The First Grove Conference


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Isaiah 58:12

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,  Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” 

I took a deep breath in and looked around the sanctuary.  There they were …women from my Bible studies, women from neighboring communities; my staff, my friends, new friends, and I suddenly felt like I was in a blur.   It was like stepping inside a lovely water color where one color bled into the next.  The past, the present, the future, all meeting on one big canvas, covered with a multitude of fantastic colors. 

Best Life Ministries Conference 020This morning was our very first women’s conference at the Church in the Grove.  A buzz of excitement fluttered through the air and you could feel the warmth and energy of my staff as they greeted each woman.  You could sense the attendees’ anticipation for the day, but no one, no one but God alone, could possibly know how I felt.  

Over one year ago, I walked up the hill to the Frank Lake Covenant Church in rural Murdock, Minnesota.  It stood tall.  It stood looking back at me, hopeful, wistful, like a toy at the five and dime, where you believe it says, “take me … buy me …take me home.” And as I walked up and entered the front door of the building, I entered the double doors, took a deep breath and breathed in the warm, musty smell of 1900, all the while whispering back, “I will take you home.” 

The big beautiful windows, made up of hues of purples and yellows, the 1950’s white stove, the old piano from Sundays used for worship from 1900, oak pews, old tile, the original podium, all danced in front of my eyes.  But as I entered the sanctuary, I felt a deep sense of peace.  It was a presence of peace that I hadn’t experienced in a building … ever.  I did not want to leave. 

You see, I spent my childhood days, starting at age 12, playing the piano every Sunday for church services.  My parents had us at church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday nights.  The big old buildings where I grew up in, attended church every week, were reminiscent to this new friend, Frank Lake Covenant.  

I sat in the pew now and closed my eyes.  I could imagine that it was 1900 and I could see the women in their long skirts and bonnets, the farmers in their suits and rounded top hats, the horses and buggies that pulled up to the building and waited, all the while the music rang out, the worship was lifted, and the preacher preached from the Word of God.  I was a part of this building, and it would be a part of me. 

When I opened my eyes, I could see myself standing behind the pulpit teaching the women who would come to our women’s conferences.  I could see my team standing on the stage, my worship leader leading worship by the piano, and the pews filled with eager attendees.  I could see an old baby grand piano on the stage, as I pressed the keys and looked up to God with my praises. 

I looked to the kitchen area and in my mind’s eye, I saw a large table with women sitting studying God’s Word, I saw curtains on the window, long and flowing, I saw a refrigerator, counter, sink, bathroom, Bibles, and {callout]I felt God’s presence, God’s peace, and for me, the most important thing … I felt God’s pleasure. [/callout]

My husband, Farmer Dean, and I purchased the church moving it twenty miles to our grove.  All of the things that God showed me that day came true.  Everything!  They were all here, come to fruition this Saturday morning at the conference, just one short year later. 

This morning, as the women file in and I hug them and say welcome, I hear our worship leader’s violin, I see the warmth of the sun glowing through the windows, now covered by long flowing curtains and watch as women take their coffee to sit at the antique table and chairs.  I hear laughter ringing out as my speakers arrange their notes and I prepare mine, behind the pulpit.  The fridge is packed with delicious lunches and large pitchers of pink lemonade.  Women are lined up with cups of coffee and homemade rolls and donuts, waiting for the bathroom, while some have found their spot in the old oak pews. 

Today is a new day.  Today is another gift from God.  Today brings life and answers to a little girls’ heart’s desires, some 45 years later.  Today is 112 years later from the day Frank Lake was crafted, and 32 years later from the day it last held a gathering. 

I press my fingers against the old baby grand that a friend donated, and I listen as the harmonies of our song flies to the tin ceiling and beyond, to the throne of a Mighty God who answers our prayers. 

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee, How Great Thou Art …” 

I know how great God is and I know the value of having a thankful heart.  But for today, my heart is overflowing, my mind is celebrating the past and soaking in the present, and my spirit is lifted up to the Heavens.  Thanks be to God, and all the saints who went before me, here in the little Frank Lake Covenant Church in the Grove.


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