By Michele Bouchard

My mother taught me to love the Lord, especially through nature. She taught me to appreciate birds singing in the morning and to be aware of little hummingbirds outside our window. I learned to appreciate the beauty in a dragonfly’s wings as it darted over the marsh reeds with the sunshine glistening from them. We sought out flowers to cultivate in her garden. We walked long trails to gorgeous waterfalls. God’s presence was evident everywhere.

We made trips to the local beach which showcased treasured seashells and a massive expanse of ocean. The rippling tide and warm waters sometimes provided gullies in which we gleefully played. I savored the sun’s rays as they sparkled off the water. Sunrises and sunsets were special times to stop and reflect on the awesomeness of God.

I experienced many beautiful moments, God moments, in which His grace abounded. I came to truly appreciate the third member of the Godhead and understand Him better around the age of seven. The power of our Lord became evident when my mother had taken me to a beautiful local park with swans and ducks, nature trails, and foliage of all kinds. 

I found a lovely little spot in which to play. It was a private place—an old oak tree surrounded by a hedge of magnolia bushes. I picked a small branch from a palm tree and was using it as a ‘magic wand’ inside the enclosure. As I played, the wind started whirling around me.  I thought of the Lord and said to myself, “I’d better be careful what I wish for; it might come true!” When the mighty wind died down, I experienced a calm and reassuring peace.

God was so good to me—teaching me to appreciate the beauty of all He’d created. I was captivated. In much the same way, I was told my birth captivated the attention and passion of my parents. 

My mother was living on an island just outside of the city when I was ready to come into this world. My father, who was at work, caught a taxi to get her as quickly as possible. But I was in too much of a hurry to make a mark in this world and arrived along the way in the back seat, with my father spanking me into existence. We were crossing a two-mile rolling bridge that arched over the Atlantic Ocean into the city. My parents told me the taxi-driver’s hands shook so badly he couldn’t even light his cigarette when they finally got to the hospital. All the doctor had to do was cut the cord.

It was all by God’s grace. As if to punctuate the point, I was born on Grace Memorial Bridge—spanning from Sullivan’s Island into Charleston, SC. 

My mother always believed in God’s grace. She knew her Bible and could answer the toughest questions gently turning its pages. She taught me to know and love God and to know and love His Word. She also wanted me to experience worship in all its fullness. That led us to worship with a spirit-filled, African-American church where we were welcomed and embraced.  They gloried in the Lord, raising holy hands, lifting their voices with joy, and moving with the Spirit. We worshipped with other churches as well, but that one was the most memorable.

Though I lived under God’s grace throughout most of my younger years. some of the most tender, grace-filled moments came after I married. The Lord graciously led me to my husband, with whom I’ve been blessed. We met one night at a luau and immediately hit it off—with lots to say to each other over a firepit with the moonlight streaming down. When we started dating, I asked the Lord if he was the one. We started walking along the beach and a dozen steps later, in the sand dunes, was a gold charm of a boy and girl kissing. I took it as God’s answer to my unspoken prayer request. It was a sign! Confirmation came when my husband chose the topper for our wedding cake—a boy and girl kissing.

A few years after we were married, my husband whisked me away to the city of his birth.  The Lord blessed us, even though I came unwillingly at first—sending my husband ahead of me.  He graciously gave me another sign upon arriving. When we entered my husband’s worksite for the first time, a double rainbow arched over the road. God’s grace was at work again, allowing me to know there was no mistake about His plans to move me from my native birthplace.

There was more to come in this new city. We met our spiritual mom, who adopted us shortly after we found a lovely little church to attend. She introduced us to many people and made us feel at home. We became part of the church family. I no longer felt so alone.

We came to know and appreciate all the aspects of this new place, a miniature version of my native city, with its historic homes and theatres, symphony, and lakes that the locals called “beaches.”  It was here I truly began to grow spiritually, with nurturing from my spiritual mom and church family.  My husband and I were at a retreat, the Emmaus Walk, when we both encountered God in a very real and special way. We grew closer to each other as a result.

“And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness…’”  – 2 Corinthians 12:9. 

Was I weak in the Lord when I moved to my husband’s city? Yes, I was. Was I strengthened by God’s grace? Absolutely! Did I need to learn to listen to the Lord and trust in His provision for me? Yes, He taught me to believe and receive all the good things He had in store for me.

Michele Bouchard is a native Charlestonian, who thought her husband was moving her to the uttermost ends of the earth when they moved to Augusta, Georgia. Michele is content with her spiritual community and church family.  Michele has a Masters in Counseling and is recently retired. She participated in a Christian writing workshop held by Jerry Jenkins in Colorado Springs, “Writing for the Soul.”