Saturday, December 1, 2012

Remember and Celebrate Grace

Last year, I posted a list of goals and intentions for the year.   I kind of chuckle when I look at it now.  Mostly because I didn't accomplish most of it. ;-)  That's not to say that I didn't accomplish things or grow as a person this year...I did!   It just didn't take the shape that I expected it to at the beginning of the year.   And that's OK.   I'm good with it.   I'm not planning to make or publish another list of goals and intentions for this year.   I may still try to chip away at some of those goals and intentions,  I'm just not going to worry myself so much about being able to check things off a nice tidy list.

Rather, I've chosen a broader intention...a theme, if you camp out on this coming year, which has grown out of a number of things I've thought about over the past couple of years already.   Recently, I've seen how those things connect together.  That intersection is something I want to consider and meditate on in this coming year.  That's where my title comes from: 
Remember and Celebrate Grace
In recent years, it's become apparent to me how much I take the grace of God in my life for granted.  I don't live like someone who has been set free from certain death.  This is apparent to me in my daily life.  I am task focused and more often than not attempting to complete those tasks on my own strengh.  I set legalistic standards for myself to follow (which carries over into my parenting and marriage) and put terrible pressure on myself when I can't perform.  I want to be able to extend grace to those around me (my husband and children first, and then others), but I can't if I don't fully understand how God's grace has been extended to me.
That's why 'remember' is the first idea here.  I want to remember the grace that God has shown me.  I want him to "restore unto me the joy of my salvation".   I want to truly understand the gospel and what it means in my everyday life.  I want it to color my daily life and overflow to those who live around me.  I've started this already by doing a slow, meditative study of the book of Romans...trying to look at it with fresh eyes and letting the truth of it seep into my life.  Other books and resources that have been helpful for influential in this journey so far include Jerry Bridges book The Discipline of Grace and Emily Freeman's Grace for the Good Girl.  I've appreciated Kendra's perspective on grace-full family life over at Preschoolers and Peace too.
A couple of the blogs that I like to follow are written by Catholics (especially this one).  One of the things I've noticed as I've followed along with these blogs is the way that they observe the various feasts and festivals of the church year - their year revolves around the rememberence and celebration of what God has done.  So many of their family traditions are wrapped up in these rememberences and celebrations. And they celebrate in ways that even the very littlest ones among them can understand and enter into the celebration too.  This strikes me as a very beautiful thing, and something that we've lost track of in our American Evangelical Protestant tradition (sadly, in my opinion).  In our family, we've attempted to bring a more Christ-centered focus to our Christmas and Easter celebrations, but this is an idea that I'd like to extend even further.  Starting this year - meaning this Church Year, beginning with this season of Advent - I would like to reflect on the various seasons of the Church Year and consider how we - even as evangelical Protestants from a non-liturgical tradition - can celebrate the extravagant grace He has extended to us and how our family traditions and celebrations can reflect His goodness.   I plan to read and reflect on the book Living the Church Year:Time to Inhabit the Story of God by Bobby Gross this year, with an eye to considering how it can apply to our family in the following 'church year' cycle.   Perhaps some of those meditations will spill over into this space too.

What about you?  Is there a theme that God has laid on your heart for the coming year?   Do you have any favorite resources, practices, or traditions that help you Remember and Celebrate Grace?

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