I’ve been waiting for the right time to break from my little blog sabbatical and after the high of this past weekend, that time is now. Wait, I don’t sound very excited about it. Let me rephrase: THAT TIME IS NOW!
Saturday I had the privilege to teach the general sessions of Renew – the Alabama WMU’s State Women’s Conference. It was no small honor and I’m still so grateful to have been entrusted with that stage by directors Candace McIntosh and Pat Ingram. They are WMU royalty in our state and I still don’t know how I rated their friendship but I am so happy to be connected with these wonderful, Jesus-loving women. For those of you in the SBC, I hope you have some understanding of how incredibly hard your state representatives work to serve our missionaries, women, and girls under their care. I don’t know how they organize, travel, etc. all the events they do without flat-out collapsing. They are nothing short of amazing and I am proud to call them my sisters. I also have to shout out to pastor’s wife Page Hughes and the women of Westwood Baptist Church. Page was a delight and her girls went above and beyond to serve the women in attendance and to make me feel so incredibly special and cared for. Carrie and Jill took care of Melissa (awesome worship leader!) and me and when I kept thanking them for all the special things they did to make sure we were comfortable, they said “We just love to love!” And that sums up the women of Westwood. They just love to love. Thank y’all so much!
As nerve-wracking as teaching always is to me – whether it’s a crowd of 5 or 500 – I was hugely comforted by the presence of a group of my church girls who came along and sat front row center. At one point they raised signs they had made that said, “We Love You!” Truly, does anyone have better girls than that?
After I finish teaching, I’m always a bit punchy from the mix of exhaustion and relief at having purged the message exploding in my brain. So imagine how hard you would normally laugh if you left a conference only to find out the church bus battery is dead and then having the delight of watching a car load of women trying to jump it off. Okay, now multiply that laughter 1000x and that is approaching my level of hysteria.
Tammy – the bus driver – kept yelling over to me in my car, “If I take my foot off the gas to put it in drive, it dies!” So I stated the obvious, “Well, don’t take your foot off the gas!” I didn’t know she would take me so literally. In a blink of an eye the van shot across the parking lot like a rocket from Cape Canaveral. It has now been dubbed The Silver Bullet. Forget hysteria – we moved straight to hyperventilation. My lungs still haven’t recovered.
I called Luke to find out what to do about the bus and he informed me this had happened before and that it would take it several minutes to get fully charged. In the meantime, we had sped to the Walmart close to the church in case we needed a battery. Tammy drove about 23 laps around the auto center parking lot and what do you know? The van worked fine. Which was a good thing because judging by the completely non-amused-by-a-group-of-psycho-women-asking-for-mechanical-assistance girl working the counter in the Automotive Department, we were not going to get any sympathy. Or service. I do not think she attended Renew.
How do you recover from all that? You go to The Cheesecake Factory. And you eat Chicken Crostata and Strawberry Cheesecake and laugh and cry even more. And then you go home and lay in the bed and reflect on what a blessed woman you are.
And you know what? I am a blessed woman and also a renewed one. This past month has been one of the hardest in our personal and ministerial lives but it’s also been one in which I’ve seen God move in ways that seemed like He’d given up long ago. As I shared Saturday, it is to the great glory of God and His mighty, restorative power that our church is in One Peace after experiencing more in two short years than most congregations endure in a lifetime. In the words of David Crowder sang through Melissa, “All of a sudden, I’m unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory.”
Afflictions eclipsed by glory…..Oh, how freshly mindful I am that glory trumps affliction.
Glory always Wins.