I am no Paul. I don't think you probably needed this reminder.
But traveling around in the summers, visiting churches, talking to hundreds of believers from all over the place, always has me feeling a little Paul-ish. We can see how churches, how cultures, around the US are changing, growing, shrinking, shifting, deepening, widening. We hear literally hundreds of people from all over the place share their joys and sorrows and passions and confusions and questions and prayers, get to see into a lot of peoples hearts.
And sometimes, like dear Paul, visiting the church, we get to see things people don't even notice themselves in the day to day, and sometimes it has been discouraging. Sometimes heavy. Sometimes heartbreaking. And sometimes it has been joyful and inspiring and encouraging.
Finally being back home, I'm shifting from the go-go-go, from the hurry-up-and-wait, from the "where do we go tomorrow?" to catching up. I'm catching up on my girls, on my marriage, on myself, on my God. On my deliberate. On my discipline. On my office work (blehhhh) and on my relationships (which has been SO good.)
But most, I've been catching up on my thanks. While there are still lots of burdens from our time in America that I'm bringing to the Lord over and over, lots of heartbreaks I'm lifting up, the theme of this summer was spending good time with a lot of God-following people who. are. faithful.
People who are imperfect, deeply genuine, who love the Lord, and who are living out their faith in their everyday life in everyday ways.
Husbands and wives who love the Lord and are faithful. Parents who are faithfully working their tail-ends off to love and raise their kids WELL and in Jesus. Parents who are faithfully praying for their struggling children. Mamas and Papas who are loving their broken children with grace and truth and great faithfulness. Who are praying, continually, whose lives look like walking prayers.
Men and women who are sacrificially loving others, who are spending spare moments on others, who are loving strangers and forgiving enemies and being Christ-like-thoughtful and going way out of their way to be about someone else.
And I just can't tell you how inspiring and encouraging, deeply encouraging that is to see.
It encourages great faithfulness in US.
We don't get to SEE your faithfulness lived out every day very often. And seeing it this summer, as you loved on each other and on others and on us, seeing your relationships with each other and your families and your friends and your strangers and your churches and your workplaces was humbling and inspiring.
SO keep on. I'm not the only one watching.
I shared Sundy's story a bunch of services throughout this summer, and maybe you remember it. Basically, he was as far from God as he could be, but when he was finally broken and lost, the men and women who had been faithfully loving and sharing and consuming God were the ones he ran to. The church had obnoxiously spouted truth and grace and love to him his whole life (often without even knowing it) and when he NEEDED grace, when he RECOGNIZED truth, when he was DESPERATE for love, it was God's people he ran to.
And while there is an overwhelming amount of brokenness out there and horrific amounts of deceit, I know and trust that if we can be faithful...if we can BE that obnoxious little faithful church, bride of Christ...if we can be true and grace and love and holy and faithful, people will come to know Him. Those we are praying for and praying for will come to know Him. To choose Him.
THANK YOU. Keep on, good and faithful servants.
Catching up on my thanks further...
THANK YOU crazy couple that gave us your best car of great value (a car, people, without ever even having seen me drive!) for five whole weeks and used the least car for yourselves. I don't know what we would have done without it, and that was so so generous of you. I hope you're not still finding goldfish crackers.
THANK YOU crazy church that got us a nice room in a nice hotel for days so that we could really nice rest with each other and our weird 2nd/3rd culture.
THANK YOU crazy family and friends who drove and even flew nuts-distances to be with us. Being people who travel very far to try to encourage and support others, we were so UBER blessed to have so many people travel very far to encourage and support us--to hang out, to meet us for a meal, to be our friends.
THANK YOU crazy people who skipped your own church services to be the strangers in churches NOT your own to support us, to see us, to hug us, to listen. THAT is always such a huge encouragement to Matt and I...you may not be able to come often (or ever) to be a part of what's going on in our lives in Haiti, but when you have a chance to come hear about it, YOU DID. Thank you.
THANK YOU crazy people who took us on vacation, WITH our children, and got woken up at 5 am for "GRAPES!" For loving us well. For crazy people who took days off work without pay to watch Nora go down the slide 75 times and to bring me gummy bears, who spend days with small kids at the zoo, at the your pool, at Old Navy, at your house (which used to be neat).
THANK YOU crazy people who housed us here and there, who fed us GOOD food and bought food you know we love, who loved on our girls, who sent your husbands for ice cream, who stayed up way too late hanging out, who helped with the girls, who let us rearrange your lives a bit. Thank you for letting us love on YOUR children, for letting us hear about YOUR lives, for letting. us. in. We need that. We cherish that.
THANK YOU crazy people who asked us how we were and who listened. Who asked about how things were really going, who asked how to pray, who did pray, who offered us help whenever we needed it, and THANK YOU crazy people who offered immediate help in our travel crisis! Thank you for all the grace and selflessness.
Then, it's go time! Start up staff meeting day is Tuesday, and new student orientation is Thursday and Friday...can't WAIT to meet the young men and women God's sending us, and to hear of how He's been at work in our current students over the past two months!