Grace and Chai Tea
My go to for living has always been relying on God's grace in everything. This means looking to Him for help during hard times, praising him for his provisions in grace during times that have been good, and seeking him when I am sad so that his great grace can lift me up. My go to for coffee has never been Chai Tea.
I have a great friend whose go to was God's great grace and Chai Tea. She searched for Him in all her struggles, praised him in all her blessings, and lifted her family up to him every day in prayer. She left this world this week to spend eternity with God and is now dancing, on those funny feet of hers, on streets of gold. Psalm 34:18 uplifted me this morning as it says, "The Lord is near the broken hearted, he saves those crushed in spirit." I know that while I am grieving for my friend, the Lord will always be with me bringing me his peace. He will allow me to sit in my grief when I need to and encourage me with His great love when I only want to sit and cry. Matthew 5:4 tells me, "blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." God's grace is so evident in this verse as he tells us he will continue to comfort us through our grieving process. I hope that these versus will also bring you comfort if you are mourning because it could happen at any moment.
My decision today, though, was to not write about my grieving, as I have a great God that will walk me through it, but to bring you encouragement about how God's grace can perfectly play out in your life if you will be open to His love and look for his grace at every turn, as my wonderful friend always did.
This grace filled lady won my heart on the first day we met. Her love of God shone through her, to me, a person who had never met her before. I walked away from an interview with her knowing that there was something different about her. This is what God wants grace to look like in our lives. He wants people to walk away from us knowing something is different and for us to then share Him with those people. The first thing she said to me after the interview was, "I did not choose you to teach with me because I saw that you were such a better teacher than me and didn't think I could teach with you." What person does that? Who admits that another person is better than themselves? A person who is so filled with God's love, who wanted to encourage me in my teaching and was not afraid to share her insecurities. What an impact this made on me. It made me want to know her more, to become her friend.
When we feel God's grace working in our lives, and allow it to shine, we will always come across to people differently. My mighty friend almost always had a smile on her face. She shined with a glory that she could only receive because she looked for God to help her through every situation. Did she get angry, discouraged, feel rejected? Yes, she did. Did she complain, grumble, feel down? Yes, she did. But each time I spoke with her, she had shared how she was praying about each circumstance and looking for God's guidance in her life. God's grace always gave her the answers she needed.
Soon we began attending church together, singing in the choir together, attending church functions together. Eventually, we were both applying for the same school administrator position. Her first words to me were, "No matter which one of us gets this position, we will always remain friends and help each other out." Again, who does that? Our great God does that. He loves each of us no matter what we look like, what we are going through, what our situation is. My friend loved me despite the fact that we were competing. And believe it or not, she held true to this promise. It wasn't until a few years later that I, too, took an administrative position and she was there for me every step of the way.
Educators truly believe that they have a special calling, a purpose on Earth and that is to teach. I am sure that there are other professions that believe they have a special calling and purpose as well. The truth is, as Christians, our purpose on Earth is not our profession, it is to glorify God and to bring people to Him. My friend believed this to her core. She was on this Earth to help teachers, students, and families alike know the Lord and to see His goodness. This isn't to say that she didn't have bad days, or become upset with a teacher, child, or parent, or even have days when her behavior did not glorify the Lord. But, I know that she sought out His great forgiveness and grace in every one of these behaviors and worked at being better each day. This is the grace that God gives all of us in our lives. The grace to be forgiven for our mistakes and to start anew. The grace to forget any sin He has forgiven and allow us, and help us, to start the next day better than the day before. As my friend walked through her days of blessings and struggles as an educator, she trusted the Lord to provide her with the right things to say, and the love to give to each person she touched.
God's love for us is so immense that we often cannot comprehend how much we are adored. My dear friend loved this way. She loved kids, oh how she loved them. She never gave up hugging kids even when it became frowned upon. She loved the people who worked in her building and prayed fervently for them, always asking God to show her ways to provide guidance and love to them. She loved her family. There was never a time that was spent with her that she didn't have a story to tell about her son, daughter, daughter-in-law or grandchildren, not to mention stories of her husband. God's great grace is his true, never-ending love for us and one major thing He asks of us is to share that love with others. My friend did this.
My friend was a giver. She shared her great cooking skills, especially soup. She made quilts for the special people in her life. She shared her time, which she didn't always have a lot of since she was generally at school until after 5:00. She shared her money for many important causes in our area. God's great grace gives and gives and gives. Our lives should represent this giving spirit as we follow God's lead. Reaching out to friends, spending quality time with family, giving of our finances, helping in any way that God leads you.
I have spent many mornings this week thinking about my beautiful friend and have been blessed with God's words. Lamentations 3:22-23, "Because of the Lord's faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Matthew 5:4, "blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
Our great God of grace will never leave us in this life or in death. We are all guaranteed a place at the table with Him if we put our faith in him. My friend is at the table with Him now. She is rejoicing in His Glory as she sits and listens to him speak. Our great God of grace took her to be with him because he needed to fulfill his plan, but he left us with the memories of how she lived her life spreading the grace of Jesus Christ to this world and I will be ever thankful that I was able to spend some of that time with her. We shared many coffee dates together and she was always at the ready to bring me a coffee when needed. I will cherish each coffee break with her.
Take time today to have a quiet cup of coffee and think about God's grace in your life. Determine yourself to be a person who shows God's great grace to this hurting world as my friend did so well.
Rest easy in God's arms my friend. In Jesus's words, "well done, good and faithful servant" (Matt. 25:21)
*** A GoFundMe page has been set up in her honor. Funds will be used to establish a memorial to her at Mark Twain Elementary School and provide resources to students and staff. Please consider giving to this fund. https://www.gofundme.com/f/ruthlee-caloiaro