i am pretty sure i have never sent an invite to over 100 people without some hefty party planning first taking place. i am absolutely positive i have never opened my front door to an unknown number of guests with nothing in the oven, on the buffet, or in the works. nothing. there wasn't a party plate or snazzy napkin to be found. i had no pastry puffs warming or brie cooling. i had nothing. about 5 minutes before our first guest arrived i did ask rick to grab a glass pitcher and fill it with water...just in case. rick and i love to entertain. okay...i love to entertain. rick has learned to love (i.e., tolerate) it. i seriously think it was one of our first major hurdles when we married 20 years ago. i remember our first new year's eve together. i had plans to invite 50, he had plans for two. i remember him just staring at me. looking at me as if i came from another planet. i can still hear the disbelief in his voice when he asked me why in the world i would want to have that many people in our tiny house. i had never thought about it like that. i just did. i always had. we hadn't discussed the topic of entertaining in our pre-marital counseling. and so like any good, newly married woman, i immediately began working on a plan to change his thinking. twenty years later he would tell you i had (for the most part) succeeded. we, just this past christmas, threw a spontaneous bonfire party and invited over 140 people...most of which were children. (we did have a little discussion about the number of invites though...apparently he didn't believe 140 qualified as a "small-ish get together.") but anyway, we opened our home and like with any party, i took great delight in planning every detail right down to the last smore. tonight, however, we had nothing but a pitcher of water sitting on our counter and i know for a fact, this was a first. i was completely fine with it though. i didn't have one second thought...not one doubt, not one hesitation. i didn't feel even the slightest urge to dice an onion or stuff a mushroom. i knew these friends were not coming to sample my dips or pour my wine....these friends were coming to pray.
it was an eclectic mix of our friends. people from different sides of our circle. i didn't worry once about how we would all connect or relate or mingle. we were coming together to talk with our God. we had Him in common and He was the only connection needed. all day i had been feeling sort of strung out. i had only just gotten home the day before from a quick trip to the beach with family. last night the girls and i got to attend the most wonderful baby shower thrown in honor of bella. it was magical. but today i woke to an incredibly long list of items needing my attention. there were amazing presents stacked everywhere...it looked like a pink christmas had come. there were suitcases wide open and waiting for me to command their contents. and of course the overripe beach laundry was still beckoning impatiently for my attention. by 7:30 pm i was thinking bed sounded pretty good to my sleep-needy body, but i had guests arriving. and i was serving only water.
just before people started coming i turned on my computer. there were countless emails and facebook messages from friends all over the world telling us that at 8pm they would be joining with us in prayer. in thailand...in america...at the beach...on a lake...in pennsylvania...in colorado...in ohio...in a minivan. even my sister on an airplane heading for kenya! the list went on. i read message after message from friends and family members letting us know they would be praying right alongside us. it was incredible. such a blessing to read these words. and then our doorbell rang and friends came. i never even had a chance to offer my water. we just headed into the family room and people of all ages and sizes and stages took turns praying over the specific needs of our bella, her adoption and our family. i wish you could have all been there. every last one of you. i don't know where we would have put you....but i wish you could have had just a taste of what we had. the night before sarah, emily and i had opened up over 50 gifts from our sweet friends. that was an incredible and overwhelming and wonderful experience. but tonight to sit with a smattering of friends and pray for bella's heart...to pray over the adoption details, safety, our children, our travels, the logistics. oh friends, i cannot tell you. it was opening up another most magnificent package. this blessing was just as tangible as the precious outfits and toddler toys we held in our hands the night before. peeking into the box i could see treasures untold. hearing the words of our friends lifting up our family, our children, our bella was a thing of great beauty...a thing of great value. this evening will impact our children for years to come. in the midst of this prayer time i thought of our four kids being washed in the words of these prayers. they can't even know right now how this will effect them. but it will. tonight as i was putting sarah elizabeth to bed she prayed again, "dear God, thank you that we have such wonderful families to come to our house and pray with us. thank you that we have people who believe in Jesus in our lives." this gift will not tarnish or spoil or break or get lost. this gift will grow in my children. it will grow in rick and me. it was exactly what was needed on this day of little sleep and long list. adults prayed on and off...but even our children jumped in. i am pretty sure i will always remember connor's prayer, asking God to help bella not scream on the airplane too much...or when she gets home. i sit here tonight energized knowing that in just a few short days we leave for china and we will be ready. we will be ready not because i have an exorbitant amount of energy or strength or an incredibly detailed mind right now. oooh no...far from the case. i have nothing. but tonight we had a family room full of friends kneeling on our behalf before the Father. we had friends around the world in their different corners carving out time to lay our needs before His throne. amazing. and we had a plain pitcher of water on our counter. and it was all more than enough.