I was hosting a table to recruit volunteers at church this morning when an older gentleman I don’t recall seeing before walked up holding a coffee cup. I asked if he was interested in learning about our event. He asked if the computers I had at my table could get to the internet. I told him they did, but all sites other than the church’s webpage were blocked. I suggested some other ways he could get online if it was necessary.
He replied, “No, I am just upset, I have to calm myself down.” Then he snickered and pointed at his cup of coffee and said, “the caffeine should help right?” He went on to tell me that he just found out his car did not pass the emission test. He appeared very shaken by this revelation and then walked away.
A few minutes later he came back by and said, “you better pray for me. I need the weather to stay nice today because they tell me I have to put a thermostat on my car to pass emissions. I’ve never done this before.”
I assured him I would pray for him and as he walked away again I asked for his first name. He replied (with gusto), “Ivan the Great!” I responded with “Nice to meet you Ivan the Great and I will be praying for you.”
Ivan took a few more steps away from my table toward the auditorium (as I was silently praying for him) and turned around and laughed, and said, “oh never mind, you won’t pray.” I assured him I had already begun praying for him and invited him to come back to my table so I could pray with him directly. He continued to snicker and walked in to the service.
At the end of the service Ivan came back by the table again. He told me he looked outside and thought I was doing a good job praying because it hadn’t rained yet.
I don’t know if Ivan the Great got his thermostat in today. I hope I recognize him again at church so I can ask him. But I do know the God who is pleased when His children reach out and share their needs with one another and then with Him.
The funny thing is – I wasn’t even supposed to be at that table today. In fact, we were not going to start hosting the table until next week. But I got mixed up and set it up a week early. Perhaps God wanted that all along so Ivan the Great could find out that someone cares for him. Or perhaps God put Ivan in my path today to remind me that it is more important to be “present over perfect” (thanks to Shauna Niequist for her book of that title that is messing with my heart and soul).
No, this is not a post “airing our dirty laundry”, but instead a story of how this pile of laundry (about 10 loads) became a symbol of blessing and joy to me.
Friday we came home from serving at our first two weeks of Family Retreat. (For those of you not familiar with Family Retreat you can read this post in my archives). We arrive home exhausted, ready to do nothing for a couple of days but rest and relax. We also come home with a LARGE pile of laundry.
Typically I’ve looked at the pile of laundry and grumbled (to myself I think, but perhaps out loud as well!) that I have to do that laundry. That starts the rock rolling downhill while gathering thoughts of, “the kitchen needs to be mopped, the beds need clean sheets, the gardens need weeding, the bills need paying. . . .” and very soon my attitude is shot.
Our Family Retreat theme this year was “Joy.” We talked each day about finding joy in the range of emotions that come our way in daily life. Coming home I immediately got a chance to apply that! I realized that I could choose my attitude about the laundry, and other tasks ahead of me. I could see them as burdens, exercise frustration, but still have to complete them. Or I could choose joy and view this mountain of laundry, weeds, dishes, etc. as a blessing.
- A blessing that we have enough clothes to change daily
- A blessing that I am not at a river pounding clothes on a a rock to clean them, but put them in this magic machine and they come out clean
- A blessing that we have a door on the laundry room I can shut when I am not ready to take on the task
- A blessing that we have a home with a small bit of property that has places to grow weeds
And then a funny thing happened . . . when I changed my attitude about the laundry, I found unpacking wasn’t such a chore either. I was grateful we have jobs that allow us opportunities to travel and serve, thankful for the blessing of suitcases, cars to travel in, thankful for a house to come home to. . . and most of all thankful for a Heavenly Father who doesn’t give up on me but continues to strengthen me with His joy!
The saying “It takes a village . . .” can be true of much of life. Today as I was driving to Spruce Lake where we will host our first two weeks of Family Retreat for families affected by disability I was so thankful for those in “our village” who make this, and so many other parts of our lives easier.
People like Denise, who I asked to pick up a prescription that wasn’t ready yet before I left and bring it to us at camp when she comes.
Guys like Scott, Roger, and Gary who step in while I am at camp and Jerry is at home to help him get up each morning and to bed at night. Then there’s Ron who comes to camp (hauling much of our equipment) to help Jerry here so I can focus on my role.
Ginny, my sister who said dinner will be provided the night we come home exhausted from two weeks of camp.
Once I pulled into Spruce Lake there was Lucas who offered to carry my suitcase to my second floor room.
And the best thing about our village? They love Jesus, and they know by serving us they are serving Him. Can’t wait to turn some of that love around these next two weeks to serve other families affected by disability at Family Retreat!
“Behold! How they love one another.”
Want to get more of an idea of what happens at Family Retreat? Follow our hashtag #JAFjourney2joy for the next couple of weeks.
I am grateful for the faith my parents instilled in me. Today I reaped another blessing from that legacy.
Jerry and I were invited to share the “Mission Moment” at the church where Mom first belonged and worshipped when she moved up to live with us in PA. That church was a wonderful source of friendship and service for Mom.
When I greeted Irene, she shared that when she sees Joni and Friends on their church prayer list she doesn’t pray for the ministry, she prays for me and Jerry! I have probably only seen Irene three or four times in the last 15 years, but she knew me from Mom. Mom was a great ambassador for Joni and Friends everywhere she went and to everyone she met. What an encouragement to know her investment in us is still reaping benefits two and a half years after her passing.
Later in the morning I chatted with Cynthia, who shared how much she still misses my Mom (I assured her I do too). She counted Mom as a dear friend. Cynthia shared that she has never taken Mom’s name off her prayer list. Knowing that Mom no longer needs prayer she instead uses that as a prompt to pray for Jerry and me.
I was humbled. Thank you Mom for paving the way for others to lift us up in prayer when you were no longer here to do so.
Makes me wonder who will stand in the gap to pray for us when God calls these ladies home? Makes me also want to go deeper in my own prayer life to stand in the gap for others.
Thanks Mom, and Dad too.