Let's put this in perspective...

I have been on a Sabbatical for the whole month of July...well...technically I was supposed to be.  We took a week to go out of town and play and rest…See feet/selfie to the right.

The rest of the time has been a stay cation.  Now, as I understand a stay cation is supposed to be a vacation that you spend at home...relaxing, reading, maybe doing a few projects around the house…you get the picture.

 However, as a minister's wife in a relatively small (around 19,000) town, a stay cation doesn't quite work the way I had envisioned.  As it turns out;  everyone knows where you live, knows you are home and knows you are available if needed.   I will say that our church family was wonderful in honoring our sabbatical and other than a couple of emergencies, most left us to ourselves, to relax and restore.  I think my biggest problem was...well...ME!  Being home it was hard not to think in terms of what needed to be done...get those women signed up for the Women of Faith Conference, work on the nursery volunteer list and make sure the nursery was staffed during the month of July...and then there was my Tuesday morning Bible study group which I still led of course since I was in town, after all. And of course...there was the house.  It is incredibly hard to truly relax and read for hours when there is housework to be done!  Vacuuming and laundry and dishes...not that I actually got a lot of housework accomplished...just the guilt of knowing it needed to be done seemed to block my ability to enjoy myself.  I was, indeed,  my own worst enemy.

There is one thing that happened  to put so much of this in incredibly sad and yet amazingly wonderful occurrence.  My friend, Joni, unexpectantly went home to be with the Lord.  Joni is the reason I even had a summer bible study to begin with.  Normally,  we just take a break for the summer with our women's bible study groups.  She really wanted to be in a study group because she felt she would learn more than if she just read the bible and studied on her own.  She was so hungry to learn more about God and His word that she didn't want to wait until we started back in the fall to begin.  How could I say no to that?  So I found the NIV Bible in 90 Days.  It sounded perfect...we would follow a reading plan to read through the entire bible in 90 days, while meeting weekly for discussion.

My beautiful friend, are missed by so many!

Joni loved this study and her enthusiasm for the Word was contagious to the whole group!  She had shared with us that for years she went to church and did volunteer work and church work and thought that was what made her a Christian.  In her pursuit of God, she had also tried so many things that were not at all what someone would think of as "Christian", even being a wiccan for a time. Joni's approach to this search for God, as her approach to life, was one of over the top, infectious enthusiasm.  However, she shared that only in the past year or so had she really been a Christian...that she discovered the work was already done...not anything she did, but what Christ had done in dying on the cross to take her sins away, and to restore her relationship to God.  Since then she has been hungry to know Him more, to grow in her relationship with Him. She finally knew that being a christian was about relationship and not religion.  Now she didn't want to waste any more time!!  She hated missing even one week of Bible study...and then the unexpected happened.

It didn't make much sense;  I mean she was on dialysis. She  had recently gotten home from the hospital from an infection and then went in for one more day of dialysis, which seemed to tire her more than usual.  She went home, went to bed and never woke up.  Wow! How can you explain that?  Finally she has found her path to God...she is on a good path in her journey.  Her family is all the world to her, besides her new found relationship with Christ and she loves her church...even her health problems appeared to be manageable. So why would this happen?

 I'm not sure we will ever truly know this side of heaven. I like to think that Joni's desire to know the Lord was so strong that He just took her on home rather than have her endure the pain and trials she had yet to suffer in her time with her illness on this earth. But, really...I just don't know.  One thing I do know..Joni is now with the Lord!!  No more canes, no more dialysis, no more tears!  All her questions can now be answered by the King of kings and Lord of lords!!  She is now among the great cloud of witnesses waiting for her friends and loved ones to join her in due time. Let's not disappoint her!!!

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