Playdates: Empty to Fill

He didn’t want to wear the tie and in the middle of our getting ready my father-in-law called to ask about a computer cable and I started wondering: do any other pastors have to iron the shirts of their liturgists? Suddenly it all seemed hilariously impossible that I could do this thing.
That’s how I knew God was there.
So I slowed down and looked him in the eye and I said it.
“I’ll only have one first sermon, sweetie. I’ll remember this for the rest of my life. I’m so glad you are helping me.”
I watched that settle in to him and we put the tie in my purse so his dad could help with it—he was already at the church practicing with the praise band—and we made it there with ten minutes to spare.
God was there and so many of the people that I love were all under one roof and staring out into a sea of love from the pulpit may just be the most humbling experience I’ve ever had. I only got choked up once and that was because I saw Iva Dean sitting out there among those people. I remembered how, as a young mother, I used to sit right in front of she and George—in the back, close to the side doors…just in case they needed me to slip out and get my fussy baby from the nursery. It happened a few times. I used to come in these doors early, before most, and go back to the nursery and nurse him to sleep. Then I would slip into the sanctuary with a heart of gratitude as the first hymn was being sung. It was before the second child, before Jeff was saved, before so much. One of those mornings, I slipped in and stood with the rest of the congregation…singing. That’s when I felt Iva Dean’s gentle hands on me. Apparently, when I had put myself together after the nursing, I didn’t realize the entire interfacing was still hanging out the back of my dress. Iva Dean quietly tucked it back in for me.
I was embarrassed and appalled, of course, but as I stood up there on that pulpit that memory flooded back and I realized just how much these people have seen my stuff hanging out. I wanted to tell that story, but somehow it didn’t seem appropriate, and now George is battling Alzheimer’s and there has been so much water under the bridge.
So I just prayed with them, that they wouldn’t see me or any of my stuff. That they would just hear the Word and it would work its power. And I tried to be the gift.
I think it worked, God got me through, and except for leaving out the meet and greet in the second service, it went smoothly. I was proud of my boy in the tie and there were shining faces afterward.
God is good.
And later that night, we took the boys to their grandparents so we could have a night alone. Jeff’s dad needed help with that computer cable and Jeffrey forgot his contact lenses, so I drove alone back to the house to pick them up. On the way back I felt a pull to drive by the church—forgo the highway and take the old way. When I drew near that little A-frame I saw that there were hundreds of Starlings on the lawn.
And as I passed by they all took wing and soared into the sky. The tears came then and I felt my spirit lift and soar with them…such a strange sense of free.
How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. And come tell us about it.
Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:


Sharing with L.L. Barkat today also: 

On In Around button

And with Lindsay for Messy Mondays.


  1. says

    Yes, God was there, before, during, and after. I love how you drove back by the church and saw the Starlings instead of hurrying on the highway. So interesting how something forgotten can actually be a gift. A hug to you for your part in the work of God!

  2. says

    “a strange sense of free”–it always brings tears when we feel the freedom of Christ to our bones–when we live as bond-servants but we are NOT chained. We take flight in freedom, true freedom, as servants of the Most High–and it is a beautiful gift.

  3. says

    Why is this making me cry? I don’t know; maybe it’s the beauty of seeing God use you as His gift. In your lesson Sunday. Today on Monday. Tomorrow on Tuesday… on and on the gifts keep coming. May He continue to bless you as you bless us, Laura.

  4. says

    Dear Laura,
    Praise God that He worked through you! Praise Him for His faithfulness! If He calls you to it, He will see you through it! You are the gift because you have given back to Him the gift of a consecrated life.
    Love in Him,

  5. says

    An amazing post. I could “see” the daily happenings with such clarity. I love how God sealed your day with starlings–after all, if God cares about them, how much more He cares about you!

  6. says

    First, that’s an amazing picture, Laura.

    And second, I’m not sure why this made me want to cry. Or why it made me so wistful. Maybe because I never had a church home long enough for people to see my stuff hanging out. That it seems like I’ve always helped tuck others’ stuff back.

    Or maybe it’s just because I wish I’d been there in one of those pews. 🙂

    What a gift you are.

  7. says

    This one brought back memories, Laura. Thanks so much for writing so poignantly about this once-in-a-lifetime experience. “Be the gift” is right – so glad you could make the leap – and rejoicing with you at how beautifully you were caught.

  8. says

    It is thrilling when you know God is speaking through you and touching hearts of those who listen. May you have other times to share and this may not be your first and ONLY sermon after all.

  9. says

    So glad to know that all went well. Lovely, lovely photo.

    You’ve been in my prayers, lovely Laura. I’m so thankful to have you for a friend. So thankful to God for his many blessings and mercies for each of us!

  10. says

    You are such a beautiful girl. You warm my heart with this. I am happy for you… and I know God is smiling… wish I could have been there to add to the sea of love. I would have been the one ‘rippling’ with excitement and ‘waving’ at you! =)

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