Have you ever thought about how God brings amazing people into your lives, and somewhere along the way you start doing life together and experiencing Him in news ways through the hearts of other people?
Last night we went to the home of Gary and Randa Lea, our friends and life group leaders.
Gary and Scott met around the same time we began attending Gateway Church standing in the Trinity River, dead of winter casting for trout like nobody’s business. Actually, Scott met Gary and Randa Lea’s daughter, Jill, before he met Gary, but it is amazing how God orchestrated that entire event. Scott is one of the surrogate dads who helped look after Jill when she went fishing. Randa Lea often expresses gratitude for the men who looked after their gal when she went out and sought the fish along the banks of Tarrant County’s rivers and ponds.
We had only been attending Gateway a short time when Scott came home and said, “I met a guy fishing who works for Verizon and we got to talking and they go to Gateway.”
Last summer, the administrative assistant for V! Volunteer Ministry sent out a heads up that she had a volunteer coming in and I asked her to send her over. It turned out to be Randa Lea. She came in and as we worked together she said, “I think our husbands know each other.”
She said a name and I told her I thought she was mistaken. But, God reminded me that Scott had met someone who went to Gateway. I asked her if the guys had met fishing and she said they had. She invited us to come to their life group that would be starting up in the fall and we parted ways.
A few weeks later Scott and I turned up on their doorstep for the first night of group. Our hearts connected with the room right away. 🙂 I ran into a friend I’d first met in our early days at Gateway when I attended a women’s group (PINK Group). David and Stephanie are two of my favorite people at group.They have a variety of small children at home and well… I once gave Stephanie a whole bag of chocolate just because she loves it so much! 🙂 Stephanie shares the heart of God with us at the drop of a hat, and David doesn’t always have a lot to say, but when he shares the words count. A few of our men are like E. F. Hutton… When they talk ears perk up and listen. My Scott is one of those men, too.
Becca and Sal. This sweet couple also have small children at home. Sal shares each week about living the dream and Becca remains his encourager and supporter. She holds down the fort at home while he goes out and ministers bringing light to the darkness through music and professional recording production. He is a constant well of wisdom and insight. He often says we have to be okay being parsley, that parsley is important. We can’t all be the entree. Sal has a broad, firm foundation and God is making him a tower of a man. Becca’s sweet spirit and love for her husband and family are precious to behold. She has joy and a deep heart of praise that lightens up the darkest room. PRECIOUS. Did I say that already? I think I did.
Bill, Charles and Doug. These gentlemen are men after God’s own heart. And, they are great cooks. They brought the vittles to last night’s “last hoorah” and rocked the house. It is so amazing to hear their stories and when they speak, God’s heart is revealed in them so beautifully. Houses of prayer and men who walk in power and authority. We are blessed to have them among us. 🙂
Ruben and Patty. Wisdom, Wisdom and more Wisdom. Patty always has a beautiful smile on her face and a word of encouragement on her lips. She is a mentor for other women and quiet but mighty in her spirit. God reigns in her and fills her with joy and love. She offers hospitality and loves to share with others. She reminds me of Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet honoring the most important thing. Ruben is a steward among stewards, as Stephanie shared with us one night. He loves the Lord and the Texas Rangers. It is indeed an honor to sit in a group with Ruben and hear his heart for God and His church from that perspective. He is wise and has the most wonderful sense of humor. Many of us love prodigals in our lives and Ruben has declared that when the prodigals come home we’re going to have to kill a cow. He is certain we will be barbequing soon! 🙂
Steve and Melody. They express unity like no one I’ve every seen in my life. Steve and Melody carry meekness and humility in a way that truly honors and blesses the heart of God. I just feel like God smiles on them so sweetly. Melody delights my heart and she is the most wonderful cook. Just before Easter she brought snacks. Twin thin chocolate cakes in the shape of bunnies with a strawberry cream sandwiched in between. I was the first to sample them and had a few too many by the end of the night. Steve is a steadfast man of faith and integrity. His heart for God shines forth in his words, his quiet consideration and his strength of heart. I admire them very much.
Ron and Susan. This is a mature couple in their faith in God. They spent a number of years at Willow Creek Church in the midwest under the teaching of Bill Hybels before coming to Texas and joining our Gateway family. Ron has such a heart of worship and Susan’s giftings are generous in those that edify and encouraging those around her. She has a heart to serve God’s house and His children in purity and truth. Ron is a leader among leaders and they are the picture of the character that comes when one perseveres the ups and downs of life to God’s glory! I am honored to be counted among them.
Lynne and Kurt. Lynne is a deep well of God’s Word. The Scriptures are clearly written upon her heart. Lynne, too, is a house of prayer and so thoughtful and considerate of others. She thinks of the simple things and thoughtful gestures that make others feel valued and appreciated. I believe she sees God’s heart and light in others in a unique way and the has a way of gently encouraging it out of them. Kurt also is a deep well, he is a strong leader among men and has a heart for God’s healing power. Kurt is also my dentist and took care of those puffy cheeks I referenced in my previous post. I am honored to not only call him my dentist, but to call he and his wife our friends.
John and Frances. A remarkable set of grandparents who are raising the most precious children. My favorite thing about John and Frances are their hearts of worship. I’ve not seen anything quite like it. John is one of our quiet men, but when he shares he often has something so valuable to say. I see God’s treasure in this couple and pray they see themselves as the crown jewels that they are.
A couple of weeks ago Lynne emailed me and asked me if I had any idea what we could give Gary and Randa Lea for an appreciation gift. I offered to get the supplies to make a “Scripture and Prayer Book.” It is a photo album with decorative cards and all our memory verses from the last couple of years in it along with types notes of appreciation and encouragement for Randa Lea and Gary. We also took pictures of the couples and the group including them in the book. We also took up a collection and provided them enough gifts cards to restaurants to send them on a date every Friday for the next couple of months. And there are at least ten days worth of Happy Hour dollars on two Sonic Gift Cards – one for each of them. 🙂 I was elected to the post of organizing and collecting the donations for the gifts. What did I learn about this group of people… OVERWHELMING GENEROUS and LOVING. Their hearts for Gary and Randa Lea – I’m sure they delight the heart of God to be sure.
The best part… THEY. HAD. NO. IDEA. 🙂 Randa Lead had just given a speech about how she wanted us to just spontaneously continue to get together and stay connected through the summer months while we are on break. When she finished I said, “Well speaking of getting together….” Yes, we all got together “BEHIND. YOUR. BACK.” and conspired to bless you! 🙂
Their humble gratitude brought us great joy. We finished out the night by playing the year in review “JEOPARDY.” The men handily won. But the women rallied after being -100 points in the game. 🙂 They offered us double grace when I forgot to pose the answer in the form of a question, and we laughed much, applauded each other and enjoyed the sport of “competition” while reinforcing the valuable truths Gary and Randa Lea brought to us each week as our teachers and facilitators. We applaud their diligence, faithfulness and their desire to found as ones approved, servants who rightly divide the word of Truth.
We are so blessed to do life with cream of God’s crop at Gateway Church. Would you pray for these people as you conclude this post? Ask God’s blessing and favor on their lives as you share in the brief glimpses of us Doing Life Together.