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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Counting the Grace-Filled Years

 In 1985, a young couple who had recently lost their unborn child, began to pray for the miracle of life. Their friends, who had walked through the valley of the shadow of death with them, joined them in praying for another child to come. They wanted to be parents so badly. For over three years, the prayers continued. And God's answer seemed to be nothing but - wait. Then, in early 1988, God said yes, and they found out that they were expecting once again. A few months into the pregnancy, however, complications threatened the baby's life. The parents were afraid that they would lose this child, too. But God had His hand on this baby. Thanks to His mercy (and going on bed rest for mom), the little one stayed put. Then, on August 29th at 10:24 in the morning, a newborn baby girl entered the world. She was in a great hurry to arrive - after all she came over a month early - but she was healthy and ready to take on the world! Her parents named her Katherine Grace.

 Of course, that little baby was me. As the years have gone by, I have come to understand and appreciate the name that my parents chose for me…because it is the story of my life. Katherine means "pure one." Added to my middle name, it means, "Pure one, full of grace." From the very beginning, God set me apart as an example of His grace and love. I shouldn't have made it into this world. My sibling three years prior didn't. Neither did the sibling three years younger. I was, and still am, a blessed individual. It would take years of living for me to fully appreciate this simple yet startling fact but, as I mark yet another year of life, I realize that God had big plans for me as I took my first breaths of air. I am still discovering what those plans are…but I find that, as the months tick by, I sense a growing appreciation for the gift of life, for the blessing of prayer, for grace. 
 My life began by being surrounded with grace. I regret the times that I have forgotten this truth. The times that I have lived as if my life were my own, as if I owned the rights to my own story. Over and over again, God has reminded me that I don't deserve to be here in the first place, that my life is a testimony to what He can and will do. He has continually brought me back to the realization that grace is part of my name! I am to live a life that mirrors Him. Because He is grace! I am to be set apart and pure in heart and mind because He is pure! That is my calling. Sharing the hope of Grace is my mission in this world. So many walk a dark road, unaware of the blessed reality that awaits those whose lives are open to Him. My purpose is to point them, through the story of my broken, yet redeemed life, to the One who restores.

 It's been 27 years to the day since I first took my breaths of air in this world. When I look back on these decades of life, I see God written all over. Birthdays aren't so much for celebrating a person as they are for counting the grace-filled years. For marking the many ways in which He loves and has demonstrated His favor. Looking ahead to another year of living on this earth, I pray for the daily strength to do the work I have been chosen to do. I don't ask anymore for the ability to overcome all struggles or to have final victory in every weakness for the rest of my life because I know that I will fail. I will fail daily. But I also know that He will show Himself to be everything that I am not. He will give grace for today. And that's all I need really. Just enough grace for this moment. And He will supply it to me in abundance. As I thank Him for giving me another chance to serve Him, my request is that  I can present to Him a life well lived.