A Special Strength, A Special Grace

My great-grandmother was an incredible woman. I never had the pleasure of meeting her, but I’ve heard enough stories to know she was an incredible woman, a woman to whom God gave a special grace and strength.  Along with my great-grandfather, she immigrated to the United States from Norway. They had three children and were a farming family in central Iowa. My uncle still farms land that has been in our family for decades. Of their three children, they had two boys, one of who was my maternal grandfather, and one girl, my Great-Aunt Sigrid.

I will be honest that I did not truly understand and appreciate how remarkable these women in my family were, especially my great-aunt, when I could have taken advantage of listening more. My Great-Aunt Sigrid was born with cerebral palsy. She lived her life in a house with no running water and in a wheelchair when wheelchairs were not nearly as ergonomically designed as they are now. The remarkable thing about her is that she wasn’t bitter. She wasn’t angry. She was the opposite-she was joy and light and sunshine. God gave her this beautiful and amazing faith and she was a prayer warrior like none other.  It didn’t matter that she couldn’t verbally communicate well, she learned to type one key at a time on a type writer. She read her Bible and she prayed her prayers and she was a woman of great faith.

And she was raised by a remarkable woman.  My mom was telling me about my great-grandmother a while back.  By the time her children were adults her husband had died, the boys left home and got married, and it was just her and her adult daughter with cerebral palsy who required a good bit of care. Again, she could have been angry and bitter, resenting my great aunt’s limitations or wallowing in self-pity, but she chose a different path. She drew strength from her God and cared well for my great aunt.  I asked my mom how in the world she was able to physically handle the work set before her and my mom said, “God just gave her a special strength, a special grace.”

A couple weeks ago I was out for a walk thinking about how I have somehow managed to keep our family going, our household running, our kids educated, and sometimes all while Toffer is out of town.  In my own flesh I am completely incapable of doing what I do. Some days I do it much better than others.  Some days school goes well and meals are yummy and nourishing and everyone plays well together and life seems wonderful and beautiful. Other days, my 2 year old throws about 20 Duplos out a second story window before I catch her, my 4 year old soaks everything in {fill this in with pretty much any room in the house because of how much water he’s spread throughout our house in his four years of life}, school just isn’t happening the way I planned, and meals are whatever my taxed mind and body can cobble together.  It’s just life with seven people under one roof.

And I thought about the question I get asked so often, “How do you do it?”  I usually say it’s totally God, which is totally true, but when I thought about it a couple weeks ago my mom’s words about my great-grandmother came to mind, “God gave her a special strength, a special grace.”  That’s exactly my life.  God has given me a special strength and a special grace to raise the kids He’s given our family, in the place He’s put our family, doing the things He wants us to do. Not everyone has the strength and grace to raise my five kids and they don’t need it.

No one else needs to do what I do just like I don’t need to be able to do what other people do.  God gives that special strength and grace to everyone for whatever they are walking through.  God doesn’t guarantee life will be pretty and easy and always full of sunshine and rainbows. He does guarantee He’ll make a way, a way through the wilderness and the wastelands and a way through the lands flowing with milk and honey.  No matter what lands you’re walking through, trust God will give you a special strength, a special grace, to make it through.

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