A GRACE FILLED JOURNEY • Remember Grace Changes Everything

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“Grace changes everything.”

Of the two-dozen or so Grace shirts I have in my wardrobe, my very favorite one is a crimson T-shirt with that very saying. Not only was it a gift from a special friend, but its sentiment fits our lives perfectly because when our Grace came into our lives, she changed absolutely everything.

When I was first pregnant with Grace, we had so much trouble coming up with what her name should be. Grace was a front-runner early on, but I worried if she was coordinated (or-not-so-much) like me, she would lack a natural “grace.”

But it’s the name we kept coming back to, and shortly before our first child was born, we decided she would be named Grace Louise Herschelman. 

As new parents, Grace definitely turned our world upside down as we tried to figure out how to take care of her (and of ourselves). And our lives would change even more when we learned Grace had an incurable, terminal illness, where most children don’t live to see their tenth birthday.

Although devastating, Grace’s diagnosis has given us so many gifts over the years. We understand that life is about the quality of time that you spend with someone, not the quantity. And we have always tried to give her as many experiences as we could. As her condition progresses, the best experiences we can give her now are holding her and reading or singing to her. We don’t know if she can hear us or see us, but we hope that it’s loving and comforting to Grace.

It’s also given us the gift of perspective. Kyle and I are blessed to have a much different perspective on life than many. We know it doesn’t matter if kids make straight As or are the starter on the basketball team. Not that those things aren’t great accomplishments, because they are. But life is also about finding  what makes you happy and enjoying the journey.

If you ask me, the world could use a little more “grace” right now. 

Webster defines “grace” as a disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy or clemency, as well as a charming or attractive trait or characteristic.

While I enjoy social media to catch up with old friends, see photos of their kids and share our journey, I dislike it for all the negativity. The “mom shaming” gets me the most. We all know that breast feeding is very healthy for babies, but isn’t the very best thing for any baby to be fed? I got very lucky that both my girls took well to breast feeding, but I wouldn’t have had any issue to feed them formula either.

And we all know that cloth diapers are probably better for the environment. But disposable ones are incredibly convenient. My life is often full of chaos, and disposable diapers just worked best for us.

I saw a post on Facebook the other day. Someone was sharing about a wedding or baby shower game where participants have to give advice to the newlyweds or parents. She wrote that her advice is always to do what works best in your home. How cool is that?! We all have different lives, different likes, different styles of parenting. And let’s face it . . . marriage and parenting are hard jobs. Instead of tearing each other down for doing things different, maybe we could support one another.

In fact, the next time you see a post on social media, instead of sharing an opinion, share a word of encouragement, with no judgement. Be “grace-filled” and tell someone that he or she is doing a really great job.

When I was in college, if my roommate was having a bad day, she would often get dressed up in a skirt and cute top, fix her hair and make-up before heading off to class. She used to tell me it was a boost to her self-esteem because others would notice and compliment her, which encouraged her.

As we get ready to send our kids back to school this fall, let’s remember that it’s okay to make different choices. Some families will choose remote learning, while others will choose in-person, but all will do it with their own children’s best interest at heart.

It’s easy for all of us to be judgmental to others for what they wear, how they look, how they act, especially when it’s different from us. But my challenge to you this summer, in an incredibly challenging time for all of us, is to be “grace-filled.” Think of one way you can do something to lift someone up every single day. Better yet, pick two someones, or five someones, or a dozen. 

Instead of complaining or offering your own opinion, offer your grace. The world could definitely use a little more grace right now.

I know how much my Grace has changed my life in such profound ways. She has shown me the spirit of unconditional love and helped me learn the most important things in life.

Most nights, after we read our bedtime stories and say our prayers, I hold her hand and sing one of my favorite hymns to her. Sometimes, I can't even get through it without crying.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now I’m found

Was blind, but now I see

Always remember, a little bit of “grace” changes everything.

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Ben Brohammer

Sorry I am a little late reading your article but just had to comment on it. Though Grace has given you and Kyle a monumental task as parents I feel she has truly made you both (and hopefully all of us who know her story) better human beings. In today's world we all need that "grace" to help us persevere over the cruelty of society. Thank you so much for writing this...it has been a boost to my morale!

Thursday, July 30