“By the Grace of God, I Am What I Am”

Welcome to another week! Everything’s white in the Atlantic community. I’ve swept at least nine inches of snow off my sidewalk as of this writing. It’s beautiful.

Did you go to church on Ash Wednesday? Lent begins Ash Wednesday and lasts until Easter Sunday, March 27. For the first time I can ever remember Fallowfield United Methodist Church didn’t have an Ash Wedneseday service. It felt weird. But it was so snowy that I was glad to have an excuse to stay warm and safe inside. Cold weather always reminds me of the homeless. Please pray for them during these frigid days.

Souper Sunday was at Fallowfield on Sunday, Feb. 7. The menu included hearty soups, bread, muffins, and ice cream sundaes.

Fallowfield United Methodist Church bakers and friends made 229 chicken pies on Saturday, February 6. We are making pies again on February 20. All profits support missionaries and charities, both local and international.

Valentine’s Day was Sunday, February 14. Valentine’s Day is probably one of the most difficult holidays of the year for people who’ve lost loved ones recently. Christmas and Thanksgiving are probably the other hardest holidays.

What’s good about Valentine’s Day is it gives us an excuse to eat a little chocolate, buy a rose, and give greeting cards. What’s bad is it makes people who are looking for relationships feel worse. But what’s wrong with celebrating love even if you’re not in a romantic relationship? In Greek there are three types of love in the Greek. First is “eros:” that’s romantic love. Then there’s “philio,” brotherly love. Last is agape, which is unconditional love, love offered only by God. As much as we love others, we aren’t really capable of loving as completely as God loves us. It’s not possible for flawed people, and we’re all flawed.

Fallowfield United Methodist Church is playing “War Room,” a movie about the power of prayer, at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, February 26. We’ll have popcorn and pop, too. I’m excited. It’s directed and written by Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick, the same guys who made “Fireproof,” “Courageous,” and “Facing the Giants.”

Calvary United Methodist Church will host Lenten luncheons February 17, 24, and March 2, 9, and 16. Luncheons are sponsored by the United Methodist Women and cost $4.00 for adults and $2.00 for children. Each program includes a speaker and special music. The church is located at 44 S. Mercer Street, Greenville. I attended one of their luncheons and it was great.

I read a quote recently that grabbed my attention. John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace,” said something that our church secretary included in this month’s newsletter. I don’t want to violate any copyright laws, so I’ll put it in my own words. Newton said he was not what he ought to be, wished he were, or hoped to be. But, he acknowledged, he wasn’t what he once was – enslaved by sin. He was, by God’s grace, what he was. - To next page

I’m going to share part of my life’s story, and I hope it encourages you. When I graduated from Conneaut Lake High School I planned on becoming a high school Spanish teacher. But during my first semester in college I discovered I’d have to live for one semester in either Mexico or Spain to complete the major. That’s a deal-breaker for me. I hate traveling. I don’t dislike or avoid it; I hate it. I changed my major to history, since, after Jesus, American history is my first love. Then I added English as a second major, because deep-down I’d dreamt of becoming a writer since I was 14. Everyone told me I had talent, but I couldn’t earn a living as a writer. They urged me to get a college degree so I could get a good job.

While in college, several professors pointed me toward earning a master’s and doctorate so I could become a professor. It sounded good to me.

I got married a month after I graduated from college and moved to Ohio, all ready to ease into graduate school. I felt sure I was born to be a professor, just as my professors had assured me.

But God had other plans. Graduate school was a complete nightmare. The bottom line is I never asked God what he wanted me to do with my life. I never even thought to pray for his guidance. I listened to people I respected, fully trusting their wisdom and instincts would lead me to the right career. Grad school taught me that God allows us to make mistakes.

After a professor told me I write like a freshman, despite earning As or Bs on all of my other graduate papers, I felt God speak to my heart. I heard a gentle voice say, “You can go now.” I interpreted this as the voice of God telling me it was time to quit graduate school and leave my dream of becoming a professor behind.

Two months later I found out I was going to have a baby. My husband and I decided to move home and raise our child in the Atlantic community and in Fallowfield United Methodist Church.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 12 years. God led me to write for the Christian market, not as an historical novelist, as I’d hoped and expected. He led me to write for Community News, something that has allowed me to share my faith in Jesus with readers in my backyard and around the world via the internet.

I’m not a high school Spanish teacher. I’m not an English professor. I’m a stay-at-home mom and a writer. I also am a wife, Sunday school teacher, and trumpet player in my church’s praise band. I don’t earn a wage that supports a family, but God provides for all my needs.

The 22-year-old grad school-bound woman would argue that I’d never, ever walk away from an opportunity to become a respected professor. So I’m not who I was. I’m not who I wanted to be. I’m not what I hoped to be.

But I’m not what I used to be, either. I don’t expect my own abilities and the advice of people who’ve succeeded in their careers to determine my future. I look to God for wisdom and guidance. Sometimes I feel angry and cheated. But God never wanted me to earn a masters or Ph.D. He wanted me to be a mama and a freelance writer. And I am.

What matters in the end is whether we’ve obeyed God’s calling on our lives. More than anything else, I want to stand before Jesus knowing that I was obedient to him. Obedience is what counts. By the grace of God, I am what I am.

Have a wonderful week. Blessings!