Nine years ago I went thru the biggest scare of my life. I suffered symptoms unique to ALS with a life expectancy of 3-5 years. Thankfully, those symptoms were due to Neurological Lyme Disease, and with an exhaustive oral/intravenous antibiotic protocol, and the grace of God, I was restored to health. Cue the shouting from the rooftop!
Two days ago I turned 39! THIRTY NINE. A number certain to scare the average pre-middle aged woman. I, however, planned a day of celebration.
My friend Michelle and I took our daughters to the Witness Festival in Quarryville, PA. The lineup included Unspoken, Selah, Meredith Andrews, Vertical Church Band, Francesca Battistelli and Kutless. I couldn't have been more excited about this because both Mere and Franny have been sweet influences in my Kylee's life and are considered extended family in our home. To have them together at the same event made us giddy.
We joined the crowd, on our blankets, in the festival atmosphere of shoulder to shoulder, muddy toed- selfie taking- folks and made memories. The girls spent our money on merchandise and concessions all in the name of the "girls weekend" and we happily obliged every purchase.
Mere took the stage for sound check and Kylee yelled her name more times than she should have... I didn't stop her. I love that she adores her and sings her music when she is getting ready in the morning. The same holds true for Franny. I love that my daughter does not look up to Disney personalities but to authentic, bible believing, women of God that serve Him first, then family, then the body of Christ. I love that in moments of hardship my daughter can recite lyrics that remind her that we serve a "Strong God" and that "Not For A Moment" will He forsake us. And that when she faces mean girls or criticism for her faith she can sing the chorus of "Unusual" (I call you Brave, unique and set apart. A masterpiece, a work of art. Living out what you believe. Being who you're made to be. I love to see the way that you are so unusual ) and know that she was created in His image and needn't fear man.
At one point in the sound check the girls saw Mere pull out her phone. Seconds later I saw a message come across from her for our girls. It read, "Yeah, hey!!! I see y'all!!! ;-)" You could have sent the girls home that very moment and their days would have been made. How special she made them feel. What good it did this mama's heart. As usual, the show was fantastic. Vertical Church Band is amazing and the worship is just that- worship. From our lips to God's ears. It's not fancy, no pyro technics, no flashing lights... it's heart felt praise & worship. Written out of a need for God to meet them in their moments of distance, despair, joy, discontent, worry. Written to bless and honor the one that instilled the talent and ability into not only the writers but those listening. Those signing along. Songs that apply to all of us.
After their set we joined the masses in an attempt to chat with the band. When things settled a little we were able to tell VCB what a great set it was and to thank Mere for being so sweet to our girls. We snapped a few pics as well. And then I turned a shade of pink few have encountered as Mere and the band sang Happy Birthday, quite loudly, to me. While I happily acknowledge another god-given year of life... I usually do so person to person and not in the center of a crowd. ;-) Of course the girls thought it was great fun and sang right along.
As if this wasn't enough awesomeness for one day Franny took the stage. She sang many of our favorites. Unusual, This is the Stuff, Let it Go, Write Your Story. Then she explained to everyone that unfortunately she couldn't stay to sign autographs because she had a 14 hour bus ride and a flight out of Nashville in the morning that she had to make. She turned and looked right down at Kylee and said, "But you come find me" and continued with her last song.
I have tears in my eyes just capturing this day in writing. Just when I thought it couldn't get any more special- it did. Our girls were loved on in ways that far exceeded imagination. After the show Franny invited us onto her tour bus with Matt and her children. She allowed the girls to ask questions, take pictures and tell stories. She asked them about school and things they enjoy doing. She let them play with her kiddos and told them different sweet stories. She confirmed what I've known which is that she loves Jesus, loves what He is doing in and thru her and loves those that are encouraged in the Lord via her ministry. She (and Mere) selflessly give of their time, treasures and talents as they invest in youth and the mamas (in this case :) that are raising them.
We were also blessed to spend some time with Becca, Franny's cellist and back up singer, that we met back in April. She is a sweet, dear thing that recently released her own EP full of amazing, Godly music. She is a talented, humble, beautiful young lady that has a huge career ahead of her. We were fortunate to snag both time and pics with her. :-)
Outside of all of this, God also blessed me with friends who graciously supported our "27 tote" campaign allowing us to raise $130 in 12 hours to help local human trafficking victims AND I was notified that I'd won a Father's Day contest and would receive a Bulova Precisionist watch to give to Paul from our kiddos.
My heart is full. My cup truly runneth over. I am blessed beyond comprehension- far above what I deserve- and all I can do is say thank you. To God for blessing me beyond what I could ask or imagine. I am nothing apart from Him and I pray my Kylee would continue to grow in grace and truth, moving from glory to glory, steadfast in her pursuit to know Him more. Thanks to Franny, Mere and VCB for loving on us this weekend and making us feel special. To Michelle and Asli for being part of this girls' weekend. To Kylee for making my everyday something worth celebrating. And to all of you who took time to wish me a happy bday, donate and most importantly walk this walk with me daily!
It really was the best birthday.
|Witness Festival 2014|
|photobombed by VCB :-)|
|VCB still singing Happy Bday in background <3 td="">3>|
|Franny and Eli|
|K's selfie w/Mere|
|The girls :-)|