Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Grace on a Thursday: My run in with fancy

Like every Wednesday, today was my morning to volunteer in the kids' classrooms. But before my duties started at 8:15, I ran to get a coffee at Starbucks. I'm not usually a coffee drinker. But it was early, and I wanted a little something to sip while I braved the masses of children for the two hours to follow.

I guess because it was so early, I found myself alongside the working bunch, those who probably stop there every day before the morning commute. Everyone seemed to know each other's names, and were asking one another and the baristas about what the prior weekend held.

Something was distracting me, though. A really strong, but lovely, smell. Not the coffee, I realized. It was the perfume of the woman standing in front of me. It filled the room. It made me take notice of her.

She was really beautiful. Dressed in very chic but work appropriate attire, her curled blonde hair was perfect and motionless, and her high heels looked special. She wore a feminine, fitted white blazer, nipped in at the waist, and matching skirt, all trimmed in black. Her flawless makeup alone looked like a thirty minute project. She was quite a fancy sight, and I noticed she looked about my same age.

I was suddenly aware that what I'd chosen to wear today, what I'd thought earlier that morning looked somewhat cute, instead looked faded and shabby. Both the top and skirt I was wearing were bought second-hand, and if you looked closely, were pilling. My Target sandals were about to see their third summer and the polish was chipped off one of my toes. All I'd managed to get on my face was a little concealer to hide my dark circles and some blush, since I have that post-winter pale look going.

She and I crossed arms reaching for sugar, cream and cinnamon. She doctored her coffee just like I did mine. And as I headed back out to my car, lots of thoughts began to rush through my head.

I first remembered what it was like to have an income before I had kids. And the free time! How freely I shopped and spent time on my appearance. I thought about how much I've given up to have children, and then to stay home with them full-time.

I wanted to be a little judgey, actually, of her. I wanted to hate her perfume and feel better about myself through the streaks of envy I felt by saying in my mind that my job as a mother was better. But I know it's not. The fact is that she could be perfectly in the center of God's will for her life. I have no idea what God may be doing in and through her.

But I do know what God has called me to do. Today, it was to back all this artwork with construction paper.

Ten years ago tomorrow, on my first-born's birthday, becoming a mother was my calling. Working and earning a living and wearing heels on a Wednesday morning were my things to lay down. You don't really realize it because the sacrifice is a slow fade. But now that I'm ten years in, now that I stand next to mid-thirties-fancy-working-lady side by side, I can see that it's a lot. The sacrifice is a lot. In fact, it's huge.

I thought about how both the fancy lady and I had Starbucks cups on our work spaces that morning. Just imagine how different our views were between sips.

It's huge because it's meant laying down my life for others. Particularly, two others. My two littles. It hasn't been that difficult to lay it down. I'd make the same choice over and over, if given the chance. But I'll never be able to grasp how huge it has been for them. Their lives will be evidence of how huge that laying down has been. And their stories have barely begun to be written.

So I guess what I'm saying is that laying down my life to stay home and raise my children can be summed up as a big leap of faith. A leap I have to make every day. I'm having faith that all the work, the laying down, the intentionality, the love, the tears....that all of it gets rolled up in God's economy and formed into something really beautiful: well-raised children.

And because I am a hot mess on some days, a selfish, fleshy, annoyed mess, grace is what I'm counting on to be in the mix. My daily prayer is that all my offering gets rolled up with grace. Lots of Jesus-filled grace.

Grace blesses my sacrifice, fades the mess, and brightens Jesus in my kids' lives.

I'll take that over fancy any day. 



  1. Beautiful.
    We just started our summer ladies Bible study at church this week. We're going through the book Becoming God's True Woman. It's a study on biblical femininity and what you've written about here is almost exactly what the topic was yesterday. The world's view of success vs. God's view. In His eyes - an your family's - you are a success and just as fancy as the lady in the pretty heels & flawless makeup.

  2. I have similar experiences to this one daily. Thanks for the reminder not to judge or envy...motherhood certainly is a sacrifice, I trust it's worth it in the end. I think I'll be a fancy lady again someday...but the 2 year old just came in asking me to "change my poopy!" i may still be a ways off :)

  3. You are a beautiful writer. Always love stopping by. xoxo

  4. I LOVE this story, thank you soo much for sharing! {Would be awesome to print up & be reminded of}

    Many Blessings!
    Alt3, Marquia

  5. This is such a wonderfully written post. Thank you for noting not to judge her, as she might very well be following the perfect plan that God has for her own life. You'd be amazed at the amount of judgment that comes from other women regarding my own choice to have a career outside the home. Then again, maybe you wouldn't...I'm sure it goes both ways. At any rate, your post is refreshingly candid and applicable to daily life.

  6. being a momma is such a beautiful sacrifice. great post leslie.

  7. Hey Leslie, M a new reader if your blog! Love your writing! This post is so beautiful. And it makes me wonder what was going on in the mind of the fancy lady you saw.. We never know, maybe when she looked at you, all she thought of was how much she wants to have kids.. I guess at times its hard to find grace in where we are and the purpose god chose for us! but thank you for the reminder!
    Lots of love

  8. I've had these thoughts before...although not nearly as well formulated or beautiful! It is a sacrifice that we're making each day...I'm always encouraged when I see the rewards in my littles! They're getting it, they're making good choices, they're loving others, they're digging around for the person of Jesus. It's the best job in the world and I'm so thankful that I get the privilege of spending my days with my kids! Thanks for sharing!

  9. I love this post Leslie. Because Ive been there too(Im sure many of us have). Yet I also applaud you for not talking down on her because Ive been in her shoes, too. Life is full of seasons...and as long as we're walking in the right season where the Lord wants us, thats the most important thing.

  10. Oh wow have I been there before. THANK you, you have a beautiful heart.

  11. Thank you for writing this. I struggle with this sacrifice still.

  12. Thank you for writhing this, not only only beautifully written but exactly what I needed to hear!

  13. Love your perspective!

  14. I need this post. Except, it's not working women I'm comparing myself to, it's the 22 year olds who're able to go on to grad school or stay up and party or travel wherever they want. I wouldn't trade my daughter for anything, but sometimes I need the reminder that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be. Thank you :)

  15. i will admit that i have been there! but it's the younger women/girls with the flat bellies and body parts in the right places that i envy just a bit. but then one of my three will give me a hug and a quick i love you and that envy fades.

  16. I just discovered your blog (through a repost of your 50 shades observations). I love your writing and teaching. While I'm not a mother, I had a similar judging / comparing unfavorably moment the other evening. This really spoke to me.

  17. I'm not really sure why the thing I'm about to describe happened. I'm a soon-to-be college graduate working for United Way. I'm browsing blogs about children and families looking for ideas. I'm not a mother--I'm not even dating anyone--but it's something I hope for. Your blog post has left me in tears in my cubicle at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon. All at once you have confirmed and comforted so many of my fears. I believe what you say. Thank you.

  18. Beautiful post. You are inspiring.