Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Post-Sermon Recap

"I will survive... I will survive... I will survive..."

I most certainly survived Mother's Day at Stonebridge.  In fact, it was a kick.  Here is a run down of my second Mother's Day.

Well, we still start the night before.  Saturday we drove home from a wonderful mini-trip to see my folks and my grandparents, who had already drove 13 hours from Colorado to see us and Dekker.  We got home around 5:00 and Dave was so gracious to encourage me to go lay down and rest, which I did from about 6:30-8:00.  I got up and we ordered late-night sushi.  You bet we did.  I could think of nothing I wanted more, for Saturday night and for Mother's Day and for something to keep my mind of the next morning.  Plus, I was pretty sure I could be to bed by 10:30 and I don't think I would have gotten to bed earlier anyway.  SNL was a riot Saturday night, but I was pretty disciplined to go to bed before it was over because I had a few warnings that Sunday would be exhausting.

6:45: Alarm goes off.  I turn it off.  I go back to sleep.

7:15: I wake up and panic about what time it is.  I can usually depend on Dekker to be a little "alarm clock" but he has been sleeping in lately, a side effect (glorious) of switching him to one nap-- he's "catching up" on his sleep at night b/c he doesn't yet nap as long as he should.  Anyway, once I realize what time it is I start to remember the dream I had from 6:45-7:15.  In my dream I arrived at the church and couldn't find my manuscript.  Then, I realized I wasn't preaching to the big church, but in a side room for "children's" church, but there were no children in there... just a few adults, one who had a video camera that I didn't know.  Anyway, I am a counselor (you know) but in all my education I have had one 30 minute lecture on dream analysis.  And this is what I know... "Don't focus on the details of the dream, but how you felt during the dream."  Well, I can tell you that during this dream I felt disappointed.  So I had a little pep talk with myself that obviously in the back part of my mind that I WANTED to do this, and that I would be disappointed if I didn't.  And that is true.

7:25: Realize last nights hair is not going to work.  Stick head under running water and start over.  Kick myself for not getting a new straight iron and am SO THANKFUL that I borrowed Beth's on Thursday.  Life Saver!

7:45-8:30: Get dressed, make-up and hair and breakfast.  Talk myself into wearing more make-up than usual, especially eye liner and lipstick, because heaven only knows that those lights on that stage are not exactly flattering.  I ate oatmeal for breakfast.  I reasoned that it was low points and that it would keep me full.  I was correct.

8:45: Arrive at church.  So glad I was early.  I proofed the power-point and did find some corrections, namely the translation they were using was different than my manuscript.

9:30: Service One begins.  I am loving worship.  My husband, sister-in-law and mother-in-law are there.  They are so sweet and I feel so incredibly blessed.  I am standing shoulder to shoulder with our senior pastor, Mark.  He is the only person who sings louder and worse than me, so I love standing by him.  I feel like I can all but shout and scream my praises and no one knows.

You should know here that one of my greatest fears of public speaking is that my microphone will accidentally turn on during worship.  I shudder thinking about it.  My other fears are arm pit stains/sweat marks and having my zipper down.

10:00: A nice introduction from Pastor Mark and we're on our way.  I felt great.  I love public speaking, even though it really does make me nervous.

It was a full house.  Dave, Becky and Marcy were sitting center, about half way back.  I couldn't look at them because I knew I would cry.  I am pretty good at speaking and crying at the same time (I reason it's an unnamed spiritual gift : ) but I didn't want to get started this early in the day.  I remember choking up when I talked about my friend Kara, and that surprised me.  She has just been on my heart and I think she is such an incredible woman.  Love You, Kara.   I also went off script and tried to tell a joke about my small group... "new people"... and it kinda bombed.

10:45: A brief get together with Dave, Dekker and his family inbetween services.  They loved me up with all kinds of encouragement.  Becky, with her incredible camera, made me go back ON STAGE so she could get some better pictures.  Love her!  "Just go up there.  There's only four people here, they won't care.  Just go up there and look like you are re-arranging your papers and I will take some pictures."  And because you only live once, I did it.  I also made them tell me if I had sweat armpit stains.  They said no.  (The woman in the row in front of them was crying... God had touched her during the message... and there I was behind her worrying about armpit stains.  Eye on the prize, Stefanie!  Stay focused here...)

11:00: Same as first service.  I had a lot of energy still.  My good friend and her entire family was there, sitting up front to my right.  I loved having Jenny there so close.

12:30: Came home to my fab hubby-- who supports me so much emotionally and spiritually and also picked up all the extras at home.  He not only went to 9:30 church and cheered me on, then he brought Dekker home, fed him, put him down for a nap and cleaned the kitchen.  I waltzed right in and had a light lunch.  Then I got this message on my phone (via facebook) from a friend.  I cried.  Then I showed Dave and he teared up...

...Your message was great! I wanted to send you a note to tell you how touching the service was to me and how much I could relate to the things you said AND how much I needed a reality check in most of the things you said!
I also wanted you to know I was truly choked up by some things that you did not see. First, I was sitting off to the side and could see your husband during the service. His pride in you made me smile and cry all in one service. He was sneaking pictures and then was choked up in the end...  Also, in front of me was a guy and his wife. He also got choked up during the end of your message. The neat thing was his grandmother was sitting on the other side of his wife. He took time to write in the card during the service and then handed it to her during the last song. She was emotional, he was emotional and it this point I was a total wreck!! So many were touched by you this morning and will be throughout the day as you give your message. I just thought you might be interested in a few stories "from the pew"...:)

My friend knows who she is.  What she does not know is that inbetween the morning and night church I was really struggling.  I was so tired and it seriously did feel like spiritual warfare.  This message really helped me keep perspective.  It's about what God can do through one willing mouth.  This is not about me, or my comfort, or my popularity or how "good" I do.  In fact, several of you texted and facebooked me and I thank you for using your gift of encouragement.  I needed it.  I know the Devil wanted to pull me down and you all helped very, very much.

Again, David graciously encouraged me to lay down and take a nap... which I did until about 3:00 when my folks and grandparents arrived.

4:00: Dinner for six around my new table.  Fab! Thanks, Mom for bringing everything even on Mother's Day.  And for cleaning my kitchen.  You are THE BEST.

5:30: Head for church.  Dave did nursery by himself because I was, um, busy.  Again, super-Dad!

6:00: Night church starts and I was the most nervous yet.  I was nervous because I knew this group would be smaller and have a different energy.  I prayed that I would match their energy.  I was also nervous because these people were my friends.  My dear friends.  The people whose opinion I care about the most.  They are the people I don't want to embarrass myself in front of, who I will have to see again, and who will be honest with me.  Not to mention my folks are there and so are my grandparents, who have now traveled 15 hours to be in Omaha.  Incredible.  (I had several friends in the earlier services, but this crowd was my "homies"-- I knew almost everyone there...)

7:30: It is finished.  Hugs from family and friends, a nice chat in the lobby and I was suddenly so exhausted I could drop to sleep in the moment.  Beth came over for some wine, chips and salsa on the deck... which got moved to the kitchen table.  (Is it spring yet?!?!)  I was in bed by 10:00 and fast asleep.

When I really think about my second mother's day this is what I think about:

He is an absolute incredible joy.  And so handsome!

In Closing:

Last Thursday at the volunteer appreciation dinner, Mark and Sean talked about how we are all superheros because we have the holy spirit living within us, and that when we use the gifts He has given us that we are superheros.  Well, in my prayer times I felt myself giving myself permission to not be "perfect" (nothing like taking a dose of your own medicine-- this was my entire second main point) and reminding myself that at the same time this was not that huge of a deal.  The second part was a hard one.  I reminded myself that there are mothers day messages all over the community (and world) and that our handful of 1200 people isn't "that" big of a deal.  It's hard to explain, but I felt God pushing back on that, as if reminding me that the 1200 people there would be there for a reason.  So it was comforting, but not really.

Anyway, Sunday morning I prayed that God would use my gift of being willing to speak for His Glory.  I prayed that He had given me the gift and that I wanted to use it to His Glory.  And I envisioned the holy spirit filling my body up from the feet, through my body, to my hands, heart and brain.  And I walked up on stage knowing that He was in control.  One staffer told me that the CD booth was getting triple the traffic as usual because people were resonating with the fact that we can be wonderful, human, imperfect women/mothers/wives.  I didn't have the courage to tell him my mom bought half of those CD's.  Hahaha.  I'm just joking, kinda.

In hindsight I think I would do it again. It was by far one of the most humbling experiences of my life.  And I like going out on a limb with God-- knowing it is only because of Him that the message is written, delivered, etc.  But I would have a much better idea what I am getting myself into this time.  This took much more time than I imagined to write, revise, practice-- and much more emotional energy than I first thought.  How do people do this every week?  My counseling practice has been kinda slow, and I am thankful that my schedule was clear to really work on this.  I hope God did that on purpose.

This is enough!  If you have made it this far in the post and want to listen to the sermon, it is on our church website, eventually.  http://www.stonebridgeonline.net

On the journey,



  1. Cute pictures! Send Don Rowe the link, he really wanted to listen and I didn't realize the CD's were available immediately after! My bad :) Love ya! Thanks for posting, I've been refreshing stefanierowe.com for 24 hours now... :) HA!

  2. I've been checking your website somewhat obsessively since Sunday night waiting for this post!! Loved the post, and I'm so glad the sermon went well!! I can't wait to listen to the sermon online!

  3. I enjoyed reading your recap. Hearing you Sunday night and then reading this reminded me of a post recently on Beth Moore's blog. The post was called: The Baffling Call to Communicate and was on May 2nd. I thought she had some good things to say to those of us who are public speakers --and --I actually got a lot out of some of the comments people left. And, for what it is worth, Beth also has a great Mother's Day encouragement video posted, too.

  4. Thanks so much for "sharing" your day with all of us, you are incredible and I love you so!
    Can't wait to listen to your sermon, I know it was so good and will make me cry. You are awesome!

  5. Stef-
    Your message was wonderful. Thanks for sharing from God's heart. One of the take homes for me was about serving others in love. I want to be an example of this for my kids, so after your sermon I decided that this summer the kids and I are going to commit to one day a week that we go serve in a nursing home each week. I know that was not the main point of your message, but isn't it interesting how God uses your words to speak to everyone where they are at and in different ways. I hope you will take the challenge again if the opportunity presents itself. Thank you!

  6. Thank you Katie. Service was something that stuck out to me, too. I am reminded that we are on this earth not to JUST serve our family, but that we need to focus on others, too. Thanks for your comment and encouragement.

  7. Hillary CrawfordMay 17, 2010 at 2:45 PM

    I have been thinking a lot about your sermon Stef. I know that God should be number one, but I struggle to put Him first in my daily routines. It tends to go children, husband, me with God intermixed throughout the day. I am finding that the best way to stay on track is ot start my day with God -as someone else had posted, though it is difficult. I'll admit that some nights I skip prayers with the kids just because it has been such a long day! Your sermon was a good reminder that we need to refocus and reprioritize.