Grace: A perfect and free gift

Amazing diversity.  Love this place!

I did have a laugh the other day when I was talking to my husband about this blog.  I’ve blogged so much about my child’s struggles with ADHD.  You only need to cruise around my blog posts to see there may be some adult ADHD happening.  I think I know exactly who he got it from. About one year ago, a sweet lady nominated me for a ‘Verstile Blog’ award.  Really I just think, ‘Adult ADHD blog’ award.  I don’t think I could focus on one topic even if I tried. My friend suggested I go into special education consultancy work.  She said I should create a blog specifically for special ed.  That’s just so funny.  There’s no way I could stay focussed on the one topic.  That’s how scattered and busy my brain is.  Before I’ve  finished thinking about one thing, I’m already considering something different. Versatile indeed! We will go with that for now.  Now onto my post, something entirely different to what I was just writing about.  Stay with me.

I wanted to write about something very important to me, grace. You can receive grace, greet people with grace, be saved by grace, be strengthened by grace, filled with grace, share grace, parent with grace, be gracious. The list goes on.  But it suddenly dawned on me, what actually is grace? We hear this term used often.  Christian or not, it’s used often.  It is used over 150 times in the New Testament of the Bible alone.  Some people call the Gospel in the Bible,  the Gospel of Grace.  We assume we know what it is, using the term, but do you actually know what it means? 

I’ve enjoyed exploring the Bible, articles, podcasts etc in trying to find out what grace means.  My favourite example of grace was in a podcast sermon about grace.  Imagine you were speeding and a policeman pulled you over.  Grace would be to not only let you off with warning (that would be mercy), but for the officer to then give you money to fix your broken headlights.  In light of this example, the meaning of grace is a free, unmerited gift.  The grace of God is the free gift of salvation to the undeserving because of our sin. You can then understand how the Gospel can be called the Gospel of Grace.  It’s the story of God’s free gift to everyone. It has nothing to do with people’s good works, it is free undeserved goodness.  Now that I’ve got this understanding of grace under my belt, I’ve now got to work out how to parent with grace. Oh my, watch this space. That’s if I can stay focussed on this topic long enough.

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Juggling

My navigation of life continues to be a juggle in the Hasmite Kingdom.  A juggle of spending quality time with all kids, homeschooling my intense and sometimes aggressive little man, attending play dates where I barely understand what is being said, enduring constant illnesses as our little one gets used to the new bugs, raising our kids alone most days while Joel also juggles his hectic work life.  Why am I here again? Yep, the honeymoon period of the expat has come to an end.  It’s never nice when it does.  Thought it would also be fun to throw in some low iron, low vitamin D and lazy thyroid, why not?  I must admit though, life is tough enough without that level of exhaustion, but throw in those extra things and I was EXHAUSTED!  It’s nice now that the fog has lifted and I have some bounce in my stride.

Another thing that eats away at me, or keeps me humble really, is the fact of having a kid with extra needs thrown into the mix.  Even though my head knows these kids need different approaches when it comes to teaching, guiding and disciplining them, I still can’t help but feel like a failure.  It’s an unhealthy way to be, I know, but a perfectionist can’t help it.  When you have a kid with oppositional defiance tendencies, you can’t help but think maybe this is happening because Im not being strict or consistent enough.  These thoughts smash me everyday.  Thank goodness for God’s grace and strategies.  After a LONG time, I’ve come back to His feet, smashed and humble, but ready to be carried.  Nothing like the ouchiness of humility, but the freedom and strength in God is so refreshing.  As I type this, I can say all my kids have taught me SO much about love, grace, patience and humility.  I’ve also learnt so far, so much about parenting a child with extra needs, so I know one day I will be able to hopefully help others that have children with special needs on a more personal level.  Hmmm, I guess this is the thing I lack too.  We have a diagnosis and some medication waved in our face, but then left to our own devices.  I’m madly reading most days trying to work out how to teach our kid the executive function skills he is missing, not really having a clue of what I’m doing.  Anyway, I’m sure God will use all of this that I’m learning now for my own family but others too.  

Jordan can be a challenging place to break into and make friends with the locals.  The locals have big families which consume most of their social life.  One of the ways for my kids to feel at home is of course by making friends.  So, I decided to invite the mothers and kids from my son’s class (in a local Arabic school) over to play.  Play dates are not something they do a lot of here, so the mothers were super excited by the idea.  We had about 8 come and all up about 20 kids.  It was awesome.  A challenge for me with my little bit of Arabic that I have, and hosting in a respectful way (they have lots of customs I had to remember),  but it was fun.  The mothers liked it so much that we’ve started a Whatsapp play date group for my son’s class. This is great.  We meet often to play.  Tick!

My heart continues to break for our neighbours across the bridge in Palestine (and the nice Israelis who want peace).  It’s sad to see this place in so much trouble but inevitable if you continue to try and solve problems by killing people or oppressing people even more, and not allowing some mothers access to attend their childrens funerals.  How inhumane can you be?!

Anyway, my life continues to be full, hectic, reflective and enjoyable in a funny kind of way.  

A burning passion

I’m writing this as my head is blocked up with the flu, sorry for any incoherent comments.

I felt such a burning passion to write because this place is changing me so much.  Previous to living here, I cared about politics, but it didn’t take up a huge amount of my time, conversations or mental capacity.  Now, living here in Jerusalem, I am changed.  Without realising it, you live and breathe politics here.  Even trying to find a real Christmas tree outlet on the Internet was a massive failure.  The only thing we could find was articles about how Christmas trees have been banned by the Israelis.  Really, I just want a Christmas tree, do we need to delve into politics over a Christmas tree!!

The way I read the Bible, the way I think of God’s people, the way I engage in everyday conversation with people has changed.  I have changed.  For the better, I don’t know.  I used to be so chilled out about stuff, but 18mths in, the tension in this place has grabbed me, spun me, moulded me, broken me, challenged me.  Even when you come back from a relaxing holiday, the tension in this place grabs you like a dark cloud hovering over you, and perhaps within you.  Living in this place makes me glad that I believe in a God of hope, a God of love.  Without this hope, living here would be even harder.  This place certainly draws you to your knees daily.

It’s halfway into our posting, and we are now confronted with the question of extend our stay for an extra year or so, or finish up in 18mths.  I do love this place, but I’m not sure how much longer I can let the tension bubble up inside me.  Nor, I don’t know how much longer I can take my kids being bullied by bored youth at parks.  I’m not sure I want my kids to grow up with this level of aggression around them.  It can’t be good.  On the other hand, I don’t want to leave my friends I have met here, and perhaps God needs believers to live here, to rise above this tension and pray for this place everyday.  Perhaps that is the reason we are here.