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Roadside Grace

Roadside Grace

by: Elizabeth Thorndike

I remember the moment like it was just a week ago. However, It was 11 years ago. I was on my way to the store. As I left our neighborhood, resentment filled both my heart and my thoughts. Within seconds, it consumed my whole being. ”I am going to lose it, I thought. I need to pull over.” I was just a mile from home when the flood gates opened. I placed my forehead on the steering wheel and started to sob. I mean, ugly painful sobbing. Everything I had penned up since my sweet Shelby’s birth was pouring out of me in waves of gut-wrenching heartache.

So Much To Learn

You see, the learning curve was steep after we brought Shelby home from the hospital. Her surprise diagnosis came with plenty. We were overwhelmed with papers to sign, information about services, and the constant care of a newborn. After 5 days of being home, we found ourselves back in the hospital with RSV and severe reflux. We were exhausted and scared. We felt as if we were drowning, and as I sat in that hospital room staring at my newborn on oxygen, I made promises to God to always protect her.

Next came the weird responses of those that we collided with in our community. Responses of “I’m sorry” instead of “congratulations.” The awkward silence after telling a neighbor of her diagnosis. The isolation of feeling different and sitting in a world of unknown. What would her life be like? Will she thrive? How will she be treated?

One thing that was not in question though, was the deep love we felt for our precious redhead. She already pierced our souls to the core. She was ours. God entrusted us with her precious life. That fact did not get lost on me and Dan. We knew we were chosen.

However, over the next month, I encountered many comments from those I came across, at stores, medical appointments, and even on walks in our neighborhood. Comments like, “Oh my mom used to babysit a mongoloid baby” or “my cousin had Down Syndrome, but he died when he was 35.” Comments that crushed my heart and made it hard to breathe. Day after day, as the comments continued, I found myself completely in a place of grief. The heaviness was unbearable, until one day, I imploded. This is what brought me to my present day parking spot a mile from my home.

As I sat, I allowed every bit of unbearable heaviness to pour out of me in loud painful sounds. I cried hard. I cried for a long time. I shouted out to God that I needed His grace. I needed to see him in all the people that made dumb comments. I cried out to Him to fill me with a supernatural ability to see the love behind everyone’s comments. To see that they meant things for good, even though the enemy was out to steal all the beautiful moments. I asked for protection from any darkness that was trying to invade this beautiful journey we were on. Finally, I cried out in gratitude for Shelby, for her life, and for the gifts He placed in her.

The Peace Came

roadside grace

After what seemed like an hour, a beautiful peace came over me. I knew in this moment I was not alone. I knew that as my pounding heart finally regulated, my prayers were going to be answered. I took a deep deep breath. It was the first true deep breath I had taken in weeks. It was a heavenly breath. It was God’s undeniable grace.

I put the car in drive and slowly continued my errand. The grace came with me. Although I did not understand it then, this grace and the peace that followed was a gift. It was always there for the taking if only I would have paused and asked. I can use it now though, and it can take different forms. It can sometimes come through deep painful sobs. It can sometimes come in the silent prayer from a friend. No matter the form, it comes, and it is always enough.

I knew in my heart that God heard my cries for help that day in my car. I knew that he was doing a work in me at a heart level.

Slowly, over time, I began seeing the goodness behind people’s comments. Comments became a bridge for me to love on those that were trying to love us. Hurtful words transcended into moments of sharing and learning. Grace is a beautiful gift from God and living from a place of grace became a new perspective for me as a mama bear. I stopped living in offense and started living from a place of connection.

We all need grace. We all make mistakes. Having grace for others and for yourself creates moments of beautiful intimacy.


“Heavenly father, thank you first for your amazing grace. It is the most beautiful gift. Please guide us as we learn to live in grace for ourselves and for others. Catch us as we stumble through it all. We trust you on this journey, and we need your help to recognize times for grace. Please tap us on our hearts as we are learning and remind us gently of the times we need to give and receive grace. Thank you most of all that you love us so deeply and that you have trusted us on our unique journeys. Bless us with the strength we need. In your son’s name we pray…Amen”

about us

Meet the Thorndikes - Moment to Moment Family

Hi there! We are the crazy cool parents to 5 amazing and crazy cool kiddos. But, first, we are Dan and Elizabeth Thorndike – married 15 years and living this life one moment at a time. We have a full and blessed life, but we are clumsily tackling a journey we never foresaw ourselves living.

Read our story of how this journey all started in our blog post titled:
“The Beginning. Our Special Needs Journey”


Elizabeth Thorndike

Introverted extrovert – that’s how I describe myself. I absolutely love being a mama but never knew how hard it would be, nor how deeply I could love.



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