When I think of the ways in which Keith and I are richest, there isn't anything monetary to point to. No nest egg, no Swiss bank account, no valuable real estate. We live not by sight, but by faith that God will keep providing for us, and this almost always happens through his faithful children. Our richest gain in this life, apart from Christ, each other, and our family, is our amazing friends. When I say that we have good friends, it is a vast understatement. Our friends are the kind that: let us live with them for 6 weeks, collect clothing, shoes, homeschool books, and various other needed items for us, help us in thinking through key aspects of parenting, ministry, and marriage, give generously to us of all they have, pray for us, walk through the hardest parts of life with us, rejoice with us when there are times of celebration, come to visit us in our new country and bring us goodies, make time for us in their already packed lives, love our children like family....perhaps you are starting to get the picture?
I love the verse in Proverbs 27:10:
Do not forsake your friend and your father's friend,
and do not go to your brother's house in the day of your calamity.
Better is a neighbor who is near
than a brother who is far away.
In most Bible versions, the word "neighbor" reads as "friend." And for us, it has almost always been our friends who are near, since we have moved around so much and not been near family. God has ordained that for us, and in the absence of family over the years, God has given us the rich gift of deep friendship. This past week and in the week to come, we have the privilege of staying with friends, meeting friends for meals, sharing our lives and hearing about theirs, hugging, reminiscing, and laughing together. Friday night we spent the evening at Kevin and Becca Deming's home in Holly Springs, NC. Becca was my college roommate and matron of honor. Kevin was also our college friend and has been serving as a youth pastor for about 20 years. They are amazing! We laughed, cried, listened, and spoke of the goodness of God together. They are partnering with us in our mission to Nassau, even though they aren't in the Sovereign Grace family of churches. They showered us with gifts and love during our stay and we are forever grateful. They hope to return to Nassau to visit us (they were just there on a mission trip in June) within the next 2 years or so. This time, they (hopefully) will bring their boys! God is so good to us, giving us friends who love in thought, deed, and action. This weekend, Saturday and Sunday, we are at CROSSWAY CHURCH in Lancaster and are staying with the Randy and Tina Wenger, and Dan and Julie Garner are here at the house with us as well, doing a family sleep-over so we can enjoy extended times together. Tina and Randy were our care group leaders upon first moving to Lancaster and quickly became close friends. Dan and Julie go WAY back with us and have been through so much with us, as well as being responsible for our move to Lancaster. Our children love being here, as it is the last "home" they think of from our time living in Lancaster. Last night, Quay and Shannon Hanna and their kiddos came to visit, and we had a wonderful time of reconnecting. Shannon has been collecting shoes, handbags, jewelry and gifted the girls and I with all of it last night. What a blessing she is to me! This morning we get to worship at Crossway Church for the first time in over a year...and in the NEW BUILDING! Keith will lead worship and we will get to reconnect with all of our sending church. We go with full hearts, aware that our riches are the people who love us, surround us, and keep us always on their hearts and lifted up in prayer!
|The Demings and the Buntings...friends |