Well, just a bunch of things running through my mind at the end of a long monday, but there are some recent experiences that seem like things pastors get to experience (after preaching from Luke 12 yesterday, I'm reminded that God has entrusted me with much and I will therefore answer for much) that make this whole thing worthwhile. They just kinda happen out of the blue - like God says, "I'm gonna shock Mike with some extra blessing today..."
Last Tuesday, I along with some of our pastoral staff visited Miss Pearl, who for the last 17 years has run an inner city (recently named Chicago's most dangerous community - Roseland - 1-3 murders a day!) child care facility. She was a drug addict converted and changed and wanted to give other single moms a chance to go to school, so she said she would watch their kids while they went to school. Her instructions to us as we began the several chores we had come to do.."when you hear gun shots or see people running and hear sirens, just come on back up to the house..we should be o.k. until 11:00 when they start to wake up." I was inspired by her dedication, courage, and devotion to God! I got to experience our staff working and serving Jesus in ways outside of their comfort zone and not in their usual area of service...it was good. I was blessed to see their love for Jesus exhibited in serving.
Last Friday was my youngest son's last day of high school. My wife commented, "I've spent the last 17 years (since my oldest went to kindergarten) getting the boys ready for school, making sure their homework was done, etc... I'll never do that again." Bittersweet. Thank God for this part of the journey completed.
Saturday I married (by that I mean I was the preacher)a young couple that have been coming to our church about a year. Talking with the groom before the ceremony - he went on about how much Eastview has played a role in helping them get closer to Jesus. There is nothing more joyous than for me to hear that! Congratulations Josh and Erin!
Sunday, had the member of our church who is a pilot in Africa (yes that Africa - he's home for 20 days and then flies for a regional jet for about 30 and led his pilot friends through our most recent video all-church study) and had befriended some craftsmen in the local market and told them about Eastview and our ministry. They are wood workers and made a handcrafted box for me and a 4X2 foot wood carving of the Lords' supper. Flown from Africa to Normal...it is way cool.
Sunday, a member had travelled with her husband to some cool historic place. I love history and so they bought me a cool pen commemorating that place. I'm so blessed. They were on vacation and thought of getting me a pen.
Sunday after church, a great couple (that I married a year ago and that met at our church and have been members for a long time and who are moving to Chicago) took me and Sara to lunch afterwards, just to say thanks and a tearful goodbye! They were so gracious by their kind words and I also got that great Biaggi's chicken parmesan (which Dave the co-manager hates me to order because it's not very "gourmet" - how can you mess up chicken with cheese and red sauce - awesome!).
Finally, summer is here and my current experience is trying to talk my wife into letting me turn my hair bleach blonde (the old fashioned way, out of a bottle)! She's not buying. C'mon...give me some love my blog friends...convince my wife that Billy Idol's hair is a good idea for me! It would be one more cool pastor experience before I take a short vacation with some friends to Florida.