Grace Under Fire


All of us have experienced grace under fire moments.

I began my morning with a lovely jog in the hills. I had a chance to clear my head and set intentions for the week ahead of me. I knew it was going to be a busy week. It was the last week of teaching before the holiday break, completing 12 Days of Iler Woods holiday shop, and busily preparing for my family holiday traditions as well.


I came home, got breakfast ready and prepared for my day of teaching. About 30 minutes before my students would officially log onto zoom for the day, my daughter came into the bathroom while I was brushing my teeth and said, “Charlie isn’t doing well!”


If you have read my other blogs, you will know that we are an urban homesteading family with a lot of animals. We recently had to give away one of our chickens, because Mango was actually a rooster instead of a hen. We sadly returned him to the feed store. Scott decided to surprise the girls and get them 2 more holiday baby chicks. So, last night, we snuggled with our new week old chicks and lovingly named them Charlie and Ginger Iler.


Fast forward, Charlie was laying limp in my daughter’s hands this morning. My stomach dropped to my knees. This was not a good sign. Scott and I knew that this little baby chick did not have long to live. Rebecca wrapped it in a warm blanket and she sat by the front window, trying to give it as much warmth as possible from the morning sun. The baby chick only lasted another half hour. It was an emotional morning to say the least.


I emailed her teacher to explain that she would be late to zoom due to our morning events. Scott and I on the other hand had to report on zoom and teach.


This is where Grace Under Fire comes into play. The meaning of the phrase is “when faced with an extreme amount of hardship or stress, a person holds composure and does not act nervous.” I had no choice but to welcome my other 21 children this morning. I was going to be observed for my teaching practices all within minutes of witnessing a pretty tragic loss. These other little faces were in the waiting room on zoom. I wiped away some tears before I clicked “start meeting.”

As adults, I think we have all had these moments of “Grace Under Fire.” Those times when there is such an extreme amount of pressure but you have no choice but to carry on and act in a manner that is controlled.


Growing up, I always wished to be an adult. With a brother that is seven years older than me, I yearned to be his age and to do all of the exciting adventures he got to participate in. I sat on the sidelines, gazing at his fun, eventful teenage life. However, as I approached those years in my own life, I realized that growing up is harder than I thought it would be. The truths my parent shielded from me as a kid, are the realities we face as adults. And let’s be honest, there are many moments as an adult that are just plain hard.


By the time it was my lunch break, Rebecca and Scott had already constructed a burial site for little Charlie, painted a wooden box, and had the plans for the funeral. During our 45 minute break, we had our service in the Iler Orchard and said our parting words. I don’t know why I get so emotional these days about animals. Maybe it is the intense feelings we all have from this past year, maybe it reminds me of loved ones we miss these days, maybe it is that our animals have provided a respite to this tumultuous year.


As we stood under the large orange tree, my mind drifted to all of the events that had happened in the period of 4 hours. To act in a graceful manner, is to have a sense of elegance and poise. Today did not feel like a graceful day. It felt like a fumbling of plays on a football field rather than a well choreographed ballet on a stage. I was hobbling from class to class on zoom and putting out little emotional fires from my children as the day progressed. However, from a common passerby, life at the Iler home was moving in a pretty controlled manner.


That is when I realized, another popular phrase is to give yourself grace. Give yourself permission to know that there will be days when there will be a series of unfortunate events. Don’t try to beat yourself up about the mishaps that have happened. This is what makes life so grand. There are the highs, the lows, and the valleys. Sometimes, it can be all in one day.


My grandma used to jokingly say “That is your saving grace” about different people. It could be their humor, their smile, their sense of fashion, their blunt honesty, their tidy organization, and the list went on.

What is your saving grace? I am still finding mine. But, I think it is somewhere down the road of acceptance. I continue to hone the virtue of accepting the twists and turns life has to offer, because you never know what might be right around the bend in the road.



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