One beautiful night...
I was totally surprised by the events of last Saturday night. I am still overwhelmed (in a good way) and trying to process all that happened. You see, my "chicks" as I lovingly call them decided to host a celebration. The thing I cannot get my mind around is that they celebrated me. People actually showed up to love on me, thank me and appreciate me for my work of service during these past 9 years with Truth for Women. As I listened to several of my dear friends and co-laborers speak, I cried, laughed, shook my head in disbelief and cried some more. At the end, they asked me if I wanted to say something and as I stood there I just babbled. All night long, I relieved the moment. And, I thought of a lot of things I wish I would have said. Here they are:
1. Thank you! Geez, I can't remember if I stood up and said thank you. If I didn't I am horrified because my heart was and is overflowing with thankfulness. I am so deeply touched that Jessie, Kim, Sharon & Susan would go to all the work and care of planning such a wonderful surprise and that so many people would come out on a Saturday night in the middle of winter to attend. I deeply regret not getting to hug and talk to each and every one that attended, but I will NEVER forget the sight of seeing everyone sitting there. Thank you for loving me.
2. I am so proud of Jessie and Kim. They are God's women for this hour. They are the future and I am so grateful to God for the time He gave me with them - together serving HIM! It is true that God put within me an understanding that I would not be the woman to take TFW all the way so to speak. And, it is true that I have prayed and waited for that woman or those women God would raise up. I have NO doubts that God has called Jessie and Kim and that these precious women have answered the call. For the past 9 years, getting up every day to pursue the vision of TFW has been my reason for getting up every day! I pursued this God-given vision with passion, pit-bull determination and as though it needed to happen YESTERDAY. God put this within me. God has put it also within Jessie and Kim.
3. God has also raised up Sharon and her heart certainly beats with mine concerning The Women's Center Lehigh Valley. I'll never, ever forget sitting down in 1999 and putting on paper the vision of TWC. Thinking about not being around to "make" it happen is hard for me. But, knowing that Sharon not only gets it but she sees it? All I can say is praise the Lord and thank you, Jesus! These precious women are called by God and they have committed to God. Commitment these days is a rare and beautiful thing. For when I say these women are committed what I mean is they will do whatever it takes to see the vision, mission and purpose of Truth for Women, My Sister's Closet and The Women's Center Lehigh Valley realized.
4. I still don't know why people would come to celebrate me. Don't get me wrong - I'm not sure I've ever felt so loved or appreciate in my entire life and who doesn't want or need that? But fighting for the women in my community has been the joy of my life. Working to help women embrace God's Word as truth is what God brought me to this moment in my life to do. Fighting for the spiritual health of this community has been the only reasonable thing to do. I think of what Bill Hybels says in his book "Holy Discontent." He calls them "Popeye" moments. Times when God puts such a burden on your heart and brings you to the point where you cry out and move out saying "I can't stands it, I can't stands it, I can't stands it no more." When God does this to you and propels you into action - watch out! So watch out for Jessie, Kim, Sharon, and Susan!
5. I wish I had praised my husband more. I did say that were it not for him TFW wouldn't exist, but what I didn't share is why. Oh yes, He was very encouraging and supportive. You see, he's the spiritually gifted leader in our family. And, he's had years of business experience. Over the course of 9 years, he sat with me untold hours teaching me how to lead, giving me insights, honest observations, and unbias feedback. I have learned so much from this precious man. He NEVER complained about the number of hours I spent in front of the computer, away from meetings or opening our home to gatherings of people. In fact, he supported it and I'd say at least during the first 5 years, financially made it all happen. Tom's financial investment in TFW was a personal investment in me and every woman in this community. Thank you to all who have financially supported the ministries of TFW. It is a HUGE encouragement to those of us who daily work to realize the vision but it is also a huge investment in the spiritual health of this community!
6. I will NEVER forget that evening. Your faces are forever in my mind! I love you each and all. I thank God for allowing me to know you and serve together with you. At the end of the evening, Emma was walking me to my car and she asked me what perfume I had on because it smelled so nice. You know what? All night long as I hugged and was hugged by each one of you, I breathed in your essence and your sweet aroma was left behind. By the end of the evening what was left was a mixture of all of you and it was a wonderful fragrance. Precious ones, this will PREACH!
7. So to all who were there on Saturday night and all those who couldn't come but shared they wish they could be there - thank YOU. You see, what it really speaks to my heart is that you too see the vision, you understand the mission and you support the work of this ministry. WOW.
Whatever I did, whatever you think I accomplished - all glory and honor go to God. He is the one who saved me, changed me, decided to allow me to be a part of anything He wanted to do, then gave me what I'd need to do it! God used me because I was willing and because I committed myself to Him and what He was put on my heart to do for Him. I've spent the last 9 years on my face before Him waiting for "how to." In fact, most days were started with this statement: "God if you can use a donkey, you can use me."
...but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well because you had become so dear to us. 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8