My husband, Mason, and I moved to Johnson City from Louisville, Kentucky in May of 2020 for him to complete a preliminary surgery year at ETSU after his graduation from medical school. While we were excited for him to pursue this opportunity, it was not what we had originally planned and it meant packing up and moving far away from our family and friends — all in the middle of COVID chaos! We also found out I was pregnant with our son shortly before we moved, which made leaving our close-knit community that much more difficult.
We arrived in Johnson City knowing only three people in town, but a mutual friend in Louisville had told Claire Reagan about our move. Claire brought homemade bread to welcome us to the city and she told us about Grace Fellowship Church. We immediately knew we wanted to be part of a church with members as hospitable as the Reagans. Mason and I began attending GFC virtually each Sunday and it was such an encouragement to hear the Word of God preached faithfully during a season of great uncertainty.
Being in a new city during a pandemic while my husband worked long hours at the hospital was not at all how I had expected to spend my first pregnancy. I worried about if I would even be able to have a baby shower or if there would be anyone to bring us meals and provide support after our son was born. I was lonely and eager to make connections, but that was proving difficult because of COVID. In one of the weekly emails from GFC, I noticed a headline about a virtual gathering for expecting mothers and I signed up. Through GFC’s Gracemothers program, I was connected to Debbie McNeill who became my Gracemother, my friend, and ultimately one of the greatest blessings in this season of my life.
Debbie and I quickly connected and got to know one another through phone calls, lunch dates, and walks. It was refreshing to have someone close by to share my thoughts and feelings with as an expecting mother and to whom I could go for godly counsel and wisdom.
Debbie and I also attended a women’s Bible study together at GFC led by Sherry Marion. On the last day of the study, just a few short weeks before my son’s due date, the ladies threw me a surprise baby shower. It took me a moment to realize what was happening, but when I did, tears filled my eyes. I could hardly believe that a group of women who had only known me for a short time could be so generous. The ladies prayed over me and my baby and we celebrated with treats and gifts. After the birth of our son, Jacob, Debbie also arranged for members of Gracemothers to bring my family homemade meals, which was a huge blessing to us during those early newborn days.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” That verse has taken on new depth and meaning for me this past year. In the midst of circumstances that were completely out of my control and left me feeling lonely and powerless, the Lord showed me his strength and provision, and he used the body of believers at Grace Fellowship Church to meet my needs in unexpected ways. Looking back on this year, I clearly see God’s guiding hand as he provided everything I needed— hope, strengthened faith, encouragement, fellowship, food, and even a baby shower. His grace truly is sufficient.