Monday, August 3, 2009

Blessed Be the Tie that Binds

Last week, we were incredibly privileged to spend an evening with some of the dearest people in all the world! It was a gathering of former youth group staff and their families, as well as members of our praise band (nearly 70 people!) for a truly special occassion. Our former youth pastor, his wife and their children were home from the mission field in Ireland!

Pastor Mark (affectionately known as "PM"), Andrea and their children left for Ireland a little over two years ago. Although several friends have made the trip to Ireland to visit them, we weren't expecting to see their family here in the states for several years when they would be on furlough.

PM and Andrea had a thriving youth mininistry in our church. God used his incredible gifts of teaching and worship to influence scores of teens over the years. Andrea is one of the most supportive and loving ministry wives I've ever known. She too has such a heart for others, teens and adults amazing encourager. When she hugs you, you have been hugged! (Do you know what I mean?) They are both so well loved by so many.

Tom and I were absolutely privileged to be a part of youth staff for several years, and we wouldn't trade those years for anything. The insight it gave into PM's heart was incredible. When he shared several years ago how the Lord was leading them toward missions, we were thrilled and heartbroken all at once. For more than two years, they made necessary preparations to transition their family into life in Ireland.

God began working through them almost immediately in a number of ways. Though "ministry" there looks entirely different than ministry here, they are more convinced than ever they are exactly where God wants them. Their school age children have adjusted beautifully. Both PM and Andrea say there is no place they'd rather be serving.

PM sharing some stories about how God is moving in Ireland.

Andrea, Baby Kate and Aisling. Would you believe this beautiful girl is from their college cell group in Ireland?! Aisling is an absolute delight. She knew that PM and Andrea were planning a trip home. She didn't tell them she too was preparing for her own visit to "the states" and instead surprised them by being there that night, as well! Amazing!

The joy and laughter that filled the air was unforgettable. (We didn't want to leave!) The really beautiful thing about that evening? For those few hours, it was as if they had never left. God has knit these hearts together with ties that truly bind.

Rick (soon to be joining PM in ministry with his family in Ireland), PM, former praise band member & friend, Micah, my husband, Tom.

Long time, beloved youth leader, Lori, Brenda (also home for a few weeks from Shanghai where her husband works and where she has a wonderful ministry to women) and Julie (who serves our junior high with her husband)

Jared & Josh -- these two can do just about anything and they were key to PM's ministry with the youth group. They created event videos, ran power point, sound board, you name it. They're both great guys and truly humble servants.

Alex with her parents, long-time, well-loved youth leaders, Janelle & Todd

Two more beloved former youth staff member, Tracy & Steve

After an amazing time of fellowship, PM joined up with two former praise band members (our friend, Dave and our son, Brennan) and played praise music for a couple of hours. It was incredible to be able to worship with him again.

PM & Andrea's precious daughter, Aislinn. We were completely captivated by her during praise & worship. She knew every word!

Another very special couple and the hosts for this wonderful celebration,
Tim & Lori


Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.

We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way;
While each in expectation lives,
And longs to see the day.

From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.


Just a little something from Judy said...

Just think...someday I will get to meet all of these dear people. Think that you and your husband will never have to say good bye to them then. What a lovely party, and what happy looking people. I really enjoyed this post. So thankful for people all over the world sharing God's amazing Love!

skoots1mom said...

what a wonderful time you had happy for you...youth counselors definitely have a 4ever bond with each other and the kids :)

Susan said...

Oh, what a beautiful reunion!!!

What a special couple. I know you all supported them in many ways while they were gone.

What an honor!!

Thanks for sharing this Tracy♥

LauraLee Shaw said...

What a joy, honor and blessing it is to have this peek into your reunion! It is truly a gift of encouragement.

Jennifer said...

Great pictures...isn't it great to be EXACTLY where you know the Lord wants you to be!! How exciting for your friends! Glad you had a wonderful time together:)

Anonymous said...

Just read your comment on another blog and you said it had been raining all day. I just knew you had to be in Kentucky. Drop by my little neck of the woods in Ky.

Genny said...

That is just wonderful! In every single picture, you can just see the joy you all have. Beautiful!

Barbie said...

Absolutely beautiful pictures! The glory of the Lord is evident on all.

LisaShaw said...

What a beautiful group of people and a special time...

The Lord is so good in how he connects us all.

I love you.

Tricia said...

What a blessing that surely was! I love get togethers like that, where it seems like you just saw each other yesterday, where the bonds stay strong no matter how far apart you have been... that is the wonderful thing about being in the family of God, we truly do have a tie that binds...

Blessings on you and your family!

Becky said...

What a wonderful thing...these 'Family' reunions. The warmth, the fellowship, the picking-up-where-you-left-off stuff...all blessings from the Father's hand.

Tea With Tiffany said...

Loved peeking in on the pics you've posted.