Today I Saw God

Surprising Moments of Grace

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Have you ever been surprised by a moment of God's grace? Maybe you haven't been bopped over the head by a tidal wave of undeniable grace, but what about a precious moment? Living with our hearts and eyes open helps prepare the soul for an encounter. I had one recently. It happened so fast; I wasn't prepared. But it was definitely God's grace.

I've been volunteering at Hutchison Elementary School with the PALS program since it's inception nine years ago. (This program matches elementary students with adult mentors once a week.) Five years ago, I began meeting with a young boy named Josue. He was in the fourth grade at the time and is now a freshman at Herndon High School.

After Josue moved on to middle school, I began meeting with his sister, Emily, and his brother, Jonathan. Josue had told them all about "Miss Becky," and they wanted the chance to meet with me too.

Emily is just finishing fifth grade, and Jonathan is moving to third grade next year. I meet with Emily and Jonathan on the same day but at different times. I bring LEGOS, crafts, books, games and drawing supplies throughout the year. I spend 30 minutes with them, and we talk about their life, struggles and joys. Their life is very different from mine in many ways. I feel fortunate to have been with the same family for so many years.

Recently the kids told me their mom works at Potbelly Sandwich Shop in Herndon. In between my meetings with the kids, I have often gone to Potbelly to get a sandwich and read in a booth until it's time to go back to Hutchison. The other day I decided to ask about their mom. I was early so the lunch crowd had not yet arrived, and I was the only one in line.

As I ordered my sandwich, I glanced at each of the workers behind the counter to see if I could spot a family resemblance, but I could not. As my sandwich glided through the toaster, I had to ask, "Is there a Martha who works here?" The woman who was about to put lettuce, tomato and mayo on my sandwich looked up and smiled at me. The woman next to my sandwich maker nodded and said, "That is Martha."

I smiled and said hello. I told her that I meet with her kids each week at Hutchison. And then I experienced that precious grace moment I was talking about: her eyes opened wide, and she said, "You?! You are Miss Becky?!" The recognition in her eyes was priceless. Her English wasn't perfect but she told me her kids' favorite day of the week was Tuesday, the day they get to see Miss Becky.

My heart warmed with her unexpected blessing. Showing up at Hutchison, week after week for nine years could be called obedience. But this meeting, while I was thanking Martha for making me a sandwich, is where God touched us both by a surprising moment of grace.

Submitted by Becky Kendall.

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Time Well Spent by Tracy Saunders

True confession time I'm an insecure overachiever. I wake up each day to my brain's chatter running the list of what I need to do that day; before my feet hit the floor I feel like I'm already behind. My crazy belief system tells me that I'm not enough. Consequently every waking and sleeping moment is dedicated to proving to the external world that I am more than enough. I know intellectually that this doesn't make sense. Particularly as I read Scripture and if I more fully believed in Jesus' word, I wouldn't feel this way. Despite intellectual knowing, I'm challenged to approach life differently.

Most days I am exhausted; I question the value I bring which drives me to do more. In my hurried life, there isn't much space to hear the whispers of God's callings. Given my driven nature why do I make the time to be a Hutchison PAL? When I go to Hutchison, I'm exclusively focused on the relationship with my buddy. Once a week, for a brief 40 minutes, I can suspend any need to reach an outcome. I can feel the Holy Spirit embracing me and, in those moments, I can let goI don't need to strive. I don't need to achieve a thing. I only need to be in relationship. Shocking revelationit's amazing what happens when I let go.

My buddy and I have a grand timereading, playing tic-tac-toe, or just hanging out. In this state of being, I have more fun and feel more joy. I know that my buddy feels more alive and confident when I drop her off at her classroom. I notice that on the days that I start the day at Hutchison I can more naturally slow down and I can more easily connect with my colleagues and customers. At work and at home I have more capacity to get stuff done in relationship with otherswithout striving. On the days that I go to Hutchison I can quell my insecurity and believe what Psalm 46 says, "Cease striving and know that I am God."

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