Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me….
I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now, I see.

T’was Grace that taught… my heart to fear. And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear… the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares… we have already come.
T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far… and Grace will lead us home.

The Lord has promised good to me… His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be… as long as life endures.

I’m surrounded by amazing grace, reminders of God’s amazing grace everyday.

Several weeks ago I was at my Grandmother’s and I heard a familiar tune when I walked through the sitting area. There, in a reclined wheelchair, I saw lady who couldn’t have weighed more than 90 lbs. Her hair was neatly brushed and was the same beautiful powder white color of the sand I love in Rosemary Beach, FL. She had silly fluffy socks on her feet, I assumed she didn’t need shoes because she probably rarely walked without help. Her arms were folded over her body but her wrinkled hands showed her age and her fingers overlapped each other with arthritis. This little lady who sat curled up in her chair was absolutely belting out Amazing Grace! For almost a solid hour this beautiful woman sat in the sitting area and sang of grace. As I would pass people in the hallway I could see people’s faces light up as they heard her sing. I wondered about her life before she had to move into a nursing home and I thought how cool it is that God gave her the gift to recall a song about grace at that stage of her life. What fears and dangers has God’s grace brought her safely through? Her life has endured and He has been her shield and whether her mind was in the world or not she was going to sing about it.

God’s grace surrounds me. Perhaps it’s time to put on my own silly fluffy socks and belt out my own tunes. What I saw that day was an amazing picture of God’s amazing grace.

Copyright © Gatewood Campbell, October 2012

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Purpose Centers Us

I left the working world more than five years ago. It was a complicated matter, but clearly the healthiest option for me. With both of my children in school now and a college degree under my belt, I still struggle with people asking what I do with my time. Truly, some days I am so busy from the time my family leaves the house to the time the buses start rolling down the road, I haven’t taken a bathroom break. Then some days all I do is get up, walk the dog and go back to bed. On those days I am annoyed that I’m tired all the time, but I must accept the reality of my circumstances and move forward.

I just turned 39, gasp (yes Ashley, I just openly admitted my age!) and a decade ago I would have told you I would rather spend a day deer hunting with Johnny than be a stay at home Mom. Alas, here I sit, with a snoring dog at my feet, dishwasher running, clothes in the washer and dryer, kids at school and it’s the middle of the day. I never would have pictured this…surely not the dog part! At 39, I thought I would be well established in my career, although in this economy who really is at any age right? Since life dealt me some unexpected blows (pun intended) I look to the future and wonder if I will be a career stay at home Mom.

The other significant part of my attention is focused on my grandmother. She just turned 97, and though she lives in a full time nursing facility now, she is still old school southern Georgia and she likes things just “so”. She wants her bed made with hospital corners, and she is more than happy to offer training, she wants a cloth napkin with all her meals, and she puts on her lipstick, stockings and shoes every single day even if she doesn’t leave her bedroom. She has Parkinson’s Disease, but for the most part her mind is with us. Let’s face it, mostly she is just old, slow and somewhat forgetful. When I quit work I started spending a couple of days a week with her and over the years it has evolved into a different kind of experience.

Each morning at 9:15, I call to tell her what day it is and remind her what she is doing that day. She depends on that to get her day started. Every Tuesday and Friday I spend a few hours with her. I wash her clothes and even iron her cotton t-shirts just like she likes them. I polish her finger nails and I even trim her toenails (when absolutely necessary). I do her shopping and keep her favorite chocolate candy dish full. A true southern host always has something on hand to offer any guest that stops by. You will be hard pressed to stop by her room and not be offered a Hershey’s nugget! We have a routine; we have a language and a method of communication that many would not understand.

When I think about where my life would be if I were still working, I wonder where HER life would be. For the last 34 years I have lived within 15 minutes from her. There has always been a strong bond. She drove to the hospital in the late night hours when I was in labor with Justin to be there when he was born. After Johnny and me, she was the first person to hold both of our children when they were born. She even taught Hunter how to count change when he used to go with me to her apartment to help her before he started school. She also taught him how to make beds with hospital corners! His reward was one Andes mint. It was an unfortunate day when he figured out where she hid the bag. After 90+ years, what quality of life would she be having now if I were working?

I was dashing out the door for church last night and I grabbed a Bible that I don’t frequently use. It’s a smaller Bible that doesn’t have much reference material in it. I used to carry it at work and use it during our devotions and staff meetings. Last night when I grabbed the pages to flip to Acts, my hands grasped the entire back portion of my Bible and I noticed some writing. Odd, I thought since I had very little writing in this Bible. Inside the back cover I had written “Purpose Centers Us.” Hmm, interesting…. I was intrigued. I read on….”I’ve been set in my location for a specific purpose. I’m strategically placed, not abandoned, not forgotten.” Well, I’ll be! You would think there was a God in heaven that had a plan and knew more than we do right?

Stop looking, stop wondering. Know that God set me in this location for a specific purpose and I may be fulfilling it right now and not even relishing the joy of the season. The smell of the diesel school bus fumes may be fresh breeze scents to the working mom who would love to watch her kids bounce off the school bus. Fighting the most recent meal stains in my grandmother’s shirts would be a joy to my dear friend who just had to say goodbye to her treasured grandmother.

Purpose does indeed center us. So often we just haven’t taken the time to realize what the purpose really is. Maybe you are already in your strategic location fulfilling His purpose for your life now and you just haven’t clearly identified with it. He hasn’t forgotten you. When you identify your purpose you will find more joy and happiness in fulfilling His plan.

Copyright © Gatewood Campbell, October 2012