full of grace

The moment I became a mama changed me forever.  His tiny hands, nose, feet, they mesmerized me.

I stayed awake for hours and hours and hours just watching him, only breathing when he did.

I wasn’t really a “baby person” before, so I had no idea of what to expect out of my feelings and I really had no clue how to properly change a diaper.

He was strong willed from the beginning, and struggled so with colic.  He cried and cried and I cried and cried and read all the books (excpet the best one when it comes to colicky, breastfed babes…i saved that for the second child).  He wore all the right clothes, and always looked presentable, and we adults jumped on board with Baby Wise like the best of them.  I was trying so hard.

Fast forward to having my little girl.  She was born in a blaze of epidural-failure-i-still-can’t-move-my-legs-but-i-can-feel-everything-else-glory, and I was just praising the Lord to have gotten her out of my body safely.  Then I cuddled up next to her, and slept the rest of the day.

And so it is with her life…she’s the go with the flow kid, the one that lets things roll of her back, the “laid-back” West.

Sometimes we leave the house with her hair less perfect and her clothes thrown on, and we definitely didn’t wash her pacifiers every single time they fell.

And, so it has been with the cycle of my parenting.

I think there’s quite a bit of hype on “how to parent.”  How to teach, how to discipline, how to love, how to be tough, how to train, how to, how to, how to.  So much so that much of the time we spend our days searching for the how to instead of living in the right now sharing with them a God who loves them fiercely…as is.

We toil and sow and sweat and break, all the while analyzing every outward behavior our kids show.  We balk at their disrespect for the rules, we challenge their nature to explore…for heaven’s sake, sometimes I yell at mine when they’re too loud because they’re having too much fun.

We want little adults in child-like bodies, and we don’t know why they would be anything else.

Except, when they were Knit, they came with stretched holes and loops bigger than others.  Their yarn is pulled just a bit, not much unlike yours and mine.  We open the drawer and look for the perfect masterpiece, and yet, they come tattered.  Somewhat damaged, somewhat earthly.  Perfectly Imperfect.

I must have read 60+ parenting books (p.s. not so neurotic as i’m an over-achiever and a fervent reader), and I learned some things along the way.  But all the books in the world can’t instill what’s most important.  The greatest lesson, though, I must say, I’ve learned so far is this simple, beautiful Truth:

I was given these imperfect hearts to nurture, to train.  They are fallen in a fallen world and their mistakes do not deserve my righteous anger but my discipline in Grace.  No amount of yelling or frustration can show them the love of something Bigger than myself, something even I do not deserve.   We’re in this together, them and me and Matt.

Am I saying there’s no need for training? Nope…all I’ll say is that I fear sometimes I parent them out of fear, distrust, and worry of what others think instead of what’s going on in their hearts.

We don’t talk about this, do we?  This unspoken loneliness in parenting–and even in our marriages–how to love fervently, bettering ourselves, yet bettering them.  We leave that part out at the soccer game–right?  I do.  We talk about what they like, the crazy things they say, and of course, we share their successes.

But do we talk about the real stuff?  The part that rips your heart out some days and you feel like a failure because they ___________.  Do we allow people to see that we don’t have it all together and ask for even our little people’s forgiveness?

It’s hard, friends.  Parenting in this behavior-trumps-heart world is hard.

Worth it?  Absolutely.

This has all been on my heart and mind so often while I’m writing this book, working so hard, and missing the extra moments I have with my own little people.  They are so good to me, though.

Full of Grace.

Since I’m not so great at small talk, I’d love to open a dialogue here today, much like we do at Christmas time when we share a little more here.  I’d like for us to get real, for us to share things together.  I’d like to pray with you over your own struggles and joys.  If there’s something you’d like for us to pray about, share it with us in the comments below or if you want, email me.

Take a breath today, friends.  I’d love to pray with you this morning…

God, you are Holy and mighty and thank you for saving us.  We fall before you knowing we are not enough on our own, and we try so. hard.  I pray that today, for just today, you will give us the Grace we need to take care of the little ones in our lives.  Replace my heart with yours and make it big enough to hold your desires for my children’s hearts.  Forgive me for my impatience, my disgust, my ugliness.  Give us Grace to know that you are in the midst of our situations, day in and out, and that we can take comfort in you, and let our guard down.  God, I pray that as our days get longer and harder that we find others to lean on, to encourage.  Help us not to go this life alone, pretending.  Thank you for honesty, and for those who we can be honest with.  Thank you for the gift of training little ones, the gift of shaping them.  Teach us that is a calling, not a burden, and give us renewed hearts as we approach this day.  Amen.

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24 Responses to full of grace

  1. Angie @ Knick of Time September 18, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    Thanks for sharing your heart. Like you, I read so many parenting books when my kids were young. Yes, I got some great advice. No, I didn’t faithfully follow it all the time.

    My kids are older now (3 adults and 1 teen) and I’ve definitely had moments when I couldn’t believe they ________. Lots of those moments. Those moments I usually blamed myself for not _______________ (you can fill in the blank with disciplined more, been more aware, spent more time with them)…the list goes on. Just as my kids are imperfect kids – I am an imperfect parent. My prayer is that the Lord will make up where I have been lacking as a parent in their lives.


  2. Sue @ bebeandj September 18, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    Parenting is THE most difficult, invigorating, fun, challenging. frustrating, amazing . . . should I go on?

    I have a lot of friends who have had babies in the last couple years and I always tell them that you don’t really understand what Love or Fear is until you have a child. There is nothing like it. It changes you – in many wonderful ways.

    My kids are college-aged but that does not make it any easier. I see them struggle with adult issues, when they still seem so young to me. Making that transition into their adult lives and figuring out who they are going to be is really tough on them and on me sometimes.

    Thank you for sharing this today. None of us are perfect parents and we are all just learning along the way. Each child is unique and special and we all just do the best we can to raise them.


  3. Laura September 18, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    Thank you for sharing! I really needed this. Perhaps this is God way of talking to me thru you. I’m a mother of two girls (17 and 13). I can totally relate. I often times struggle with how we raised our girls. I sometimes wish for do over’s. I question myself, of the what if’s and we should have…Today, my heart weighs heavy as my oldest and I had it out. I love her with all my heart and I only want what is best for her. I know this year is tough with deciding what college she will attend. It’s a pretty stressful time for her. But, I’ve suddenly have become her enemy and nothing I say or do is enough. Please pray for the both of us, that we may get thru this and get back to what we shared! Thank you!

  4. Heidi September 18, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing. It’s amazing how God knows just the right way to reach someone when we’re struggling…

    My little girl (our first) is about 5.5 months old and we’re moving 14 hours away to be closer to family – we’re leaving Friday. I’m doing most of the packing and cleaning while my husband is super busy tying up loose ends at work. We’re packing the uhaul trailer tonight so the carpet cleaners can come tomorrow and we can have our apartment inspection on Friday morning before leaving town.

    Through all of this, little one is learning to be mobile by scooting on her tummy a bit AND she’s refusing to nap longer than 20min unless she’s nursing. Since she’s not napping well, she’s cranky most of the time. Plus, she’s been back up to nursing 2-3 times a night (she’s nursing now while I’m catching up on blogs…) Thus, I’m feeling frazzled, alone, inadequate and just plain tired. Your prayers for strength and patience are appreciated, and thanks again for writing this post. :)

  5. Judy H. September 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    Parenting is a tough business, therefore it must be a faith and prayer business. How often did I let my faith in God and unceasing prayer be my comfort and guide in difficult and triumphant circumstances.
    You know what else? Parenting is never over. I have 2 adult children, 31 and 33, who have given me 5 blessed grandchildren. And those big kids of mine?….They still call me all the time with their own personal problems or concerns about their parenting skills or questions like, “What should I do Mom?”. So, the triumphs remain, the broken hearts remain, the joy remains, and the faith and prayer have never stopped. Only one thing has changed, now I have my 2 big kids and my 5 little kids to feel the same for, do the same for and pray the same for. Parenting never ends, I believe that is God’s wonderful design!

  6. Marian@Gathering Branches September 18, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    My best parenting idea ever was to apologize immediately when I do something wrong, yelling too loud, placing my anger about something else on my children, etc. After years of acknowledging my mistakes to my children, I now have a 14 year old who apologizes spontaneously when she behaves badly. And a very forgiving family who knows that it’s ok to make mistakes as long as they acknowledge them and make amends. It’s a simple miracle.

    • Robin September 20, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

      Thanks for posting about apologies. My kids are 6 & 4, and I feel like I apologize to them almost every day… I’m glad to hear that it has borne good fruit in your family. Just hoping it does the same in ours!

  7. Amy September 18, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    You have no idea how much I needed to read this today. It’s been a rough week with my older child. Thank you.

  8. kathy September 18, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    Thank You expressed beautifuly.

  9. Steph September 18, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    As others have said…the Lord always knows what we need when we need it. I have two kids under two. I definitely didn’t plan to have two kids in 12 months…but the Lord did.

    We’re going through the book Give Them Grace in our Bible study. Today was another challenge for me in grace. I know I need to understand God’s grace in my own life. And I was definitely challenged with not trying to enforce the law (dos and don’ts of life/Bible) on my boys, but give them the love and grace of the Gospel. “the Law is given for one reason only: to crush their self-confidence and drive them to Christ.” The problem for me in that statement is that I don’t allow the Law to drive me to Christ in my own life.

    I’m a weak and hopeless mom, and I’ve been through some very rough times in the past two years, but God is faithful. I pray that I would not desire a different circumstance, but to have a clearer view of Christ in my circumstance.

  10. Emily J September 18, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    Thank you, Shaunna.
    Being not a “baby person” speaks to me. I’m at a point of wondering if I am enough… Old/young/brave/ready enough to even try to have a baby.
    While my theology is quiet… Your faith speaks to me. Your strength. And imperfection.
    And, although I don’t really know you, I love you a little more.
    Thank you for being enough… And sharing with me.

  11. Crystal @My Blissful Space September 19, 2013 at 5:43 am #

    Well said! Sharing this prayer. :)

  12. Marisa September 19, 2013 at 5:51 am #

    I am so sorry that I’m a day late. I didn’t have a chance to read your post until this morning and this Is exactly what I needed. Yes you did make me cry, not out of sadness but out of joy and gratitude. I am grateful that there are people who still turn to God and are not afraid to admit it. I am grateful that there are people who still believe that children are a joy and not a burden to stick in daycare the minute they are born. I know there are many out there who have to work outside of the home and struggle with work and parenting. I feel sorry that they will miss so many precious moments in their children’s lives.
    I am sending this post to my daughter who I love very much. She is a wonderful, caring, mother who has to find the time to fit everything in. I have three children plus now three grandchildren and they are a blessing. I pray to God to keep them safe and to give them guidance.

  13. MaryJean Blair September 19, 2013 at 6:06 am #

    I have 2 grown boys. (men) If I could say something to moms everywhere it would be to know within yourself the difference between shame and guilt and do not introject the former instead of the latter. Also, teach your children to not beat themselves up when they make a mistake. It is a mistake. Deal with it and go on. The “go on” is how they see the parent treating them after they make a mistake. And Shawna I SO agree with you. Children are not adults. When we expect adults out of children we deeply affect their growth INTO adults. (I’m a little passionate about this subject.)
    ….and like you I am SO not good at small talk. (:

  14. Jeni@RestoringPiece September 19, 2013 at 7:26 am #

    It truly is a world of “have it together”, but nothing is ever really together.
    We are in our 3rd year of raising my sister’s 10 year-old daughter. We are a mother and father that have never been called mom or dad. I look at our situation and know in my heart, deep in my heart that this is an assignment from God. We stepped into this need willingly and became parents within 3 days. I don’t know how long we will be on this assignment, but based on current circumstances I don’t see an end in the near future.
    It. Is. Hard. The questions as she gets older, the anger she feels, the boundaries that we try to set, all while juggling supervised visits with a mom and dad that live on opposite sides of the country, with us in the middle acting like mediators.
    I go back and forth, back and forth with a joy for the opportunity to pour love and stability into her little fragile life…and being resentful that my sister is living a seemingly carefree life while I’m laboring over a child that considers her a “hero.”
    I’m constantly at the Throne, at His feet asking for direction, for Grace, for Peace. And most of all, I ask for forgiveness because there are many, many days that I feel like I’m doing everything wrong.
    “…a calling, not a burden, and give us renewed hearts as we approach this day. Amen.”

  15. Lucrecia September 19, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    “their mistakes do not deserve my righteous anger but my discipline in Grace”

    These words jumped out and hit me in the heart! I SO desperately need to learn to do this!! Thanks for your honest words!

    • Diana September 19, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

      Lovely, heartfelt post. I am sure your Children will consider themselves lucky to have you! Thank you for sharing!

  16. ZoeAnn Yussman September 19, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    Oh Shaunna thank you so much for this post! I often feel that others have the words which I feel but don’t express… you are a master “expresser”. (if that’s even a word)
    My two children are adopted and both have special needs. I say that because I often feel so guilty when I am frustrated and yelling… I KNOW that God gave me these two because HE needed ME (and hubby) to raise them. But I am an imperfect momma and trying to deal with their perfectly imperfect loops and stretched yarn is sometimes too much for me. I have grieved all the missed milestones, the “normal” lives they won’t have… and prayed and prayed and prayed.

    My babies are 20(with intellectual disability) and 23(with schizophrenia) so they have managed to survive my parenting. There is always the “what if” or “should have”
    but I know I have fought hard for them every step of the way and will continue to do so. And I know that God has carried all of us through every step.

    Full of Grace. Amen.

    God Bless you Shaunna!!

  17. Carol Leah September 20, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Well said, Shaunna! So well said! One day I back tracked after I had lost my temper with the boys. I told the boys “I am so sorry that I yelled like that. That was not the right way to handle that situation.” And Thomas looked at me and said “It’s okay mom, kids are frustrating!” :-) They forgive us even when we don’t deserve it. Too often we let frustrations, and outside pressures seep into our parenting and I pray everyday that I can rid myself of those. Thanks for this post!

    • Alaina September 20, 2013 at 12:06 pm #


  18. Alaina September 20, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

    Well…said! Give them GRACE! It’s something I struggle with most days. Why are we so hard on them and ourselves? The guilt of it all can be exhausting. All you can do it lay it at the cross through prayer. We are all works in progress…God’s project, His art project. My canvas will look different but the outcome will always be beautiful if we are seeking Him. Love your heart…thanks for sharing!!! You can pray for us on this homeschool adventure. We are only on day15, and like a newborn I’m questioning all we do.

  19. Hayden September 20, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart! I completely agre with you! So often we want perfection and little adults that just know how to behave. But, like you said, they are imperfect just like us. God has given us grace and I should do better extending that grace and compassion to my kids. Also, I think lots of times I try to do it on my own, when I should call upon Him to give me wisdom, love, and understanding.

  20. Stephanie Blair September 20, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    Loved this! I need to go back and read it daily. :)

  21. Cheryl September 23, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    Thanks so much for that prayer and your wise words. I too, feel that sometimes I parent with fear of what others think. I struggle daily with a child who doesn’t conform to what everyone thinks she should be or do. My struggle has been learning every day to be okay with who she is and enjoy the short time of childhood. I need to be able to let her know that she is wonderful just the way she is and just show her my love.

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