Family Grace
By Shawnelle Eliasen

Nurturing Relationships

Logan, our oldest son, comes to me while I’m making dinner. “Mom,” he says. “Would you consider letting Gabe have some time off from school on Thursday? I’d like to take him out for lunch.”

Logan is home from college. It’s spring break. The night he arrived, our home ran rich with anticipation. Gabriel cleaned Logan’s room. Samuel baked apple dumplings. Isaiah watched out the window and nearly wore a path pacing the porch.

I stop cutting vegetables, and I look at my young adult son. I can’t help but smile. “Sure,” I say. “He’d love it. Thank you, Logan.”

And my heart is full.

Logan understands the value of relationships. He also knows that in order for a relationship to flourish and grow, it takes intentional effort, focus, dedication and time. He’s done well with this over the years. It’s the reason his brothers prepare and pace when he comes home. Their relationships have been nurtured in life-giving ways.

My relationship with the Lord isn’t so different. If I want an intimate relationship, the foundational kind that’s strong enough to support every area of my life, I need to be intentional. I need to spend time soaking in his Word. I need to set aside time to listen and pray. I need to make a deliberate effort to enjoy his presence and to be quiet and still in his love.

If I look to Jesus as an example, I find that he did just the same.

Thursday comes quickly, and at noon my two boys are ready for their date. Logan takes Gabe’s jacket from the coat tree on the porch and hands it to him. Gabe zips up and stands beside his big brother. His smile is shy but it stretches wide.

“Have fun,” I say.

They agree to do just that. And then they’re off, side by side, Gabriel tall as his brother’s elbows. They leave the porch, climb the patio steps, move through the gate and head for the car. I notice a bounce in Gabe’s step.

Every step.

All the way.

Intentional relationships may take some effort, but the result is a beautiful thing.

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.