I'm so grateful for those of you who choose to read Embrace the Grace!
I'm well aware that I deserve NO loyal readership whatsoever with my slackness of the past few weeks!
I'm glad you stopped by, just the same!
That being said, let me give you a couple of quick updates that will better describe the days since our return from Israel.
First off, Madison Ryleigh apparently loves the sounds of excitement she hears and has decided that she wants to be here NOW to enjoy life with us. Unfortunately, she has another seven weeks until her due date!
As soon as we returned, we became aware that Madi will surely be like her mom.
Meagan started trying to make her appearance when I was only five months pregnant. After a couple of hospital stays, I was put on complete bed rest for the last six weeks. I was only allowed to stand and walk to the living room couch, the bathroom, or the shower for three minutes - which Frank timed diligently.
Meagan has had to stop working. (Teachers find it almost impossible to instruct students while sitting.) And now Nathan holds the timer; keeping up with contractions to determine if they need to go back to the hospital.
The entire family is pretty focused on keeping Madison "in the oven" for at least three more weeks. We would appreciate your prayers for them both.
Joy is doing well with her pregnancy. Although keeping up with Spencer, Abby and Noah most days leaves her ready for a back rub almost every evening! Zach is not due until mid-July. "Noni, it's Zah-ka-why-ah!" Abby loves her little brother's name and corrects me as often as her mother will allow!
Speaking of Mother's Day (did you like that segue?) Joy brought the sermon for our Mother's Day services! We were so very proud of how she listened for what the Lord wanted to say. And I've heard it was a powerful message of encouragement for both the women and the men.
"You've heard?! Weren't you there?"
Actually, no I wasn't.
I had flown to Concord, NC to speak for the Mother's Day brunch held by First Assembly on Saturday. Then I was also scheduled to speak for their services on Sunday. You can actually click on this link and listen to the sermon I gave if you'd like. It starts at about 40 minutes into the service. http://cfachurch.com/media.html
The time in Concord was great fun. Their women's pastor is a dear friend from college years and beyond. I've spoken there before and know many of the ladies. Their pastor and his wife have preached at our church. And special bonus - time with my sister who lives near there!
Did I mention that we also hosted my dad and his new wife, Christeen, for a few days after returning? Yeah, we did that too. Of course, it was nice having them and getting to know Christeen, who truly is a sweet lady.
And that our church offices are still crammed into the church kitchen because we're trying to expand our nurseries with so many babies being born?!
And that Kristin and I leave for Barcelona on Wednesday?
"Did she say Barcelona? As in Spain? As in running of the bulls and flemenco dancing?"
Yes, Barcelona, Spain. We may see a flemenco dancer or two but no bulls, I hope.
Last January, our missionaries asked that I bring a small team of ladies to speak for a conference they were planning for May. I was honored by the invitation but had to chuckle because of the timing. It was scheduled for two weeks after we would return from Israel. No way in the world! Maybe 2016.
I shared the request with Frank who immediately said, "Sheri, you should pray about this! Ask if they can push it later into May."
I had almost no faith that something this amazing would happen right on the heals of our dream trip!
But I asked and they said, "Certainly! End of May works!"
I kept praying and each door I tested seemed to swing open. Wide Open!
Our missions director was certain her husband wouldn't let her go. "Absolutely! You need to go with her! This is an important trip!" was her husband's immediate response.
Cody cleared Kristin to go! And please understand that we were each responsible for raising our budget to make this trip. Missionaries can invite - but they don't have extra funds to cover the cost of the ministry teams they need.
This was actually a ministry trip I had secretly dreamed of taking. The young couple working there are serving as pastors for a rapidly growing international church. The wife and I connected immediately because she grew up near Pensacola and felt just like one of my own girls.
I kept fasting and praying because this was a time I needed a very definite word from the Lord. The decision deadline was rapidly approaching. Everything had to be in place before we left for Israel or we wouldn't be able to go.
And Israel was only three weeks away!
On that Sunday morning, I was in my prayer chair searching for a scripture I wanted to share with a lady in our church. I knew I had seen the passage in Romans and it would be such an encouragement to her, but I couldn't remember exactly where it was.
As I quickly scanned the pages, my eyes fell on the word SPAIN.
I screeched to a halt and read the following, "....I have been longing to see you. I plan to do so when I go to Spain. Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem. When I have completed this....I will go to Spain."
You can not make up this stuff!
I walked (a bit dazed) into the bedroom where Frank was getting ready for church.
"Honey, read this!" I handed the passage to him.
He read it and looked right into my eyes, "I told you you're supposed to go! How much more plainly do you need to see it?"
So, Wednesday we leave for Spain.
I'll get to preach/teach at least seven times in eight days. Kristin will lead worship and teach. Molly (who organized it all) will teach and sing too. We are humbled, excited, overwhelmed. And my clothes are already packed, believe it or not.
Yes, we're dealing with early contractions.
Yes, there are all sorts of changes swirling around.
But God's word continues to serve as a constant for me. And that's probably why He used scripture to confirm this next leg of my journey!
We have a group of twelve ladies who have agreed to go with us by being prayer partners. Would you please consider joining us that way too? We could really use the extra prayer! And the scriptures I shared are found in Romans 15:23-29. Check it out - pretty amazing!