The ladies at West Huntsville recently hosted a “Sweet Hour of Prayer” on a Friday night in September. We focused our prayers on specific souls we are trying to reach for Him and we offered suggestions to each other as to how to present the gospel, encourage faithfulness, and overcome the world in the lives of those we love and want for the Lord (Of course, we really want everyone for the Lord!) Because of the overwhelming enthusiasm and the open communication we shared that evening, we are considering repeating this prayer time; perhaps even twice a year. It was a strengthening time for so many and we all had a typed prayer list upon leaving, so that we could continue taking each other’s needs before His throne. Would you let us know by emailing email@example.com if you would like to see this happen again periodically and, if so, whether you would be close enough to attend?
I’m constantly amazed and humbled by the prayer efforts of my sweet sisterhood. Prayer IS an effort. It takes discipline to talk to the One who always hears, knows the recesses of our hearts, and answers, but does not speak back in 2013 in an audible voice. It takes faith, perseverance and time and it is rewarded a hundred fold by those who invest. It is also rewarded in the lives of those for whom we pray. I am blessed every day by sisters who are praying for me. Just today I got this note from a sister for whom I have great admiration:
“Love you Cindy! I am and have been praying about this. I trust they will change their minds.”
Who wrote it and what’s it about? It doesn’t matter. It’s just a sister letting me know that she’s praying for a needed change. That’s the essence of what we all constantly pray for each other. And change is God’s business. He can do anything and He WILL do anything that is within the realm of His will. And that, sister, is all the change we really want! We need to be on our knees for each other!
Tonight, as I write, our congregation has just enjoyed a big and fun time of fellowship. Speaking with a young mom, who brought her two little girls to this event, she began to describe how the older one likes to pretend that the younger one is a baby and she likes to coddle and pet her and “take care” of her. Now, mind you, the oldest one is only five. This mom said, “It’s pretty sweet to watch one of them taking care of the other.” Don’t you think God thinks that it’s pretty sweet when we, as His children, take one another’s needs to him–when we “take care” of each other in His presence? I do.
And speaking of sisters stepping to the plate for each other…I have been so blessed by some sisters in the past few days. Last Monday I came to notice, through a blessed set of circumstances that I was booked for two ladies days on November 2nd. Talk about a panic! I went into a nail-biting frenzy immediately when I realized that I had been corresponding with two different churches about the same day, all the while thinking that all the correspondence was from only one church. Somehow, one of the churches, having been scheduled for the first Saturday in November of 2014, had accidentally jumped tracks to planning for THIS November 2nd…and I failed to notice! When a friend of mine in Missouri wanted to attend, she began noticing that my website was saying a different congregation than was my facebook page. I am very grateful for this sister, who started asking questions on facebook that alerted me to this. (You know I could have been up somewhere speaking when my cell phone started ringing from the other location!)
So I began to call my sisters. I wanted to at least offer this lady in Tennessee an alternative speaker when I called to tell her I could not come. Celine Sparks (bless her!) said “Well, it’s our ladies retreat, but since I’m not speaking, I will do it, if you can’t find someone else. But I do really hope you can, because I want to go be with our own Mastin Lake ladies. What about Hannah?”
Hannah Giselbach (bless her, too!) said “Oh, I wish I could, Mom, but I am already speaking in Kentucky that weekend. What about Sami?”
And sweet Sami Nicholas (bless her most of all!), who was already in Jacksonville helping with our Dad at the time, said “Well, they will likely have an alternate plan themselves, but if they want me to come do it, then I can cancel my other plans and I will do it. I really am passionate about that topic and it will be good for me.”
It’s just an over-the-top blessing that I have such encouragers in my physical family, who are also my sisters in the Lord. But the woman who encouraged me the most is my sister in the Lord that I have never met. Lori Backer, who had planned this ladies day for these many months, responded this way when she learned that I would not be coming to her congregation until next year:
“Cindy, I love you. I look forward to you coming, so very much! Many times I’ve wished I could attend Polishing the Pulpit just to hear all of you, wonderful women of God that not only assist your husbands in the ministry, but shine so strongly Jesus Christ in YOU. What ever is decided there is never any regret, only love. I apologize for the confusion- it is my error, and I pray you don’t fret over it any longer. I’m so sorry for your fathers health problems and will keep him in my prayers as well as the family.”
She could have been livid with me for not catching this error that was as much mine as hers. She could have canceled the whole thing and walked away from a difficult job that doesn’t pay any dividends in dollars. She could have. But she responded with encouragement, kindness, and love. Over and over again, I am blessed by the warm blanket of fellowship that God has given us for our comfort on this often cold and unfeeling sojourn toward heaven. My sisters are the refuge that people outside of Him simply do not have. I praise Him for all of you.
If you are in the Maury City, Tennessee area this coming Saturday, November 1st, we will be studying “Let the Beauty of Jesus be Seen in Me” at the Maury City Church of Christ. But, especially, if you are in the Paris, Tennessee area this Saturday, hear Sami Nicholas speak about “Jumping In With Both Feet” at the Eastwood Church of Christ. You will hear God speak through a passionate and good heart.