It was the first time in over five years of writing that I missed an entire month. No post for over thirty days. My journal bears the same stigma - entry dates are August 31 followed by October 2. I hope to never again repeat this.
But Frank and I were able to go to England!! (Please insert here large quantities of joyful shouting and some serious jumping up and down.) It had been seven years since our last pilgrimage to Great Britain and we were thrilled to finally go back.
Fourteen days visiting the U.K. would have been wonderful enough but we also went for a purpose greater than tourism. Frank and I were invited to preach for several churches and even a women's conference. It was brilliant!
Our dear friends, the Parsons, served as hosts and organized the speaking itinerary. The women's conference was the catalyst for our trip. But because we've ministered there four times over the past 18 years, we were given the fantastic invitation to preach for several other groups/churches, as well.
Of course, there's never really a quiet season here at our wonderful home church. So our original plan was to fly out following Sunday services. Which also followed the beautiful wedding (on Saturday) of a couple whose parents serve as board members. This was all planned.
But then we lost a dear friend just days before the wedding. Her memorial service took place Friday morning before the wedding rehearsal Friday evening. Joyce was one of our founding members; my close personal friend. Her unexpected home-going surprised us all but her Godly life was easy to celebrate.
I was incredibly thankful for the amazing people all around us. Wedding plans had been set well in advance and our part in the ceremony was all printed and waiting in a stately-looking folder the week before. Kristin and Meagan volunteered two hours to help me plan my clothes for speaking and touring the Monday before departure. Joyce Demo's team of marvelous workers covered every detail of the funeral meal for over 100 people. John, Joy, Cody and Nathan all stepped into various roles from preaching to tech to photography to singing in order to make things run smoothly.
By the time Frank and I actually boarded the plane Sunday evening, we were exhausted but confident we had left the church in good hands. He sent one final text as the engines whined and our phones stayed in airplane mode for the next two weeks.
We saw the English Channel for the first time. (I'll write about that experience on another day. It was a God-moment for sure.) We visited Exeter, the hometown of our host. We spent three days in the beautiful, wild region known as Cornwall. (Those of you who watch British programs on PBS would recognize the names Poldark and Doc Martin both shows filmed in that region.)
Then it was on to Stoke-on-Trent for ministry times in several different locations over the following days. Frank and I aren't the typical tourists. We prefer long walks, fish and chips, hot tea, Yorkshire pudding, watching sunsets in the garden and just experiencing local life that many miss. Our friends know this about us, so they planned accordingly.
We came home with bags full of happy memories. Acquaintances renewed. New friendships formed. One lady gave her heart to Christ on Sunday morning following Frank's sermon. She came to the altar bedraggled and weary; her story was one of betrayal, abuse and alcoholism. When she returned that night and the next week for the conference, she looked like a totally different individual. We were dumb-struck by how beautiful the transformation was. (Please keep praying with us for this dear soul as she begins her walk with Christ.)
Shortly after we returned to Winter Haven, I flew to Tennessee to speak for another women's conference being held in Pigeon Forge. My lifetime friend, Brenda, was able to join me for part of that event. I came home with my sides aching from the wonderful tears and laughter shared with over one hundred pastor's wives. Such an honor, believe me!
Needless to say, I'll have many stories to share with you in the days ahead. Thank you for continuing to check in here even though new material was absent. And thank you for coming back today.
I sat down to write this afternoon and to be perfectly honest, I was flooded with feelings of shame because of being absent so long. The thought came, "You don't really have anything useful to say. Why bother writing at all?" Sometimes negative thoughts are so articulate and loud.
But then I glanced up to see the statement made by my sweet little Mama just days before her home-going. (One of the girls here copied and framed it.)
"With the help of the Lord, I Will!"
So, with the help of the Lord, I just started typing. Joyce Meyer has a great quote that I rehearse often, "Never let your yesterday determine your tomorrow!" Why would I miss out on sharing with you the wonders we experienced during September just because the blog won't have a September date?
One generation telling the next of God's goodness is NOT time sensitive! Aren't you glad?!
Don't be robbed of doing what you set out to do, dear friend. It may seem late by your estimation, but it may also be right on time by Heaven's! Hugs to you ALL and a warm "Cheerio!"