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"Everything is grace" by Laura Range (CatholicMom.com) Image credit: Pixabay.com (2018), CC0/PD[/caption] It was a beautiful summer evening, the first Friday night of the season, and I was on my way to the store for some Pedialyte and Desitin. The only thing worse than a stomach bug in January is a stomach bug in June. Our family had been hit hard with a virus that had no business being around in the summertime. It was heartbreaking to see our normally energetic children listless and in pain. We had to take our daughter to the emergency room one night because she could not stop vomiting. Even after our toddlers recovered from the worst of it, the messy diapers continued for a week. I was buried in laundry and diaper changes and I wasn’t even sure what day it was. Truth be told, I was a bit resentful that we were experiencing this cross and missing out on summer fun. I was frustrated that most likely this virus would continue to spread through the family (and it did). I was even irrationally annoyed as I watched those around me enjoying their summer Friday nights while I was headed to the grocery store for baby medicine and diaper cream. As I walked through the store parking lot that evening, I happened to glance down at my shirt, disheveled from the day with a few stains threatening. The vinyl words imprinted on it popped out at me (words I had chosen when I ordered the shirt a year ago when my son was struggling with reflux as a newborn and I needed to be reminded of an important truth): Everything is Grace. A few tears stung my tired eyes as realization and conviction tapped my heart. Everything is grace. Not just the times when I feel God's grace or when life is smooth and simple (is it ever?). But there is grace in every moment, waiting for me to accept it and respond to it. There was grace as I rocked my son and turned on one more episode of Minnie Mouse for my daughter. There was grace as I changed the third diaper of the hour or threw a fourth load of laundry in the washer. There was grace when I cancelled our dinner plans, our play date, our day trip. There was grace as I held my exhausted daughter in my lap in the ER waiting room. That grace from God which says, I'm here. I see you. And I will help you. Yet I was so focused on my plan and my desires that I was missing out on His presence, His providence, and His peace. The Catechism tells us grace is "the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God ... partakers of eternal life (CCC 1996)." Grace is more than a lovely word on our wall art or a sweet slogan on a t-shirt. It's a powerful gift from God to sustain and encourage us during the hard times and lead us home to heaven. It reminds us that there's more to life than the present moment of suffering, yet at the same time it shows us the value of our present sufferings and that God is with us in it. It draws us closer to God as Father as we begin to see the ways He takes care of us in all circumstances. I was missing out on seeing His offered grace during our week of summer sickness until my t-shirt whispered to me outside the grocery store. Though God is always pouring out His "free and undeserved help" to us, many times we don't have the eyes to see it or the hearts open to responding to it. Too often we live for the "good" parts of motherhood instead of allowing God by His grace to transform all the parts of motherhood into good. Yet He deeply desires to help us become the mothers we're meant to be, the saints we're called to be. Just as we care for our children through thick and thin (and summer stomach bugs!), God cares for us with that same tenderness and constancy. Everything is grace. We don't always feel it, but we can choose to trust it is there, that He is there. He walks with us in our motherhood and works with us through it. May we grow in the ability to see Him in every moment -- including the mundane, the hard, or the sorrowful -- and receive His abundant grace.

What area or situation in your life right now are you struggling to see God's grace?

Copyright 2019 Laura Range