Welcome to the 2nd post in my Let Grace Begin series, inspired by Jumping Tandem Retreat’s theme: Grace.
Lisha and I sat together at Amena Brown’s workshop in the main room with “G R A C E” in caps, painted in soft pastels. Each table had a vase of spring flowers in shades of pink, white, lavender and pale yellow resting in a pastel wood tray, all made beautiful by Frances.
When I told Frances how much I appreciated her creation of beauty everywhere I looked (even encouraging quotes on bathroom mirrors!), she smiled and said, “It was fun.”
Photo used with permission of: Liz West
Angie and Rachel said “it was fun,” when I thanked them for being the hospitality queens as they welcomed all to the retreat and organized ice breakers.
Grace is having fun using your God-given gifts to bless others.
Grace in action is beauty in motion.
I prefer when God’s grace is fun and beautiful.
But I’m learning God’s grace is also where the unexpected and the hard lives.
Photo used with permission of: JogiBaer2
Maybe the light of God’s grace shines brightest against the darkness of our weaknesses. Was Paul alluding to this contrast when he wrote when he was weakest, God’s strength was perfected in him (2 Cor. 12:9-10)?
Amena (gifted spoken word poet) gave us four different prompts (involving shoes) and about five minutes to write.
She reminded us: “Nothing you write is stupid…no negativity.” (Can I get her words in flashing neon?)
I’d recovered from my unexpected crying jag the night before and was excited to be here. After each prompt, we could share what we wrote.
The second prompt was write “about your favorite pair of shoes.” Innocent and innocuous prompt, right?
I scribbled in black ink using my favorite Dr. Grip roller ball pen on my lined comp book: “My mind races/ What are my favorite pair of shoes?”
Two-thirds into it, when my inner editor quiets, I write with surprising clarity about an ongoing deep soul issue. Stark but hopeful words.
Photo used with permission of: NicosFotos
Amena calls time; we stop writing. I read my unexpected words.
When it’s my turn, I rub my hands against my seated legs from my knees to the top of my thighs and back again, until I reach the last third of my free write and tears well up. Really? Again?
I bite my lips to stop from crying. I will read this without crying. I stare at the page.
Amena and the others patiently wait. Grace gets up and places a box of Kleenex next to me.
Grace is patient and waits till you can collect yourself enough to speak.
Inhale. Bite my lips again. Read the last third as fast as I can before more tears trickle down my cheeks.
Grace stayed in the moment with me. No one judged me. No one told me to get over it.
Lisha hugged me. Amena smiled and said she “loved it.” Harry (Deidra’s husband) said he noticed giant letters spelling out “GRACE,” on the wall behind me as I read.
I’m grateful for Amena sharing her gift with us, and for how she, Lisha, Harry, Malinda, Matt and Julie lived grace toward me.
Grace lets you be where you are in your process.
Grace accepts you in your messy.
Grace doesn’t shame you for your real emotions.
Later I read Lisha’s words and exhale because she expressed so well the need to accept our imperfections.
I don’t know what kind of grace you need today but I know God gives grace to anyone who wants it.
It isn’t cheap; it cost Him His Son.
But it is free.
Thank you for your grace revealed through friends using their gifts to bless others with beauty and welcome.
Thank you for friends who model your grace by their patient presence.
I pray especially today for my friends who are in the midst of a painful season. Please give them the grace to know You wrap your arms of love around them.
Please give us the grace to cling to You and your promises for good (Romans 8:28-30).
Please give us the grace to be where we are and to not rush past the hidden gifts you have for us in this season.
And please let us receive your grace so we can give grace to ourselves and others.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Soul Stops Questions:
Are you like me and have difficulty sometimes embracing grace long enough to stay and be honest in the messy?
My friend Amanda models so beautifully the grace of being in the process.
How has someone shown you grace and/or how have you shown grace?
How can I pray for you?
Thanks for being here as I process out loud; you are a grace gift.