took my eyes off joy.  I see only an hour-late supper, piles of extra dishes, trash and toys to be picked up, and a toddler fresh out his high chair whining.  I see only that he ate little and played with much and I had much to do that was ever so imperfect.  Others cook from-scratch, healthy meals that their families eat up.  Others have husbands and kids who jump up to clean the kitchen and the house.  Others have toddlers who self-feed neatly.  Others.  They don't struggle...right? 

Then the tray, perched precariously on the only half-empty spot left in the kitchen, fell off, face down, mess all around.  That spark ignited the dynamite.  I blew up.  I lost it.  I screamed.  I scared him, the toddler.  He began to cry.  But all I could see was frustration and anger.  Why me!  Enough!  QUIET!  But no...  He cried louder, his brothers still and quiet and I realize.  I must look like a beast.  Not a loving mother.  Not at all.  And I loathe myself for it.  I stop and love them.  The best I can.  The rest of the evening was semi-volatile.  Like the remnants of a fire left to smolder, I was not ablaze but still hot.  I wasn't completely out until I put my babies to bed and begged for forgiveness.  For grace.  And they gave it.  

From my oldest, "It's okay mom, I forgive you...you have a lot on your plate."  Grace and wisdom...from a nine-year-old.  

From my middle man, "I always love you mom."  

And from that toddling babe..."mama."

I didn't deserve it, but they gave it.  And He will too.  

And you?  Stop being afraid to be seen a little muddy and messed, a little worn and raw.  

You are loved deeply.  DEEPLY.  Breathe it in that love.  From us, yes, but oh SO much more so from Him.  And no mud or mess, wear and tear can shallow that depth of His love.  Nor ours.  That is GRACE.  REAL, RAW...and JOYOUS GRACE.


  1. God Bless you and you're amazing messy Grace filled life. You've blessed me today Mandy and I wish I could hug you...but this hug from a very old friend is coming from far away...but it is just as real as the tear in my eye becuase I was reminded today that I'm not supposed to be perfect....but how grateful I am and how much more JOY I have in being forgiven than I ever do in perfect!

  2. WOW! Thanks Amy! Find your joy, messy and real as it is!

  3. Thank you for this post. I know I've been there before, and it's not fun to be there. Sometimes it happens again, but the grace IS what makes all the difference. Thank you for sharing this with others, because sometimes we are so hard on ourselves for our mistakes. And, it's true that the "perfect" lives that are portrayed on social media don't usually talk about the imperfections. That is why I take lots of breaks from all of that noise! These are good dialogues to have, because how awful it would be if a mama somewhere thought she was the only one who struggled with an imperfect life!

  4. I love you for being real,raw, honest. I am ugly more than I like to admit (to myself). I'm the furthest person from being a perfect mom and hope that I never put that persona out there that I am, because I'm so fallen, yet the Lord gives grace and mercy and forgiveness and amazingly so do my children. I surely do NOT deserve the grace, mercy, or forgiveness, but I AM thankful for it.

  5. This. Even as a woman without a child, this is also me. Beautiful. Thank you.

  6. Reading this spoke straight to my soul. Thank you for your openness and willing to share this difficult yet beautiful teaching. He has used you to minister to my heart as well as the many others who read your words.

    Blessings your way!


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