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Family Grace
By Shawnelle Eliasen

God's Goodness When Things Change

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15)

Spring sun settles on my shoulders as I watch the younger two boys charge around the yard.

They’re running a long loop inside the fence line with greyhound Flash. As they stretch and shout and laugh and enjoy this day full force, I can’t help but notice that they’re running through spring’s fast crop of dandelions. They crush under the boys’ feet.

Seeing the dandelions makes me sad.

It’s not displeasure that our yard is temporarily overrun with weeds. It’s not the work that it will take to make the lawn lush and green. It’s a missing in my heart. It’s a longing for dandelion-bouquet days–love-offering weed bouquets from my favorite little men. I fear we’ve moved past such times. The tradition of blond-headed boys presenting fistfuls of droopy dandelions is 20 years long and I don’t feel quite ready to outgrow this phase.

Sitting at the patio table, I fall deep into a mourning for yesterday, wearing it like a familiar garment that I pull around me. The boys are growing quickly. Things are changing. There’s nothing I can do about it. Will life be this sweet again?

I watch the boys for a few minutes. I listen to their laughter and see their long legs pump. I watch Flash cower down and faux-pounce and witness as my sons take off for the chase. I hardly notice that the porch door has opened and 12-year-old Sam has sat down.

“I feel good about starting swim club again,” he says. He smiles and raises his eyebrows in the way he does when he speaks. “The exercise feels good.”

Soon we’re chatting about swim club and a book he’s read and the color he’d like to one day paint his room. We talk about the focaccia bread he’s making for dinner and the movie night he had with a friend. Samuel, like always, shares a mile a minute. He wears his life on his sleeve. It’s easy to see. Easy to enjoy.

And I understand, sitting there with my young-man boy, that this stretching, this experiencing a child’s growth, can be a very good thing. We can talk about grown-up things. We have some shared interests. We can challenge one another. We can mull serious things. But we can let loose and laugh like wild, too.

I’m grateful that as our children grow, God is compassionate. I’m thankful that he replaces sweet young-child blessings with other precious things. Sometimes I just need to uncurl my clenched fist so he can fill my hand with new blessing.

Sam is in the center of telling me about a summer plan when I look up and see that the smaller boys have stopped running. They’re hunkered down in the yard.

Picking dandelions.

I watch them lope across the lawn, the heavy heads of their weed-bouquet flowers drooping over their still-small fists, and I’m overwhelmed.

First the blessing of connecting with a growing-up son. And now a bouquet of dandelions, too.

Lord, how awesome you are to know the tender places of a mama’s heart. Thank you for abundant compassion. Amen.

Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny have been married for twenty-five years. They have five sons and raise their bevy of boys in an old Victorian near the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. Their sons, Logan, Grant, Samuel, Gabriel, and Isaiah, range in age from twenty-one to six with Shawnelle home teaching the youngest three.

Shawnelle has been writing for six years, contributing regularly to Guideposts magazine, Daily Guideposts devotional and other inspirational publications.  She would say that life with her men moves faithfully, on fast forward.  But it’s her heart’s desire, her passionate prayer, to see God’s goodness and glory in the fullness of her days. She longs to see Him in the unexpected moments, unexpected places, changing the ordinary to extraordinary and bringing quiet, sustaining grace.