The last few days have been a struggle for me. Every day we have had tears in our eyes as a family, for the loss of our Pastor, and for the struggle at our church. Last night, while guest performing at a dance recital for another studio, my youngest daughter fell, was afraid to ride her bike on stage, and burst into tears over and over again. I said all the wrong things, overwhelmed by her stress and mine. I felt like the worst mom in the world. I felt like maybe all this dance was the wrong thing for us. Then we calmed down. I apologized. We cried together, and then wiped away the mascara run tears, put on our "blinged" sunglasses and we danced. We came home and cuddled, read together, prayed, and finally found some rest.
I've skipped my blessings blog these last few days for two reasons. I seemed to only be able to think of a couple of things to be thankful for each day, and I didn't seem to have the time at home to write. So, today is a big day, and I'm reflecting back on the blessings that have been there all along.
1. 99% of the time, my daughters love to dance.
3. Tears. I know this one is strange, but I am thankful that God provided for this release of emotion.
4. Cute blue tank tops.
5. Blue sparkly hair ribbons.
6. Friends who lean on each other.
7. Big hugs.
8. Being able to cry in a public place, and not feel nervous about it. Another strange one, but I used to hold it all back so often that I couldn't cry even if I felt like it. Today I cried standing in front of a whole congregation, and it was a blessing.
9. Being able to stand up next to our Pastor and his family for the final blessing, and Godspeed. I know this sound strange, but one of my first thoughts was: "now I know why I'm glad my husband works in the sound and media booth." Because of the overwhelming numbers of people who wanted to stand up there, only staff members and their families were asked to come up, so I got an extended family priveledge, and I nearly tripped in my haste to get there. I felt honored, and I am thankful.
10. My husband, who used to be the silent partner in our faith life together - helping out with youth group because I helped out, etc - has grown in his own uniquely shaped ministry under the direction and guidance of Pastor Paul. He's still one of the quiet guys, but now he runs the microphones, the cameras and the soundboard, teaches kids how to do all those things, and gives 10+ hours a week serving others. Then, he also helps with broken cars, broken computers, etc that come his way.
11. The men's Bible Study that my husband participated in with Pastor Paul and men from our congregation many years ago. It deepened his faith, and committed him to reading and understanding the whole Bible.
12. Even though my youngest has a cold, plus been tired and out of sorts for two days, she wanted to sing with the Children's Choir for Pastor Paul. I am so proud of her. She sang well, and spoke clearly today.
13. Standing as a family for the "laying on of hands" on our Pastor and his family during the blessing.
14. My youngest daughter's first playmate: our Pastor's daughter. They've known each other since they were three-five months old.
15. My first friend when we moved to Gig Harbor: our Pastor's wife, Linda. She is a wonderful woman, with a loving heart for social ministry, loving people where they're at and teaching love by relationship. I am thankful for her ministerial touch in my life.
16. My oldest daughter's friendship with our Pastor's kids . . . even if her friendship with our Pastor's son sometimes resembles a friendly rivalry. They both wanted to be the boss at age 3, and some days that hasn't changed. But I still celebrate that . . . because sometimes that's what being a kid is all about.
17. The Prison Ministry that has been directed and guided by Sharon P at PLC. She gifted me and led me through three years of ministry to young mother's at the women's correctional center. Her ministry is amazing. She asked Linda, our Pastor's wife, and I to start a mother's ministry there, and we did. Somehow, even after we stepped away, it has continued with strength and vibrancy. I am thankful to Sharon for that.
18. The drama ministry of Sharon C at PLC with Evergreen Performers. Without her guidance, I don't know if I would have ever known that drama could be a ministry. And thanks to her, I had the priveledge of dressing up in a beaver costume and playing the part of Mrs. Beaver for a Narnia musical. "It's amazing wot a little bit of spring can do!"
19. Rubber Chickens and Blessing Dressing - an Evergreen Performer Thanksgiving Adventure.
20. The Sunday School/Children's Ministry at PLC has shaped my own ministry to kids and families, and been a wonderful, safe place for my daughters to nurture their faith, and have fun with their friends. (along with memorizing all of their catechism already with five weeks of catechism study each year)
21. The "My Bible" and "Communion" classes my daughters had with Pastor Paul. Thanks to him, both have a greater appreciation and understanding of God's word, and my oldest understands communion. Six hours of intense study with families, and a bit of humor and fun thrown in by a charismatic Pastor makes a big difference in a kid's life.
22. The letters by members of our congregation who have clearly stated their faith in Christ, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit acting in their lives.
23. Members of our congregation dressed in their Go.Do.Likewise shirts, and white and orange to celebrate Pastor Paul's ministry of loving outreach in our community.
24. Schroederfest, and the efforts of Rachelle and Jon, who made it all possible.
25. A Christian family that is bigger than the walls of a church building.
26. A helpful phone conversation with my father-in-law.
27. Cuddle time with kids.
28. Finishing two weeks worth of lesson plans - I know I should have them all done, but there are always nuances that need to be fixed and rewritten.
29. Standing ovations.
30. God is good.
A Scripture Blessing recommended to me by a friend, struggling with the same stuff I'm going through:
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the LORD will reward you.