Sunday in Sarasota

Sunday morning arrived right on time. Jim and I had the privilege to share about our ministry during two services, followed by a lunch for new members and attendees at Grace Community. We were so encouraged by this church and by its leaders.

One of my favorite discoveries at this church: This congregation meets in a building not originally designed to be a church. They have made some changes here and there and have created a very welcoming and almost-cozy environment. We took our spots towards the front (some things never change: I tend to be a front-rower so that I don’t get distracted by all that is around me!) and when we were invited to speak, we were close at hand. How exciting it was to turn around and see the folks smiling at us. And also the message on the dropped ceiling — a message that would only be seen by someone standing in the front facing the people:

I asked Pastor Tony about it later and he said that the message is there as much for him each week as it is for anyone who stands addressing that flock. Ahhhh.

During the lunch people were asked to introduce themselves and many of them told about their families or which state they live in during the summer (lots of snowbirds!) and why they are worshipping with this particular body of believers. One man touched everyone’s heart as he actually broke down as he shared about his life — his overwhelming grief at poor decisions he had made…including losing his family due to his desire to be way too involved in his former church and failing to take care of his own loved ones. It’s not among every group of believers that someone would feel comfortable sharing such personal heart-wrenching thoughts. The response was one of genuine care and compassion. We continue to pray for this broken gentleman.

After lunch, we headed back home to prepare for dinner guests! (Is everything always around food??!!). Missing these salads!!

We loved this particular evening because both sets of grandparents were on hand. We learned some new stories about our host family, and also some of the difficulties faced by bringing in a young boy from Ukraine. It certainly affects more than the immediate family! Abe is blessed to have such a loving family who absolutely adore him!

Sarah’s mom and I are similar in size and also have a similar haircut. At one point Abe came running to me at full-speed to share a story, and at the last second looked up and saw that it was me. Not his grandma. His face said it all as he quickly looked from one of us to the other exclaiming that I was the “wrong grandma!” That soon became my name in this family.

We all stayed up way too late, but, for once, we didn’t have a busy morning the next day.

Not that we even know how to “sleep in” anymore…



  1. Was this the Sunday y’all met Hubby’s parents? I’m so disappointed we didn’t meet up with you. . . but, that’s how it is sometimes, isn’t it? I can’t believe what a whirlwind trip y’all had in the States. (At least it was during the longest part of winter and you got to go home to Kyiv in the spring!)

  2. TulipGirl: Yes, that was the Sunday. (Now you know how far behind I am in posting about our trip! I’m determined to finish the trip on this blog, though!) We had HOPED that we’d meet spring in each new town in the States, but we were wrong. It was still pretty chilly when we left, and we returned to chilly weather here as well. Not COLD, mind you, but definitely not yet spring.

  3. Hey! One of my dearest friends lives in Sarasota…if only I had known, I could’ve tried to orchestrate another connection with this mission-minded couple! LOL! Next time… 😉

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