Over the last year God has planted many seeds in my life but the idea of being Rooted was one that was resonating in a not so coincidental way. I had read several books leading up to the class being offered at Grace and felt compelled to participate with my church family in the idea of becoming Rooted.

I am a Holistic Health Practitioner. The idea of getting to the root in my field means we are fixing and healing from the inside, becoming whole and well. This further solidified my excitement to link arms with fellow Gracers in the Rooted series.

God brought 16 of us together and we committed to consistency, digging into what it looks like to be called to be Rooted in Jesus, in our faith and actually living out our faith on an active basis. Each week we were able hear each other’s “story” and I immediately felt bonded in a way that was unbreakable. When we hear each other’s stories, it connects us in a very authentic way. As our time together passed and we shared very vulnerable aspects of our faith life; our strengths and our weaknesses, I became keenly aware of how very different we are, yet so very capable, no matter what our past, to be used for the glory of God and to further His kingdom.

We were called in the series to actually begin “walking out” what it means to be Rooted. God provided us a family to minister to and we spent a day serving and loving on a local widow who had lost her husband earlier in the year. Each of us was uniquely woven into this experience and I was filled with a tremendous amount of joy – specifically the joy of the Lord, to be able to not only minister to this widow and her family, but simultaneously grin from ear to ear witnessing what it was like to actually put into action what God’s word calls us to do. It’s really quite simple; love like Jesus, make disciples and take care of the orphaned and widowed.

The church is a place where we can come to learn how to live our lives closer to Jesus. We provide a place for others to come get answers to some of life’s most complex questions.

I am profoundly grateful each day for Grace church. For the hope that it offers me, but also for the hope we provide when we open the doors for others to learn how our God is a redeemer, a restorer, and there isn’t anyone who is too far gone.

I am grateful for the offering of Rooted to our church; a dynamic call to action for the next level of commitment in our walk. Not however, just so that we are living well, but also to draw others into this same idea of purpose, of hope, of redemption and to walk out what they too have been called to do on this side of eternity.

Take Action

On Sunday September 25, we showed a video of a guy named Jeff. He struggles with addiction, but had lived sober for 15 years. He had a wife and four kids, a house and a good job. After 15 years of sobriety, he slipped. He thought he could use again and fell into a downward spiral of drug use and illegal activity to support that drug use. After several months on that path, he was arrested. That saved his life.

When we showed that video at Grace, there was someone at church who knew Jeff. He had worked with him in the construction business but didn’t know of Jeff’s struggles with addiction. He reached out to Grace to find out how to connect with Jeff and the two connected by phone. Jeff is meeting with this Grace guy soon, and the hope is that he can help Jeff make amends with his former employer, and support him through whatever’s next.

This busy guy took action. He wants to help Jeff walk with God. He didn’t run from this possibly awkward relationship. He ran to it. No matter the consequence of Jeff’s relapse, this guy will support Jeff in his recovery. He’s taking the time to love Jeff like Jesus.

This is sacrificial living. Another #ReasonforHopeFirst.

Watch Jeff’s story here.

Karen is a wife to Dave and mom to Laura Lee, Daniel and daughter-in-law Audrey. She’s the Creative Director at Grace and has been involved at Grace for over 20 years.

The Man in the Van

On September 24th, 2016, I came across a suspicious van parked behind a shopping center with a man inside of it. If my suspicions were correct, it was my intention to have the man arrested and the van towed. This guy didn’t have a driver’s license and the van was uninsured and unregistered. I soon learned that the man was homeless and that all he owned was in the van with him. I further learned that none of my initial suspicions were valid. While I still had enough reason to at least tow the van, I was oddly filled with compassion for the homeless man and did not move forward with any action at all. How could I, knowing that I would be going home to a warm home and loving family, and all my “stuff,” and he would be stuck there in the van. I was able to express my decision to those working with me during this circumstance and they too agreed that it was overall the best option to not press negative consequences on this person.

On this past Sunday, I attended services at Grace and heard Pastor Dan speak about compassion. I immediately thought of the day prior and felt pretty good about myself in this area- considering that I could have caused a major negative shift in the trajectory of the life of the man in the van. Then, in hearing Pastor Dan speak the Word, and reading the text for myself, I was overcome with the reality that my sense of compassion for people is minimal and that Jesus’ was maximal. I felt the need to have maximum compassion… to do the most I could do in a circumstance, not the least.

Throughout the rest of Sunday and into the early morning hours of Monday, the man in the van weighed heavy on my heart. I had the knowledge and the ability to help the man maximally. I knew all of the steps necessary to help him with a driver’s license – to the extent that he would qualify to get one – and could help him with insurance and even registration for the van. It might take actually driving him to several locations over several days or weeks; spending time with him and helping him study for a drivers test; spending money on insurance and fees and fines. It would most certainly take me down from my comfortable perch and into the valley where he lived…where the shadows live; where darkness is. It would be…difficult, awkward, smelly, annoying – with no guarantee that I would even be able to help him at all.

On my way to work Monday morning I made the decision to drive back behind the shopping center and actually show compassion to the man. To do the things that were impressed upon me. To help. As I got closer I wrestled with the fact that it was only 7:30 in the morning and he might not want me waking him up that early. Also that he might be ashamed of me offering to help. And, who am I to get involved with a complete stranger anyway? Excuses. I was making excuses. I continued to drive to the shopping center.

When I rounded the final corner to the rear of the building, with my heart racing, I looked – and saw – and sighed. I physically and audibly sighed with relief. The van was gone. Immediately I felt the internal struggle of wanting to be obedient to what I felt I was supposed to do versus what I have always done; what was comfortable; what was easy. I was ashamed of my sigh of relief…my internal, carnal desire to not help anyone, ever. I was embarrassed that I pretend to be a warrior – but only up on my level where it is safe and where I’m in control; never in the valley where shadows and darkness live.

I made the intentional determination to drive methodically through every parking lot and shopping center in the area. I had to override my habitual behavior and force myself to move toward being like Christ. If it was God’s will for me to help this man, then I would find him and help him. I did not find him, and I’m sad because of it. Yet, I have learned more about my need to know Christ intimately so that I can behave like him naturally; to know his Word specifically so that I can respond quickly; to love His people – all people – with compassion.

Eric is married to Carrie and has three boys and Molly the dog. He is a public safety professional and loves Jesus above all.