“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Psalm 25:5 (NIV)
Sunday was a very busy, very long day for the hubs and I. Sunday mornings are not a quiet, restful peaceful time. It’s time for us to be up, kicked in gear, and ready to serve the church we have been appointed to.
I had absolutely no desire to do that yesterday. Not only did we lose an hour of sleep, I had to get up early to finish my strawberry chocolate cake for the dessert auction to be held after church. I knew the day would not conclude for us until well 8pm, since we not only had church, but a fellowship lunch, auction, council meeting, and small group.
I was cranky, tired, grumbly, and almost in my 3rd trimester. I was in no mood to put on my happy face and be a pastor’s wife, in other words. I told the hubs this. Verbatim: “I have nooooo desire to do any of this today. I wish I was still feeling nauseous so I had a reason to sleep. Do I have to?” (Seriously, I am not a morning person.) He looked at me, and in a bit too chipper of a voice said, “That’s exactly why you should go. Because you don’t want to. It’ll be good for you. Besides, I am preaching on angry hearts.” WHAT? My heart was not angry….just sleepy and grumpy, and maybe a little sneezy, as I am getting over a sinus infection. Did I mention it was also raining? Yay….
Despite my pouting, I got up and began to get ready. As I was gathering the ingredients to finish putting the cake together, I realized I had no way to actually transport said cake to the church once constructed. GREAT!! Don’t ask me why I didn’t think of this sooner. Probably because I normally don’t bake cakes, and when I do, they are flat and square. I have containers for those cakes, but not for a pretty, round, two-tiered confection. I figured I could not drive to the church with a cake in my lap (baby belly in the way), and I was too worried it would slip off the plate or seat of my car, my only option was to get ready quickly and finish the cake at the church. Okay…no problem.
After showering, getting dressed, and quickly throwing my damp hair into some sort of styled, braided, thing (not Pinterest worthy for sure!), I almost left the house without the cake and ingredients. Seriously. I grab the bag of goodies, debate grabbing some knives for slicing and cutting, decide not to carry sharp weapons in the car, and I head to the church. I had an hour until the service started.
As I open the door, the first good thing of the day hits me: the delicious aroma of Mexican food wafting from the kitchen. YUM! Two of our congregants had offered to provide and cook a Mexican feast for the church and put on the dessert auction as a fundraiser for the church’s 10th anniversary celebration in May. My mouth was watering.
I made my way to the kitchen, where I was greeted not only by the delectable sight of fajita meat, enchiladas, sauteing veggies, and so much more, but by 4 smiling faces and hellos. I perked up a bit. I had already offered to help prepare food previously and been told they just needed help serving, so I didn’t feel completely bad for being in the kitchen, focused on my project. I felt a little bad though. There was a lot of cooking and prep going on, and they had been at it from 8-8 the previous day. Still, I had to finish this cake; I’d already tweeted about it!
As quickly as I can, I gather the tools I needed, which was not easy. Apparently a drawer labeled knives, actually should have spatulas in it. Not helpful! (There is a re-organization day in store for the kitchen, believe me!) Once I had what I needed I was able to begin washing the strawberries. I looked at the clock. Where did 25 minutes go?! Did I mention I was having to stop and say hello to everyone that passed by the kitchen window. I actually enjoyed each greeting, but it was killing my momentum. I had strawberries to slice, icing to finish, a cake to cut in half and ice, and then make it look pretty with the strawberries. I had less than 30 minutes!
Slicing is not something I am quick at. I would get laughed off Next Food Network Star, as if I could even qualify! Still, I sliced on. As the minutes passed, my spirits were rising as I was surrounded by and included in the joyful atmosphere in the kitchen. As hectic as things were for everyone, spending that time laughing, sharing, and preparing to serve, was soul fuel. I needed a refill.
Tick-tick-tick….15 minutes left and I still had to finish icing and layer the cake and strawberries. Just as I was finishing the first layer, the hubs brought me a gift we had been given. A very talented and thoughtful member who happens to be an artist, had captured our precious Micah in pencil. She had taken one of Micah’s 11 month “watch me grow” photos and drawn him perfectly. I was blown away, and so grateful. My soul meter filled up some more.
By the time I layered the last strawberry on the cake, it was 11am.
The service had started 10 minutes earlier. I wasn’t worried. Announcements and opening hymn were all I would miss. However, as I slid the cake into the fridge to let it set for at least an hour, I noticed that there was still work being done to prepare the feast. I was torn. I knew I was expected in service, by more than just God and the pastor (aka the hubs), but also by members who like to see the pastor’s wife. I wanted to worship, but I also felt compelled to stay and help in the kitchen. I took a few moments and breathed a short prayer. God answered by giving me peace, and I knew that the by helping prepare and serve in the kitchen, I was worshiping as God desired that morning. By the time the last enchilada was served, to well over 100 people, I was already tired, but my soul was soaring.
God was honoring my decision to choose Him over myself. I was able to see joy shining in so many faces, and I felt a sense of hope I hadn’t yet experienced at this church. The day wasn’t done yet.
The hubs and I were the last two to leave after lunch and the auction, which raised almost $2000! We managed a brief nap on the couch with golf droning on the tv, and were back at the church less than an hour later. God showed up again. We had a wonderful, almost 2 1/2 hr council meeting, and I think everyone felt encouraged and hopeful about the ministry being done. It was the first council meeting I had felt hope at. God was moving.
The evening commenced with our Lenten small group meeting, minutes after the council meeting concluded. I had time to go to the bathroom! This group has been such a blessing. Each time I leave feeling a sense of family and belonging that has been hard to come by since our move here. While our discussion centered on the brokenness in our lives, the sharing and lifting up of one another’s burdens is proof of why God calls us to fellowship. We need each other. God works through each of us to help bring healing and wholeness to the hopeless. The hour together flew by far too fast, but it was enough. As weary as I was, my spirit level had not been higher.
I began the day wanting nothing to do with hope. I wanted to crawl under the covers and vanish; not wanting to give of myself or need others. The simple act of getting up, despite how I felt, and choosing to seek God, was enough to turn my whole day around. Instead of emptiness, I found wholeness. Instead of sorrow, I found joy. Instead of despair, I found hope. Hope is something I have been sorely lacking. By choosing to allow God in, letting Him work, my soul was filled to the brim, with hope. That is enough for today.
How is God trying to bring hope in to your life? Are you letting Him?
Here is one small way God brought joy and hope into my life…
I HOPE to see you for Day 18.