Family Grace
By Shawnelle Eliasen

Trusting God with My Children

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. (Psalm 28:7)

Years ago, on a spring day, I sat on my grandparents’ porch. Mamo was on a rocker next to me, and Papo puttered around his side yard. Samuel was a six-month-old baby, and he clapped his hands and cooed on my lap.

“He’s a beautiful boy,” Mamo said.

I beamed.

We’d waited a long time to conceive a baby. Samuel was an answer to many years of prayer.

“Would you like to hold him?” I asked.

Mamo could never resist a baby. I carried Samuel to my grandmother, and soon he was on her lap, charming her with his warm ways. He wrapped a plump hand around her curled fingers and smiled a shiny, toothless grin.

We sat together for quite a long time, then Mamo called to my grandfather, who was tinkering in the garage. “Daddy,” she called. “You have to hold this baby. Come and hold this sweet young man.”

Papo emerged from the garage and walked across the yard, and I looked at the empty chair next to me. But my grandfather didn’t climb the stairs. He came near the railing, stopped, raised his arms, and looked up. “Hand him here, Mama,” he said. “I’ll take the little guy for a walk around the yard.”

And to my horror my grandmother wrapped her arm around Sam’s middle and stood.

My mama-heart beat hard. My skin went warm. The back of my neck prickled. The red-flag danger alerts were physical. But then something in my spirit echoed loud. I could almost hear the words: It’s OK. He’ll be alright. I’ve got him. He’s in my hand.

With every fiber, I wanted to intercept my baby. I wanted to put my hands on him and make him safe. But I knew that something precious was happening. Generations had passed between those hands. Love and time and children. I sat still, gripped the arms of my rocker, and whispered a prayer. He’s yours, Lord. Thank you for holding him in your hands.

That day on my grandparents’ porch was long ago. Mamo and Papo are in heaven now. And Samuel is a preteen. But the prayer? The standing-hands-open, the Lord-help-my-child prayer–it remains the same. The circumstances are different now. And the pleas stretch five children wide. Lord, lead my son as he finishes college. Father, draw a son’s heart to you. Please bring solid, strong friends to surround one of my boys. Lord, keep a son safe. Father, help a son practice self-control. The prayers of relinquish, a surrender to the true hands that hold my boys, comes from the same heart.

And he loves them even more than I do. The hands are faithful and strong. And the giving, the lifting my sons to the Lord, brings rest and peace.

Mamo balanced against the side of the railing that day, and Papo reached and placed time-worn hands around my sweet babe. A child passed between them, like so many times before. And in a moment, Samuel was peeping over Papo’s shoulder, eyes shining and head bobbing as the two of them traipsed across the yard. Papo whispered to him as they walked and stopped, talking, I’m guessing, about blooms on the apple tree and the plot of rich river soil where his garden would soon be.

And I sat back, breathed deep and offered a prayer of thanksgiving. There was comfort in God’s presence, and the way he had held my son.

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.

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Your Comments (8)

Thank you for writing this fitting column. My oldest child is a student, away cadet shipping for 90 days. With very limited contact with us for that time. My " baby " graduates from high school this week and will move away by end of summer. It is so hard to not be fearful for their safety , or to trust they will make the right decisions. My husband likes to remind me that they are only loaned to us from God. They are really and truly His..We as parents have given them roots and now wings.. But God is with them always! Your words have reminded me again of His unfailing faithfulness. Thank you!

CJ, your words have hit my heart today. It's precious how the Lord encourages us...using others, to remind us of His love. How dear - the wisdom of your husband! It's such a process, isn't it, the opening of our hands? Trusting the Lord with one thing and then the next. It's esp hard, I think, when our children aren't within our physical grasp. I'm praying for your mama-heart today, may it be filled with peace. And for your children. Love what you said about roots and wings. What a lovely honor! Thank you for encouraging me today, too.

Your blog today reminds me of the verse - What you place in God's hands you will never never lose. Praise God, Thank you Jesus!

Thank you, Wanda, so much for sharing. And yes! Thank you, Jesus!

Beautiful, Shawnelle!

Thank you, Sharon, for reading and leaving a comment. You made my heart smile.

Sweetness and love in a photograph from the past. And trust in God for the future.

Thanks so much BJ for reading and commenting. Love it - your words about the past and future!~