Grace Story :: Joy Forney

Joy is the wife to a missionary pilot and they, along with their five kids, live in Indonesia. She is anundeserving recipient of amazing grace, and grateful daughter of God.  Joy’s heart is to encourage women to revel in their job as mommy and wife, and to see it as good and needed work.  She shares her heart and life of being a mom with readers at her siteGrace Full Mama.

Grace. It was a word for “those” sinners.
I was a first-born pastor’s daughter. I felt I had to be perfect.  All eyes were on me. I sang beautiful songs about grace, but it never got down to the heart level.

I figured that if I looked perfect, spoke spiritually, and plain ol’ never let anyone get to know me, I’d be all right. After all, I was saved, right?!  Now I needed to work out my salvation with fear and trembling.  I’ve always been an excellent rule keeper, and I thought grace was for “those people” that lived by no rules at all.

It wasn’t until I realized that I was just as vile a sinner as the rapist, the thug, the drug dealer that grace got a hold of me.  I realized that I was as full of sin as they were, maybe even more.

My big sin wasn’t the flashy kind.  It was a more insidious one that looks good but burns hot and deep in a soul.

Mine was pride.

I am the older brother in the prodigal story.  And my grace story doesn’t begin all that long ago…..

Six years ago we were preparing to move our family overseas to Indonesia, to serve as missionaries.  My younger sister was going through some turmoil in her life and became the quintessential prodigal.  In fact, the week we were leaving for Indonesia she ran away and got into some ugly, ugly stuff.

And I was mad. I was mad at her for bringing so much pain to our family, for making us look bad. And you know what else? I was mad at her for “stealing the show”!  I wanted to be noticed! Here I was leaving for the mission field. I was the model daughter, and here she was getting all of the attention! Ugly pride.

A few hours before we left for the airport she came back to say goodbye, and I wanted nothing to do with her. I was mad and self-righteous.

And in that mess of a moment, my dad showed me the most beautiful picture of grace I have ever seen. My sister had put him through so much for many years, ruined his reputation, caused him more stress and pain that I can ever know. And he sat down next to her, in the midst of the filth, knowing what she had been doing, and put his arms around her and told her how much he loved her.

A picture of our Father reaching down in the mess, whatever it may be, and putting His arm around us and speaking words of love into our ear.  When I came to the realization that my sin was just as horrible as the more public ones and that the Father loved me in the midst of my sinful mess, it was then truly understood grace.

And now, I reach out for that grace every single day.

Grace. A word for me. A sinner.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

I met Joy during a blog hop when she was writing as The Stay at Home Missionary. I loved her warm words and her heart for her family.  At the end of last year, she made a decision to step away from blogging for a bit, and (gratefully) she re-emerged this fall as the Grace Full Mama.  I subscribed to her new blog the day it launched. Imagine my own joy when I had a chance to meet and hug her in real life at the Relevant Blogging Conference. What I love about Joy is that what you see online is what you get in person.  She is precious. I am grateful she has added her story of grace for us at 29lincolnavenue. I’m still crying over it.  Please visit and subscribe to her  blog, if you haven’t done so already.  Thank you sweet Joy for this gift of grace today!  Merry Christmas friend!

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  1. Love it. I’d not heard of Joy’s blog until today and so I just bounced over there :). Her heart and writing remind me so much of Emily (Chatting at the Sky). So beautiful. Thanks for sharing!
    Fawn {Happy Wives Club} recently posted..Top 10 Marriage Blog of 2011

  2. Monica says:

    Oh, Joy – yes. I can so resonate with what you shared. Pride has long been a struggle for me. And, this year God has been teaching me about having grace for myself – but now I sense He is urging me on to extending that grace to others. I am on the Potter’s Wheel in this and trust His hands.

  3. Barbie says:

    What a beautiful story of grace extended by a father to his daughter. And so like my God, who continually extends to me undeserved grace. So thankful you shared your story with us.
    Barbie recently posted..Making Memories

  4. Oh, my. . . a sister in pride. We end up in a mess, don’t we? But thank God that His grace is bigger even than our pride–or any other sin.

    What a beautiful picture of your dad’s reaching out to your sister in her hour of deep need and shame–and what a poignant message to you. You are indeed blessed to have an earthly father who is so much like your heavenly father!

    Stacey, thanks for featuring Joy today. I look forward to getting to meet both of you some day!
    Richella at Imparting Grace recently posted..Party announcement!

  5. Kris says:

    Joy~ Thank you for this story. Pride has been my biggest struggle for a very. long. time. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be free from the fight I have with it so often,… Thank you for being willing to share the ugly, and remind us of GRACE, given freely, for each of us. No matter what….

    Blessings, sweet friend.
    Kris recently posted..More Jesus

  6. Kelli says:

    It never ceases to amaze me that God sees the prodigal child the same as the self-righteous one. That pride, legalism, judging others are as ugly as the sins you called out — rape, drugs, etc.
    (Oh God, give us Your eyes to see *ourselves* . . .)

    He gives that priceless grace to the “sick” and the “healthy” . . . His rain falling and sun shining on the righteous and the unrighteous. Loving all the unlovely ones. All of us.

    A verse I have been thinking along these same lines, “God is almighty, yet He despiseth not any.” (Job 36:5) If He — perfect in holiness — can look on me in love — though the chief of sinners — how can I hold any despising or self-righteous attitude toward my brother or sister???
    Because I am the SAME.
    In His eyes, the SAME.

    Thank you for your candid testimony.
    We are a people of HOPE who believe God’s not done . . . :)
    Kelli recently posted..Love Is Death

  7. I love this story Joy, and can relate in so many ways. I grew up a preachers daughter and my brother went wayward early in his life. If not for grace would my brother have been redeemed from that life, and I from my “perfectionism”. God has to get a hold of my pride as well, and ring me to a place of surrendering just as much as anyone else.

    Thank you for sharing your story, and I love both you and Stacey, so its a thrill to hear from the two of you as I open my computer this morning!
    Denise In Bloom recently posted..Thinking “Outside The Box” For Giving This Year

  8. Thank you Joy for sharing your heart so openly. I can’t believe how similiar our stories are (except for the mission field). I went through a similiar experience a few years ago with a younger sibling. Here I was, not doing anything wrong, comforting my mother, and he gets all the attention.

    It wasn’t until I realized that I was no different in my pride that I became greatly convicted and look at the whole situation different, in a broken way realizing my sin of pride. God has been faithful and he has been delivered from his sin. I only wish that I had responded differenty at the time. I thank the Lord for His amazing grace!
    Mary@ The Encouraging Home recently posted..WHEN YOUR BEST LAID PLANS FALL APART

  9. Susan says:

    Joy, your transparency speaks to my heart today. Thank you! You bring Glory to Him!
    Susan recently posted..Pumpkin Pie Mix Pumpkin Bread

  10. Thanks for sharing, Joy. Your father–what a blessing! I enjoyed reading about him on your previous blog as well. This is a beautiful post. Goose bumps!

    • Joy says:

      Thanks Christy. Yes, I have been blessed by a father, although imperfect, is such a picture in my life of the Father’s love and grace for all of us. Thanks for coming by and encouraging me today! I love reading your comments. :)

  11. Stacy says:

    Thank you for sharing! I can very much relate. I too am the oldest child, perfectionist and rule keeper of the family. The Lord too has been working on my pride and getting me to understand grace. This was a perfect reminder!
    Stacy recently posted..Haul Out the Holly

  12. This was beautiful, just as beautiful when shared as the day you realized what marvelous grace we have received. I love hearing your thoughts.

    I can relate to your story with your sister. It has been amazing to see what my relationship to my sister has taught me about grace, faith, and prayer. This year, God took a massive hold on her life, the never letting go kind, and she surrendered to Him. It was beautiful, and incredibly convicting for the “prodigal older son” like me. We serve a mighty God. I’m so grateful that He does not leave us in our prideful, self-righteous state.
    Leigh Ann @ Intentional By Grace recently posted..Comment on Intentional Conversation: Jesus Christ Prayed Specifically for You by Nikki

    • Joy says:

      Leigh Ann,
      My sister’s story is much that same. I am truly in awe of God’s miraculous works in my sister’s life and God has certainly restored what the locusts have eaten in her life and then some! It is an amazing thing for us older, prideful sisters to watch, isn’t it??!!
      Thanks for sharing!! It’s great to hear a bit of your story.
      Joy recently posted..My Grace Story

  13. Debbie says:

    I recently began to follow Graceful Mama’s blog after reading about her on the Relevant conference website. I loved reading this story of the prodigal. I too have a prodigal sister. I was the one who ‘seemed’ to do the right things. But I too have been convicted of pride. Grace is very much for me too.

    So glad to read this post and to find 29lincolnavenue.

    Blessings and love,
    Debbie recently posted..Counting Everyday Blessings During the Christmas Season

    • Joy says:

      Thank you Debbie! I am so glad to know that I am not alone. My sister’s story has an amazing ending, full of God’s grace to redeem the broken, BIG TIME! I will have to share it sometime. My sister is now my hero! :)
      I’m so glad that Stacey gave me this opportunity to share. She is such a dear!!
      Joy recently posted..My Grace Story

  14. Lisa says:

    I’ve been reading Joy’s poignant words since her new launch at Graceful Mama and, as I am here with you, always deeply encouraged and challenged by the way she captures truth, transparency, and application in one breadth.

    In my real life world, I find so many masks worn tightly and so I count on people like you and Joy to pull them down and own it up. It helps me know I am not alone in my struggles.

    Joy, in your story today, I saw a bit of myself…and yet a side I never saw before. I, too, can be the older brother, but didn’t realize it until seeing it unfold in your story. Ugh. I’m glad I’ll have a 30 minute drive this morning to get my heart right with the Lord.

    Lisa recently posted..Redefining Beauty at the Internet Cafe Devotions & Free Gift Today!

    • Joy says:

      Lisa, I am so glad that my mess can offer encouragement to you. That is what God is showing me recently…..that the stories that are messy, but His hand is evident…those are the stories that touch people. But, I’ll admit, it is hard to take off that good girl mask and show how weak and messy I really am.
      Praise the Lord that He who has begun a good work in us will be faithful to complete it, huh?!
      Thanks so much for saying hello!!
      Joy recently posted..My Grace Story

  15. Melissa says:

    beautifully said, sweet joy. i love your story every time you tell it. it rings so true with so many.

    stacey, thanks for sharing grace full mama with us today! a blessing indeed!

    • Joy says:

      Melissa!! Good girls unite! :)
      I was just thinking about you this morning, silly, huh?! I was thinking about how much you sweet girls encouraged me when you yelled out my name at the airport. :) It was fun to see you that day one last time.
      Thank you for paving the way for us good girls to take off our masks. I appreciate you, dear Melissa!!
      Joy recently posted..My Grace Story

  16. Junglewife says:

    Joy, I always appreciate your thoughts. I too struggle with pride. It is very sneaky and comes disguised in many forms, so I don’t always recognize it. Thank you for being honest with us! Blessings to you, my friend.
    Junglewife recently posted..Daily Photos: November 11 – December 6

    • Joy says:

      Thanks Sarah. Yes, it is very sneaky and it can come across as holiness. :) You are welcome for the honesty, but I’ll be honest with you now, it doesn’t come easy! :)
      Joy recently posted..My Grace Story


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