God's lessons are sometimes too clear NOT to see! Case in point...this past Sunday we enjoyed a presentation at our church called The Light. Appropriately, the entire production was about Jesus being the Light of the World. It contrasted the dark and the light. And then God decided to bring the lesson home for me...literally.
Let me back up a bit...you see, I have been planning a welcome tea for a friend here at FamilyLife. Welcome teas are FL's way of greeting new staff wives. Senior staff wives host a tea in their home and invite other senior staff wives to attend. I have not gotten to host a tea before and it has been quite some time since I have even had friends in for a party. I was looking quite forward to it. I knew my friend Johanna was looking forward to it as well and it was so fun thinking of how nice I could make the tea for her. So I planned and re-planned the menu. I tweaked it and re-tweaked it. I sent out the evite (LOVE LOVE LOVE the evite). I watched dutifully every day as women RSVPd. Forty one women were invited. Twenty two said yes. (Ultimately, 17 showed up) I was excited! If I am going to have people in my home I would just as soon have a lot of women so as to make the work worthwhile!
I set out on Saturday to look for all the perfect paper products (ultimately ended up at WalMart...). I made name tags from Christmas gift tags. I did the grocery shopping. I spent Sunday afternoon and evening baking and preparing as much as I could. (The Lord was already laying His plan.) Got up on Monday and knew I was adding an extra boy to my group. My friend Amy was scheduled to be induced Monday morning and her son was coming to stay. Initially I thought how crazy it was to add a child to my numbers on such a busy day but, again, God was laying His plan because having Tekoa here meant my little boys were happily entertained and bothered me very little all morning. Because of this I jumped in the shower much earlier than usual and had that little detail done early. Once I got Grayson down for the morning nap I was a busy bee doing my final baking. There were cake balls, white sheet cake cut outs, pecan and almond turtles, pesto party sandwiches, cream cheese with pepper jelly dip, and water chestnut appetizers. By lunchtime I had all of my baking done and set about to clean. I tore the family room apart. (literally had to take apart the sectional to clean under and behind it.) I had the vacuum run and the boys were helping me steam the floors with my new Shark steamer from my MIL. THEN...(duh duh duh...ominous music plays)
THE ELECTRICITY WENT OUT! It was 2 in the afternoon on a beautiful sunny day and the lights went out. NO PROBLEM. Plenty of time for the lights to come back on...called to verify. Yes, lights will be back on by 5pm. Great, no problem. I am ready except for making the appetizer that needs to go in the oven...and the coffee and tea. So I continued doing what I could do and didn't panic. But right around 4:30 it began occurring to me...what if it doesn't come back on? What will I do? Shoved those thoughts out of my head. Thankfully, the Lord had planned a gorgeous day for the 7 boys to be outside (well, six...not counting the baby who did not nap because his fan turned off right after he fell asleep). So, the house maintained its clean until they tracked in the mud...but we dealt with that. (mostly by my screaming and yelling and throwing the doors shut and demanding that they NEVER come in my house again....okay, not really...but close.) Keith got home. Now there are seven kids and no dinner to serve. Now the sun is going down and I am panicking. How will I light up my home? How will I fix the appetizer? How will I have coffee? HOW WILL THEY SEE MY PRETTY TREE AND CLEAN HOME IF IT IS DARK? Called the electric company again...no lights until 9pm. Great! That's when the party ends. Keith took the boys to dinner. I fixed the appetizers by oil lamp. I was still in my grubby clothes. I began folding paper bags for luminaries. I needed a way to show people we were home! I began setting out the food and paper ware. I began lighting every candle I own. I called a friend to come fetch the appetizers. I laid out things for coffee and tea still praying the light would return. The honored guest arrived first. Still in my grubbies. She assures me the house looks lovely. Keith is outside lighting the luminaries. I couldn't have survived this without him. He got out our camping lantern and hung it outside for people to see. He waited outside for ladies to arrive. I changed clothes...in the dark. At this point I am thinking...hope the lights stay off...who knows what shape my makeup is in! Slowly the ladies arrive. Giggles. Lots of giggles. We pile in by candlelight. A friend loans more lamps and we nearly fill the place with fumes...cracked the windows. No heat in the house...but the Lord planned a warm day so it hovered in the high 60s in our home. A couple of ladies snuggled under a blanket...more giggles. My Godly friends blessed me with positive attitudes and praises for pulling the event off. (I didn't mention my near crying experience while preparing the food by lamp light.) Each lady blessed our guest with a blessing. We prayed. We talked. We laughed...a lot. Somewhere in there my friend who was induced that day had her baby boy and Tekoa's grandparents fetched him. Keith kept boys quiet upstairs and eventually got them all in bed. By 10pm...or so...the last lady left. And as we were saying our goodbyes...standing in the front yard watching them walk to their cars in the dark...a flicker of light appeared on the street. YOU ARE KIDDING LORD! Nope, He wasn't kidding...there it was...the LIGHT.
SO, where is the lesson in this? Well, I saw it right away because immediately I felt forgotten by God. He knew I wanted this event to be everything Johanna dreamed. Welcome teas are a little like a wedding...you only get one. I had planned and prepared. How could He let this happen? But I also recognized my pride. Lord, how will I make my house look pretty? How can I light my tree or my manger scene? How will they enjoy good coffee or hot tea? How will they see my clean floors or pretty food? How will they be comfortable? I know this about myself. I am prideful when it comes to having people in my home. I enjoy keeping house. I enjoy baking. I enjoy hospitality. These are my talents. Some days it feels as if this is all I have to offer. But God really just wants my heart to be right. Melissa, it isn't all about you. Or your home. It is about your willingness to serve and open your home. It is about Johanna. It is about ME. Sigh. Okay Lord. Have it Your way. This will be memorable....
And so it was! In the midst of the darkness I saw my need for LIGHT. How I missed it filling the room with warmth and sight. I saw my humility...and lack thereof. But the home was filled with great fellowship and laughter. My friends left my home saying that ALL teas should be done by candlelight. It was intimate. And God's light is intimate. It brings us together. It warms us. And I could trace His hand all over the event and the plans and preparations. I highlighted in red all of the things He prepared to have happen in just the right manner so that when the time came...He could turn off the lights and make the event His own. Thank You Lord. I saw You there. Thanks for removing me from the equation. I really do love YOU!
(BTW...the first pics don't do it justice...the flash made it seem bright in there. The pics without the flash...well, they do it justice...it was that dark in there!)