Greetings! Welcome! And for many of you this is a “welcome back!” We are jumping right into a structured schedule for the blog as we prepare for the release of the Fall 2017 issue of our printed journal! The blog will be updated Sunday evening through Friday morning with posts to help you get ready for the launch of this beautiful new project! So welcome to the next evolution of The Grace Mask!
This first printed collection of stories will lay down the foundation of our mission: To provide a platform for women to share their faith in Jesus through personal stories. Our personal stories of faith inspire and provide the opportunity for us to disciple other women on their journey as we all fix our eyes on Jesus and await his return.
Over the next 13 Sunday nights you will meet the contributors for this introductory issue in our weekly Sunday “Testimony Night” series. These little stories ask 3 questions inspired by our anchor verse, Ephesians 5:26, to help us get to know each other. We all may have the same Savior in Jesus, but our stories are all unique. As the chief editor I will lead the way tonight…
My name is Aurelia Stratton. I launched The Grace Mask blog in 2013 – that story is HERE – and I live with my family here in Springfield, Missouri. THANK YOU for stopping by to see us here online!
Hope was broken in me as a young teenager. I said Yes to Jesus as a 7-year-old and have never looked back on that decision with regret. But my hope in the Church to guard my heart was shattered a few years after making that decision. I’m glad it was. We were never meant to put our hope in people, but in God. Today my hope in the Church has been restored to its proper place under the authority of Christ and Grace now makes a lot more sense to me. I will never fully comprehend God’s Grace but not a day goes by that I don’t see his Grace at work in me and in others.
His Word Evoking Beauty…
God’s Word is both terrifying and wonderful. It pulls me into the light and reveals all the ugly parts of me. But if I remain in that light in an attitude of repentance and need, it cleans me up and covers me with Grace and Truth. The tough part is remaining in that light long enough for God to finish the his work and care for the places I allow him to tear ugliness out of me. If the Bible is the light that reveals, God’s hands doing surgery are often his people. He sends people to do the “tearing out” and sometimes those same people do the restoration but sometimes a new crew comes in. I am thankful for both because I know my God loves me and wants me to be my best for him.
Bringing Out the BEST!
That “best” is only possible in Christ. I am more of everything that is good when I am focused on Jesus. I am at my best as a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, writer, runner and leader when I am not looking at those relationships with others and my self as separate from my relationship with Jesus. That is true for all of us. In the book of Hebrews the writer tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus”. I’ve been asking for God’s help to do that for years. All I see around me are people, broken people. But if we ask him, God will open our eyes to see beyond the brokenness. He will show us where he is at work restoring. That work is happening where his word is being proclaimed without apology. His love is making people whole, evoking their beauty, and bringing out their best. And where that is happening you will see people saying yes to him, engaging with him, dressed by him, and proclaiming their new name in him.
And that, my friend, is why we are here! I’ll meet you back here tomorrow morning with “His Word”.
About that picture: As I wrote out my testimony this picture came to mind. If you have been following this blog before today you know about the “little white church” my family and I purchased after the blog launched in 2013. The church had been abandoned and was in terrible condition inside and out. So when we finally got our deed we scheduled a cleanup day. This image was captured that day at the moment the board came off of the first window. The sun was just over the horizon that morning… and the mess inside was instantly revealed. Like buying a church building in ruins and unsafe for use, I feel a bit overwhelmed and completely out of my league taking The Grace Mask to the next level. I’m feeling a little scared of what will be revealed about what’s inside me. But I know who is taking the boards off and He has my best in mind. Are you with me? Let’s say yes to taking off the boarded up places of our hearts. Let’s engage with that Light. Let’s get dressed for the work he has for us to do… and let us not forget our new name – we are his Bride. I am right here with you. Let’s keep our eyes on The Groom! Aurelia