The Two Greatest Commandments

February 2019


Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”


Matthew 22:36-40


Graces is older now and a little bit wiser.  Pretty experienced with circumstances that face our neighbors and certainly more humble.  We’ve learned the hard way that simple is best, that we do the one thing (or the 10 things) that the Lord asks of us and not a step more.  But when we get together as a group, sometimes it’s still very hard, because the desire to ‘fix’ something is so strong, especially when there’s a child involved.  Graces is evolving now, moving to a new focus on our children, reviewing every program we offer with fresh eyes, trying to discern God’s heart’s desire as we change.  We are going to need you more than ever, to love your neighbor as yourself.  One of my greatest fears, and please don’t take this wrong, is that Graces not turn into a ministry that makes middle class America feel better about itself.  Our deepest prayer is that Graces be a ministry where people connect: across social and economic lines, geographic, educational, racial, you name it, lines. And don’t think for a minute it is easy because it is not.  I think about CS Lewis’ line in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe where Susan asks: “Is He safe?” and the response “He’s not safe, but He’s Good”. There is nothing about this connecting that’s safe, but it is good.  And in fact, it’s great, because it is what we are designed for.


Jacob’s Ladder-  there has not been a program or ministry we’ve started that has brought more joy or hope than Jacob’s Ladder.  This is mentoring program following boys from Middle School through High School. We’ve been able to provide tutoring and counseling, Bible study and just fun times together in a safe setting.  We have two young men in desperate need of mentors. This requires a twice a month commitment which can be a variety of things from a phone call to going to one of their games and we try to provide an opportunity to get together as a group at least once a month.  This is a 5 year commitment and it doesn’t do anyone any good for me to pretend otherwise. But before that scares you away, let me say: after the first meeting, you wouldn’t want it any other way.


Jacob’s Ladder, Part 2- we are going to open this up to girls as well.  We need mentors for 5 girls, in 7th or 8th grade.  The outline is the same and especially with the girls, I could see how this would work for a small church group, with women alternating their time.  Please consider stepping into a young woman’s life, providing the mentorship and guidance so many of our kids need to navigate the next few years. These girls are smart and fun and vulnerable and need you desperately.


Van- We are so excited to have our van!  Thank you again to Beth Brooks, Frank Williams and Zach Penney!  This van is much needed, and will be used to get kids to Dr’s appts, sports practice, resources and opportunities in HSV as well as Jacob’s Ladder.  What a blessing!


Bags of Blessings-  Every Friday, loving volunteers provide ‘easy to access’ food to last some of our kids over the weekend and school breaks.  Without this program, many of them would have little to no access to food during that time. As you might imagine, this is an expensive ministry but foundational:  a child cannot learn when hungry. If you would like to donate any amount, please go to our website at www.gracesofgurley.org/  and select Bags of Blessings under Giving.  100% of any donation goes to whatever program you select, including Bags of Blessings!


Prayer/Food Box Program-  Under Ginny, Bill and Bonita’s amazing stewardship, we’re digging  little deeper. If you are a sponsor, expect to start seeing more information from your family about how you can pray for them, what they’re experiencing and praises as a result of your faithfulness to cover them in prayer every day.  And food scarcity is a very real challenge here in Gurley so if you would like to sponsor a food box for a local family once a month and can commit to covering them in prayer, please let me know. This program has made such a difference in so many people’s lives.  Thank you!!


And finally and very importantly:  Please be in prayer over a new ministry we have started praying through:  The Refuge. We are praying through the possibility of opening a home-like place for kids after school and Saturdays where they can be safe, feel loved, get a hot meal, help with homework, take a shower and just relax and have fun.  This is a HUGE step for us, requiring more of everything: more volunteers, more money, a bigger board, more bold and audaciousness. It is alternatively scary and exciting but mostly scary so we covet your prayers. And suggestions, thoughts, ideas:  whatever the Lord brings you.


Each one of these initiatives above represents one person prayerfully stopping, identifying a need and stepping into the gap to serve.  You have a gift we need. In fact, we’re not complete, our joy is not complete, without you here. There are so many people I want to tell you about:  the mom that travels from Madison to Gurley once a week to specifically help one child she’s gotten to know, the former educator that puts everything on hold to have a child in need stay with her when she’s needed, the civic leader that drives a family back and forth from Birmingham and back when a child’s in the hospital, the family that helps an elderly man with groceries and transportation every week.  These are my neighbors. We need you here and you need us too: we’re fun, we’re smart and we walk in the shadow of the Lord. Please come join us

Ephesians 3:14-19  “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”



I am so very thankful to be walking through this life with you all.  


Sweet blessings, Sue



Calling All Elves!

December 2017

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.




It’s hard to believe our Christmas Celebration is almost here and we need you to make it complete!  Our shopping elves have been busy buying toys and we’re starting to get everything set up today but we have several needs.  Please join us in sharing the joy of Christmas to our sweet kids here in Gurley.  We can’t wait to see you!




Thursday Night, Dec 14th. 5 to 6:30pm, Graces of Gurley Building (173 Wood Street, Gurley, AL):  we need volunteers to organize gifts, stuff stockings, decorate and get ready for the fun!




Saturday morning, Dec. 16th, 9am to 1pm, Graces of Gurley Building:  we need volunteers to help retrieve gifts from back room, load into cars and just generally help in a 1000 ways:).




Volunteer to bring Cookies and Juice or Apple Cider for our friends and neighbors.




As we celebrate the day that changed all days, I pray that we would know the Joy of Christ with all our hearts, and that during this season especially, we would live in awareness of His love and grace.  Thank you for being the hands and feet of Christ on this earth.  It’s from the overflow of your love for our Savior you serve, and it’s apparent in all you do.  Merry Christmas!!!


Thanksgiving and The Joy To Come

November 2017

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper;
    the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm,
    and he guided them to their desired haven.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind

 

Like many of you, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  We’re wired for gratitude.  Praising Him feels holy and true.  Praising Him in the storm is altogether different and it’s something our neighbors have taught us at Graces through example.  When your every word is praise, even when you don’t have any food or you’re sick and have no Dr. or you have no idea how you’re going to provide one Christmas gift to your child:  that is a powerful testimony indeed.  So today, I’m thankful for Graces.  Not for what it does and your support, all of which I am certainly profoundly grateful, but for the living testimony and the lessons about God’s faithfulness our neighbors teach us every day.  The quiet dignity and grace it takes to live a life of faith that is also relentlessly hard every single day.  You say it every time you leave:  “I came to bless and I was the one that was blessed instead” and it’s just part of that upside down world of the Lord’s, where the least become the most and it’s not just your shirt but your tunic too.  So this Thanksgiving, I pray that you might know the joy of serving the ‘least’, the most vulnerable, the ones that haven’t heard the Best News yet, the ones the Lord has already quickened your heart for.  Our hearts are overcome with gratitude:  for you, for our neighbors and for the coming Joy that ties us all together.

 

Christmas Elves!  Even though we’re not even to Thanksgiving yet, at Graces we’re already thinking about Christmas!  Carrie Lanier Robinson spent her entire weekend meeting with almost 150 of our neighbors and compiling the vouchers for this year’s Christmas Store.  Now we need shoppers!  If you would like to help shop, please contact Brett Maxey at brett@bentleyauto.com You’ll be assigned a category and you’ll shop for dolls, for instance, using your best dollar saving abilities.  Once you’re complete, you’ll deliver to Brett and then Graces will reimburse you for the cost.  This is one of the most fun parts of our Christmas Store so please help!

 

Christmas for Families- over time a separate aspect of our Christmas Store has risen to cover many local families not eligible for the Christmas Store (for instance, their kids are in HS).  If you would like to sponsor a family for Christmas, please email me separately.  For many, your contribution will be the only present under the tree this year and your generosity means more to these kids than you could possibly know. 

 

Advent Study-  Sunday, November 26th at 4:30 pm we’ll be starting our 4 week Advent Series.  If you’re like me, sometimes keeping the Christ in Christmas is a little challenging with all the busyness of the season.  If so, this is a perfect opportunity to unplug from the whirlwind and plug into the quiet and prepare ourselves for the most amazing season.  Please email me for more information.

 

McMullen’s Cove, SCI, HSV Hospital and Vulcan-  I would be remiss if I did not mention these companies because every single year they answer the call.  There would be no Christmas Store or Thanksgiving turkeys without them!  Your faithfulness and willingness to step above and beyond means the world to us!  Thank you for all you do!!!

 

Ephesians 3:14-19  “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

 

 

I am so very thankful to be walking through this life with you all.  Grace Reigns,  Sue


The Power Of One

October 2017


Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the LORD's people.

Philemon 1:7

 

I wrote about the Power of One a year ago but I still think about it almost daily. I think it’s one of the biggest lies of this world- that you, You, can’t make a huge difference in this world. So much of this world makes us feel overwhelmed, insignificant and unimportant but Scripture tells us something completely different. Scripture tells us He loves us with a Steadfast Love, that he knows the hairs on our head and He considers us sons and daughters, heirs to His fortune. I started going through scripture to remind myself who He uses to change the world and rarely, rarely is it a government. It’s You. Me. Noah, Naomi, David. Moses, Abraham. Mary. Saul. Regular people with regular lives who commit themselves to serve the Lord. On some level, we know this- I think the Lord must imprint it in our DNA. It’s hidden in every action movie, from Jason Bourne to Lord of the Rings, and all through classic literature: The Quest, the one person who joins with many for an important work. I pray this time might be a reawakening for us to fulfill Christ’s deepest desires for us: to know Him and love Him, to be the church, really be the church, to the vulnerable. To renew our conviction to be the world we wish to see, to be the kind of people that stand in the gap for any group or individual that feels vulnerable or left behind today. What you do is Holy work, ordained by the One that created all things. I am so thankful to be in this place and time with you and am filled with hope for the future. We need you at Graces, but there are so many people doing so many amazing things: if Graces is not the right place, dig in somewhere else! The harvest is plentiful and the workers are few: you are much needed if we’re to be a part of His redemptive work!

 

This will be the longest email in the history of Graces emails so I apologize now. I want to take some time to list what we have going on and ways you can plug in if led. I’ll try to separate by events or ministries and places you money can go if that’s an easier way for you to serve. I would be totally remiss if I didn’t thank all who attended and all who served at our First Annual Graces of Gurley Farm to Table Fundraiser! We were so blessed by your support! For more information, and photos, please go to our Graces of Gurley Facebook page.

 

Financial Support: Our primary need right now is money for Bags of Blessings and the upcoming Christmas Store. $100 provides much needed food for one child for weekends and breaks and money for the Christmas Store allows parents to purchase Christmas presents for their children at a much reduced cost. More details (and the ability to donate) on both of these ministries can be found on our website, gracesofgurley.org.

 

Volunteers Needed! We have many volunteer opportunities:

 

Credit Counseling and Budgeting Class- Wed nights for 4 weeks from October 18th through November 8th from 5:15pm to 6:45pm at the Graces building on Madison County Elementary school grounds. This is our first step toward Dream First: our newest ministry promoting Affordable Housing in the Gurley area. We need childcare helpers and people to provide a healthy meal for the adults attending as well as the children we’re watching. Childcare is an excellent way of getting to know some of the incredible families we serve and the meals are such a blessing for our families. You would only sign up for one night- not the entire series!

 

Christmas Store Shopping Coordinator and Shoppers- This is an integral part of our Christmas Store and requires a lot of detailed organization. Carrie Robinson handles all the vouchers/catalogs through the school but once we collect who wants to buy what, we need shoppers to get the best deals. Shoppers are completely reimbursed by Graces but the coordinator position is crucial- you’re the one that tells the shoppers specifically what to buy. It’s a pretty intense 2 week period but oh so satisfying!

 

Tutors- we need tutors to help with the Kindergartners and 1st Graders at MCES one hour a week. It’s fun and the kids are ADORABLE. Please contact Maria Luttrell for more information. rialutt@gmail.com

 

Fall Discipleship Series- One of the most exciting things about having our own building is being able to host more regular Discipleship Classes. We will now have a room for the kids to do homework and watch a movie while moms are right next door, delving deep into scripture. Praise The Lord!!! Our next Discipleship Class will be on Sunday nights starting October 29th for 4 weeks and we will be our first Basic Christianity study: What does it mean to be a Christian? How do you become one? What does a Christian believe anyway? Rather you’ve been a Christian for years or you’re just interested in learning more, this class is for you! We will need the same things as the Credit Counseling Class: Childcare and Dinners. Please let me know if you can volunteer for at least one Sunday evening!

 

HEALS Pediatric and Dental Clinic- If you drive onto MCES grounds, you’ll see a building to your right with both HEALS and Graces signs. It looks like a pretty and functional steel building but what you see with your eyes is the furthest thing from reality. In reality, it is a living embodiment of God’s love and hope. From the overflow of His love, His Church- regular people like you- cared about their neighbors like their own. So the hope is this: every child gets diagnosed in time to save their health, every kid with an abscessed tooth no longer in pain while trying to learn, every parent with a place they can turn to with questions or concerns, building relationships of trust and open communication with their child’s Dr. And as we settle in, Graces has a growing needs list: 2 large rugs, a coffee and side table, used computers, bean bag chairs and kid’s movies! If you have any of these items you could donate, please reach out!

 

Food Box- Our October Food Box pick up is Saturday, October 21st, 9am-10am at our new building at the Elementary School on Wood St. Please join us! There is little we do that’s as much fun as praying together and catching up! Can’t wait to see you there!!

 

McMullen Cove has long been a faithful supporter of Graces but we are deeply appreciative to be the designated recipient of their Fall event: Bikes, Burgers, Bratz and Beer, October 28th from 9am until 2pm. This fun day will benefit Bags of Blessings. Please email Steve Truitt at Sntruitt@yahoo.com for more information. Thank you Jeff and Sonja for your generosity!

 

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19

 

 

I am so very thankful to be walking through this life with you all. 


Grace Reigns, 


Sue


Being The Hope

July 2017

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. 

Isaiah 40:31


For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope

Jeremiah 29:11


I’ve been thinking lately about hope.  You don’t hear a lot of stories any more on the news about bravery and service and sacrifice.  There aren’t many TV shows about faith in action and loving Jesus and the way kids today are devoting their lives to Jesus and serving in the mission field.  Or the business owner that watches over the spiritual health of his or her company.  Or the mom I know sacrificing her career because the Lord has called her serve her family with more time.  Or you:  the one that prays over the food box family or gave money for the clinic to tutors the kids or is faithful about your morning devotions.  And yet, I know each one of these situations personally.  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 I made the commitment this morning to the Lord to start feeding that part of my faith:  to start noticing, with gratitude and reverence, the ways in which this world, this creation of God, is turning to Him and you are a huge part of that.  So lots and lots of news!  Here we go and hold on to your hat!


HEALS Pediatric and Dental Clinic- If you drive onto MCES grounds, you’ll see a building to your right with both HEALS and Graces signs.  It looks like a pretty and functional steel building but what you see with your eyes is the furthest thing from reality.  In reality, it is a living embodiment of God’s love and hope.  From the overflow of His love, His Church- regular people like you- cared about their neighbors like their own.  So the hope is this:  every child gets diagnosed in time to save their health, every kid with an abscessed tooth no longer in pain while trying to learn, every parent with a place they can turn to with questions or concerns, building relationships of trust and open communication with their child’s Dr.  Special thank you to Willowbrook’s upcoming Serve the City for the shelving they are building!  And as we open, Graces has a growing needs list:  sofa, chairs, 2 large rugs, bean bags, lumber, and scanner/printer are at the top of the list!  If you have any of these items you could donate, please reach out!

 

Sisters in Need- We have some sisters in Christ in poor health that would like assistance with the sweetest service:  clearing out some flower beds.  One of the individuals is now home bound but loved to garden.  It would mean so much for her to be able to look out her window and see the garden she had spent so much time caring for, flourishing again.  Clearing out and replanting those 4 beds would be an amazing ministry of love.  If you or your small group or your kids youth group might be willing to do the labor, we will provide the plants.  Thank you!!

 

Graces Back To School Pool Fun-  Please join us this Wed night 6pm-8pm at Gurley Rec Center Pool for a Back to School/Discipleship Fellowship.  Dinner will be provided (let us know please if you’re coming) and an amazing, special, HUGE thank you to Denise Howard for putting this whole thing together.  The sheer size of her heart is something you have to see to believe.  Thank you Denise!!!

 

Book Bags-Once again, we give thanks for Cove Church for sponsoring the School Book Bags for our families for next Fall!  They are so faithful in their service to our families and we cannot thank them enough.  Of course, it would not be possible without Carrie Lanier Robinson’s incredible organization skills and willingness to spend literally days coordinating as well as Ginger Pearson, who manages and coordinates everything at Cove!  Thank you both for your willingness to serve and your love for the Lord!  Pick up is this Saturday, July 29th, at the Little Gym at MCES.  Please watch Graces of Gurley Facebook page for exact times.

 

Tutoring Program- Ginny Love has faithfully and sacrificially handled the Graces Tutoring Ministry for several years and is in need of a break.  Could you please prayerfully consider taking her place?  This is a ministry that is labor intensive in the Fall, yes when you are at your busiestJ, that requires only maintenance after the first couple of months.  Ginny is one of those people that combines excellence with love and grace and we are so very appreciative for all the ways she has served Graces and her neighbors over the years!!!  Please reach out if you might be able to take this on.  We cannot do it without you!  Thank you!!

 

Principal of The Year- Did you know our very own Amy Mason, Principal of MCES and MCMS, recently won Principal of the Year from the Madison County Board of Education?  If you know Amy, it’s not surprising, but it is yet another outward sign of the inward changes happening in this small community.  This is one of the best schools I’ve ever seen, with faculty that is devoted to these kids.  It’s been a privilege to watch how much thought they give to providing opportunities and a world class education to our children.  Congratulations Amy Mason and MCES!!!

 

Dream First Housing-  I mentioned this in our last update.  We are going to start this Fall with a Homebuyer’s Education and Credit Counseling Class.  In this class, we will talk primarily about credit, credit counseling and budgeting.  If you’re interested in learning more about putting yourself in position to purchase a home someday, this is the class for you!  This will be the first class we offer out of our new location!

 

Food Box- Our July Food Box pick up is this Saturday, July 29th, 9am-10am and for the first time, we will be hosting at our new building at the Elementary School on Wood St.  Can’t wait to see you there!!

 

Fall Discipleship Series-  And the most important for last!  One of the most exciting things about having our own building is being able to host more regular Discipleship Classes.  We will now have a room for the kids to do homework and watch a movie while moms are right next door, delving deep into scripture.  Praise The Lord!!!  Please watch Graces Face Book page as we start again this September!

 

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Ephesians 3:14-19

 

I am so very thankful to be walking through this life with you all.  Sweet blessings,  Sue

Bearing One Another's Burdens

May 2017


When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up--one on one side, one on the other--so that his hands remained steady till sunset.


Exodus 17:12


Everywhere I turn lately, the Lord reveals the power of intercessory prayer, friendship and how we’re designed to lift one another up.  Moses when he became too weak.  Elisha when he prayed for his servant to see God’s army of Angels that surrounded them.  Daniel going to his friends to have pray for time to interpret a dream.  We’re designed to pray for one another and it makes a difference in how this life plays out.  Scripture tells us we’re to pray for our enemies, with thanksgiving, together, in need, with rejoicing and sometimes, when we’re so far down, with just groanings of the spirit too deep for words.  There is someone near you who needs your prayers, covets them, and your life won’t be the same without obeying the call. 

 

 

HEALS Pediatric and Dental Clinic- Oh my goodness!  This clinic is so beautiful!  We are on the home stretch now and I simply cannot tell you how hard Robins Morton, HEALS, Martin Sisson Architects and Kerry Wilkerson have worked on this building.  They have poured their whole hearts into this and it is very obvious.  It looks as though the building will be complete in early June so please watch for a Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting.  Graces will eventually be able to occupy the other side of the building and we are already praying over a dream list- everything from financial counseling to exercise classes to an ongoing Discipleship Class!  Yea!!

 

Book Bags-Once again, we give thanks for Cove Church for sponsoring the School Book Bags for our families for next Fall!  They are so faithful in their service to our families and we cannot thank them enough.  Of course, it would not be possible without Carrie Lanier Robinson’s incredible organization skills and willingness to spend literally days coordinating as well as Ginger Pearson, who manages and coordinates everything at Cove!  Thank you both for your willingness to serve and your love for the Lord!

 

FCA Camp- It’s almost time!  Once again, FCA has graciously offered scholarships to help some of our kids attend their INCREDIBLE camp in Hampton Cove!  If you have never checked out this ministry, please do! The camps are just wide open fun for the kids, where they learn about whatever sport they’re interested in (from Football to fishing to cheerleading and all points in between) and mostly:  about Christ’s love for them.  These camps are simply unbelievable and each year, more kids are brought to Christ or their faith deepens.  To say we look forward to it every year is a massive understatement.  It really is a tiny slice of heaven on earth for the families we serve and we are so thankful to FCA as well as Steve and Tammy McCurry who drop everything for this week to make sure every child that wants to attend can get there and back.

 

Dream First Housing-  Many, many years ago, we had our first open meeting for Graces of Gurley at LVM and it went so badly, I cried myself to sleep and couldn’t speak about it for 2 weeks.  And yet from that meeting, as the Lord so often does, many amazing things were born.  Our last Board meeting was exactly the same.  Lively, engaged and passionate, we talked through Affordable Housing options and right before we were about to walk away, it happened!  That moment of divinity when everyone’s mind starts sparking and it all comes together.  WE HAVE A PLAN!!!!  And I think it’s an excellent one, uniquely designed for our families and our community!  We are going to host a very elegant dinner here on the farm this Fall as a fundraiser (more on that later).  With the money we raise, 100% of it will go toward purchasing a home here that can be renovated.  We’ll spend the six months getting the house in good working order (we’ll need your help!), and then we will sell to a family here with a 5 year payout.  The next year, we’ll do the very same thing.  This is a HUGE undertaking and believe me, we understand that, but the Lord uses the structure of a home or a place all through scripture.  A home stabilizes a neighborhood, a community and most importantly a child’s life so please join us in praying over this new initiative.  A friend on the board texted me this the other day and it’s so true:  The moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before the miracle happens.  And I want to say: this Board is amazing.  They are so devoted, so engaged, so willing to step into the trenches to serve-  they ARE Graces in every way and we are so thankful!

 

For Life Ministries and their Food Box Program-  It would make no sense to talk about prayer without mentioning a ministry that is completely wrapped around prayer.  If you sponsor a family for our Food Box program (For Life Ministries), I want you to know how important your service is.  I don’t reach out and tell you nearly enough.  You send your money in every month and for many- you don’t really know if you’re making a difference.  Rather you’re meeting your family or not, I want you to know the Lord is using you to change lives.  I received this from a newer family yesterday but it’s not the first time we’ve noticed it and commented on it at Graces:  the Lord uses this program to soften hearts, for provision and to show His faithfulness and you’ve been obedient to His call.  Thank you!!!  “Will you please tell the family that sponsors us that we love them? God is working in our lives in such an extraordinary way. Their prayers are being answered. God is so good and faithful!”

 

  “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Ephesians 3:14-19

 

 

I am so very thankful to be walking through this life with you all.  Sweet blessings,  Sue

what happens next?  

February 2017


But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”


Acts 1:8


 

I’ve had a lot of time to think over the last ten days and it’s been both healthy and a little disconcerting.  There’s a reason the Lord designed us to live in community:  left to my own devices, it’s easy for me to travel down some pretty dark paths.  As I’ve struggled to piece together some kind of new normal, I’ve considered everything from walking away from Graces and ‘taking better care of myself’ to ‘having more fun’, which surely would include more time at the beach.   Have you ever felt like that?  That life has just started to press against you, calling for a new direction, but the Lord hasn’t been very specific or clear about what it was supposed to look like?  So I started thinking about who my heroes were, in Scripture and in life:  it seemed like a good place to start.  Maybe if I could be like my heroes, I would better know which direction the Lord the Lord was calling.

 

We have a lot of amazing people to choose from.  Yours might be Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela.  It might be Susan B Anthony or your CO from your time in Iraq.  It might be our President or our past President , maybe your pastor or your husband or your father.  I decided mine was you.  My hero is that Mom and Dad you don’t hear from very often.  Or the single person that spends their weekend building a ramp. They’re not on Facebook a lot because they are too busy getting to their child’s Little League game or getting over to their neighbor’s yard to help.  He is not necessarily a leader in the church because he is busy making a living and being a rock for his family.  You are super busy but you give your time to buy gifts for the Christmas Store or pray over families receiving food or help with Kathryn’s Kids, not because Graces is the coolest thing out there (clearly it is not), but because it represents your neighbors and you love HIM.  You are His witnesses.   In the same way my favorite heroes in the Bible were all regular people, making crazy crazy mistakes and getting into all sorts of trouble, but loving the Lord with all their heart, it’s your quiet, tenacious, committed love for Him and His people that’s captured mine.  I may not even know your name but you’ve inspired and encouraged so many around you, all the same.  So the gift from you to me, through His Amazing Steadfast Love, is your quiet encouragement and I am deeply appreciative for your life’s testimony.   Sometimes that’s just enough to keep this whole crazy mess going.

 

 



HEALS Pediatric and Dental Clinic- is on its way!  You should see people there working every day now! Special thanks to Connie Carnes and Kerry Wilkerson for their relentless pursuit toward completing this clinic, Robins Morton and Martin Sisson for all their hard work and donated time, materials and labor, Jean and Jerre Penney and all the other generous people that donated money to make this happen and especially the Lord, who loved the children of this community before they were even born!  Graces will eventually be able to occupy the other side of the building and it will be so amazing to have a place to store and meet!  Yea!

 

Book Blessings-Last year, Ginger Henshaw felt the Lord nudging her to get books into the hands and home of every child entering Kindergarten at MCES.  She had read a study that said if a child had books in the home, physically, they were statistically much more likely to graduate from High School.  With a couple hundred dollars and a whole lot of prayer, she set off down a path that snowballed into something so much fun and so meaningful, it could only be from God!  This fall Graces was able to provide 5 new books, with a handwritten note welcoming them to school, to each child going into Kindergarten, with enough left over for them to pick a new book every month.  This year, we would like to add 1st graders to the program as well!  Please consider making a donation of money or books toward the Book Blessings program.  Books must be new paperbacks for little muscles to lug home

 

Affordable Housing-  If you are interested in being a part of Graces as we start to explore how to serve the Lord by serving His people in this capacity, please let us know.  Our next meeting will be March 21st here in Gurley as we meet with a ministry leader whose organization has built 48 affordable homes for families in the Upper Sand Mountain area.  This will be a huge undertaking, along the lines of the Clinic, and will require many people being very committed but it’s a HUGE need here.  We have families living without heat, or in campers or in housing that is unsafe for children a mile from your home and mine.  Ministry leaders will tell you:  Affordable Housing is complicated, messy and we’ll make a lot of mistakes but it can be life changing to these families.  Come join us!


 

  “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”


Ephesians 3:14-19

 

 

I am so very thankful to be walking through this life with you all.  Sweet blessings,  Sue