Years ago, when our pastor's mother gave a presentation on Stephen Ministry, I felt called. As this woman described the process of becoming a Stephen Minister and then a Stephen Leader, I knew that God was calling me to follow in her footsteps.
I am so grateful for this woman, her presentation, and that call.
Several prayerful years passed, and I joined a Stephen Minister class with one other student, a woman named Barbara, and an outstanding teacher, our Stephen Leader Karen. Karen and I were already close friends united by many common threads and mutual respect for our differences, but Barbara and I were strangers at the beginning of training. Very quickly, we became wonderfully close, and now Barbara is one of my dearest friends and closest confidantes. She is an incredible treasure in my life!
I am so grateful for Karen and for Barbara.
Several more years passed. Our Stephen Leaders decided to hold a Small Group Peer Supervision Leadership Training Class so we would have more than two SMs qualified to run peer supervision. Linda and I took that class with the excellent Karen teaching us. It was another wonderful growth experience.
I am so grateful for Karen (again!) and for Linda for a rich afternoon of learning.
One day, my sister-in-law Angela and I were talking about Stephen Ministry, and I mentioned how I wanted, eventually, to be a Stephen Leader. She asked what was holding me back, and I told her that the boys were still too young to be left alone for an entire week while George worked. She immediately offered to watch the boys while I went to the training in Pittsburgh. I hated to impose, but she got downright pushy about it. "Give me the dates."
I am so grateful to Angela for giving me the freedom to go earlier than I ever expected.
After Angela's offer, I approached our other Stephen Leader, Zandra, and told her that I was interested in attending the Pittsburgh course in August. Zandra enthusiastically approached the church leadership, asking for the funding to pay for my attendance. The church said yes.
I am so grateful to Zandra for supporting me and to First United Methodist Church of Springboro for making the money available.
At the last SM meeting before my training class, the group gave me an enormous basket of goodies to take with me. Hand warmers (for the cold conference hall), pens, pencils, post-its, notebooks, a book on prayer, hand sanitizer, snacks, book marks, a key ring, a pin, and--best of all--a stack of cards from all the SMs for me to open during my week in Pittsburgh.
I am so grateful to my SM group for their encouragement and support.
Tomorrow, I leave for Pittsburgh in an adorable red VW Beetle...my rental as my own car is repaired. As silly as it sounds, I cannot express how totally cool and unexpected that little car is!
I am so grateful to Enterprise for running out of four-door sedans.
Finally, my immediate family has put up with my absence for SM training, for regular twice-monthly meetings that sometimes run late, and for emergency phone calls and meetings relating to Stephen Ministry. While this coming week's absence has been turned into a fun vacation by Angela and her husband Mike, my husband and children will be without me, and I will be without them.
I am so grateful for George, Nick, and Jack in their support of my time spent in God's service elsewhere.
The road leading to Pittsburgh as been long and blessed and wonderful and challenging, and there's just no better way to begin than to acknowledge with deepest gratitude all those who have made it possible for me to serve God whole-heartedly through this amazing ministry.
I rejoice! My heart overflows with gratitude! Thank you, God, for these many blessings!
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18