Welp, today is the day. The day that my middle child turns twenty-three. HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRACE JAM!!

I feel so lucky not only that I get to be her mother (she has brought so much joy to our family for all these years)…

…but also I feel so lucky that I got to spend all of last week with this girl I adore.

She came with me and Lucy on the MCO (Lucy’s choir) tour to New England and we sure had some wing-dinger times I can’t wait to share.

But I thought to myself over and over again, I’m so lucky she’s mine.

These birthdays are tricky because I always get emotional so filled with love looking back at old pictures, but here we go.

Twenty-three things I love and also things you might not know about her.

  • She has been a nature-lover right from the very beginning.

Stopping to love and take in nature does something to your soul I think. And Grace’s soul sours because she stops to adore it. I love that she will send me pictures of the mountains when the light hits in a particular way, or that she gets breathless with adoration looking out on vistas of gorgeousness.

  • She is spunky, and she adds life to any party.
  • This spunkiness also means she knows how to get her way. From the beginning even as a little toddler at church she would go down the rows trying to find people with the best treats. Ha!

    She loved candy and treats so much that we figured it would be appropriate to have a pinata as a birthday tradition. And we always opted for the home-made variety. Which I personally thought was pretty fun.
  • She knows herself and her worth. There have been times that have been tricky with friends. Times when she has felt alone. Times when she has compared herself to others, as we all do.

    But what’s so beautiful about Grace is that no matter what happens, she has this confidence that draws people to her. She knows who she is as a daughter of God. And that knowledge has the power to get you through some tricky times for sure.
  • Did you know she is a dancer? She started small and took for the longest of all our girls I think. She is the BEST performer and steals the show (spoken from a biased mother).
  • She’s an awesome conversationalist. She’s not afraid of the deep questions about life and religion, which spurs so many good conversations.
  • She’s not afraid to be vulnerable and share her heart. This also helps so much to develop the best relationships.
  • She is athletic and not afraid to work hard at a sport. She did soccer:

And did you know she did junior high cheer as well as high school?

Also tumbling…she could rock the back tuck.

  • She is smart. She puts in the work at school to learn and grow in so many ways.

These pictures should have gone with the “smart” comment, ha!

  • Never afraid to try new things, and travel new places.
  • She’s not afraid. When we lived in China she decided on her own it was the perfect opportunity to join the soccer team.
  • She is friendly. She knows how to gather and love, even in a new culture far, far away from home. Sure, it took some time. And sure, it was uncomfortable. But she learned to thrive that semester we lived in China.
  • She played high school tennis back at home and loved it.
  • She has the most gorgeous hair of all time. I’m sure she got it from me. HA!! (I have the worst hair.)
  • She is a water sports fanatic, and is so good at just jumping in and having so much fun out there.
  • She knows how to embrace experiences that will help her grow. She did her junior year internship (something we do in our family) a year early and in CHINA of all places. It, again, was not easy. But she thrived in that spot.

    A couple years later she had another opportunity to help out in China and she rocked it again (not without some serious soul-searching work).

Came out on top and loved it.

  • She went to BYU Hawaii to join her sister for her freshman year.

Which turned out to be another tricky thing since covid happened, and her freshman year was cut short.

So what did she do? Came home and worked hard, and then decided to serve a mission in the middle of the covid mayhem.

  • Learned to thrive in a new place once again. Grace knows how to transform potentially tricky situations into gold. She was called to serve in Uruguay, got reassigned to Austin, Texas because Uruguay never opened.

    She could have been bitter and wringing her hands wishing to go to her original mission, but she bloomed where she was planted and knows to this day that Austin was the place she was supposed to be. Not because it was some sort of a miracle, but because she chose to embrace all of it with all her heart. The tough and the glorious.
  • On our trip this last week I was thinking about how Grace is just so easy to be around. She goes with the flow and doesn’t get fussy about things. If I’m slow, she just slows down. If I want to run, she tries to catch up. If I’m sad, she is there to put her arm around me and be so thoughtful. If I’m happy, she’s there to take up all that joy and jubilation right along with me. I love thinking about her doing this with all her friends and people around her. She just shines light.
  • Grace is calm. We got in a car accident while we were gone. Everyone is ok, but it was pretty scary and we were pretty shaken up. Grace was such a calming factor with it all, taking Lucy under her wing, supporting me as I was talking to the police, etc. A calming influence is such a powerful thing and Grace is it in full force.
  • This girl is full of support and love. She buoyed Lucy up so much and made her feel like a queen. She does this with all her siblings (and friends). Grace spills out so much love.
  • She loves God. And she is a follower and seeker of Jesus. I believe when people are seeking, like, really seeking Jesus, they glow. Grace glows.

Gosh I love this birthday girl!!

It was just the three of us back at home for one night after all our MCO adventures and we stayed up and baked a birthday cake for a pre-birthday celebration.

Love you forever Grace Jam!

And ever and ever.

Hope you have the best birthday. So many good things ahead!!

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      1. One obvious sign is there’s no effort to hide the two earrings in each ear. Disregard for guidelines.

        1. Umh that was taken out of the for strength of youth book, and even if it hadn’t, it wouldn’t mean she left the church! You’re are been ridiculous

        2. Great Heck! I thought it was something real. For strength of youth no longer talks about how many piercings. And she isn’t a youth. Why oh why don’t people ever bother Max? Just the daughters. Why can’t people tell pamphlet from scripture and custom from law. BYU I you can now wear flip flops. Shh don’t tell anyone that got changed a year ago.

        3. And THAT’S your “obvious sign” that she’s left LDS? Please seek help. You have some serious problems. The way you stalk Shawni’s blog and family photos to look for “infractions” or something that you wish to point out to her followers to simply make yourself feel good is really concerning and ridiculous. It makes you look really messed up!

    1. She’s still very active in the lds church
      And if she wasn’t why are you even here, on an lds family blog. ?

      1. @Jayne: Your comment “why are you even here, on an LDS family blog”? raises a question for me: Are non-LDS readers unwelcome here? I’ve read this blog for many years and I’m deeply entrenched in another faith tradition. I’d like to hear from Shawni if she prefers non-LDS readers to stay away from her blog.

        Shawni, will you please comment? Are people who follow other faith traditions welcome here, or should we leave?

        1. They seem to be welcome, but if they start asking doctrinal questions, or questions about why this family ignores some rules/guidelines all the while claiming to be in good standing… then all bets are off. The fan girls go wild and rather than address the questions, they turn on the one asking, making them feel like they are the ones not following the rules.

        2. Of course everyone is welcome and I hope they feel it! Cynthia I’m sorry if you missed posts upon posts where I have addressed questions upon questions about the rules and guidelines of the church. If you search for the religious posts you’ll find all kinds.

  1. Happy birthday to gorgeous Grace! I always find birth order so fascinating and her adaptability is perfect as a middle child 😂 She seems like such a darling girl and I’m glad you could celebrate together.

    1. Thank you Jane! I’m so glad we got to celebrate together as well. Sending love right on back to you! And yes, Grace is pretty amazing with her adaptability as middle child!

  2. Oh my goodness, that picture of when she was born? You look so much like “grown” Grace! How sweet!

  3. She seems like an amazing kid! One thing I’ve always admired is the way you talk about your kids on their birthdays – it looks like you truly know them and love them for who they are. I’m not a mom yet, but I hope I can emulate that in the future.

    1. I love this so much too! I’m sure having a bunch of siblings can sometimes feel like getting lost in the shuffle, but this is such a special thing you do for them and something they can always look to if they feel down or wan to remember how much they’re loved.

    2. Thanks you guys. I do love to take some time to think about them each deeply on their birthdays. But it makes me more emotional every year! I love who they are becoming more than I can say but I miss their baby-selves too!

  4. Happy Birthday to such a glowing girl!! 🙂 I’ve always wondered how your family has THE BEST SKIN!? I’d love to hear what you all do/ any tips! On one of your helping posts! … gorgeous, glowing faces, seeking God, and loving others…. I love to see her happy self on your blog! Happy Happiest Birthday to Grace!!

    1. Oh C, you are so nice! And my girls would be incredibly flattered because they STRUGGLE with their skin! They have honestly tried everything under the sun. Honestly I think the birth control pill helped most with Elle, but Grace and Claire are still looking. Send any tips our way if anyone has any!

      Thank you for the birthday wishes!

    1. Aw thank you. I’m sure trying to keep it healthy. I love that most of the kids got Dave’s hair;)

  5. I must confess that I first thought that the picture up there of a young Shawni with newborn Grace was actually Grace holding a teeny baby!! Happy Birthday to Grace!

  6. So sorry to be slow on my response here, this summer has been a doozy! But thanks so much for all the kind birthday wishes. Grace is a gem, that’s for sure. Love you forever, miss Grace Jam!

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