Crackers and “Grace” Juice

Our pastor had just wound up a terrific message on parenting by pointing out the importance of a grace-filled home for our kids. He beautifully explained that while, as parents, we most certainly need to identify the weaknesses and sins of our kids and work to correct them, our home also must serve as a safe house. When our sons and daughters mess up, they need to know the door is always wide open - that we will embrace them with unconditional, and often undeserved, love. Good stuff.

Unfortunately, I didn’t hear a thing that he said after that.

As a poignant way to close out the service, he had beckoned the ushers to head down the aisles and “deliver the elements” (a liturgical way to say “hand out grape juice and crackers.”) I took the large tray and passed it to my teenage son. He removed his cup, but upon pivoting to pass it to his dad, promptly bumped his arm spraying the entire ounce of bright purple liquid all over on his father’s khaki trousers. Yes, light khaki trousers. I jumped to reach for some tissues under my chair to help clean up – but in the process managed to knock MY juice all over my Bible and my shoes as well!

Needless to say the sobriety of this spiritual moment was lost on the Crane family. I madly dove into my purse searching for the emergency “Tide pen” (a staple in a home with 3 boys) and we attempted to mop up the mess.

As I sat there amidst the solemn congregation, the irony wasn’t lost on me: Wow, what an opportunity to extend grace, eh? Seated next to me was a boy who, in his haste and immaturity, truly messed up. Yet, his dad didn’t respond in anger or frustration. He didn’t even gesture wildly with a nonverbal “What do you think you’re doing!?” reprimand. He simply wiped down his trousers to the best of his ability, and then put an arm around the lad. And while my son’s wide eyes definitely registered a degree of shock and surprise…his mouth soon twisted into a wry grin. No fear. No anxiety. No worry of a slap to the face or a stern rebuke. That child was secure in the love of his dad.

Looking back over this week alone, I’ve certainly erred far beyond a mere spill of grape juice in my own life. I’ve been impatient. Selfish. Yes, even a tad arrogant at times. And yet, when I look into the eyes of my Father, what do I see? Grace. Compassion. Undeserved favor. Over and over and over again, He is my “safe house.” Oh, to be THAT kind of a parent to my children.


  1. Once again you have tapped into my heart and I walk away after reading your blog with a new vision into Bradley's behavior. I must realize my reactions 24/7 so that he knows he is safe. Just after reading this blog, he made a "mistake" of opening up some crackers that I had just talked about being for me due to my new food allergies and it's almost like he was on autopilot while doing so. He looked up all scared at what my reaction would be and handed them to me. I just said "thank you" and he looked super relieved. Not feeling well it would have been easy to snap at him with a condescending statement like "what did I just say?!" but instead he took that grace and left the table quickly. What timing!

  2. You are such a gift to that young man, Meg! I love your heart as a mom and your sensitivity to the Lord's prompting :)