Small Success Thursday: Grace Edition


Small Success Thursday

The hardest time of the day for me is bedtime. I’m tired. I’ve run the good race. There have been errands and fights and meals and baths and dishes and homework plus whatever other unexpected thing happened in a day.  It remains a temptation for me, after getting the kids ready, to send them up the stairs with a hearty “I love you. Good night. Turn off the lights.” and that’s it.

The part of me that knows better knows to give that last full measure requires I climb the stairs. It will result in stories, prayers, cups of water, but also hugs, kisses, tuck-ins, and more “I love you”s. The jaded tired soul says, “Get it done. You have other stuff to do.” But that’s not the point of parenting or living or any of faith.  Yet the body is weak. “For I do things that I do not understand. For I do not do the good that I want to do. But the evil that I hate is what I do.” (Romans 7:15)

However, in talking with another person about the subject of writing, God granted me an insight.  Writing a book requires a story arc which, in the best of circumstances, should be plotted out. For some, the easiest way to get the story plotted is to start at the end and work backwards.

I thought about application of this same technique to real life. I wanted my children to go to bed tucked in, happy, peaceful. So I plotted the day backwards, from tuck-in with stories, prayers, and sippy cups, to what we’d serve for dinner, to the tricky issue of picking up two teens at two different schools at two different times, to homework.

It worked.

I tried it again the next night, and even with the craziness of a dental appointment and a forgotten book, it still worked. Theologically speaking, it makes sense, our end goal being Heaven, to work backwards toward what we must do here on Earth, with the end destination in mind. “So, when I do what I do not want to do, I am in agreement with the law, that the law is good.”

Having a plan to make it happen helped it happen. Having a plan to cooperate with grace led to the grace to cooperate. Anytime I make it up the stairs, it is grace. It is the widow’s mite, to give when I feel entitled to stop giving.  When the mind, heart, and body say “Stop” and you act anyway, it is grace.

Grace is a habit. I’d fallen out of it as of late owing to the craziness of the schedule and my willingness to be weak on this point. However, whenever we cooperate with grace, you know, we receive more, as God cannot be outdone in generosity. Grace leads to more grace. Reading one story usually leads to three. So also, one “I love you” often leads to smothers of hugs and kisses on the cheek.

With that in mind, this week’s small successes of cooperating with grace and making grace a habit include:

1. Reestablishing bedtime stories.  It’s a joy I forget whenever it falls by the wayside, but which always surprises me.

2. Plotted two-thirds of my next book using a workshop technique.  Planning to finish the plotting so I have a blueprint for where I want to end up by the end of the book.


3. Being pushed to re-start a daily rosary, when I’m presented constantly with friends who deserve prayers as gratitude for their friendship, friends who need prayers for their sufferings, and friends who ask for prayers because they need more salt and light in their lives.

Now it’s your turn!

Copyright 2013 Sherry Antonetti


About Author

Sherry Antonetti is a mother of ten children, published author of The Book of Helen and a freelance writer of humor and family life columns. You can read additional pieces from her blog,


  1. The nights we put everything else aside and do our Family Rosary are the most peaceful here. I do miss story time though. Hmmm… you’ve given me an idea. And this “Having a plan to cooperate with grace led to the grace to cooperate.” is awesome. Maybe I should cooperate more with grace – duh!


  2. My small success is not anything I did, but a pure gift from God. My daughter has been suffering from mild depression. I miss her sun-shining smile, the kind that can light up a room. Needless to say, I have been praying for her. Yesterday, her field hockey team won their state semi-final game. She was so happy and excited. I haven’t seen her this way in months. I know it is a temporary happiness, but I’ll take it. Perhaps God will continue to move her forward from here.
    My small success for this week – persistent prayer works!

  3. Sherry, I finally had time to read your introduction for this post, it’s so beautiful. I definitely relate and loved the reminder to take time to make bed time graceful. It’s a little tricky right now as the baby wants to go to sleep at the same time we’re trying to get the other kids to bed but it usually takes a while to finally get him in bed. So we have to try and stall him until everyone else is in bed which he isn’t always happy about.
    I love that you are praying a rosary for your friends. I have many friends in need of prayer too so you’ve inspired me to pray more intentionally and deliberately for them.
    Thank you for hosting! ~ Erika Marie

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