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Gracing New Beginnings

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By: Celeste & Dan Ezell    |   April 14, 2022

Years ago, I flew cross-country alone with my almost 2-year-old to meet my newborn nephew. She was barely potty-trained but refused to pee at the airport or on either airplane. It was too loud and intimidating. She held it all day until we arrived at my sister’s house. On the way home a week later, she pulled the same stunt and peed on my lap during landing at SFO. I was mortified, but I just couldn’t make it about me. I shed a few tears, made it to baggage claim, changed, recovered and hugged my little girl. What she needed at that moment was grace: a new beginning.

When I think of new beginnings, Easter almost always comes to mind. At age 8 on Easter weekend, I realized the significance of grace and decisively internalized my family’s faith as my own. It was a pivotal moment for me. Since I benefited from the grace of God, I was responsible to give grace to those around me. So I began strengthening my grace muscles. I empathetically befriended the outcasts at school, forgave my siblings for incessant teasing (sometimes), and counseled anyone who would let me…instead of doing my homework. When we were engaged, Daniel and I committed to keep “deep wells of grace” ready to give so we could learn how to love and consider each other in marriage. Now as a mother and teacher, I must maintain the same grace for all the kids in my life.

At school, we need “new beginnings” throughout the day. We have a policy to keep the soccer ball on the ground in the courtyard near the classroom windows. That was not what happened when a ball sailed through the air and knocked Mr. Daniel on the chin. And the student dared to laugh! After a shocked moment of dumb-founded silence, Daniel chose grace over fury and gently said, “This is not an appropriate moment to laugh.” An older student said, “You better apologize.” And the student did, “Sorry, Mr. Daniel.” It was forgiven and over.

Our school’s discipline policy has three steps. The first time a student doesn’t follow instructions, we lean in and whisper a verbal warning. The second time, we ask him/her to take a break for a few minutes in another room to regroup. The third time, we ask their parents to pick them up early. Today is apparently not the day to be in class. But tomorrow is a new day!

As a teacher, it’s tempting to label some children as discipline problems or even hold a grudge against them for not appreciating the effort it takes to prepare each lesson or activity. But if I anticipate disrespect, it sours me. I become negative, and even the students who are trying to cooperate have to endure my bad attitude. 

One morning I shuttled four boys to school and was about to park with a garbage truck in front of me, trash cans in my parking spot and another car backing out of a driveway right behind. I opted to circle the block and let the scene clear, and one boy asked, “Why are we going this way again?” Another answered, “We just missed a perfectly good parking place.” I was shocked at their gall. It took me ten minutes to calm down before I could safely engage in conversation with those two.

Grace means that each day is a new beginning, a clean slate. The offenses of the day before are gone. We don’t bring them back up, anticipate a problem or even think about them. Both the giver and receiver of forgiveness let it go and enjoy being together again. Even so, I’m often tempted to hold on to the offense and use it to try to goad my students or satisfy some arbitrary measure of justice. Nobody can live with that shame.

Motherhood brings the same temptations. I take my children’s behavior so personally. When they are disagreeable, it seems like an attack, as if they have positioned themselves as my enemy, trying to thwart all my good parenting efforts. Like the time my middle guy took the trash out but didn’t take the cans to the curb. We had nowhere to put our trash for the next week! In reality, their problems are their own. They need the grace to learn from their mistakes without fear of losing their relationship with me. I have to keep that in mind or I will say something I regret and have to ask them for forgiveness! Heaven knows I need grace more than they do.

Some may think that too much grace will spoil a child. Surely they will grow up ungrateful and undisciplined if their bad choices go unpunished. But what grace really communicates is a child’s inherent value; they are worth every effort to keep close. The person is more important than the problem. And when a parent lets go of the offense, she can love openly. Grace feels expensive, but it makes us all free. 

Celeste & Daniel Ezell are parents to three children who have attended, attend or soon will attend their accelerated K-8 Micro-school. They founded Chronos Academy to integrate all subjects to a timeline with creativity, music and making. You can reach Celeste by email at Follow Chronos Academy at @chronoscohorts or learn more at 
More from this issue:

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April is for Tools Read >>

Book Picks: Easter and Passover Books Read >> 

Go Ahead: Brag A Little Read >>

Gracing New Beginnings Read >> 

Internal Beginnings Read >> 

Meet the 2022-2023 SMMC Board Read >> 

Meet Wendy Xa, Head of School at Terra Schools Read >> 

Mindfulness in the Making: April's Full? Read >>