Donielle Mayes

In Our Storiesby Kim Eiffert

“Grace Avenue opened up doors to question and learn without judgement. In fact, I found that questions were not only okay, but welcomed.”

When my family and I first came to Grace Avenue in 2009 we were not looking for a church home. I actually spent most of my twenties feeling that organized religion was nice for some people, but certainly wasn’t for me. However, I wanted a place where our daughter, who was 7 at the time, could learn more about God and get an inkling of what Christianity was about. Even though organized religion wasn’t “my thing,” we were still holiday church goers. We had visited other churches in the area before, but had never found a place that we connected to. In the spring of 2009 as I was planning our daughter’s summer activities, I saw that Grace Avenue was having Vacation Bible Camp. It seemed like a good opportunity for our daughter to learn more about God. It was cheap, it was close by, and the ladies in the office seemed like nice enough people. Our daughter headed to VBC and had a wonderful time. I asked her what she learned on her first day. Her reply was, “Most everything about God.” I asked if she learned everything about God all in one day. She replied, “No, but almost everything.” She was confident that she could cover the rest in a week.

At the end of VBC, the children were invited to sing in worship on Sunday. Our daughter asked to go, and we said yes. We had no idea what to expect as we trekked off to church that Sunday with our 7 year-old and 8 month-old in tow. As soon as the music started, we knew that this church was different, and by the end of the service, we knew that we were home. We knew that we would be back the next Sunday, and the Sunday after that, and the Sunday after that. We were no longer holiday church goers. We had found a home. I spent the summer having many, many conversations about God, spirituality, and religion, and came to the conclusion that organized religion may just have a place for me after all. Grace Avenue opened up doors to question and learn without judgement. In fact, I found that questions were not only okay, but welcomed. We officially joined the church that fall. Since that time, we’ve added to our family and all of our children were baptized at Grace Avenue. As a family, we’ve all continued to learn and grow. (We decided that it may take longer than a week to figure out everything about God.)

We’ve had the unique opportunity to not only find a place to call home in Grace Avenue, but to get to come home again. In 2011, we were transferred out of state for my husband’s job. We were gone from Frisco for 2 ½ years. During that time, Grace Avenue added a new building and a sanctuary. The staff doubled and so did the number of services. There was some trepidation upon moving back that maybe things had changed while we were gone. Maybe there wasn’t a place for us anymore. Maybe everything was different. They always say that you can’t go home again. I remember being nervous as we entered the worship center for the 9:30 service on our first Sunday. The time was different. Our service used to be at 9:50. The configuration of the worship center was different. Upon first glance everything seemed different. And then the music started playing, and Laurie started singing, and Laura started preaching. And we were home…again.

I have a hard time defining what it is that keeps us here at Grace Avenue. There are many tangible things that I could list. Our children’s and youth programs are amazing. I love being a part of the music program here. I cherish my Monday morning bible study and the ladies that attend it. I love our missions and work with the community. I love Sunday worship and I love our holiday services. I love the people and their various gifts, visions, and talents that come together to make this church all that it is. I love that each and every member of my family is welcomed, cherished, and nurtured here. But the word that I always come back to when I think about Grace Avenue is “home.” I can’t truly put into words what “home” is. I just know that it’s where we belong.

My hopes for Grace Avenue are many. I hope that others find that same intangible feeling of “home” in this building with the people that make up this church family. I also hope that we, as part of Grace Avenue, take that feeling of “home” out into the community both near and far, so that others know what it is to be safe, to be loved, to belong, and to be cared for. My hope is that we will continue the wonderful outreaches that we have now while dreaming and achieving ways to draw the circle ever wider. My ultimate hope is that we spread the good news of God’s love both in our words and in our actions, so that each person we touch knows that they are a beloved child of God and there is, indeed, a place for them.