I truly enjoy feeling connected with different corners of the world through this blog!
There is an icon that leads me to the "Stats" page for Embrace the Grace. I click on there two or three times a week. It's a veritable font of information.
The number of people that have read in the last twenty-four hours. The posts chosen most recently. And I especially enjoy clicking the "audience" button. Once there, it shows me the various nations that have logged on in the past week.
Indonesia. Russia. Poland. France. Even China.
One nation stays in the top numbers often and it makes my heart glad.......Ukraine!
You see, Frank and I both try diligently to stay aware of the world around us. We're all connected, no matter what part of the globe we call home. Once you've visited places as distant as India and China, this truth is especially real.
When we read about nations we've ministered in, that place is no longer just a spot on some map. We remember faces and rehearse names of friends we've met there.
Although we've not been privileged to visit Ukraine, we pray often for that region. In fact, I just led our congregation in prayer Sunday for Ukraine, Iran, and West Africa.
Because we follow Christ, it makes us acutely aware of "family members" in all these different places. I may not get to meet them before Heaven. But I do believe that my prayers for them are important.
Late this afternoon, I pondered this while driving home from a hospital visit. Hazel, a precious member of our congregation, had knee surgery yesterday. She's in a good amount of pain. But those blue eyes brightened when I stepped into her room.
I went to pray and comfort her. But as usual, she immediately started sharing words of encouragement with me.
Each nurse had be told that I was her pastor.
"We're blessed with two wonderful pastors at our church," she said enthusiastically. "Actually, four! And oh, they have the most precious grandchildren."
She would briefly educate the newest nurse, then she would turn toward me and croon, "It's true, Baby! We are so blessed and thankful!" Her hand gripped mine and her infectious smile lit the room.
Hazel and Johnny have several children, scores of grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. Their family picture requires a poster! For the few moments of that visit, I knew what her family must feel like every time they come into Hazel's presence.
And driving home it hit me. I am Hazel's family. Just like I'm family with my brothers and sisters in Ukraine, Italy, Latin America, West Africa. That's how it is for Christ followers.
Becoming part of this family is simple - faith in Christ. Then one day, we'll all meet together in Heaven. What a marvelous family reunion that will be! (Don't you wish you had the contract for printing those t-shirts?!)
Until then, we stay aware of one another. We pray when prompted. We cheer and encourage when we can. We believe for the best!
And we remind ourselves that in every corner of this globe, there is a person bearing our family resemblance. A person connected to my heart!
This post is simply me sending a big old Southern "Hi Y'all!" to all my "overseas internet family" who take the time to read. Blessings!!