Jennifer, Debbie, and I. (pictured below)
We made a quick trip to Oklahoma this weekend to see my family and then celebrate the retirement of Stoney’s grandpa, Walter Eugene Grace, from the Murphy Church Of God. Many people stood and spoke as to the ways Brother Grace had impacted their life during his years of service. Me, not being one to stand and speak to a crowd, really fought the desire to stand and tell him how he has impacted my life. I wanted to thank him for being a staple of my childhood. For also bringing a tiny community together that every week housed most kids within a 5 mile radius. One of those kids being my neighbor, Jennifer Cole. Being an only child, she was the closest thing I ever had a to a sister growing up and her, along with her family, were so wonderful to me! I loved running across the pasture or down the dirt road that led directly to their house. Her mom, Debbie, made us snacks for after school and would take us to the mall. On all those trips home from the mall she would tell us fun spooky stories, and sing fun songs. She also taught be about double dipping, a rule I still try to never break and have attempted to pass down to my own daughters. My own family attended church in Chouteau, but on the days or Wednesday nights we didn’t make it, Jennifer always made sure she picked me up and hauled me 1/2 mile down the road to the Church in Murphy. I can’t omit the other part that made church in Murphy a *little* more interesting than my own. There was this adorable, freckle faced, red headed little boy that also went to church there. And his entire family. When I say entire family, I don’t just mean his mom, dad, and siblings. Literally, his entire family on both sides of his parents, made up a large part of the congregation. So, not only did Brother Grace at Murphy Church provide a place to worship, and learn and love the Lord, but it also paved the path for the rest of my life.
As if the above couldn’t be better, Brother Graces’ last sermon couldn’t have spoken more directly to mine and Stoney’s heart. Being raised with a very spiritual mom and grandma, I’m a firm believer that God speaks to us in many different ways. One of those ways being directly from a man or woman of God. His sermon simple, yet it spoke volumes on so many different levels. The one that spoke so directly to our hearts was, DON’T LOSE YOUR JOY!
Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He has attempted all 3 of these things in my family the last 53 days. Attacks to/on my children, my husband, my home, and through my extended family. We have tried so hard to maintain happiness, because we are fighters and never want our children to think we are beaten. But I’m not going to lie, there have been many days in the last couple of months that we have felt beaten. As if our heads are barely above water. In the last 53 days, Satan has tried his darnedest to steal, kill, and destroy our joy. You want to know what the scary part of that is? I don’t think we realized it until his papa Grace spoke directly to Stoney yesterday in his sermon. Having had a major physical injury himself, and knowing his grandson, he knows exactly how this wreck has affected Stoney. Stoney is one of the most joyous people I have ever met. Using that word sounds kind of silly when speaking of a grown man, especially one that has been known to be stubborn to a fault and rarely suppresses an opposing view. But he is. I also believe it to be one of his most charming qualities. Living in a house full of flowing estrogen, it is an excellent characteristic, trust me. It is also a very infectious strength to have in your home. Something we need and definitely something I have come to realize the girls and I depend on, from him.
Joy and happiness are 2 different things, and it is so important to not lose the joy in your heart.
We all left the same church yesterday, yet, each of us taking something different that spoke to us personally. Ours was renewed spirits, and faith to not lose our joy. Also, to gain back the joy that has been stolen from our family. Thank you, Papa Grace, for giving so much all of these years, even on your last day.