grace and the girl.

Her tears always kill me. Emily’s a very happy kid who strides light through each day and whose heart presses soft into the relationships and interactions connected to her.  She is easy to get along with and has little problem building friendships quickly, yet meaningfully.  She loves the people in her life and the exact moment she finds herself in.

That’s what she lives for. The moment she’s in with the people in it with her.  Her little heart holds a good tension of bold and honest meekness, daring and strong but tender soft.

I love how she loses herself in moments, fully engaged in and bought in, not yet thinking about the next.

Consequence is never as worthy as immediate context.

This both works for and against her, but lost in the moment, she thinks nothing of the consequence of her action.

Emily is adventurer pushing hard on boundaries and most alive at the edge.

In a way our hearts, hers and mine, meet closest along lines of adventure and discovery.  I see her heart clearly as it resembles much of mine as a child so there’s a familiarity when I speak to her heart in correction and instruction, nurturing her growing stature.


As she walked back toward me and the spot I stood, the spot where I sent her off from, the spot where I stooped down strongly to look her eye to eye as to peer serious and straight into her, I could see her already breaking.  With each step closer to me she tightened inwardly.  I could tell she was sinking in her wrong and more so in the realization of what she’d done; the hurt she caused now clearly perceived after the fact.

Only moments before, my oldest, Elizabeth, burst through the door out of breath and more frenzied than a result of mere play.

“DAD!  Emily is throwing acorns at me and my friends!!  She hit one of my friends in the face!!!”

Instantly, I could visualize Emily, red-faced, glazed-eyed and all smiles, lost in a moment lacking any trace of pre-thought or consequence.  And instantly, I was on my feet, running through the door to assess the damage done.

The sidewalk in front of our house was empty. Acorns strewn out everywhere like some squirrel’s haven gone awry.

Elizabeth’s friends sat together at the park across the street.  Emily emerged from our backyard in clear retreat and realization following the acorn incident.  After the moment, when she realizes consequence, her eyes widen as if to hold the tears filling them and she sinks quickly in guilt and regret.

I know she privately judges herself harshly.  I used to do the same.

::::::: Grace.  The thing about grace that confounds us is that it’s unearnable.  We do nothing to get it.  We sin.  We apologize and repent.  He doles out grace extravagantly like an unlimited supply.

Grace kills good and fills us with right.

Being a good person leaves the door open to so many mistakes and pitfalls not owned by responsibility.  Being a right person sets us above good to a place where we act responsibly when we both do good and bad, when we do right and wrong.

Grace teaches us responsibility and how to flourish most in mistakes.


I called Emily to me and stooped down on one knee to where our eyes could meet levelly.

“Emily, did you throw acorns at those girls?”

Her eyes answered as they lowered to the ground and filled with regret.

“Emily, what you did was wrong.  You could have seriously injured those girls.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

“I know.  But what you did was still serious and wrong.”

I didn’t say much else, but sent her to make things right.  I watched her walk toward the group of girls all older than her.  They stopped talking as she met them and looked at her as she stood there.  I’m not sure that Emily said anything else but “I’m sorry” to the group of girls, but it was enough.  And then she walked back to the spot I was still standing and waiting.

She wanted to hide both embarrassed and guilty.  I didn’t let her.  She had to feel it, the beauty of grace letting you go.

“Emily, being a good person is not about just always being good; its about what you do when you make a mistake.  You make it right and then you move on.”

She looked at me in the eyes and smiled softly.  I smiled back thankful that grace found my little girl bound in her mistake and let her go.