It was the PERFECT way to spend our last Sunday at church before heading off to Texas for a while ~ Baptisms! I know I've told you this before, but it is such a privilege to have a front row seat in the lives of so many people. Hearing their testimonies, and watching their surrender to Christ, and their obedience in baptism is nothing but a faith builder in my own life! Jesus is ABLE. He is able to pierce hearts with His grace. He is able to conquer sin, darkness, and death. He is able to strengthen individuals to forsake destructive life patterns. These are always the stories. It would be enough that He has accomplished (is accomplishing) this in my life, but He also allows me to watch it OVER and OVER in the lives of countless others. What a privilege. What an honor.
So, yes ~ it was our last Sunday at church until the end of March, and what a beautiful way to spend it ~ hearing the stories of Erica, Mike, and Chelsea and watching them make their faith known, to their friends, families, and church body. It was so wonderful.
There was also a special prayer time for the Krum family ~ a sabbatical send-off prayer by Dan, Lois, and Steve ~ and complete with a gift for the road ~ Starbucks gift cards for mom and dad, Target gift cards for the kids. All this on top of the generous funds they had already raised to cover all expenses while we are gone. Did I already mention that we are privileged and blessed? Yes. Very. A couple of the sermons from Leviticus in the last few weeks have been about the "partying" and "resting" we are able to indulge in, all because of the payment by Jesus on the Cross. He purchases true rest for us ~ real sabbatical rest, but we have also been humbled by the lavish way our church is demonstrating to us what Jesus has already done on our behalf. They have truly "paid" for us to have 3 months of rest by their giving of money, and by their leading of the church while we are away, and by their "relay-prayer" that will happen every single day that we are gone. What a gift.
Last week was a mixture of sadness and sweetness for me. Sadness over some things out of my control, but balanced by such sweetness of fellowship with friends and sisters in Christ. The Lord gave my the idea that it would be fun to wrap up my two women's Bible studies on Doctrine by discussing our chapter on the Resurrection over a meal together. The Amherst College girls and I discussed the Resurrection over "Asian Fusion" at one of my favorite restaurants in town...
Such a fun evening with a group of amazing ladies! Thanks Paula, Cecilia, Akosua, Sophie and Nifemi!
And then today, my Sunday morning class met early for breakfast at The Lone Wolf (yum!) before church.
Erica's mom was in town for her baptism, and so she joined us for more discussion on the Resurrection over eggs, and crepes, bacon, home fries, and coffee!
Love these ladies and their hearts and minds for Christ. I will miss my double-dose-of-doctrine every week with these women who sharpen me and challenge me to know and love my Lord and his Word more and more intimately.
Would you believe that a Starbucks iced-coffee was delivered to me DURING the church service? Talk about spoiled. Robert happened to be giving an announcement about the internship program at our church when one of our current interns (who also works at Starbucks!) came in with my usual ~ Venti iced coffee, 2 pumps classic, light cream. It was not planned, but turned out to be a funny advertisement about what the interns actually DO in the ministry.
You know...like, bring the pastor's wife iced coffee, of course! Thanks, Josh ~ such a treat!
We're off on Wednesday, and I can't tell you just how loved and supported we feel in going. Thank you Mercyhouse ~ we'll see you in the spring! May Jesus show you, as Robert suggested, that HE is the Lord of our church, and means this time of sabbatical to grow ALL of us in that knowledge. You are loved and will be missed.