Crystal McDowell has been married for over 22 years and together they raise five children. In her very spare time, she writes, speaks, and teaches with a passion to encourage women with Biblical truths. Crystal is a speaker at our 2013 Hearts at Home conferences.  You can find weekly words of encouragement on her blog.


It was about 4 a.m. when I snuck downstairs to the half-bath. I needed to know if my suspicions were true.

Five minutes later, I discovered we were unexpectedly expecting our fifth child…only eleven months after the last one!

I knew that my husband would be speechless—and he was—for about twenty-four hours after I told him. He always wanted 2 children and I wanted 3…but God did the math and we had five!

I wasn’t upset about having another baby (although still in shock), yet I felt like I was hanging on by a thin string with the four I was raising. As a home school mom, I was tired most of the time. I felt weak and unable to grasp the concept of our growing family with all their needs.

I was hopeful that God would provide whatever we needed physically, but I needed reassurance that He would provide what I needed spiritually and emotionally as well. I was unsure in my ability to be a good mother and not mess everything up. I remember saying to God, “I’m the best thing and the worst thing to happen to these children”.

At a family dinner, I asked someone to pass the peas, but I really wanted to say, “Pass the Grace, pleeeease!” I needed God’s grace for my weaknesses—losing my temper over small things, speaking too harshly, overreacting. I was a human time bomb. If I kept going in my own strength, I would certainly be like the woman in Proverbs 14:1 who tears down her house with her own hands. How could I trust that God would use my weaknesses for His good?

What I learned is that whenever I felt overwhelmed—I would pray “Pass the Grace Please!”

I was weak, but God was strong enough for me. His strength for my weaknesses helped me become the wife and mother He called me to be. It worked…even with the dishes!

Twelve years have passed since our last child was born and God has been faithful through it all. I’ve blown it many times, but there was grace. I’ve done well many times and there was grace. It was God’s grace all the time.

Grace is the power of God to overcome your deficiencies to reveal His good in a flawed vessel. When your heart is overwhelmed…receive His grace, you will never walk away empty.

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