Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Grace Abounding

Have you ever had one of those moments when your heart is so very full that words on a page seem so inadequate or you feel as though you can't share it all in writing?  The clock just struck midnight and I am sitting here welcoming the New Year, 2013, completely blown away by the grace of God and how He demonstrated it time and time again over the last year.  My head has been swimming all day, reflecting on all that God has done in the life of our family and in my heart over the last twelve months. So many of you have shared and walked the journey of the last year with our family and so you too are a demonstration of God's grace in the story below.  

A year ago tonight, J, the kids and I were in Missouri celebrating the New Year with my family.  It was a night filled with good food, laughs, games, and family.  It was also a night filled with new beginnings as it was a year ago tonight that J found out that Journey the Way was seeking a pastor and he began the application process for a pastoral job in Wichita, KS.  Who would have thought that a year later, we would be celebrating New Year's Eve as residents of Kansas and J would be leading a mission team from Journey the Way to India, traveling there tonight.  

Here is a small glimpse of the measures of grace we have seen over the last year:

  • God answering our prayer to live closer to family and opening the door for us to serve Him in Wichita, KS
  • God allowing me to stay at home with my children and continually providing even when we in our own human minds questioned "how is this all going to work out?"
  • God's perfect timing in our landlord in CA deciding to sell the house we were living in a week before we found out that we were going to be moving to KS (this meant we wouldn't be breaking our lease - he broke it for us :) ) and then the house not selling until we were ready move out.
  • God providing a home for us to buy in Wichita and then he even sent a massive hail storm to take care of our siding and roof for us!  
  • God providing a second car for us in a way we couldn't have imagined!
  • God continuing to meet our needs by allowing me to do contract work for a market research company which allows me to still be home with the kids.
  • God very graciously giving us people in Wichita who love us, encourage us and are making us part of their families!
  • God allowing us time with our extended family - yay for living closer!  I am loving getting more Auntie Steph time!
  • God providing a way for my sweet daughter and I to go back to the fair in CA and then J and I to go back and visit family friends in CA for his birthday.
  • God giving me snow - sounds crazy I know and some wouldn't call that a measure of grace, but I do!
  • God providing a way for our kids to have a swing set since we had to sell theirs in CA.
  • God providing my kiddos with lots of time with grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins!
  • God placing us in a church that has welcomed us and loved us with open arms! 
  • God giving us community groups to get plugged in with and press the gospel into our lives.
  • God opening doors to share Christ with those around us in new ways!
  • God putting people in my life to pray with me and encourage me on those days where transition and/or life was just plain hard.
Like I said, this is a small glimpse of the measures of grace we have seen over the past year - this list could be much longer.  These were all examples of God's grace we have seen over the last year, but one thing I am learning about the grace of God - it is really something that can't be measured!  It is abounding.  It also hit me over the last year that God is Grace - talk about getting what we don't deserve, there is nothing about me, a quite unlovely sinner that deserves a relationship with a holy God - and yet he chose me anyway.  That blows me away!  

Ephesians 2:4 - 9 says, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."  How does one even measure that?  Grace, a gift of God that He would save a sinner like me (and you)!  Let that blow you away - 

I say that night a year ago was a night of new beginnings because God has used the last year to grow our family in so many ways and to help me to see how God truly cares for our hearts.  I am learning more and more every day that God's grace abounds in our lives - if I am willing to live eyes wide open to see all He has for me.  I have to be honest with you also and say that 2012 wasn't a "perfect" year.  It was filled with struggles, transitions, tears and fears.  (Some of you have been blessed beyond measure to get to talk to me on those days - and I am thankful for you!)  But I have been reminded and encouraged so many times of 2 Corinthians 12:9, "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."  I am thankful His grace is sufficient at all times. 

My prayer for 2013 - that we would be blown away by His grace more and more.  He is Grace.  As we are blown away by His grace, we are blown away by Him.  I also pray that we live life with eyes wide open to see all God has for us.  He uses all things for His glory and our good.  As we see what He has for us, we see more of Him.  I don't know about you, but I don't want to miss something because I wasn't ready to see it.  

Sitting here listening to the clock tick, the house is quiet and my husband is on a plane headed to India. Probably not how I had envisioned celebrating the New Year, but God's plans are best and I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate it than thinking on His goodness in our lives, J doing what he loves - being on mission for Christ and praying God would do great things in and through us in 2013.  I am praying for each of you as well - praying that God's grace would blow you away this year. 

And I couldn't help but post this picture - because these three people are definite measures of grace in my life.   


Anna said...

God is Grace. Thanks for the encouragement, Steph! Another 2012 story that came to mind was the purchase of your home in Wichita via standing in line at the Pioneer Woman conference. (I still need to look up that website if Allie loves her so much!) Here's to unending grace in 2013.

Wendy said...

This is a good word, friend...so great to see and be encouraged by how God has blessed you this year!

Matthew Boyd said...

I love hearing how God answers prayer and provides for His children. Thanks for sharing.

Jen Bauer said...

Wow, what a difference a year can make! I love seeing how God works in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. Great post, Steph! Looking forward to reading the next one:)

Sarah Kuhner said...

God's grace is such a gift to us. We need to be reminded daily to thank Him for that and all that He has done. Thinking of you and what a blessing you are in my life. Love ya!