Grit & Grace

by guest blogger, Barb Zahn


”For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” - Mark 10:45

Grit & Grace. I bought this shirt because I feel like I could always use more of these - grit for daily life, and grace to extend to others. I realized, while pondering the writing of this entry, that God has been hard at work in both of these areas of my life lately. 

My daughter Lucy was born in 2009, and at 3 months old she was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), type 1. We were told she would die before she reached 2 years old, and nothing we did was likely to prevent that. I was protective of her as a new mother, and the diagnosis only served to amplify this fierceness in me. I could do this myself; I was created for this. We declined nursing help, locked ourselves away from the germy world outside (it was mid-October by then,) and I lived for Lucy. We were, and still are, blessed to be in a position where my husband Noah works, and Lucy is my full time “job.” So I pumped breast milk, did therapies, learned machines and feeding schedules, and we settled into a routine. 

Baby Lucy was hard, but easy; it was all incredibly new to learn, but she was very stable, even strong, for a type 1. And she napped. Oh, did she nap 😍 So even though I devoted so much to her, I still had time for me, pretty regularly. I’d read, or surf, which was the hub for everything I needed to learn and the parents to “meet,” who became lifelines for me. At first, I’d go tearing out of the house immediately when the weekend arrived, desperate for “normalcy.” That went away over time... now I need to be dragged out of my haven. I took up sewing and selling hair clips for a bit, then some simple garment sewing, then patchwork quilts and other various crafts. So much free time back then! But the older kids get, the less they sleep, and eventually I’ve found myself with a 9-year-old who can pull all-nighters, is completely typical cognitively, has weakened considerably physically, and needs so much more than any standard infant dreams of needing. Lucy’s care is so nuanced that even though Noah still regularly cares for her, he simply can’t keep up with the best, safest way to do everything for her because he has to work outside the home. So over the years, I’ve regularly had to choose between what most consider “self care” and care for my child. And Lucy always wins.

That’s not to say that I never do anything as a respite for myself. When Lucy is stable, I sew, maybe do a bit of shopping, once in a blue moon I’ll meet a friend or two for dinner. But I’ve had to learn exactly what “dying to self” means, over and over again, getting a bit closer to the truth of it each time. This winter has felt like my biggest step yet. I’ve been able to make peace with needing to give up time that was originally earmarked for me; to instead fill it with giving more of myself to my family. To not begrudgingly step in and do more, but to accept it as the work put before me. And know that when the time is right, when it’s what God has set aside for me, it will be there. I’m not on my schedule; I’m on His. And He supplies the grit I need, when I ask Him to with sincerity. It comes in extra handy on the many sleepless nights we face, followed by days that still need every task completed. 

The grace He’s shown me as I’ve wrestled with this all these years (and will continue to, at some level, I’m sure) has been exactly the reminder I’ve needed lately, while winter and its cold and dark seep into me and try to turn me as bitter as the winds that blow. His grace for me is meant to be relayed to those around me, and that’s an area I need to concentrate on as well. Since He continues to show it so abundantly to me, I’m constantly reminded to avoid hypocrisy and work on choosing to show grace to people in all areas of my life. It’s a work in progress 😉

Grit and grace are so vital in my life, and this shirt is a lovely reminder of how far I’ve come, and Who I have by my side as I continue on. 


Barb is at home in Wisconsin with her husband Noah, little Lucy and lots of snow!  You can reach out to her on Instagram @lucysvintageroom. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published