What’s grace got to do with it?

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but will sometimes pick a word to define the year – a tradition my sister started years ago. This year, my word is grace. (Not sure I even remembered to do this last year. I think the year got off to such a bad start I didn’t even bother.)

Why grace, you ask? I’m not even sure myself. But after finding out my mom’s cancer had spread to her lungs which meant she had stage 4 cancer and was then given a time frame for how long she would live, I was devastated. I found myself sitting in church hoping to find some sort of encouraging word or miracle or just some sort of hope to cling on to. During the worship, I was just sitting there trying not to cry. Not singing. Praying. They were singing some song and the word grace popped out at me.

Later, as I sat there – again, not listening very well to the pastor – just praying during the service, the word grace popped out at me again. I left feeling kind of confused. I’m praying my little heart out about my mom’s cancer and the word that I keep hearing is grace. But I shrugged it off. It’s a church, they talk about grace, but it didn’t really make sense to me as far as my mom’s cancer goes.

A week or so later, I was telling a friend about my mom’s cancer. She prayed God’s grace on my mom and our family. As I was walking to my car, I glanced down at a text from my sister, also about grace. I’m feeling like I’m supposed to be getting a message from God here, but I’m really confused. What’s grace got to do with it?

So, on the way home I found myself wandering through the Japanese Garden at the Main City Park in Gresham. Pondering this question and taking photos. I didn’t get any answers then about why I’m feeling the word grace so strongly in conjunction with my mom’s cancer…

 

Holly bush in the Japanese Garden
Holly bush in the Japanese Garden

 

Another month goes by. And I’m still not getting a clearer picture on the grace thing. I’m telling God I don’t understand this word grace. I think of it as meaning forgiveness for sins or wrongdoing. Or being saved from sins.  Being graceful. Having grace. I just don’t understand.

 

Pink Camellia
Pink Camellia

 

That week in church, the pastor was talking about grace again. With an example:

Have you ever been in a long line, say at they bank, and you’ve been waiting and waiting and the line is barely moving. You’ve finally managed to shuffle a few feet forward when a friend comes in and says “Hey, come outside, you’ve got to see this.” 

You don’t want to go. You tell them you can’t, the line is barely moving, you’ve made it a few people forward, if you go outside, you’ll have to go back to the end of the line again. 

But, your friend is insistent “You need to come outside now and see this.”

Finally, you reluctantly go outside, only to find out that a bank robber slipped into the bank and held it up right after you walked out the door. You feel relieved. You feel grateful to your friend for insisting they needed you to see something outside when you didn’t want to leave the line. You realize that it was only by God’s grace that you were spared from being inside of that bank at the time it was robbed.

 

Japanese Garden - Gresham Main City Park
Japanese Garden – Gresham Main City Park

 

Grace.

 

A touch of color
A touch of color

 

Ephesians 2:8; “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God”.

 

Zen
Zen

 

Still feeling like it’s a wimpy word for the year. My sister picked Fierce. (You can read what she wrote about it at the end of this blog post.) I want to be fierce. Dressed for battle. Wearing my cancer kicking combat boots. Armed to the teeth. Instead, I feel like, with my word, I’m standing here, at the bottom of a glass mountain. Wearing a long flowing white dress. Barefoot. Looking up. Trying to figure out how I’m going to scale this slippery glass mountain to get to the other side. My armor isn’t going to help me now. But maybe some of those grippy socks would help. Better yet, suction cups on my hands and feet. Pretty sure this is not going to be a graceful assent, but I’ll do the best I can. Tuck that dress up, PNG style so it’s out of my way, and up I go!

 

Graceful curves
Gentle curves

 

If all else fails, by the end of this year, I’m going to give up on this grace thing and start smashing this stupid glass mountain to pieces with a gigantic hammer!

 

 

When faced with a mountain, I will not quit.
When faced with a mountain, I will not quit

 

What’s grace got to do with it, indeed? Still not sure, but I’m guessing for me and my journey with my mom’s cancer – everything.

 

 

My sister’s word for the year post:

 

Been trying to wax poetic about the New Year for days. Last year may have been an enigmatic weirdo.

This year has dubbed itself,
“the Great Unknown.”
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Picking one word isn’t gonna cut it for 2017. So far the veritable weirdsmobile has suggested: courage, light, hope, and perseverance. This makes me cry.
It’s already a year in which the other shoe has dropped. My Mama found out she has stage 4 cancer a few months ago. What does one say to that? (nothing ladylike, I can assure you)
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
So, 2017, I’ll tell you what I think.
I’ll take your pile of words, the shoes that won’t stay on your feet, and throw in an adjective:
Fierce.
You better believe it.
Fierce Love, Fierce fight, Fierce hope… Fierceness to all of the nonsense and hogwash going on the world.
And I ain’t the only one.

There’s a whole posse of us up in here.

 

Fierce
Fierce

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Art: Cory Godbey

 

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14 thoughts on “What’s grace got to do with it?

  1. Thanks for sharing. Grace (undeserved favour) might have a wimpy gentle reputation, but I think, it’s actually tough, costly, hard, challenging mongrel of a word sometimes. It takes guts and determination and denial of self to exercise it, and humility and thankfulness and to receive it. Grace is the opposite of demanding our ‘rights.’ Grace is what held Jesus on that cross, and (excuse the french) there’s nothing pissweak about that! I think it’s a great word, and I look forward to reading what you discover about it, if you feel like sharing it.

    p.s. If you haven’t already read it, Phillip Yancey’s ‘What’s so amazing about Grace’ is a great book.
    p.p.s. Mum and Dad send their love to you and your parents too.

    1. I’ll have to check out the book. Thank you for your words. Your family is in my prayers as you’re fighting a similar battle with your father’s cancer. Much love to you all!

  2. Absolutely love the heart felt words of both of you! You and your family are being kept in my prayers every day. Cancer is a horrible , nasty disease and we really realize the impact of it when it touches those so near and dear to us. My oldest brother’s wife is battle kidney cancer and has just started a round of new chemo for her. But her spirit, her trust in God, her amazing faith during this time, her fight and her insights keep encouraging me…….just like your posts in this blog just did. Both of you, your mom, and your dad have amazing faith and amazing determination and spirits. You may not know it, or fully realize it, and I am sure there are many days when you don’t feel like it, BUT you all are encouraging and having an impact on all of us that you are allowing to share this journey with you all, even in such a much smaller way than you find yourselves. Blessings on you all, and thank you for these posts!

  3. Grace is NOT a soft word as we often think it is. Grace is a GOD word on how he acts for us. It is difficult for us to understand it as much of what God does is difficult for us to understand. Hold unto God and HIS GRACE.
    Blessings,
    Jim O Anderson
    retired Wycliffe member

  4. My word is Miracle…. because I truly believe in Miracles with my whole heart body and soul…. it’s going to be a journey of miracles… just watch

    1. That’s what word I wanted. Sometimes we choose our words, sometimes they choose us. I didn’t chose the word grace. It didn’t make any sense to me, but that’s what I kept hearing, so grace it is. Love you, auntie!

  5. Thank you for sharing your words, Collette and Maureen. I don’t understand grace either, but it must be a concept important enough to ponder. Somehow, together, perhaps you will learn what fierce grace you possess or receive as a gift from God, or from your mother. Blessings and peace to your family.

    1. Thanks so much. I think this year will be to find out what being fierce and having grace in the face of a terminal illness means. We’ll try to share insights along the way.

  6. I was so sorry to hear about your mother, Mary. It seems like cancer (stage 4) has surrounded us. Our Pastor, Jerry Brittons daughter in law was diagnosed with over a year ago, and so far seems as if she is doing better… also my husbands niece, Jodi, down in Ky. was diagnosed with it in July with only 4-6 weeks to live. As of now she is still hanging in there. The 1st set of Drs. gave up on chemo and said there was no chance. Then another team came in to give her a chance with something new. This coming Thurs. the Drs. will scan her again and if she has improved at all they will continue,,,, if not then ….. My words that I live be is HOPE, FAITH, and TRUST. I keep hearing the words in Genesis. GOD Created the whole world, universe, animals, and people. If I truly believe HE could and did do that, then I also have to believe HE can heal a person of anything.. We are all in HIS hands and again my words to live by are: HOPE, Faith, and TRUST. Praying for you all and don’t give up on GOD still doing the impossible that man can’t do….. Hugs to all, Yours 3rd (?) cousin Jeanie Cooper Sprague.

    1. Keep holding on to your words of encouragement this year. We believe in a God who performs miracles – a God who gives us Faith, Hope and Trust. Hold on to that in the coming year.

  7. I ran across your heart-stone on Pinterest and had to come check out your blog. I’m so sorry you are going through this season and may you find mercy and grace. My father was diagnosed several years ago with leukemia (the long kind), but he didn’t last but a year. He was away from home, at a job-site and had a sudden heart attack four days before my parents’ 32nd wedding anniversary. It wasn’t until a few months after he passed that we realized my mother had been given a gift. She said at the time, she didn’t know if she would have been able to handle caring for him as he didn’t make a very good patient when he was ill.
    We are often selfish and want our family and friends to be healed here on earth, but God knows the big picture and sometimes heals our loved ones in heaven. He promises to be with us no matter what. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. I often visualize myself sitting in Jesus’ lap with his arms wrapped around me. Gives me great comfort.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about your father’s leukemia. Thank you so much for your kind words. It’s hard to go through this and I’m so thankful for everyone’s support during this time.

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