Sacred Heart Convent, home of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, IL, was my first stop during my most recent time of Music and Ministry in Central Illinois and Southern Indiana (Sept. 9 thru 19). The Dominican Sisters have been part of my life for a long time and it is always a joy to be welcomed back to the Convent. It was at their enthusiastic request that I first recorded my song "Vision Through Your Eyes" many years ago, and these amazing women of Faith continue to inspire and support me in my ministry. My greatest joy in spending time with them is hearing their own stories of God's calling on their lives and of their own unique ministries. I am honored to be their "kid-sister" in Christ!
The Access Springfield bus service made it possible for me to travel to the Convent, then to my long-time friend Millie's house for more fellowship and a special celebration of Holy Communion. Thanks, Pastor Dick of Grace UMC in Charleston, SC, for blessing the Elements which I brought to Illinois to share with Millie. Millie was responsible for scheduling and transporting me to my first official music ministry engagement when I was just fourteen. She's still supportive of my ministry, a mighty prayer warrior and one of my very dearest friends.
The Delavan, IL United Methodist Church was my next stop. There I was the main presenter for this year's All-Church, Ladies' Luncheon Retreat hosted by Delavan UMC. My friends, associates and I always pray for God to break down barriers that separate His people. How refreshing to see Christian women of all denominations gather for food, fellowship, devotionals, music and inspiration! My thanks to Carolyn Binion, a good friend and one of my drivers, who provided my transportation to this event. It wasn't quite foggy enough for me to drive that day!
The Lakewood, IL United Methodist Church is always like home to me. It's the "Little Church By The Roadside," where the door is never locked so that anyone who passes by may enter and pray at any time. This was the first church family to make me feel truly welcome in "God's House", and the congregation continues to support my outreach with a stipend as one of their missionaries.
On this day, it was my turn to express my heartfelt appreciation to this little church family in Illinois. Thanks to my "adopted dad-in-ministry", Rev. Tarrell Thompson of Owensville, IN, for crafting the beautiful redwood cross which I presented to the Lakewood congregation.
That Sunday evening in Cowden, IL, I presented another cross during Concert Ministry in honor of Rev. Marlin Miller (1924-2011). Marlin (pictured on the plaque) was responsible for leading my grandpa (who was homebound at the time) to make his formal profession of Christian Faith. After my grandfather's death back in 1981, Marlin continued to do all he could to insure that I had a solid foundation from which to launch my own Faith Journey. The first pastor to express interest in my own, personal spiritual well-being, Marlin invited me to Vacation Bible School and made sure that it was accessible to me with songs and activity sheets in Braille. Then, he saw to it that I received my very own Braille Bible, presented to me at that same little Lakewood Church. He listened to me at a time when it seemed that no one else would, and his compassionate spirit continues to inspire my work with blind youth today.
Thanks to Marlin's wife Mrs. Colleen Miller for receiving this cross in Marlin's honor. I would also like to thank Clyde Wehrle (presenting the plaque) for joining with me on behalf of Marlin's home church, Cowden United Methodist, to celebrate the life and honor the dynamic ministry of this very special shepherd.
My dear friends and sisters in Christ, Pastor Lynette D'Attley (of the Cowden and Lakewood UMC) and Mary Glick (whom I've known since I was born), were instrumental in helping to coordinate these special services. Their ongoing friendship and support mean more than words can express.
The studio of WRAY Radio, Princeton, was my first official stop in Southern Indiana. I joined Country Gold host Mark Latham (along with "Grandpa Ed," Larry, "Uncle Dave" and "Joe from Otwell") to promote the release of my upcoming album and to invite folks to Sunday Worship at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Poseyville. Thanks to the Country Gold Team for making me feel so welcome, and to that wonderful Donut Bank for keeping us all fueled with donuts and coffee!
Christian and Jessie, two of "my outa sight Indiana kids," joined us during the 11:00 AM hour of the Country Gold show. Before spending time with us in the main studio, Joe allowed the kids to take a "hand-on" look at the station. They even got to assist at the controls.
Jesse was in charge of making sure that the volume was just right on the sound board.
Christian helped with the changing of CD's.
Sunday morning, I was at Poseyville's St. Paul's UMC, where I joined missionary to Haiti, Debbie Phillips, in presenting two services highlighting women in the mission field.
My thanks also to Transcendent Healthcare of Owensville, the Evansville Scottish Rite Lodge and Home For Your Heart School of Evansville, for making my music and ministry part of their schedules.
It is always a joy to serve our Lord with my "adopted dad-in-ministry" Rev. Tarrell Thompson of Owensville, IN. He and his wife, my precious "Mama Lena", are long-time friends of my ministry and me personally. His belief in my ministry and youth chaplaincy, his volunteerring to help with driving, and of course his crafting of those beautiful crosses, truly helped me keep God's Light shining during this trip!
Thank God and thank you, for your ongoing prayers and support.
Stay tuned for more posts like this one. Until next time, God bless you and keep His Song in your heart!
© 2011 by Laurel Jean Walden, with all glory to God!