Grace Upon Grace

By Jenny Dendinger

This month, our family celebrates its 18th birthday. 

We have five amazing kids filling the 1,600-square-foot house we bought right before we got married. Our oldest turns 17 this week, yet the memories of celebrating our first anniversary while holding our tiny newborn are still so fresh in my mind. 

Pregnant with our second child, we made two of the most exciting purchases of our marriage – a giant dining room table and a minivan. We didn’t need the extra space at the time, but we prayerfully hoped that God would fill up every seat! 

As we welcomed each new life, we laughed and cried our way through parenthood. 

We wrangled our squirmy toddlers in the pew every Sunday, and, each week, we’d leave Mass feeling defeated. We often questioned if there was even a point. Fortunately, we pushed ourselves to keep going. There is no doubt in my mind that we’d be in a much different place today had we given in to the temptation to stay home. 

Attending Mass and praying together as a family has not only been vital to our spiritual growth, but also to the survival of our marriage. 

Thankfully, we’ve had an amazing support system along the way. Date nights were also made a priority. Restaurant gift cards are like gold to parents that are tired, stressed and low on cash. Grandparents willing to babysit is truly a gift from God himself. 

I honestly don’t know how we would have made it without their generosity!

Eventually, we were given the gift of hearing Mass again. Our kids grew up and participated with us. Sacraments were celebrated, and graces flowed to us and through us. 

Obviously, life isn’t all sunshine and roses just because our children are older. Our battles are always shifting to new ways God is calling us to grow. Thankfully, God’s grace given to us in the sacrament of marriage all those years ago has helped carry us through.  

Grace upon grace – our marriage journey has been nothing short of miraculous. 

Deo gratias!

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