by Colleen Soldate, Director of Caring Ministries
Growing up I learned early on that mealtime was a very special event in our home. It was the time when ball caps came off, hands were washed, and everyone had an active part in preparing the meal or cleaning up afterwards. My job was most important because it required precise timing. My old sisters, Jeannine, and Debbie placed the plates and glasses on the table with me close behind with napkins in hand. Within seconds of my putting down a napkin, my older brother Bobby quickly positioned silverware on both sides of the plate. The frenzy of activity was like the refined communication of ants. We used our nose to know when dinner was ready, like ants who use pheromones and their antennas to communicate. Mom’s cooking cast a huge scent trail to the food bringing unexpected guests to join us. I enjoyed that our home always welcomed everyone.
All seated, Dad’s gentle movement of extending his arm to mom prompted us to follow his lead as we joyfully reached for one another’s hand. Eyes closed and hands folded, my mouth began to water as the whiff of mom’s cooking filled the dining room. This was always a special place where I felt safe and secure. Dad and Mom inquired about our day’s activities and how we were feeling. There were stories told that had everyone laughing, concerns shared, and guidance given. I treasured these moments as a child and Jerry and I incorporated them while raising our children, Jheri and Paul. Everyone had an important role in the family, we were a team. One for all and all for one, just like the 4 Musketeers. Ball caps still came off, hands were washed as we all worked together as a family. We laughed, shared stories, and found a sense of security.
Here at First Presbyterian Church we too are family sharing our lives, concerns and joyful moments with one another. And, yes, we have gone through challenging times in the last few years here in Sonoma County. Sheltering in place is nothing new to us, we did in 2017, 2019 and now 2020. This time, it’s just a little different as we “shelter in place.” Together we have stayed the course through very difficult moments, and what we have learned and can count on is God is always with us and he has place each of us together as a church family.
God has blessed me in having the privilege to experience firsthand how our church family cares for one another. When we share our fears and express our worries to one another, we become united and stronger in our faith. We can count on that there being days where we are overwhelmed by uncertainty. I hold on to one of Jesus' promises for I know he will always be with me (Matthew 28:30). When my heart is heavy, my go-to scripture is Isaiah 41:10 “Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I am your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.”
My parents taught my siblings and me the joy one receives in serving others, the value of being active within our community and the incredible passion that comes from trusting and following Jesus. We are never alone for God has given us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us to guide us, His son, Jesus, who made possible our salvation and His love and Peace to surround and comfort us. Hold on, be patient and know God has GREAT plans for each of us!
Until we are together,