I'll just tell you the short list:
The diversity in our community. I was afraid that raising our kids in the suburbs might keep their perspective a little too homogeneous. I was happily wrong! I was reminded of this once again when Bright, the sweet Ghanaian cashier, checked me out at Walmart. He has been there since my kids were babies. (I have always thought it would be cool if his wife's name was Merry.) There are people in our neighborhood and schools from all over the world.
Grandparents. As little as we see our parents, they have endeared themselves so sweetly to our kids. I love that! I love THEM. We are so blessed to still have them in stable health.
Prayer ministries I've been a part of like Moms in Touch, our church prayer chain, and group spiritual direction. All of that thinking (#7) needs to be processed with much prayer, and I am so grateful to have had opportunities to learn new ways of being in God's presence, both resting and interacting with him.
Vacations. Different from those I took earlier in life because I now spend so much of my time facilitating and watching the activities of my family members from day to day. Vacations are the stretches of time when I am a full participant in my family's adventures, and to say that I love it would be an understatement.
But here's the one I'm going with:
#2: Praise team.
In 2000 our church began a second service, with music led by a praise band instead of the choir. (Both are leading together in this photo for a special service.) I have been a part of this team from the beginning, and I must say that it is one of the sweetest privileges in ministry I have ever had. Why? Well for one, the music and the words pull me quickly into the presence of God. Our music minister is exceedingly gifted in choosing music with truth that cuts straight to the heart. And for two, when it does that, you can look at the worshippers in front of you and see on their faces that God is drawing them close and touching them. For three, there is a truly special bond between the musicians. Whether we are together to rehearse or to lead the service, our meeting location is always on holy ground.
Do I "feel it" every time I'm up there? Well, some Sundays I will be the first to say that I arrive exasperated. Somehow, that is often the time that I see my need the most, and once we have had our rehearsal time, I am most keenly aware God's power strengthening me in my weakness. Then there are occasional days when I find myself distracted. But most Sundays, there is nothing I would rather be doing. I love the music, the words, the instruments, the harmonies--but most of all the God we worship.