All day, the boys worked on building this table.
And the girls worked on cooking the food.
We brought out the good plates and forks and knives were a must.
I looked up "100 Table Manners You Should Know".
The boys escorted the girls to dinner, lining up like a little prom, arm in arm. That was a feat not taken lightly considering the scowls of the boys and the giggles of the girls.
They pulled out chairs, pushed them in, stood up when the girls left the table.
There were no elbows on the table, no insulting or fighting, and I even had opera and classical music in the background for good measure. It was just good fun, and our fair share of laughter, with their sisters and brothers and lessons learned to tuck away in their pocket for another time.
But, tonight's topic had me running a little scared. God's Biblical plan for sex in marriage. Love the topic...just don't want to be the one giving the talk. Thank goodness we had guest speakers to take over for us, and it was pretty unbelievable!
Dean and Nanama are friends of John and Stacy's from their YYAM days, and they are amazing. Their wells run deep and we have been so blessed to have them spill over on us these past couple of days.
Tonight, Dean started to speak and he got all the way to his first point (which was all about respect for one another in relationship)...and God stopped him. He felt like God was calling out one, if not two, women who had been disrespected by men in their life, taken advantage of and hurt. And when a couple ladies stepped forward, God began to shake the room as Dean got down on his knees and apologized to them on behalf of the ones who had hurt them in their past...as the men in the room began to speak affirmation over these daughters of our King...as tears rolled down when truth was spoken. It was so powerful, and I knew God was doing something we didn't plan for, but was so sweet. There was this sense that something was being restored to its rightful place within them.
And then, Nanama got up and began to speak from the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, desiring the living water, the deeper things of God, to satisfy the places in her that Dean could never satisfy, that friends could never reach, that any thing or addiction could never replace...
Just that living water.
That deep desire for a filling that fills every part of me. Down deep. In the lonely places that aren't often shared.
It was so good and rich and deep. I felt like I was receiving a fresh drink, something I have longed for for quite some time. Thirst quenching.
And then, we stood hand in hand as we talked about creating a culture of affirmation, a culture where we are not easily offended. And we looked at one another and began to speak and affirm those things of God in each other and the room filled with with voices and laughter and smiles and beauty.
And when Dean paused the next moment, it was as if the room took a breathe to prepare for the next move of God. Men were called forward, any man who felt that they had disrespected a woman in any way. They came forward in their numbers and as Nanama began to speak over them, there was this sense that God saw their hearts broken before Him. They were broken so He could heal.
The cries that filled the space of that room, to see these men, these boys, with tears roll down their faces...to weep for the fatherless...to kneel in conviction...to cry out for the many that will not experience the love of a father...to mourn their own places of sin, the moment can't be shared adequately with words. The air was thick with His presence. Tonight brought freedom. It brought freedom not just in them, but I believe chains were loosed tonight for many in our community, in our country, in our world.
As I stood with Miriah tonight after everything, she just asked, "Has it been like this every night?"
My answer is yes.
God is moving. He is setting free. He is loosing chains. He is making covenants. He is changing hearts.
And perhaps it's not just for these 12, but it's also for me.