The seasons change bringing about a new chapter in life. We all experience the turning of these pages where pillar points are created at these intersections. As I anticipated the high school graduation for Micah, the youngest of my eight children, my time of reflection became a moment of rich worship which grew to an idea . . . A Village Appreciation Celebration.
It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child which was definitely our experience! Our family began to discuss how we could make such a time of appreciation happen. The question was not could it happen, but it should happen. The entire family put their yes on the table and plans began.
But what would it take to say thank you to our village?
Please take time to view the Village Appreciation video telling the story of God’s pillars of grace.
Naming the village:
We started to compile the list of our village. This included anyone who touched our family in any way. Making this list and checking it twice was worship in itself as worship involves stopping to show love for God. With each name that came to mind, our hearts swelled with gratitude for the way God used you in our lives thanking Him for His great love for us. We prayed that God would bring to mind everyone who played a part knowing that it would be impossible to list everyone since many gave and served only for the eyes of the Lord to see. If you were in that unnamed or uninvited group, please know that we appreciate you and thank God that your reward is great in heaven.
Letters and words of appreciation:
When the calendar turned to January, we started to make calls of appreciation to our village. It was our desire to clearly communicate our appreciation. During the month of April, time was devoted to sending over 500 hand-written notes of appreciation mentioning the way God used you in our lives. While this process took time, it proved to be a time of worship.
Plans and preparation:
The purpose of this special time was to bring everyone together in one place so we could say thank you as we close the chapter to the child-raising years. Our desire was to experience a time of worship together for God’s faithfulness. It was an exciting day when both NewSong and This Hope said yes to helping us with this goal. An ice cream reception was only fitting as it has been our tradition for the last eighteen years to enjoy ice cream on May 17th because at the time of Bobby’s death, my children were enjoying their first ice cream cones. Only God could weave together this mystery of death and life. This year, we took the grandboys back to our favorite spot at Bruster’s to remember. May 18th is always a time of new beginning and hope; therefore, it was our joy to include you in this special time of celebration with ice cream.
God has enlarged our family and borders. Our family not only resides in Georgia, but in Vermont, North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina and soon to be in Africa. It was prophesied over my young growing family that God would open doors to the nations for the Gospel to be shared through our family. It’s exciting to watch this come to pass making family reunions even sweeter.
- Abi and Nick traveled 16 hours and 828 miles from North Carolina with their four boys. This involved Nick taking time off from his new job with Abi traveling with a nursing newborn.
- Kayla and Ben traveled 2192 miles from Vermont with their four boys plus their foster son (hooray, Asher was able to come!). This trip involved Kayla flying with her newborn and foster baby with the help of Christieanna on the trip to Georgia and Amy on the trip home. Ben traveled 18 hours one way with the older boys.
- Brandon and Brittany took off from work in order to give undivided attention to the act of remembering. This involved Melody Schneider driving from Virginia to dog sit so their focus could be completely on appreciation.
- Christieanna drove from Virginia to Georgia to catch a plane to Vermont in order to assist Kayla on the flight down to Atlanta then drove to Hilton Head, SC to start her summer job involving a total of 3768 miles of travel.
- Isaac took time off from work in order to drive 928 miles from Lynchburg, Virginia to show his appreciation.
- Evan devoted the entire week to our celebration working weeks in advance on many details.
- Amy traveled 2656 miles including travel by car from Virginia and then flew with Kayla to Vermont assisting with the babies.
- Micah took time off from work to show his appreciation to our village.
Recognizing the village
One of the highlights of the evening was calling out everyone in our village. We knew that by the end of this time, everyone would have a chance to be honored. God used the following people as pillars of grace in our lives:
- Those who came to the funeral and have walked with us for 18 years. It was overwhelming to see many standing who knew Bobby who often said he cries at the drop of a hat and would drop his own hat to do so. Oh how he would have been blessed.
The pillars of Christian education
The pillars in the Body of Christ
- Sunday School teachers / youth leaders
- Medical community
- Home repairs / auto maintenance / Love Loud
- Family and friends
- First Baptist Church Woodstock
The pillars of our mentors
When I realized we would peak with six teenagers in the home at the same time, God introduced the idea of mentors. The original team of eight couples agreed to serve time on the mentor board for eighteen months not knowing we would need them by our side for eighteen years and beyond – thank you! God continues to use mentoring in all of our lives because we were not meant to walk this road alone.
The pillars on their knees – our Prayer Warriors
When God calls you to pray, please pray because it does make a difference!
The Apon children –
Thank you for daily directing your focus to God choosing life over death. May God use you as pillars in the village of others and for this next generation.
Was it worth it? Oh yes!
Twice in our lives, thus far, we have experienced a powerful time of worship when the body of Christ came together on behalf of our family. The first time was at the funeral where together we stepped out into an uncharted season of faith. May 18th was the second experience of true anointed worship as we celebrated God’s faithfulness through you! Only God knows what took place in the heavenlies. We believe the enemy was defeated by “the word of testimony” and the blood of the Lamb.
“…they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony.” Revelation 12:11
Memories flooded our hearts as the music brought about this time of worship. In Christ Alone we stand even When we can’t trace His hand, we must trust His heart. The crescendo of the evening came as we all declared, Great is Thy Faithfulness ending with a shout of praise that hell has been defeated—the grave could not hold the King!
Statistics don’t lie, but are definitely not a friend to the fatherless. However, God’s Word provides promises to hold onto proving that “with God all things are possible.” When God is involved, the definition of a single-mom is bigger than her title. It takes a village to raise a child, and we definitely experienced a village holding us up with pillars of grace.