On Finding Grace

I am going to write about something I have never written about before. Something that makes me a bit uncomfortable and something that I don’t often talk about, even with friends and family.

I didn’t really grow up going to church. We went on Christmas Eve and sometimes Easter, and I remember going with our grandparents for a while when younger, but it wasn’t an integral part of our upbringing. There were good reasons why, but that’s another day.

A couple of friends and I tried going to church a few times in high school, but that only ended in embarrassment. We just so happened to go on Ash Wednesday on one occasion and were running a few minutes late. When we arrived, the church was incredibly packed and the nice usher asked us to follow him to find some seats. As he walked closer and closer to the front of the room I began to sweat more and more.

He didn’t stop, and kept walking right up the stairs onto the stage and led us to a bench right to the side of the priest!

I remember being in absolute horror as I looked up into the multi-level sea of people under the bright lights.

There we were, under display for hundreds and hundreds of people to see as I pretended my very best to murmur the sayings and  move my hands in various motions that I hadn’t a clue to the meaning of. We were the first ones to get ash on our foreheads by the priest as he talked through why he was doing what he was doing, using us as examples, and I just wanted so badly to somehow magically disappear from that setting as quickly as possible.

After that, I never went back.

I had always thought about it, though, but just didn’t have the push or drive to carry through with my curiosities.

Until…. I had my daughter.

I tried out a church back in our old town and liked it very much. I had such a deep desire to find a relationship with God that  I even joined a bible study group with my husband.  I would come home some nights and be in tears, though, because I just felt like I didn’t belong. That I was a phony. I didn’t “feel” anything from God and didn’t receive any signs that he was there, something I was desperately yearning for.

It took some encouraging words from my husband to keep me going. He told me a story (and pardon me, I may butcher this) about a man who was out walking one day and fell into a ditch. Finding no way out, he prayed for God to come and save him. One day, someone walked by the ditch and eagerly offered to help him out, but the man in the ditch politely declined the offer stating that God was going to come and  save him. The next day, another man walked by the ditch and tried to save him, but the man again declined as he was waiting for God. This happened several more times before the man in the ditch ultimately died.

What the man in the ditch didn’t realize was that God was sending those men to walk by that ditch every day in an attempt to save him. The man in the ditch was missing God’s work in progress because he was waiting for something he thought should happen.

I feel like that is exactly what I was doing.  I was waiting for the heavens to part, the angels to sing and for God’s voice to be heard.

In reality, that most likely isn’t going to happen, which is where faith comes in.

This story really helped me not to be as discouraged and we continued to go, though I can say that my heart wasn’t 100% in.  And then life happened and it became hard for me to make it to church and the bible study group. Babies were born and needed me, and the evening times these events occurred at made it difficult. There were other things, too, and ultimately we stopped going.

A little while later we then moved to Spokane.

And I am not sure what changed, but during the first month or so that we moved here, we started going to a church, a very large church, that was fairly close to our house and was recommended by a few neighbors. At first it was intimidating. Walking into a place everyone else feels at home at is a hard thing to do. The music was loud, the seats were full and my kids weren’t thrilled to be left in the childcare.

But, we kept going. And I was mesmerized. For the first time, I felt something. The music at this church is completely different than the music I remember from the churches I attended as a child. The performers (and I will call them performers because it’s almost like you’re at a concert, they are THAT good) are insanely talented and the music just does something to me. The pastor feels like he could be just a regular guy on the street, too. He cracks jokes, we can relate to him, and he uses real-life references. All these things we really enjoy.

The real kicker, though, is that I have found that at every service, during the opening songs, I am flooded with tears. I feel an overwhelming sense just rush through my body and I am completely immersed as I am singing along and I sometimes can’t even make out the words anymore. Tears just rush down my cheeks, my nose stings and my throat is left with a giant lump.

I have no explanation for this.

But, something is happening. And I want more.

And at the last service, I saw something incredible.

Communion was being passed out while everyone was seated and music was playing. I looked over about 30 feet to my left and I saw a little boy, maybe eight-years-old, completely absorbed by the music. This made me smile and I couldn’t help but continue to watch him. With everyone still seated, he then stood up with his hands in the air and reached out to the Lord without a care in the world. And this brought immediate tears to my eyes. And then, his brother, or maybe friend, stood up next to him with his hands in the air, and they both sang. And I just totally lost it.

There these two young boys were, surrounded by those who were seated and they felt so compelled by the Lord that they didn’t care what anyone thought and they stood before Him with open arms.

And this was one of the most beautiful things I  had ever seen.

I am still on my quest to become closer to God and I still have many questions, uncertainties and doubts, but I know I am getting closer and my wants and desires are still very strong and my family and I finally feel like we are heading in the right direction with this new journey.

I know this isn’t my typical type of blog post, but I just felt compelled to share.

Thank you for listening.




  1. That is so good!! You sound like me {and probably many others}….a total work in progress.
    “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all the Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.” {Phillipians 3:12}

    • Thank you for the verse, Amber! I love it! Such a good reminder. Feel free to share any others you feel pertinent and/or moving!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Shannon…thank you for posting this. It’s a beautiful story and brought tears to my eyes as well! I’m excited for your journey of faith and I will be praying for you and your family during this process. Blessings!

    -Kristin (McCarthy) Tucker

    • Thank you so much, Kristin! The past 6 months have been quite the journey for our family and I am so excited to see where it takes us. :)

  3. Shannon, I think so many people can relate to what you have written. I for one felt like I was reading out of my own journal. Thanks for sharing! What an exciting journey!

    • It is so encouraging to hear that there are other people in the same boat as I. I was hesitant to press the “post” button but am so thankful that I did. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Christine!

  4. Allison Burns says:

    It doesn’t get any more clear that God is working in your life. The fact that you shared this with strangers proves that God is speaking to you. He asks us to reach out and tell others about him. Ya know when people start questioning faith I wonder if they are parents bc the thought of dying tomorrow and never seeing my children and loved ones again is the most frightening thing I can possibly imagine. My husband and I work very hard to teach our children about Faith so they never have doubts about seeing us again if something tragic were to occur. It is important for them to know there is a God that will always be there and a Lord that will walk beside them when and if We are unable. That no matter the hardships they will face they are loved and protected. Keep shouting his praises!!!

    • Allison,
      The thought of dying and never seeing my children again is absolutely horrifying. I am loving that our daughter is growing up with questions about God and often reminds us that “Jesus lives in our hearts.” These are the little reminders that keep me very motivated in pursuing Christ. And thank you. Thank you for sharing your words with me. :)

  5. Shannon, thank you for sharing. It takes courage to say what you said in that post. Its an incredible inspiration and you may have just saved another soul. God smiles on his children when they are obedient and faithful. I know for me one of the best blessings I had was this past mothers day when my then 8 year old daughter on her own accord stood in front of our congregation (sanctuary seats 300) and confessed her life and love to Christ. Stay strong keep seeking and he will strengthen your relationship with him he will bless you beyond measure and he will always rescue you from the ditch. I needed to read that story today, Thank you!

    • That is amazing, Christina! What an incredible feeling that must have been for you as a parent to see your daughter do such a wonderful thing. Thank you for sharing your story and for your kind words. :) I appreciate them very much.

  6. Pia Maheras says:

    This is an interesting topic, being from a secular country (Finland) religion has never been a big part of my life. We tried to go when our boys were smaller…just did not stick. But we are very spiritual and have, by example, instilled morals and kindness to our now teenage children. Organized religion is not for everyone and have come to peace that it is not for me. Thank you for sharing this personal posting:-)

    • I do agree with you that organized religion is not for everyone and that IS okay! You have instilled important qualities and values into your children while embracing spirituality in your own home and I appreciate you sharing this! Thank you, Pia!

  7. I found your blog via a friend. Your words are an encouragement to those around you. Your experiences, whether good or bad or awkward, that you faced in the past with church have truly brought you were you are at this moment in your life. Good job for not giving up and for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
    I am going to go out on a limb and say that we grew up together…sort of. We experienced the same schools, the same teachers, some of the same friends, different difficulties and great journeys and have come to one great and beautiful communality. Jesus.
    I am glad that you have a passionate desire to know, live, breathe, and share what the Lord is doing in your life. That is honorable.

    “Seek first His KINGDOM and RIGHTEOUSNESS, and ALL of this WILL BE GIVEN to you.” Matt. 6:33
    Seek the Lord first and foremost Shannon, and all your desires to know Him will be given. Let the adventure continue!

    -Jami (Crabtree) Harder

    • Hi Jami,
      Yes, I would agree that we grew up together and it is so nice to see a name and voice from the past. Thank you so much for your kind, inspiring and encouraging words. I am beyond grateful to hear from those who are reaching out in response to this post. I hope all is well with you and again, thank you!

  8. Vanessa Serratore says:

    Best discussion topic ever! Don’t ever doubt that. Just wanted to share that over the past few years I have developed an ear for God in the sense that I can now recognize certain moments when he is urging me to send a specific note, letter, gift to someone at a particular time. It may even be someone I hardly know, yet, I pour my heart into a message who’s words are from God and send it off. Every single time I write something out and send it, like what you did, I start doubting the second I can’t take it back. However, every single time, I am amazed at what God has done through those words, the connections that are made, the encouragement it provides another. He is so faithful. I have given in and will always obey that call now (although often my words are still followed with appologies or start with “I know this sounds weird…”). Never be afraid to share your heart like you did. Take that risk not only in writing, but in life as a whole. All it takes is hearing one random word from someone and you can open the door for a discussion about God. Trust me, you will be so blessed for taking those risks. I pray He will open your ears to hear his whisperings throughout the day, open your eyes to see Him at work in those around you, and open your heart to the fullness of what He has to offer. I hope you will never stop wanting more of God every single day! :)

    Great video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mIOnVpJDnY
    Great singers (current favs of mine): Kari Jobe, Meredith Andrews, Darlene Zschech (Revealing Jesus cd), Jeremy Camp


    • Hi Vanessa,
      Thank you SO much for sharing your story! I definitely know what you are talking about! As I read your words I couldn’t help but think about times when I have done the same thing. That instant feeling of doubt/regret is a scary feeling, but it always turns out well! So I guess the answer is to just keep doing it! Thank you for your kind words, sharing of experiences and suggestions for music (and the video!!); but most of all, for your prayers. :)

  9. Sue Foster says:

    Love your recent post, Shannon! Wow! I am so impressed with your willingness to share your walk with The Lord! You are an inspiration to me, and I am so happy you have found a caring and welcoming church family. I send my love to you and JD, and to your 2 little ones. I felt so badly I didn’t get to talk to you more at Kyle’s wedding. Thank you so much for being there, and for your support of Kyle and Melissa, and for taking time out of your life to spend several days celebrating with us!

    • Awww Sue, thank you so much! You are just the sweetest ever! There is no need to thank us, we wouldn’t have missed it for the world! Your family means a great deal to us and we were so thankful to be a part of such a special and loving day!

  10. I was raised Catholic, knew God was there, but never really connected. Like you, I had so many questions and I knew I wanted to have a closer relationship with God. I started attending church regularly when we had our daughter…eventually, it just clicked and recently got (re)baptized just last year! I haven’t posted about it on my blog because its so personal to me and it’s still very much a work in progress. :) I’m so excited for you as you embark on this journey!

    • You know, Gracielle, I have been contemplating getting baptized again as well. I was as an infant, but now it would be a choice. I feel like I don’t quite fully have an understanding yet for what it means to get baptized and want to explore that further. Thank you so much for sharing! I would love to hear more about your experience!

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