In March, I participated in a mission trip to Costa Rica with eight high school students, and two other members of the GRACE staff. It was an incredible experience. I was amazed by what our students were able to accomplish, and proud to be part of their community. During our time in Costa Rica, we studied the story of Joshua during their transition from the time in the wilderness to their arrival in the Promised Land. Joshua chapter 4 shares the account of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River. After they crossed Joshua gathered 12 stones, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, and stacked them up together as a remembrance of what God had done. The stones were there to make sure they never forgot the experience. Then they moved forward into the Promised Land. Throughout the book of Joshua, this pattern is repeated: pausing before or after big events, taking time to remember and honor God’s covenant, then pushing forward.
Each member of our community has a GRACE experience. Every student, teacher, parent, grandparent, and staff member have a story to tell about how this community has impacted their life. Each story is different. Each story is personal. My GRACE experience began a little over a year ago with a telephone conversation with JB Baker, the board member in charge of the Head of School selection committee.
- My GRACE experience includes families who reached out to my wife, Amy, and I as we moved to this area making us feel welcome.
- It includes the experience of my middle school daughter, Amelia, and volleyball tryouts when all she could talk about was how kind and encouraging the players and coaches were.
- It includes watching middle and high school English teachers abandon Plan B and scramble on the first day of school when we received our certificate of occupancy for their new classrooms fifteen minutes before the first bell rang.
- My GRACE experience includes moms who send notes to let me know they are praying for me and dads who meet the first Friday of every month to eat donuts, share a devotion, and swap stories about their glory days.
- My GRACE experience includes spending time with our youngest students at lunch, having staring contests, showing off my goofy socks, and wrecking the ten minutes of quiet that their teachers are trying to establish.
- It includes getting doused by middle and high school students with colored powder during the color run, and the memorable moments on the 1101 campus when the students occasionally have been kind enough to say hi to the awkward new guy in the hallway.
- My GRACE experience includes being allowed to participate in the high school retreat, celebrating state titles in cross country and swimming, joining the record crowd of over 1000 people at Homecoming as our football team beat our cross-town rivals, cheering our basketball team with big wins over our cross-town rivals again, and watching our kids perform in Annie and in The Miracle Worker.
- It includes attending a funeral and hearing incredible testimonies of lives impacted by GRACE teaching assistant Sherry Lunsford during her tenure at this school.
- It includes praying with staff members dealing with the different challenges that take place during the life of a school, life in a community.
- It includes participating in the artSpark walk downtown.
- My experience includes more than a dozen coffees with parents to learn about their GRACE experiences.
- Perhaps most importantly to me, My GRACE experience includes hearing my children talk about how much their teachers love them, and watching a community welcome them into the fold.
What is your GRACE experience? Have you stopped to thank God for what he has provided through GRACE? Before you click, take a moment to think about your GRACE experience and the impact this community has made on you and your family. I have been blessed over the course of the past nine months to hear countless stories of God’s blessings over members of the GRACE community. Next week, following Joshua’s lead, I will share some more about my GRACE experience, as well as take some time to share thoughts about the future of GRACE.