Donna asked for an update on how things are going here in Ohio. I thought I’d share two types of grace we are experiencing: the grace that is obvious and the grace that is uncomfortable, but grace none the less.
Obvious Evidences of Grace:
1. We are really loving the area. Some places I love are: the Home Goods store, World Market, Root Candle (Medina is so great, I can’t wait to explore it more), old huge houses in Akron with their beautiful and varied architecture, Summit Mall, Sonnets Coffee Shop, Crave (a great restaurant), The Mustard Seed (more for the restaurant upstairs), and so much more. We can’t wait for the warmer weather so we can explore parks and other places.
2. Jason is doing a great job as a senior pastor. Okay, I know I’m biased. He is doing so well preaching every week. We are currently in the book of Philippians. For the short term he has narrowed his focus to Sunday mornings (worship, preaching, greeting guests, children’s church, etc.), care for/equipping current leaders, and raising up new leaders. We had our first official care group leaders’ care group earlier this month. These are quality folks that I can’t wait to get to know. Jason is leading two groups for leadership development. Both groups are well attended by a variety of age groups. It is such a blessing to see in many cases Dads and their college-age sons participating together in this first module. They are using Living the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney as their guide.
3. We are getting to know and love the fine folks of Covenant of Grace Church. We feel so loved and supported. People are amazingly responsive to Jason’s leadership. What a huge blessing! We are truly overwhelmed by the greeting we have received here. We have been invited to lunch or dinner numerous times, have a lot of hospitality in our own home, and connect as much as possible while we are at church functions. I am enjoying getting to know Marcia Walter along with a few other ladies who have taken the time to befriend me.
4. The gospel is more dear to our family than ever. This could be a whole post really. In essence, Jason and I are confronted with being called to something completely beyond our ability. We realize that there are no resources or gifts or previous experiences that will get the job done here. Whether it’s Jason learning to preach week after week, or me trying to keep home fires burning when I’m feeling emotionally drained, we simply do not have it within us to do the job. That’s why the gospel is growing more and more precious. When I stumble and fall into the sin of self pity, unbelief, selfishness, pride, fear of man, I find the cleansing water and blood of Jesus such a relief and comfort. When we find ourselves lacking wisdom or insight into a ministry situation or a parenting situation, we find the gift of the Holy Spirit at work to provide the wisdom we need. When we find ourselves physically weak, we find the strength from God available only because of the work of our Savior. We seem to be confronted more often with the truth that we have a treasure residing in us, the earthen vessel. The earthen-ness is more obvious, but so is the treasure.
1. We miss our friends, family, and church in MD. My eyes fill with tears just typing this. Yet I see grace in that this little bit of suffering has served to soften me. I am not a compassionate woman, but I truly want to be. My lack of compassion is due to I’m sure a number of things, but one is that I have had such an easy life. Whether this would be hard for others, I do not know, but it is extremely hard for me. I also see grace in that my family in MD is bonding differently from if we were still there. Our kids were the middle, the connectors between Karyn’s (my older sister) and Jimmy’s (my younger brother). Removing us has created more opportunities for my big niece and nephew to bond with my little niece and nephew.
2. Two of my children are having a really hard time with the relocation. I wasn’t prepared for how hard my younger two would take our move. This is God’s grace because in my son we are seeing a precious loyalty that we knew was there but had no idea to what extent. Several times my son has come into our room late at night not able to sleep, crying because he keeps thinking about how much he misses his cousins. He misses his old church. He misses his buddy Tim. This is so painful for me as a mom, yet I firmly believe that this will be a pivotal time in Izzy’s life, and pray that we will steward the opportunity to show him how precious the gospel is, how worthy God is of our obedience to follow Him wherever He leads, and more. My daughter is responding differently. She isn’t able to articulate her feelings of disorientation, etc. so instead, I find she is acting out, being more willful. It’s hard to know what is related to the move and what is just a season of her needing more correction, but either way it is God’s grace to reveal it to us while she is so young. He is graciously providing many opportunities for my girlie to see that she is a sinner in need of a Savior.
So that’s the very abbreviated version of how we’re doing here in Ohio. We covet your prayers for our family, particularly my children.