November 21, 2018
The Friendly Village
“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” Ephesians 2:8
We are rescued and saved by His beautiful gift of grace…Amazing Grace.
As celebration time arrives in our culture and in our lives, some of my favorite things are the festive tables set before loved ones to celebrate the gift of the season, and the beauty of gathering together. In fact, I love the anchor pieces of the table, the dishes set out at each place-setting. I love them so much that I have collected sets of dishes from my mother, my grandmother, and my mother-in-law, (not to mention what Bill and I have collected over the years)…I love remembering these special women in my life and their gifts of hospitality and the conversations of long ago, and the friends and family who sat at the table; I try to remember and to imagine…I want to share a story about the most wonderful dishes, wonderful love and amazing grace…
The Friendly Village…
Our first celebration after moving to our ranch was the Thanksgiving when we hosted our large family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Our two children, Adam and Christie were thrilled to help prepare for the festivities. The tables were beautifully decorated from ‘Southern Living inspiration’, (Pinterest, where were you?) But, the most delightful décor was the set of dishes we had purchased for our new home, The Johnson Brothers, Friendly Village Collection. Each dish displayed a scene from an idyllic village…The Covered Bridge, the Schoolhouse, The Village Church, and many more. But for me, the most wonderful piece of the collection was the large platter which displayed the entire Friendly Village, every image from the individual pieces appeared on the platter. It was truly beautiful! No turkey had ever been presented on a more appropriate and festive dish!
We had a delicious and memorable meal with our family…but like every year, when the meal was finished, our son and the other male members of the family dashed outdoors to play a game of touch football, leaving the girls and women inside, for what I knew was the best part of the day. Conversations, laughter, and stories were shared as Christie and her cousins and aunts, and her grandmother and I began the clean-up process. Gathering dishes, rinsing and stacking, and rinsing more. And Christie, absolutely loved this ‘kitchen time’. This year, she claimed her place at the sink, and proudly began to rinse and to stack our new dishes…the Friendly Village dishes. She was doing a wonderful job, so many memories were being made on this day…three generations of family were present doing life together.
And then, clink…that sound, the sound you have heard before…porcelain on porcelain but, Christie just kept rinsing and set the beautiful platter on the counter to dry.
I peeked over her shoulder to discover a chip on the bottom of the platter. Yes, a 1 ½ inch gash chipped away on my beautiful platter! That clink I had heard was exactly what I had envisioned! And, I took a breath to speak, to instruct her to slow down, to even point out the glaring issue…
But in that moment, something seized me! I stopped and took a deep breath, remembering the incredible magic of this kitchen time and the memories being made. So, extremely unlike me in this stage of my parenting, I remained silent, and reached around her, grabbing a dish towel before anyone else could see, and whisked the platter away to dry and then, to put away.
I returned to the kitchen to find ‘the dishes done’ and the food put away, and my ten-year-old daughter wiping off the counters, the way she had observed in years past. She turned to face me with her beautiful smile…and her little heart overflowing with accomplishment, fulfillment, joy, and love for her family…
Seized by Grace
I now know exactly what stopped me that day…I know Who stopped me. You see, sometimes in life, the lessons we think we need to teach are actually far less important than what God has orchestrated and desires to impart. On that wonderful, Thanksgiving Day, Christie and I experienced the joy of family, the gift of gathering with loved ones who would not always be with us…just celebrating life together. And on that day, I watched my little girl, growing and maturing, becoming who God made her to be! I know on that day, I am quite sure, that I was seized by Grace…The Grace that my Heavenly Father had given to me…the Grace He had poured over my miss-steps, disobedience, disrespect, mistakes, impatience…and, yes, my accidents…His Amazing Grace.
And, in His faithfulness, He reached out and stopped me. He rescued the moments of life which were far more valuable…He rescued the heart of a child from being corrected for an accident which occurred as she so joyfully participated and served. She would have remembered the chip on the platter…instead of the love in the room, and the joy in her heart on that day.
You see, I realized that I would much have preferred the chip in the platter, rather than a chip, or perhaps a gash in her heart. I am so thankful for God’s Amazing Grace which He gives and intends to overflow into the lives of others. His grace saves us…and grace saves relationships!
The Love Chip…
Later that evening, I discovered the piece of porcelain in my kitchen sink. Thinking that one day, I would just glue it back over the chip on the platter, I placed the piece into a drawer and forgot about it. Each year, we continued to use the platter as if it was in perfect condition, brand new! No one ever noticed…Christie never noticed. And I named it the “Love Chip”.
The Gift of Grace
A few years ago Christie, now grown with babies of her own, was helping me to set our Christmas table here in Spicewood. Yes, my Friendly Village dishes made the move, and still are the most wonderful dishes. I pulled out the platter and set it on the table. And then I knew it was time…It was time to tell her the story…the most wonderful story…The story about life in the kitchen with loved ones, the story about mistakes and accidents, the story about imperfections, and the truth about God’s Amazing Grace…so perfect, so timely…He pours grace over lives and over moments.
Oh my friends, I pray that we can be people of grace…sharing the gift of His Grace. Not withholding Truth, but trusting God’s perfection in His Timing! I pray for your celebrations with friends and family, that they are like the Friendly Village…where there is warmth, goodwill, laughter, joy, love, and grace…lots and lots of grace.
“May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.”
Love you in Jesus,
P.S. Full disclosure: On the very evening of the day I wrote this blog, I did not stop…I did not stop my words from flowing and I hurt someone I dearly love…The Truth, we all need grace. This life is a process and a journey together, and we all need it every day of our lives…First, the Amazing Grace from God, and, then are we able to give grace and to receive grace from others. Grace for one another…yes, and grace for ourselves when we mess up as I so often do. Remember, He makes the impossible, possible…His perfect, undeserved, Amazing Grace.