About the Author

I'm the mother of two little girls, the wife of an amazing husband who'd rather play the guitar than anything else and I love to write. I spend my weekends watching my daughters ride horses and play soccer. I blog daily and my greatest wish is to see women healed...

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  1. Sarah – I love this. I’ve been thinking a lot lately how my girls absorb my behavior and make it their own. I want them to absorb grace more than anything. I know first it has to be alive and well in me.

    This is a beautiful practical way to check to see where grace lives in my life.

    thank you!

  2. Thanks so much for this, Sarah. I’m guilty of not showing enough grace to my family, and yet still expecting them to show unending grace towards me. I needed this reminder, and practical ways to live this out.

  3. Gracefully written. As a mom, wife, friend, stranger……I know I could do better at this. Thank you!

  4. What a great article. I especially like the part about showing grace to our spouses. That’s a daily struggle for me (and yet he shows me SO MUCH grace). But I’m learning.

    I’m also struggling with showing grace to the kids. What helps immensely is practicing positive parenting. We don’t invent consequences or deal out punishments. We empathize and set limits, stopping unwanted behavior and reconnecting with kids. (www.ahaparenting.com). The more I practice, the more harmonious life is in our house. Sometimes it’s hard in a competing world of time-outs and groundings, but it really blesses my children and, I believe, is an investment in a connected, happy relationship for the long-haul. I also believe it will raise well-adjusted, compassionate, empathetic kids who eventually, with maturity, can set limits for themselves and ask for grace-filled help when they fail.

  5. I love how you describe what it looks like, Sarah. So many times I have the head knowledge but not the heart. Grace…grace can be so slippery in the middle of it. Thanks for this. I’m receiving it as encouragement.

  6. Thank you for this. Grace is something I am daily trying to accept for myself and to teach my daughters. What you wrote about legalism saying that Jesus’ blood hasn’t redeemed anything and that legalism makes truth an idol really caught my attention. Especially as one of my daughters is a rule keeper and it has been challenging to teach her to choose grace or a person over a rule. I needed this reminder.

    • thanks sherry. i’m a recovering legalist myself. it’s hard though, when i had to realize that as a legalist, i’m putting the law (the thing that Jesus came to fulfill) as higher than God. one of my daughters closest friends is very, let’s just say, “justice oriented.” she is very interested in the letter of the law. i can see myself in her so often. thank you for being open and sharing a bit of your story! i appreciate it so much!!

  7. Everything you say here is good and true, but I’m struggling with the last part. I know that we are called to forgive, and that that will often happen when there is no repentance. This is hard. I’ve been struggling with deeply and truly forgiving for awhile now.

    My question is not about whether or not I SHOULD forgive. It’s more: What does forgiveness mean? How does it manifest itself in real life? Does it mean we have to talk? You write about “loving someone back into right relationship,” but what if that someone doesn’t really care to be in right relationship anymore? What does forgiveness look like then? It seems odd if it is only about the internal, because almost all forms of love have an external component.

    I would really appreciate any thoughts you have on this.

    • Catherine, thank you so much for your comment. i agree. this last point is the hardest of them all. several years ago i had a falling out with a very close friend. she did some things that wounded me and changed me forever. After a year of a lot of pain, i finally understood that there are some things and some events that will never be “repented” from or apologized for. Some people will never say they are sorry.

      if i lived in unforgiveness until the apology or the repentance was given, i would live that way forever. at some point we must move forward in the way that Jesus does and offer forgiveness before the apology comes.

  8. Sarah, I love the heart of this post. I support most of what you’re saying. I also strive for a grace filled life among friends, family and in church.

    Yet, where I would disagree with you is in the area of forgiveness. Through the cross, God provided the way to forgiveness, but it is my belief that we must ask for it. In humility, we must open our hands to receive His gift. Unless forgiveness is asked then repentance cannot be known and therefore grace cannot be fully experienced.

    ” I forgive before the repentance and that is what makes my heart move forward.” Of course each one of us must act on our understanding of Christ, Scripture, and conscience, but for me to forgive someone prior to repentance is to cheapen the sacrifice that Christ made for us.

    • hi natalie, i gave some of my thoughts in the comment above.

      I guess i don’t see how forgiveness toward someone, the ultimate mirror of who christ is and what he has done, is cheapening his sacrifice. I guess perhaps my understanding of christ’s sacrifice is that he has done it before we accept it and that it cannot be cheapened in any way.

      I can’t live in unforgivness toward anyone who wounds, yet does not repent. if so i would be living in bitterness and unforgiveness for the rest of my life. there are many people that hurt or do wrong and never repent of it. i must do my part and forgive regardless of repentance. forgiveness must be the norm.

      • I agree with Sara on this Natalie.

        I too forgive as I have never known not to .I have always believed that is what we are meant to do.

        Penny

      • Sarah, thank you so much for responding to me. I hear what you’re saying, and I hope I didn’t come across as judgemental of your view on forgiveness.

        Again, thanks for exploring your thoughts further in both the responses.

  9. Forgiveness without an apology has been my rant of the week. I love synchronicity and I love this whole thing…a whole bunch.

  10. Grace is my favorite – you hit the nail on the head in every sense! Thanks for your loving, truthful and grace-filled approach. I read a book several years ago called “What’s So Amazing About Grace” – it changed my life. To begin to understand and accept God’s amazing grace was the beginning of a life transformation that has allowed me to live more fully and lovingly each day! Loved your post!

  11. This is so good. I am 71 years old and by the grace of God we had the oppurinity to go to CA and live there for 20 years. We were from a strait lace Baptist Church and I have loved God all my life ut we were brought in leglism and it can really mess you up.
    But Being in CA and working there in a chruch taught a little easier life style. Teaching your children about living a grace filled life is well worth it.
    Thanks for your teaching.
    Becky

  12. I love this post, and especially the practical application suggestions! I will be working on some of those.

    I want to offer my slightly different perspective on #3. For me, I think it is important not to associate the concept of God’s grace with an alleviation of consequences. I think as parents every bit of discipline we offer our children, and that God offers our children and us, is grace. Anything that draws us closer to God and teaches us to walk with Him is grace from Him, including consequences for sin or inappropriate behavior. I love and draw on Hebrews 12 for this idea, as well as the Old Testament example of Israel in general.

    I work with Christian college students, and I can’t count how often I have been asked for “grace” or accused of not giving “grace”, for student conduct violations – minor and major. There is this idea that those in authority are not giving grace unless they are waiving consequences entirely. I find that concept of grace to be offensive, considering the lengths to which God has gone to give us true grace. I think we can and must see as grace anything by which God brings us to himself and holds us there, ultimately expressed in the life and death of Christ, which was costly beyond imagining.

    Now mercy is another matter, and I am not saying I don’t waive or intervene to spare my children (or college students!) consequences sometimes. I just think it is important that I don’t call it grace explicitly, and thereby cheapen the richness and dynamic reality of what God is doing in all of our lives!

  13. Thank you for this Sarah. I too didn’t learn much about grace until my 30’s. Think we’ll continue to learn about it till we’re on the other side of glory.
    #3 about legealism stands out to me. Can be a struggle as I used to see things only in black and white and no greys.
    Amazing Grace….

  14. Thank you for this post, Sarah. I love the way your break it down-living grace in everyday life. Then offer what the application of grace in certain circumstances “looks like.” I took away some great nuggets to learn and live by. Blessings

  15. Sara, I love reading your blog. Your honesty and transparency are both inpspiring and encouraging. This topic of grace has been heavy on my heart lately as well. I have been listening to Chuck Swindoll’s series “The Grace Awakening”. It is fantastic!!! If you haven’t heard it, check it out. His website is http://www.insight.org. Blessings to you!

  16. Teaching children grace can be especially difficult. I have a pastor who recommended a very practical demonstration that I use every once in a while. It allows for an opportunity to talk about grace with kids, provides a wonderful example/demonstration, and always manages to bless me. When my child is behaving poorly, instead of punishing I tell him, your behavior is unacceptable come with me. And I take him to the kitchen table and fix him a bowl of ice cream. And I then tell him how we are all sinners and Jesus died for those sins because he loved us, even though we may think we didn’t deserve it. That is grace. Just like I am showing you grace by rewarding you with ice cream for you inappropriate behavior. And I drop it. If he talks about his behavior and chooses to apologize I thank him. But I don’t demand anything of him.

  17. I have a pastor who recommended a very practical demonstration that I use every once in a while. It allows for an opportunity to talk about grace with kids, provides a wonderful example/demonstration, and always manages to bless me. When my child is behaving poorly, instead of punishing I tell him, your behavior is unacceptable come with me. And I take him to the kitchen table and fix him a bowl of ice cream. And I then tell him how we are all sinners and Jesus died for those sins because he loved us, even though we may think we didn’t deserve it. That is grace. Just like I am showing you grace by rewarding you with ice cream for you inappropriate behavior. And I drop it. If he talks about his behavior and chooses to apologize I thank him. But I don’t demand anything of him.

  18. I have a pastor who recommended a very practical demonstration that I use every once in a while. It allows for an opportunity to talk about grace with kids, provides a wonderful example/demonstration, and always manages to bless me. When my child is behaving poorly, instead of punishing I tell him, your behavior is unacceptable come with me. And I take him to the kitchen table and fix him a bowl of ice cream. And I then tell him how we are all sinners and Jesus died for those sins because he loved us, even though we may think we didn’t deserve it. That is grace. Just like I am showing you grace by rewarding you with ice cream for you inappropriate behavior. And I drop it. If he talks i listen, but i don’t demand anything of him.

  19. Love this post, Sara. I’m often amazed at how little people, Christian or otherwise, understand or even think about grace and forgiveness. Not that I have all the answers, of course! But fortunately, I’ve had some good teachers.

    If I could add one more thing to your exchange with Natalie; I have a friend whose best friend throughout high school and the first 2 years of college was brutally attacked and killed by her boyfriend. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. My friend refused to forgive him for almost fifteen years. She believed that his actions were indeed, unforgiveable (except by God) and that if she did oforgive him, that would be like she was betraying her friend’s memory.

    In the meantime, my friend cultivated a hard shell around her heart. She boasted about her independence, stating often that she did not need a man, or any other person in her life. She gained so much weight that clearly (in her mind) no man would be attracted to her, and often drank too much to numb the pain she was in.

    A few years ago several of us, including my friend, had a long conversation about forgiveness. I think I was the one who eventually asked her the question, “Do you think he (the murderer) cares whether or not you forgive him? Or if he even thinks about you?” She couldn’t say that he did, and that realization opened her eyes to the toll it had taken on HER.

    Since then, she’s not only lost nearly a hundred pounds and cut back drastically on her dr,inking and other destructive behaviors, she has a gre at relationship with a man who cares enough to have waded through all her muck and armor, and she’s considering accepting his proposal. I know, but old defenses die hard, right? 🙂

    The point of this incredibly long story is that the only person my friend’s hard heart was hurting was her own. As for honoring her friend’s memory, she realized that she wouldn’t have wanted her to live thatway! It ill.isn’t as if her friend had sacrificed her life , I understand, but I also don’t think Jesus wants us living in unforgiveness – for His sake or anybody else’s.

    • “…I also don’t think Jesus wants us living in unforgiveness – for His sake or anybody else’s.” Amen. COCO

  20. wow…dearest daughter…
    again, you’ve said good, hard & challenging things to us all!
    it is good that john 3:16 does NOT read,
    “God was so angry that He sent His only begotten Son…”
    instead, we find out that the basis of ALL things…
    from the Creation act of God onward
    is the LOVE OF GOD!
    in LOVE, God created…
    in LOVE God cast the man & woman out of Eden…
    in LOVE God chose abraham, isaac & jacob…david…
    all of them messed up people…
    yet in them, God displayed His LOVE & His GRACE…
    WOW…how does HE do it?
    maybe a better question is how does God NOT do this?
    in the His Exodus 34-encounter with moses,
    God names Himself full of mercy, compassion, long-in-suffering-our-sins…
    maybe that last word should get our attention:
    long-suffering is a beautiful word…because…
    to the “forgiver”…to forgive, to show grace & mercy is
    to suffer grief, loss, pain…without reprisal or revenge.
    Jesus told us, then showed us how to do this…
    Jesus’ all-powerful act of
    perfect-submission-dying-resurrection-ascension-coming-again
    was & is & will always be rooted in His amazing LOVE!
    it is NO accident that ALL of God’s highest commands to the human race
    are centered on the word “LOVE”…
    in our every act of love, no matter how small…
    we begin to look more like Him…like Jesus,
    our older brother Who showed us the Way!
    Jesus’ blood shed washes away the sin of the whole world…
    so, what is left to us
    then…
    is the choice of bowing to Jesus every day…or not.
    love you SO much…
    dad

  21. Wow… so convicting and so beautiful – all wrapped up together. I want so badly to have a grace-filled family but right now am not even doing that with my husband. Thank you for this reminder and the hope that it is never too late to start living more GRACEfully. 🙂

  22. Beautifully written! I try to show my hubby grace on a daily basis@ For I know that I do things that annoy him & yes I want his forgiveness also@ If God can show me immensely more grace than I deserve I can do the same toward others!

    We both want God to say “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”

  23. I believe that when our family and friend relationships with others unwilling to live kindness ended we were demonstrating protecting and loving our child. Some places can be so physically, secually, emotionally or verbally demeaning that forgiveness and grace are hard to plant and grow there, others are open to creating healthy and respectful community. I now see how our forgiveness and grace are interior and can create peace and happiness, a letting go of hurt, stress, regret but we may be forgiven by a gracious God who wants love for us and our children. We cannot beat ourselves up and mull over everyone not yet being ready to live in support and kindness. We must learn to live our faith and keep our hope that God is working in hearts, in society.

  24. I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately on forgiveness because I have the gift of having been born into a highly dysfunction/abusive family. Something I’ve read several times in circles that deal with abuse is about forgiveness only with repentance. Or maybe to put it this way, God might want to forgive everyone, but the only people who have been fully forgiven and reconciled are those who have repented. If this is the way God does things, then why are we trying to forgive when there isn’t repentance? I want to teach my kids about forgiveness, but also about the different varieties of forgiveness. I might not fully agree with what I’ve been reading because I’m still seeking understanding about this topic, but at the very least I will teach my children that they can forgive in their hearts and move forward with their lives, even if forgiving a person face-to-face isn’t an option because it could cause further harm (this is a topic I will hold off on probably until they’re older, but we’ll cover the basics of forgiveness when they’re young). This might be one of those moments where there’s different ways of viewing the same issue, and no one side is wholly right, and we can just extend mercy to one another!

  25. Sarah,
    First of all, your Dad ROCKS!! Love his reply.
    Your words regarding spouses”… have the ability to hurt us the most and also have the ability to heal us the best” brought the sting of tears to my heart and eyes. YES how true this is. I’ve experienced it in my very own life. Something I NEVER thought would EVER happen in my marriage, the unthinkable. Adultry. Now I can honestly tell you, and everyone else, that I have experienced the Grace of God. I understand how He feels when we mess up so bad yet He still loves us so much. He longs for us to restore ourselves to Him and each other. Infidelity SUCKS but redemption ROCKS!
    Thank you for your real account of life. I totally relate to your language, your expression and your perspective. Thank you for being bold enough to use your gift of writing to speak truth and realness into the world ( well, at least the social media blogasphere)!
    S

  26. Hi Sarah,
    You are such a beautiful heartfelt writer. Thank you for this practical and grace-filled article … it reminds me to be more conscious of how my actions and words can bless or wound my little girls (thank God for grace!!).
    Some things that we do in our family to try and teach our girls about grace is to make sure we apologize to them when we have had a “grace-less moment” and to try and model what it looks like to have grace on ourselves.
    Thank you again! I look forward to reading more of your blog!
    Doris

  27. Gwen – I appreciate your honest question.
    I am working through this also. I don’t think that forgiveness and reconciliation are always the same. God wants to forgive us, but we have to actively choose to accept Jesus to be reconciled to God. I can forgive a person by recognizing my own sin, praying that God give me strength and show me how to forgive. I always feel like it’s a good sign when I trust God with that person and don’t feel like I need to punish them. But sometimes healthy boundaries are the consequence of sin. When I was single, I might forgive my boyfriend but break up. A healthy decision. I might forgive a family member, but not allow them to have contact with my children unless I truly believe that the person is safe. Without repentance, healthy boundaries in serious situations may be more firm.