Twenty-four hours before taking this picture, I thought I'd made a huge mistake. I was feeling tired, the girls were emotional about being apart from Matt again, traveling again, and I felt sick to my stomach over the hugeness of the next day...Matt preaching both services at Seeds of Greatness (like, over 1000 people), standing in front of all these people looking like I had a baby a week ago, then nerves over the hundreds of details for the big concert the same night and having NO IDEA how this whole uncharted-waters plan was going to go, then trying to help Matt prepare for board meetings all day today (Monday).
I was wishing very much so that I had stayed home in Ohio hiding in my pajamas.
I am so. so. so. so. so thankful I did not.
What an opportunity, in all of that weak weakness, for the Lord to show up and to redeem.
And He did.
First, He redeemed it through my girls.
In the midst of the craziness of the day, I had so many sweet moments with all three girls that we never would have had otherwise, and the joy of sharing them with so much dear family. Seeing Aunt Lori and Brenda and Dodo with Nora, seeing Lily and Sofie playing with lots of friends from Haiti, watching them run to Junior, play with Ethan, dancing with them, watching them enjoy some last moments with Aunt Lisa, playing in the pool with Uncle Adam...it was a GOOD Mommy day, by His grace.
Second, He (massively) redeemed it through our time of worship Sunday morning at Seeds of Greatness. I simply LOVE worshipping there. I'm NOT a cool person, so I'm sure this isn't how you describe it, but the worship was off the HINGE. Just Awesome.
Add in that we got to worship with lots of friends old and new, that Galen and Linda and the Sleasemans and my sister's family and Junior, being with Pastor Jerome and Lisa again, catching up with so many people who have prayed for and supported us over the years...it was a GIFT.
He redeemed the day through listening to Matt and Junior preach together...something I've done many times, but never in America, never both in English. Matt shared an awesome message on forming and filling, and Junior shared bits of his testimony, a story I've been graced to be a part of the last 12 years.
He shared the heartbreak of separation and loss that following Christ has brought into his life, and shared how God redeemed it, formed and filled him. As He talked about how God took that separation, and has replaced it with a family bigger than he could imagine, my soul welled up with hallelujahs and amens alike, and then when Junior grabbed Matt in a huge hug and said, "like my brother"...oh man.
Those were my tears for the day. What a gift to be their sister, what a joy to be reminded of the many ways God continually turns sadness and loneliness, loss and disappointment in our own lives into grace and family and fullness of Him. Redeemed.
Yet another way the Lord redeemed the day was through our SoG family. Throughout the morning, I was greeted and encouraged by SO many men and women who just humbled and loved us by knowing who we are, remembering details of our lives, and sharing Words of encouragement.
You can TELL when a person is a praying person. You can TELL when a church is a praying church. And when person after person comes up to you, tells you the details of your lives that they are praying for, share that you are lifted up by name in their prayer service every single Wednesday, man.
It is so humbling, so inspiring, and makes me want to live worthy of their prayers and be a more diligent person of prayer.
By the time church was over, all my worries of the night before were gone...simply because I was so powerfully reminded of who He is and how He loves.
From 2-4 we jetted over to Don and Brenda's to give the girls some down time and friend time, and got to catch up with Brent and Julie, Mark and Melissa, Lisa and Adam, Don and Brenda, and eat something. Don and Brenda gracious hosting us all like 48 hours after their daughter's wedding was so...Don and Brenda.
Then we were back at it.
When we pulled into the church 90 minutes before the concert, and the parking lot was full...I knew it was a good sign.
The whole EBS board, from as far away as Kansas, flew in, some with their families and spouses, people drove in from as far away as Illinois and even Canada. There were lots of people from area churches, lots of old friends, and lots and lots of people who none of us knew...which was awesome!
With tons of people from area churches and Seeds of Greatness volunteering, everything came together so well, and Sidewalk Prophets? They were just lovely.
Just really nice men who were an honor to do ministry with...and who SOUNDED just awesome.
And then there it was. My moment in the back, taking it all in...
my heart full of His praise, my mind full of all of the men and women that these moments were helping to feed and train and teach and disciple and house and equip and form, my eyes full of all these brothers and sisters, a world away, worshipping that same God and working for one kingdom...His.
Watching MY family.
Singin' "How Great Thou Art"...
Holding my Big Event in my arms.
It was a great night.
His presence was keenly felt (which changes things. Changes everything.), Emmaus is better equipped to start the year, and there was no send-off that could have been more encouraging as we all head home to get back at it.
For coming. For your many prayers and for being a praying family. For all of your support and your love, for all your help with our family, all your help with Emmaus, just for reading our blog and being a family who knows.
glory to God.