“Dad, did you hear what I chose for my processional music?”
“No, I didn’t,” I said, as we stood waiting our cue to walk in for the wedding rehearsal.
She named the songs before the processional and then said, “And for the processional, ‘Great Is Thy Faithfulness.’ So, we need to walk slowly. I want to remember all three verses.”
To say I was blown away, would be an understatement. “Okay,” I told her, smiling and tearing up, “We will walk slowly.”
It was another evidence of God’s grace, God’s goodness, God’s mercy in her life and mine.
The word grace means God’s undeserved favor. His unmerited provision in life. It is associated with the famous hymn and rich spiritual “Amazing Grace” penned by the former slave trader from England, John Newton.
But in my life with Karen, when we were expecting our second daughter, we experienced such a year filled with the unmerited favor of God, “Grace” was the only fitting name for the girl we anticipated arriving July, 1987.
The winter before Grace’s arrival, we received a surprise gift from a friend and missionary in the Maldives which paid my Spring tuition in graduate school. Another woman approached us at church telling us, “The Lord told me to give you $200.” This was a frequent occurrence that year. It was a time of renewal and healing for our marriage. A door opened to an opportunity for me to take on a student pastorate. That congregation embraced and cared for us like long lost children. It was a year of God’s grace.
So, when Grace arrived at the Lexington Good Samaritan Hospital, it was the only name for her. She came in a rush, before the doctor could make it to the hospital; our capable nurses, both with midwifery training, delivered her. Instead of writing “It’s a Girl” on the chalkboard in pink chalk, one nurse wrote, “It’s a Grace!”
Grace arrived screaming, as if to say, “Why did you leave me in there so long!”
As a young an infant, when upset about something, she did not let it go. Once she screamed for a three hour car ride. I drove while Karen tried every trick in our book to help this one-month-old calm down. Yes, we pulled over and stopped time and again. Nothing worked. She was just mad and that was it! Finally, we decided, we just needed to get there. After three hours we arrived at our destination, Karen carried the still screaming Grace inside, tried nursing her, bundling her up, then, finally, exhausted as well, she handed her to me. I held her against me. Eventually, this soothed her angry tears. She fell asleep.
As a child, Grace has always known what she wanted and needed. When she was sick, we learned to trust what she thought her body needed, even when it might not have been our choice. The remedy she chose worked every time. When she had outgrown her piano teacher, she asked us to find someone who could push her further. Her piano teacher agreed. When looking for Mr. Right, as an adult, she had high standards. She called herself a “serial first dater,” for when she did go out with a guy for coffee, lunch or dinner, it was once only. She knew what she was looking for and didn’t waste time if the guy didn’t measure up. When Justin stepped into her life, she knew he was the one for her. He knew the same of her and even said it on his brother’s national podcast on January 6, 2021. [If you want to listen, he talks of the relationship beginning at one hour, 4 minutes (1:04).]
Through all the seasons of life, Grace has seen how her name was a reality. Undeserved favor, she’d tell you, seemed to follow her around. A policeman pulled her over once for speeding, but upon meeting her and speaking with her, didn’t give her a ticket. In 2013, Grace and I traveled together to Ireland and England and time and again experienced these amazing circumstances which left me shaking my head. A delightful Irish woman next to Grace on the plane told us of this “must visit” place which turned out incredible. We arrived just under the wire for the deadline on our car rental return. Caught in traffic we didn’t think we’d make a dinner date we had set with friends, but somehow everything worked out. Grace said, “Dad, that is just my life. But it also means we will never learn not to cut things close!” We laughed our way down the street with that statement.
There were tough seasons in our relationship. She liked to say things to stir the pot in the family and I allowed myself to get stirred up when I needn’t have done so. In her journey of faith she moved closer and closer to Jesus and then in her 20s moved further away. At one point in her life about six years ago, Jesus whispered an assignment: “Pray for her salvation.” At that season she had stopped referring to a personal God but to the “Cosmos” or “Universe” or just the general term “Love.” I prayed for a couple of years before I began to encounter in her glimpses of turning back to Jesus. She texted me once saying, “Dad I was reading the Bible this morning, and came across this…. The Bible has cool things to share.” Then, she wrote an additional text, “This might surprise you!” It had!
She and Justin formed a small group with another couple and began to read and discuss scripture, pray and worship together monthly. Their small community was rich. One night at dinner she said, “Could you tell me the questions you use in Simply the Story in digging into scripture?” I shared them and sat there amazed as she noted them down.
I knew she operated with gratefulness in her mind and heart and had impacted me with this. I knew she had impacted countless clients and friends with the love emanating from her life. But her choice of “Great is Thy Faithfulness” as a processional said it all. It was not just the song but the sentiment that she was seeing God’s faithfulness evident in the upcoming marriage to Justin and in her long wait.
Grace has grown beautifully over these 35 years. One of her clients at the wedding said, “In all the years I have come to Grace, I have never heard her say one negative word about anyone. She has been a huge blessing in my life.”
That’s the message others say as well. She emanates God’s grace through her life, and others see this.
As we slowly walked along the pool to the gazebo on the day of the wedding, I told her how much I appreciated and loved her; how proud I was to know her; what a gift she has continued to be in my life; and how thankful I am for the woman she has become.
Indeed, Great is God’s Faithfulness!
8 Comments Add yours
Congratulations! What a beautiful couple! May they have many years of blessings ahead of them.
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Thank you, friend!
Brian, Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story and photos to match! Oh man, your story of the screaming Grace was identical to our screaming Liz. There was nothing you could do to console her. I had a pair of pro ear muffs that I accidentally brought home after my flight deck duty in the Navy. I’d just drive down the road with them blocking out enough of Liz that I wouldn’t go insane.
That last picture just tells it all. Clearly Grace and Justin are joyful, but it’s more than that; you can just see the love of God and their love for God radiating out of them! We are so happy for all of you!
Scott & Kathy
Love your responses! Yes they shine with God’s love. Thank you Scott and Kathy!
Congratulations Grace and Jason. May you grow in love as you travel this new journey in your life.
Thank you Laurelen!!!! They are a happy couple!
Wonderful. Your smiles speak a multitude of beauty.
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Cheryl! Thank you for reading. I hope you and Bob are still doing well. Love to you!!! ♥️🎁