What a difference twenty years makes.
Twenty years ago we began attending Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis. It didn't take long to plug into a Sunday school class, making fast friends with other couples who were also trying to decipher how to raise kids. After Sunday school, we sat under the teaching of Dr. Adrian Rogers--truly one of the greatest preachers ever. What a privilege.
By the time number five was on the way, I realized I was in way over my head. I became a regular at the Thursday morning MOMS Bible study with Jean Stockdale. (If you live in Memphis, are a mom, and have never experienced Jean Stockdale, run, don't walk, to hear her.) Week after week, I (along with 200 other young moms) sat in that little chapel where she taught Bible passages coupled with parenting principles. Her powerful prayers, hilarious stories and deep teaching hit the spot.
Twenty years ago, I didn't know what I didn't know. Still, I began to feel something stir inside of me. Motherhood was my life, and gradually I realized that I wanted to do for other moms what Jean had done for me. And God has allowed me to do that. What a privilege.
Last spring Jean went to Italy, (Italy!), to speak to a group of military wives, part of a group called PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel). I watched the whole thing on Facebook, thinking (not praying, mind you, just thinking), "Wow, to go to Italy to speak."
One evening last fall when I got home, there was a message from my friend, Lynn. We became friends during our Vermont years and our kids went to high school together. "Margie, my daughter's husband is stationed in Italy and heard Jean speak last year. She didn't realize you two knew each other!" Pause. I held my breath. "She wondered if you could check your calendar for February, 2016, and see if you could come speak at next year's retreat?"
I exhaled and squealed with enough excitement that my family came running. Whatever is on my calendar is canceled, I thought.
Captain Fun and I just returned from Italy last night. The women of the Naples PWOC welcomed me with open arms (and open hearts). I taught four times, from four different passages and then the Captain and I did a Q&A session. After the retreat was over, we went to Rome to celebrate our upcoming 30th anniversary. I am still pinching myself.
These wonderful women and I laughed, we cried, we prayed, we embraced. We talked motherhood and marriage, friendship and faith.
When I think of that little dream that simmered in my heart for all those years. When I think of sitting under Jean for eight years as she not only taught me truths I didn't even know I needed but also modeled how to teach them to others. When I think of how I couldn't have known back then the doors that God would open. When I think that I have been to Italy (Italy!) to speak. I am in awe. I am grateful. I am amazed.
What a privilege.
"Delight thyself in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." --Psalms 37:4
My new PWOC friends in Naples.