What has been the unexpected, the hardest to comprehend in all my twenty-seven years of motherhood, beyond the dishes, the laundry, and the raising of teen girls?

It isn’t the nurturing, the training, or the constant cleaning. It’s not how my heart trembles wondering if my girls are going to grow up all right. It’s not the outbursts that erupt the moment they’re awake till tucked in bed at night. Or the hypocrisy that our home boasts, “As for me and my home, we will serve the Lord” when there are days on end where we’re more of a battle zone than a refuge from the world.

I could buy gadgets to make motherhood more comfortable, yet there isn’t an invention that can prepare you for a family. The full force of humanness and hormones that come rushing at me are a reminder of how imperfectly, perfect we each are. And somewhere in that crazy, there’s an image of our loving Father waiting to shape and hone us into the image of His Son. The late nights with a colicky baby may feel like a lifetime. The unending piles of clothes and toys will slowly diminish in the changing of years.

Take note that motherhood isn’t one season or an event that leads to childbirth. Motherhood is comprised of trial and error as I navigate uncharted territory.

I’ve learned to give myself unreserved grace from my thoughtless words and actions due to exhaustion. And I am most grateful that I’ve found and encountered Jesus as an adult, after a bleak childhood that was barren of a Savior.

Being a mom fully encompasses the soul, every pore every part of my very being. I’ve heard it said that a mother’s heart is only as happy as their saddest child, and I have found that statement to be true.

When my oldest left us at nineteen, I didn’t know why? She’s walked out for almost ten years, and I can count the times on my fingers that she’s reached out and called. I walk with not just my heartache but also that of my husband and my other daughters. We’ve felt abandoned, our relationship passed over, and no longer familiar.

Now there’s a baby on the way and how does a mom deal with that and the feelings of soon being called grandma, when I’m not sure what my two cents are worth? But I hold tight to this, this I understand after coming to Christ, there was a season when I as well stepped away, wasn’t abiding, breathing right without the Father, because for once I wanted to live my way unrestricted.

It’s in the life lesson of motherhood that I’ve learned that the only restrictions are the ones I put on myself because His Grace is the one thing that makes me able to live fulfilled, especially in the arena called motherhood.

Grace is what gets me through each day. Raising more girls than I have arms and legs combined, God’s love flows over the unexpected. I’m able to understand what God sees through His eyes of grace, and ready to love each one of my girls right where they are and not where I want them to be.

It’s God who deals with the heart. I’m just trying to live out His grace.