Friday, January 3, 2014

Grace and Christmas Jammies

Being a parent is challenging. Being a parent to a child who is EXACTLY LIKE YOU is even more challenging. Dear mama, please forgive me for those teenage years. Man, Reese is such a little reflection of me and I accidentally prayed that she would be strong willed so we have our work cut out for us. I wasn't raised in a Christian home and so I feel even more so like I'm stumbling through this whole parenting thing. But we had a real parenting win (we think) last week and we wanted to share it.

We just started going to a new church in town that we really really love. They had a Christmas Eve service which the ex-culturally-catholic in me couldn't resist. We dressed up our kids in adorable semi-matching Christmas dresses and headed out. We had a plan for how our night would go: our tradition of Christmas pasta for dinner, Christmas Eve Service, opening the pajama Christmas presents from Nona, Hot chocolate and carols before bed, and then the hubby and I would wrap presents as we watched "It's A Wonderful Life" side note: If you've ever wondered what my husband is like.. I'm basically married to George Bailey. For real. It was set to be a quiet and sweet Christmas Eve.

When we arrived at the church we realized this would be a super duper small service. Like 20ish people. There was no childcare and there was going to be a lot of Christmas worship music so we thought it would be fun to let Reese sit in the service with us. She was so excited and loves to sing and dance so we let her dance a little on the side where no one was sitting.

Reese took this to mean that she basically had free reign in the church. She was dancing at first which was cute… until she walked up to the guy singing and playing the guitar and asked "what are you doing?" and then proceeded to run around to different spots in the church. The husband and I locked eyes. Oh, Elf no. 

I went to take her into the small private room to have a little chat with her about how we should behave in church. She's already way tall for her age so it looks even more disobedient. And y'all, she had her first (and last?) ever, full on screaming tantrum. On Christmas Eve. At Church. Woosh. Not 10 seconds after it had begun I was out the back door and on my way to the car with the husband and Kendi right behind me. We as parents were so embarrassed. What must people think of her behavior? What must people think of us as parents? We were heated to be sure.

When we got home we were at a loss. What now? We'd explained why we had left and disciplined her on the way home and I say that in the most diplomatic of ways. But we were now at the part of the night where we unwrap Christmas Jammies. We obviously had to give them to her- she had two sets from her Nona and it was THE night. But how? How could we give her a gift after she just made the whole family miss out? How could we give her something when she was so disobedient she deserved to go straight to bed do not pass go do not collect $200? How could we give her a gift she didn't deserve on this, the night before we celebrate the greatest gift this earth ever got that we certainly didn't deser… oh, wait.

So we sat her down.

We explained once again that her behavior was absolutely not ok. It was not ok to act that way in public. It was certainly not ok to ignore her parents and run away. And tantrums would never be tolerated.We told her that because of her behavior that night, she did not deserve to unwrap one of the gifts under the tree.

That really got her attention.

Then we told her about sin. We told her that we were all sinful by nature. That we sometimes did things, thought things, or acted in a way that was displeasing to God. That we didn't deserve gifts from Him either.

But God loves us anyways. 

He loves us so much that He gave us the greatest gift there ever was. Grace in the form of His son, Jesus. That Jesus gave us the gift of eternal life even when we didn't deserve it.

And in our hearts, we knew that we were also unruly children. And we also didn't deserve to unwrap one of the gifts under the tree. But then, Jesus.

So we had the girls unwrap and wear their pajamas that night. And we had a quiet and simple morning unwrapping all the gifts under the tree, which were far less than we'd had any other year and were still fall more than any of us deserved.

This Christmas was a simple one. It was rather uneventful and will certainly not be one we remember. Like the rest of 2013, it just was. 

But I don't think the husband and I will ever forget that lesson of Grace and Christmas Jammies.


  1. What a beautiful post. I love the idea that none of us deserve gifts under the tree - or anything else. Sounds like a really great teaching moment!

  2. Perfect! I am going to go ahead and just steal this lesson when the time arises ;)

  3. Ashley. This is amazing. It is so a joy to her of you parenting so authentically and in a way that shows Jesus so well to your daughters! Thanks for sharing this! I was so encouraged by reading this!
    Alesha <3

  4. Ashley, wow what a perfect way to handle and what amazing truth to take away!!! Thankful everyday for grace

  5. I'm in love with this post. Perfect parenting solution.

  6. I love this post! Excellent parenting solution!

  7. This is a wonderful teaching moment for grace- thank you for sharing!

  8. I loved this. What a beautiful post to read and such a great reminder. Thank you for sharing!

  9. What an amazing way to explain the gospel to your precious little girl!

  10. Wow...that really hit me upside the head, like whoah! What an amazing lesson, Ash, and such a great and timely reminder of His amazing grace toward His children

  11. I love this! two thumbs up for you guys!!!

  12. Love your heart, sweet friend. You're amazing parents.