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Family Grace
By Shawnelle Eliasen

Stretching to See the Lord

When we wake, the snow is thick. It’s March and the charm is running thin. But I stop near the window and something about the way the flakes are falling draws my heart.

We have a long list of things to do. Chores at eight. Home school work begins at nine. Boys and subjects and books will shift every 20 minutes until the clock tells us it’s time for lunch.

But the flakes are bold and beautiful. They blanket the morning with peace. The scene is still and serene and suddenly it’s something I have to be a part of.

“Boys,” I call. “Grab your coats and boots. We’re going for a walk!”

Three boys stand in front of me and it’s evident they think I’ve left my mind behind.

“We’ll be off schedule,” Gabe says. “We’ll be off track.”

I glance at the clock. He’s right. The hours stack like dominoes and if one tumbles, the rest fall. We’d have to cut our lunch hour short to cover the time. We may run late into the afternoon. It wouldn’t matter, but it’s Wednesday, and there’s church after dinner.

I’ve almost talked myself out of the adventure when there’s another tug on my heart. Something inside needs to go. To look. To see. To breathe.

“We’ll be OK,” I say. “C’mon. Let’s go.”

The boys succumb and scatter to find their things. I grab the dogs’ leads and even they look at me like I’ve gone half mad. It’s not noon yet. Not walking time. Things are out of place.

“Can we walk along the river, Mom?” Samuel asks as our feet hit the end of the drive.

I nod and that’s where we go. The snow is an inch deep, but we can still see the lines of the walking path. There are no tracks. The ribbon before us is fresh. Gabe takes Flash’s lead and the two smaller boys are off. They find an easy pace. Sam is beside me. We’re quiet, like the day, and this is OK.

The river is moving slowly. Samuel and I catch up to the small brothers. The boys laugh at the way snowflakes have peppered greyhound Flash’s coat and their joy carries over the white. The beat-the-clock stress has fallen away. The press of time flees. There are eagles overhead and trees stretching winter-bare arms to the heavens.  Snow continues to drift from the sky and I know, in my heart, there’s no other place I need to be.

It’s so easy to know that God is here. Creating the life along the river. Stirring gentle wind that pushes us along. Bringing laughter and goodness to these brothers. And peace to a mama’s heart.

I know that we can’t slip away every day, but today I’m thankful that we did.

The strong beauty of the Lord’s presence was beckoning.

I’m glad that I stretched enough to see.

Lord, thank you for nudging me toward you. 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.