FOR IT IS BY GRACE

I recently bonded with my darling granddaughter Isla after discovering her fascination with being a ballerina. I love to see photos of her dressing up in her colorful tutus.

I too had dreamed of being a beautiful ballerina. As soon as I was able to read, I checked out a book from the library on “How to be a Ballerina.” I diligently practiced the five ballet positions daily on a makeshift bar I made at our picnic table in the back yard. I was determined to be the most elegant and graceful ballerina.

Then one day all of my hopes and dreams came crashing down with five words I’ll never forget. My twin sister and I had been with the girls next door performing a ballet show when my friend’s mom offered some unexpected feedback that pierced my heart. She commented how graceful my twin was and went on to say that I didn’t have enough grace. My ballerina desire diminished abruptly. Those five words, “You don’t have enough grace” crushed me and thus began my journey of understanding of the word grace.

My twin sister, Sara, and me wearing our tutus

In an English class during my college days at the University of Washington, I began to tackle the true definition of the word grace. The assignment was to write on a word — any word — that was of interest to me. I began my endeavor to research and understand the true meaning of the word “grace.” I received the worst grade of my life on that paper. I learned not to write on faith in a college English class, but it was that research into, and my subsequent understanding of, the word Grace that has been the most valuable knowledge I now possess.

Besides my ballet connection with “grace” (and my apparent lack of it) my thoughts on and knowledge of “grace” extend to our family routine of blessing our meal before we eat together. As I continued to research the definition of the word “grace,” I was enlightened with more profound meanings.

The simplest definition of grace is poise, elegance, forgiveness, or a blessing. The one that I found myself entrenched in was the spiritual definition.

Grace is God’s love in action — the undeserving favor of God sending His son Jesus to die for us, to forgive us for our sin, and to bring us into a right relationship with Him!

Having just celebrated Easter, the word definitely takes on a stronger meaning as we celebrate the true amazing grace of God and the hope He brings.

As I ponder the word grace and His undeserved love and favor, I am reminded of a precious memory that I will treasure forever in my heart. My family was serving at the Young Life Camp Malibu in Canada where my husband was the camp manager. Karina was three years old and Annika was just a baby. The camp was full with 350 high school campers bursting at the seams in Big Squawka, the camp club meeting room. Karina loved to watch and see what was going on. My husband would hold her in his arms and stand at the back of the room while Karina took it all in.

On this occasion a video was being played of Jesus dying on the cross. It was followed by a message on God’s great love and that He sent His son to die for us. The video was a graphic presentation of Jesus nailed to the cross with a crown of thorns encircling His head. My daughter Karina was mesmerized. I heard her tell my husband in a quiet voice: “I love Jesus, daddy! I never want to hurt Him.” She was touched by Jesus’ love for her at such a young age which touched me even more! It was this picture of Jesus dying on the cross and my little girl’s response to it that awakened me to the amazing grace of God.

Shortly after we returned home from Malibu, Karina insisted on sending a note to Jesus to thank Him for dying on the cross. It was one of those memorable moments I treasure in my heart. I wrote down her words on a slip of paper as she said, “I love you Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross.” We tied it to a helium balloon and released it into the sky watching it fade into the distance on its way to heaven.

As I write this, I see that it has come full circle. Eleven years ago this month, Karina’s last month of life, she would realize that her strength came from Jesus. This was the hope she clung to as a little girl and to the very end when she made her way to the ultimate home of heaven.

So the word grace is one that I hold fast to and find it to be the key to understanding the great love of God. His amazing grace and love never ceases to amaze me. I don’t have to be or do anything to deserve it. I might not have the elegance and poise this world aspires to or achieve perfection in everything I do. He loves me no matter what and wants to know me in a personal relationship. I hope and pray you too can grasp this meaning and experience His AMAZING GRACE.

“For it is by GRACE you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

(Ephesians 2:8-9)

“For it is by GRACE you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

With hope and light,

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