We loaded up on Friday in Omaha, crammed as much as we could into our Subaru Forester, including sound equipment, gift packages, bags, suitcases, toys. We left barely enough space for Hope and Alexandra’s booster seats to be situated comfortably next to each other. It was packed to the brim, but we did it. First stop was Grandma and Grandpa’s country retreat center (AKA the Bethany Lutheran Parsonage) outside of Axtell, Nebraska. It’s the beautiful, peaceful setting where I grew up. Whenever Matt and I go there, we sleep deeper than it seems we do anywhere else. Something about the peace and quiet, somebody else tending to our daughters, and the way that I turn back into a carefree child with no worries on my mind gives such good and deep rest. Plus there is a Spiritual presence there that transcends time and space. I felt it when I was growing up, and I feel it now as an adult. I have heard others sense and experience the same thing.
Saturday Matt and I loaded up to head to Cozad for another retreat of sorts. (The girls stayed with Grandma and Grandpa, which was an awesome experience for all). Upon arriving at the hotel, we were greeted with “you must be the ones connected to the church, someone has been here with a gift basket for you.” That was a simple gesture; unexpected gracious hospitality. So waiting in our room was a basket loaded with fruit, goodies, gifts for our girls, and water. I am still pondering the gratitude I still have for that simple act of unexpected kindness.
Sunday morning we drove from Cozad to Eustis, the sun was rising as we drove through the sandhills of the sacred Nebraska plains. Matt and I both grew up in semi-western Nebraska, flat land, beautiful sunsets, lots of stars to see. So needless to say driving through the sandhills during sunrise on a peaceful Sunday morning was a blessed experience of the Presence of God that connects to so many levels of our present day and past history. We arrived at the church, set up in the sanctuary, got everything in order. There was no Pastor present because they are currently sharing a PMA between two congregations. So we led worship, music, did the children’s message, and message reflecting on Epiphany and weaving in the mission theme as well as the work of Table Grace.
People are beautiful everywhere. The Spirit is alive everywhere. Hearing the stories of how people are connected for generations to that congregation, and experiencing how moved they were by the music and the work of a restaurant with no prices on the menu was a blessed experience. We hope that they are inspired to continue the work of Love and Grace in their own community, and we are grateful for their outpouring of support for the continued work of Table Grace Café in Omaha. We so appreciate the partnership and the work we can all do together from every different speck on this beautiful planet. I hope you are transformed by the Epiphanies that are coming to you this day, month or year!