Yesterday was beautiful.  We spent the morning having family time, praying over the Cre8 gathering that would take place later in the day, and completing any last-minute spot cleaning and prep-work.  Mike worked in the office on the computer and I sat in the worship room at the piano, singing for a while… until I was SUDDENLY interrupted with a nerf gun bullet to the face by a cute little spygirl in full battle attire, protective spy glasses, and a look of shock!  GAME OVER.  The Worship Room is a non-play zone.  She ignored the invisible sign.
Back to quality time with the kids and a bit of post war briefing after the face bullet.  We saw the sign, and gave them our time.  Hearts happy, people forgiven, all was well.
With all of the pipe work being left unfinished on Friday, Mike had to put signs around  Cre8Home.   Thankfully to our best knowledge, men, women and children followed the signs.
During Cre8, our friend Jacob shared his story, his life and struggles.  Diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of five, given three months to live at age seven, he is still a walking miracle today at age thirty-three.  The Cre8 Family has rallied around him in a recent dark season, and last night was a marvelous expression of thanks to God and the ability to see God make Glory in every circumstance to those who earnestly seek Him, even in the fire.  You see, His LOVE holds all things together… and we can see it when we follow the signs.
Jacob uses his gift of photography to capture signs of life.
Families were engaged in conversations around the home and property when a Horneytown neighbor (I am thinking about renaming it HOMEtown, just so I don’t lose your focus, but hey – it is what it is) walked up to the front porch to shake my hand and introduce himself.  He was quite thin, wearing an old gray tee-shirt, dirty jeans and work boots.  His NASCAR lid shaded the tired wrinkles and marks on his face that evidenced a difficult life.  I could see the signs.  Yet with a shift of his cigarette to the left hand, he extended his right, and asked the question that has become most common, “Is it true that ya’ll have a church here on this property now?”
“Yes sir, in fact all of these people are leaving the gathering that we just had tonight.  My name is Ami.  My family lives here and when Mike comes down from The Worship Room, I will introduce you to him.  He’d love to meet you.”

“My name is Art…” He told me pieces of his story through much stuttering.  His breath smelled of stale alcohol, and as I listened, I read the signs.
My mother’s father (PaPa) came from a family of drinkers and this man reminded me so much of a few of my Great Uncles.  My own grandfather had given his life to the Lord and was able to overcome his own addictions.  But, boy have I thought about PaPa lately—that man LOVED to fish!  The water was his sanctuary.
Art uttered next the most frequently asked question: Mind if I throw a hook in?  My Daddy used to take care of this land for the Wileys and years back, they would let our family fish in this water.  My cousin pulled out a 16-pound large-mouth and threw it back in…”
I listened to his fish story… and it wasn’t long before he was off fishing, and I resumed my conversations with Cre8 Families who were leaving our gathering.
As Mike and I locked up the Home, leaving for dinner, we stopped at the corner of the pond and rolled down the windows so that Mike could meet Art.  We ended up having church through that window with Art and his friend A.J.  You see, there was a greater reason WHY they had come to the water together.  They had heard that a church met here now, and A.J. had just experienced a tragedy last week.  A four-year-old girl died in a four-wheeler accident in his neighborhood.  He heard the screams behind his own backyard and was the first responder.  A.J. was able to keep a pulse until the medics arrived, but to his dismay, she passed away in transit to the hospital.  He said to us, “I could see the signs.  I knew she wasn’t gonna make it…” and his voice trailed off into broken tears.
Art grabbed Mike’s hand, and said, “Will you pray for my friend?  He wanted to come here to stand by the water for some peace.  His neighborhood is too painful right now.”
Mike prayed for him.  And I watched this stocky man, probably in his late twenties/early thirties whose eyes still had the look of a little boy, cling to his every word.  When Mike finished, A.J. asked, “Is it okay if I come to your church?”  And at least three more times, “You’re sure?  Can I come to your church with you?”
I wondered why he needed assurance that at this place he would be welcome, accepted.  Signs.
We also found out that Art’s girlfriend was at his side and died of congestive heart failure only a few short weeks ago.  Art said, “I have all of her handicapped equipment and clothing; she would have liked to see it go to a church…”
Seriously people, we may think that we KNOW things about people…. but I believe we need to follow the signs.  There is always more.  More to the story.  Everyone has one.  And right now, many are hit smack in the face with unexpected darts and bullets—in the darkest chapters…  Yet, every ONE remains a small part of a much BIGGER Story.  Every week, families are coming to us in crises.  Every week, we are being invited into the pages to read the signs and try to help.
So today, I am abundantly thankful for the people who have, for whatever reason, chosen to ignore this one:

Time to change the sign.

We Won't Drown... Goodnight
Ganders and Jackhammers