Over the past week I have been fortunate to witness a couple very significant events. One being the 25th wedding anniversary of Joe & Nancy. The other, the funeral of Mr. Rich.
Both brought me back into the presence of people from my past- the Praise Fellowship crew! I doubt that I can fully relay what it was like to grow up with a place like Praise Fellowship Church (PFC) in my life. But for the time being, let's just say this group is like an extra appendage on my family tree. I have yet to find something quite like it.
It was such an honor to witness these events, though much emotion came along with them. All in all, they both molded my heart into a more grateful one.
At both of these events I watched men and women stand before a microphone to speak about more than anything this world contains. Instead of simply praising the couple for staying together or mourning the loss of a great man, they gave all glory to God & placed Him first even though this was about particular people.
Even though all the focus could have been on them, they could not help but point it all back to Jesus and humbly say, "How Great Thou Art."
I was especially impacted to hear the friends of Joe & Nancy speak. They told stories, but at one point somebody started to prophesy over their lives. In that moment the presence of the Lord seemed to coagulate through the entire room. My eyes widened at the experience of seeing people of my parents' generation still practicing the manifest presence of God in their friendships. I had always been afraid that that sort of charismatic culture would dwindle away from my life after college, but observing that gave me hope. It was a reminder that those things only disappear if I choose not to practice them regularly.
At the wake and memorial service, I reflected back on how I remember Rich as a kid. He was a pretty quiet, yet joyful man. Though I did not know him to the same capacity as others, the impact he had on my life is more tremendous than even I anticipated!
It is amazing what one person's life does for so many others.
I am not sure how else to pull all of this together except by saying: thank you.
To Mary and Rich, Joe and Nancy, Cindy and Gary, Kim and Denny, Don and Ginny, Kelly, Tim, Sarah, Angela, and all the rest of my Praise Fellowship family:
Thank you for choosing the Lord Jesus Christ first.
For raising your children to love and serve Him first.
For treating your spiritual family like they truly are family.
And for just showing up and being present in my life.
Being raised in an environment where I was surrounded by people, of course including my parents, who seek to be like Christ really set the foundation for my life.
We didn't even need to be inside the church for God's presence to be relayed through your character.
I am so all-around healthy today because great people trained me up and walked me through my childhood. And I will never, ever, part from it.
I love you all so very, very much.
To anyone else reading this, all I can say is: live for Jesus. It's the only thing that makes a real difference.