We called her our “Christmas baby” as she was born in December of the year 1998, the first of our children to arrive during “this most wonderful time of the year”….the magical, bright, joyful, holy and divine Christmas season!
We called her our “sweet baby” because of her gentle disposition and the heavenly scent that emanated from her tiny little body. You could hold this precious bundle for hours watching her lips curl up in an uncontrollable smile, be enveloped by the sweet aroma and lulled to sleep by her deep rhythmic breathing. It brought us such perfect peace in our hearts despite the difficult outward circumstances surrounding our family at the time.
….And we called her Grace.
Yes, we purposely named this child Grace because that particular year we had experienced an abundant outpouring of God’s grace in our lives. Grace is often defined as….
- God’s unmerited favor
- Loving kindness from God that is not deserved.
- A free gift from God.
We may have a “working knowledge” of grace and understand its basic premise but not until we have personally experienced the ultimate grace that God has freely given – loving us even at our very worst, pardoning us and paying the price for all our wrongs and giving divine strength and help through the circumstances of life without us doing anything to deserve or earn that help – can we be filled with amazement and awe that brings us to our knees in humble adoration and gratitude.
While both my husband and I had experienced the saving grace of God decades prior, that year we were shown an amazing amount of grace.
- His grace was evident in blessing us with this sweet baby and He even extended that grace in the circumstances surrounding her birth. (an undesired scheduled c-section that turned into a flawless natural birth) Despite the prevalent thought in our society today that we have a God given “right” to our desired number of children at exactly the time and season in life that we want to have them…the reality is that none of us deserve or have earned the “right” to the blessings of children. Truly it is by the abundant grace of God that we were given the gift of another child to love.
- His grace was miraculous that year in allowing one of our greatest dreams to become a reality. After working tirelessly ‘round the clock on starting a Christian high school that reflected our personal philosophy and desire to have a lasting impact on students, the doors to that school opened in the fall. We did not earn this favor from God, nor did we deserve such a blessing. It was His grace poured out on all those involved in its inception and in every detail that the gift of Jim Elliot Christian High School was given to everyone who has been, who currently is, as well as all who will be touched by its ministry.
- His grace was poured out to us daily as a temporary poverty had settled over our household and He graciously met our every need. We saw God not only provide for our personal needs but also for the financial needs of the school, that almost every month of that first year in operation, faced the reality of closing the doors and yet God came through just in time often through strange, unexpected and unbelievable sources. (in fact the day after we had given birth to “sweet baby Grace” a college friend whom we had not seen or spoken to in over a decade walked into the hospital room and handed us a check for $16,000 that literally saved the school and kept it going in to the new year) Neither us personally or the school as an organization deserved such kindness and yet God graciously and freely gave it to us all.
- His grace also was working through us at that time to give us the desire to completely forgive those who we felt had greatly betrayed us, turned their back on us, treated us with contempt and left us in a state of despair. As difficult as it was, we chose to not only forgive but to extend grace, though perhaps not deserved, earned, asked for or even desired, to all those who had wronged us. Having received such grace from God we could hardly justify not freely giving grace to others.
Yes, that Christmas season as we rocked our sweet new baby, in the quietness of the night beside the twinkling lights of our tree, we reflected on how God’s amazing grace had truly filled and overwhelmed our hearts and lives. Realizing how much God had done for us and knowing full well we did not deserve or earn any of it, made us both humble and extremely grateful.
In many ways our life this year is parallel to the year of 1998 – without the blessing of a new baby. (although we have hopes of God’s favor on us as we pursue another adoption)
- We are once again embarking on a journey to make one of our lifelong dreams become a reality
- We are once again in a temporary state of poverty (and yes, we had some prosperous years in between which we affectionately refer to as the “glory days”)
- We are once again being asked to extend grace to those who carry animosity towards us and others who we fear may be making poor leadership decisions
We pray that these things will once again cause us to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and that we will experience God’s amazing grace poured out on us in abundance.
At Christmas time we often hear and sing words about – joy, peace, hope and love – yet the greatest gift that was given to us upon the birth of Jesus was the outpouring of undeserved favor and loving kindness….called grace.
As we all reflect upon our lives this past year… both the challenging circumstances and the beautiful blessings may the amazing grace of God overwhelm our hearts with humble gratitude and may we extend that same grace to all those who cross our path.
Here’s to experiencing, sharing and spreading some Christmas grace this season and throughout the year!