Yesterday, we said farewell to our Pastor, Paul Mills, and wished him well as he and his family begin the next chapter in their journey. As I prepared for the service, I placed a travel pack of tissue in my pocket, and went easy of the application of my mascara. I assumed that there would be lots of tears as Pastor Paul spoke his “Last Words” (his final sermon series for us). I pictured a sorrowful service with tears and memories of the past 8 1/2 years of service. What I got instead was far different. I knew as the worship team started the first song that this service was not going to be about a sad farewell, but rather it was going to be a celebration. NOT celebrating the fact that we were losing (or getting rid of) our beloved Pastor. Celebrating all that God had done through him for our church family. Worship started with an upbeat song that was loud and happy…and it included the entire congregation jumping! It was an amazing display of God’s people jumping for joy and happiness. I was simply blown away by such joyful worship. The remaining worship was powerful (for lack of the right adjective to describe it). It was during this time of worship that, for me, the tears came. Not sad tears…but tears of peace and comfort. Tears that come from begin overwhelmed by the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was incredibly moving. Worship truly speaks to me. Seeing a room packed full of people with hands raised to God fills me with peace. Hearing voices of all ages singing praises to our God fills my soul. Being so filled with the presence of God became so overwhelming to me that the emotions came out in the form of tears. And then – as if that were not enough for one day – Pastor Paul delivered a beautifully spoken message about love. His words were heart-felt, but not weepy. For a farewell sermon, I thought it was just wonderful. He combined some memories from the past with wishes and thoughts of our future with a new pastor. It made my heart happy to be there and to be a part of such a special service. It made me joyful to be a part of a church home. I am so thankful that I serve such a loving God who knows our needs so intimately, and fulfills them as he knows we can accept them and truly appreciate them. Brian and I had prayed for such a long time to find a church home. Not just a place to attend church…but a church home complete with a church family. After such an amazing service, I was overwhelmed with joy to belong to such a loving home, and a welcoming family. I am thankful to God for giving us somewhere we belong, and I am confident that God will guide our future as a church family as we welcome a new pastor.
My word for 2014 is perspective. I can honestly say that I have thought of that word very often during the first few weeks of the year. Especially today. In my last post I talked about the weight-loss journey upon which I’ve embarked this year. It’s going well. I’ve gotten into a good routine with my eating, been drinking lots of water, and have been trying to get some exercise in. Since our temps have been ridiculous, I have had to resort to finding some indoor activity. Brian and recently acquired a treadmill that had been just taking up space in my parent’s garage and I have spent some time on it. Today I was feeling very motivated and decided to spend an hour walking and listening to Matt Chandler’s latest podcast. I changed into my sweats, got my headphones adjusted perfectly, turned the treadmill up to a decent pace and got moving. For approximately 17 seconds. And then the treadmill quit. Stopped. I was NOT a happy girl. As a matter of fact I was livid. I kept thinking…this is awful. I can’t believe this happened. My afternoon is ruined. In the midst of my temper tantrum I decided to go ahead and hit the grocery since white death is apparently on its way again. Still fuming mad, I mad my way up and down the crowded aisles of the store, ready to run over anyone who got in my way. And then it hit me…like a punch to the face it hit me. All morning I had been praying for the Blair family, whose young son was just this week diagnosed with cancer. The pictures of him at the hospital and the updates about his prognosis were in my heart all day and I was tearfully praying for comfort and strength for this special family. So here I am upset – livid – about the fact that the treadmill died and I didn’t get my workout in…and right here in my community, a family had just been dealt some devastating news about their toddler. My perspective was so far off course. I was so caught up in ME and my selfishness…and people I know have just had their world turned upside down. Life is really about perspective. This reminder humbled me and made me feel downright silly. But it also made me very aware of the way that God is so busy at work on me. He reminds me daily that I am his beloved by nudging me (and by nudging me I mean slapping me silly) with words, thoughts, and reminders. I am so thankful for my word – perspective – and for God keeping me in check.