Courage + Grace

MY COURAGE KEY

I remember the day I received my MOPS packet and saw the Courage key. Honestly, my first thought was that it was weird, really weird. The key came with two notes. The first note described the idea behind The Giving Keys – to hold onto your key, to embrace and own that word, and then give it to someone else to encourage them. It sounds beautiful, and it truly is. But when I first read the note, I honestly thought it was strange. I was pretty certain I would not be giving this key to anyone. And looking back, I wasn’t in the same place I am now. I hadn’t yet embraced this new life since our move. I hadn’t yet understood all that God had in store for me. (And really, I still don’t. But I am trusting Him more.)

The second note was this one:

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Ummm, let’s hold on for a second. I’m a stay at home mom. My day consists of making lunches/snacks, getting everyone up, getting the littles ready, making sure everyone is dressed/went to the bathroom/ate breakfast…, driving to 3 different schools, going back to 2 of the schools, making lunches, getting littles down for naps, some homework time with the older 2, making dinner, running errands, doing laundry, cleaning the house…you get the picture. There’s not much in there that requires courage or bravery. Sanity – yes. Patience – yes. Courage and Bravery – not so much, right?
However, I do, and always have, believed motherhood is changing the world. It is impactful and important. I tear up thinking about the ways I KNOW God will use my children. I know that with each word I speak, I am making an influence on them. I did not realize just how much of an impact it makes on me, as well.

After reading this “telegram,” with the courage key tucked inside, I quickly stuffed it in a little used drawer. You know, that principle – if I don’t see something, it no longer exists? My 1 year old fully lives by this principle. For example, in this picture, he is now 100% invisible.

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CHOOSING COURAGE

A few weeks later, I had the honor to hear the story of a friends Giving Key and see her giving her key on to a friend. Hearing their stories, seeing their tears, I slowly started to understand the impact that a single word can have. I began to see the beauty in wearing a word each day, around your neck, near your heart. That day, I decided to dig out my key and began wearing it. I still wasn’t so sure about the word Courage, but I wore it anyway.

Later that week, I came across this verse from Jeremiah 1:6 –

“Be strong and courageous for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.”

I began to realize that I do need courage in each day. I need to be courageous and strong as I raise up my children. As I show them who God is, His love for them, and His gift of salvation. Courage and strength can lead to peace, when I courageously choose to love these little people instead of yelling at them. I need the reminder of courage when I am dealing with the screams of my sweet boy-child as he becomes more and more overwhelmed.

I needed the reminder of my courage key as I attended IEP meetings for my boy-child. Courage to discuss and advocate for his necessary services and therapies. I held my courage key during most of that IEP meeting. It was a present reminder to cling to the truth of Deuteronomy 31:17 –

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

During those first months with my courage key, I grew. I learned that courage was more than bravely standing and fighting. Courage was embracing, so much more than merely accepting, who you are. Courage was being brave, even in the simple, mundane, day to day things. Courage sees blessing where sadness lies. I now see courage each day, throughout my day. I see the small and big steps of courage in the lives of the people I know and meet.

I decided, after the IEP meeting, that I was ready to give my key away. I knew who I would give it to, and was both excited and nervous to give it away. Was it as weird as I thought it was? This was one more stretch, one more act of courage. And I am so thankful that I embraced it. That I gave the key on.

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ONE LITTLE WORD: GRACE

The months following, I began to miss having a word that I was focused on. I had learned the power of a single word, and I craved that reminder. Although I begin my day reading in the Bible, I so often get distracted, bogged down by life. The reminder and the focus of a word, on a key necklace, truly was such a help.

I began thinking of another word. During talks with a friend, the word, grace, kept coming up. I wasn’t really sure what it meant, or how I could apply it to my life. But as I began reading the Psalms, as I continued to say YES to whatever God had in store for me, for my family, I saw grace. I began to understand it. And now, I cannot make it through a day without seeing grace. Everywhere, in everything.

Grace became my One Little Word for the year.  I decided to order a grace Giving Key necklace. I added the initials that my husband purchased for me from Etsy. These 4 initials with their dates of birth are just one of the constant reminders of grace, even in the messy. I wear my necklace almost daily, and I love the reminder to give myself and others grace. Abundant grace. The reminder to see grace in each day, in the ugly, in the hard, and in the beautiful. And slowly, my children are seeing grace, and understanding grace.

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COURAGE + GRACE 

Months later, MOPS hosted a giveaway for a courage key. It was an easy giveaway, just tagging an Instagram picture, so I entered. And surprisingly, I won! Seriously, I was shocked, I never win anything. But more than that, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with this key. I didn’t really need a courage one – remember, I already figured that word out. But God knew. He knew the steps we would be taking, ones that I didn’t foresee. He knew the courage I would need, and just how easily I forget.

It was not much later when we began our journey. We had decided to meet with a neuropsychologist for our sweet boy-child. (You can read more about our special needs journey.) My new courage key arrived in my mailbox the day of our first appointment, a day that I was a mess. A day that I received grace upon grace. And a day that I needed courage. God’s love for me, his grace for me, has been evident each day. His grace has carried me along this journey.

So here I am today. I wear 2 keys around my neck, grace + courage. I see them daily, I am reminded of them daily, and my children see them. They know their importance and are learning what those characteristics look like. My boy-child plays with my necklaces, and with each twirl, reminds me to be courageous and full of grace. 

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 Linking up today with Ember Grey, as I sit, thankful for these keys that remind me of that grace upon grace.

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22 thoughts on “Courage + Grace

    • I had never seen it before either, Lindsey! I’m thankful that MOPS included them with registration this year. They have been great reminders for me. I love that too – God has a great way of taking care of me and knowing what I need before I do. 😉

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  1. I’m loving this idea of paying it forward with the use of the Giving Keys! I had never heard of this before and think it’s a fabulous way to stay connected on a human level with others. Love!

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  2. This was beautifully written, and stuck deep in my soul. It put to words feelings that I think many of us feel but can’t quite put our finger on. Being a mother is certainly the scariest thing I have ever tackled, and I guess the truth is that I need courage daily….

    On another note, I have participated in many an IEP meeting as a professional working with special needs children and their families. And at many of those meetings I have had to remind myself that I am supposed to act like a professional while I swallow back the lump in my throat. So much heartache and joy is tangled up behind the paperwork. I don’t know the many details of your journey, but I pray that there are many, many, many victories and celebrations along the way.

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    • Thank you so much. I so appreciate your kind words and your encouragement. It’s crazy to me just how much courage motherhood takes. Courage and grace.

      And thank you for sharing what you have seen on the other side of the “IEP table.” It is so encouraging. My little one is 3, and has developmental delays. We are currently seeing a neuropsychologist in order to get some more information to help him. Life is hard (for all of us) right now. He has made amazing leaps with the start of preschool (and through early intervention last year) but lately it has been extra hard. Thank you for the encouragement and the reminder to celebrate the small victories, because even those are truly big!

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  3. I love the way God teaches us the same messages over and over, and sometimes it’s as “simple” as one word. I’m so grateful that he’s eternally patient while I learn slowly. 😉 It’s definitely taken huge amount of courage for you these past few months; I’d imagine sometimes just getting out of bed on a doctor’s appointment day took every ounce. Thanks for sharing!

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    • Right, Brittany!?! I keep revisiting the same lessons. And I’m sure I will continue revisiting them. He is a much more patient parent than I. I have so much to learn.
      Thank you, these last few months have been long, hard, and beautiful. The growth is something I wouldn’t change, even for the messy, ugly, and hurt. So so thankful for grace in the midst of it all.

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  4. Ashley, WOW. I loved this post from you and am SO glad you linked it up to Grateful Heart! This is such a powerful idea but learning about the ways God made both of these words mean so much more than words in your life… it’s very touching. Thanks so much for sharing this!

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  5. What a wonderful post, I absolutely love what MOPS has brought into my life this past year! To be honest, I sort of threw my key in a drawer and forgot about it, but reading this makes me want to get it out and really start being more courageous! Thank you for sharing your story!

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    • Right, Liz!?! I LOVE MOPS! I wasn’t expecting to, but it’s challenged me in ways I didn’t think it could, or that I would be challenged. And the community from it is amazing.

      I hope you find your key! Even just for yourself and the everyday courage we need. ❤ Thank YOU for the encouragement!

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  6. This whole post is just so beautifully written—I’m sure it’s because of the beautiful (courageous and grace-filled) way these words were LIVED. I love how you said a few times in a few ways that you are now aware of grace and courage throughout each day at different times. So great that you haven’t just learned a lesson, check mark, but rather the same lessons continue to reaffirm themselves in your life everyday.
    I’ve never been involved in MOPS and have wondered if I’ve been missing out. Maybe I’ll have to check into it around here (before I not longer qualify!).
    Thanks for one of the most inspiring posts I’ve read lately!

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    • Thank you so much, Brooke! Honestly, I love MOPS, but I think more than the organization itself is the community it creates. If I have learned anything these last months, it is just how truly important community is. Thank you so much for your encouragement and kind words. Sometimes I forgot that seeing something repeatedly doesnt mean I didn’t learn a lesson, but rather that it is being reaffirmed. Thank you!

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  7. Hi, I found your blog via “The Peony Project” and just wanted to let you know I just love your writing style, and am currently binge-reading :). Can’t wait to read more! Your blog is a great encouragement. Thank you!

    I really love the idea of having one word to focus on – hopefully, I’ll try it soon!

    ^ So much loving going on 🙂

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    • Thank you so much! I so appreciate all the love and encouragement! I’m so glad you found me! Enjoy binge reading! 😉
      I am loving this one word for the year thing! It’s been amazing seeing it fully grow and take shape. Seriously, I would so encourage it! 💛

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