When I was a little girl my momma planned a perfect surprise birthday party for my sixth birthday. It was the first party… and the last one… she ever gave me. That was not because she was mean nor uncaring, but because she realized all too late just how terrifying the whole ordeal was for me. I was a shy child. This may be difficult for some of you who know me now to believe. But I was. It didn’t matter what size or age they were. All people seemed to me to be the monsters, ogres, and evil queens come to life from fairy tales. People came with expectations that I didn’t understand and rules that I didn’t want to obey. People. I didn’t like them and I believed they didn’t like me. So that day, at party time, when I opened the door to a room full of ghouls shouting at me I turned and ran. I don’t remember exactly how far or how long I ran, but I do remember after all that running finding myself tucked safely away in the extra quilts at the back of my closet, far away from the sights and the sounds of my surprise birthday party guests. Long before that day I had created this little place of sanctuary in my closet. I loved the colors and feel of the soft quilts and blankets momma had stored in there. Under them, I had tucked a paper from Sunday School. Printed on it was a picture of Jesus carrying a little lamb. He was standing on the words I LOVE YOU. Behind The Shepherd were dark mountains, but he stood there loving that little lamb, surrounded by rays of light. That picture made me feel safe. Other things had become part of this safe place, too. I had gathered a small rock that fit in the palm of my hand that felt strong and cool and also a handmade paper fan that I used to stir the air of the musty dark space. And on that day with the party celebration raging outside my window I felt safe with Jesus in my closet. I did not know then that I had created a sacred space, only that I felt loved and safe and I could breathe. I also did not know that this little space would be a seed of what my husband and I have now joined hands with God to create as our home, as GraceStone Sanctuary.
As an adult I have a very different attitude toward people. Simply put, when I am able to see beyond the wounds and scars of someone’s life and see the beauty God perfectly created in that person, I love through Christ’s eyes. His view has no fear, no running away, no hiding. Instead His eyes beckon us to come into the safe surrounding of His love and care. My hope for GraceStone Sanctuary is that it will be a sacred and safe place for all people to come in, to be loved, to be renewed, and to celebrate. That birthday long ago taught me something important. That is – sometimes we all feel burdened, weary, and afraid. And sometimes we just need to find a safe soft place to rest with The Shepherd, holding firm to The Rock, being renewed and revived by the cool breeze of the Holy Spirit. And then we can once again go out into the world carrying with us a spirit of joy and celebration.