"Arise, cry out in the night, pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children." - Lamentations 2:19
I am still marveling at the fact that the Lord brought me to El Salvador this week to celebrate Katie Knepper's quinceanera (15th birthday celebration). In the summer of 2009 I met the Knepper family while serving at a Calvary Chapel sponsored orphanage in San Martin, El Salvador. I had no idea that a lifelong friendship would blossom between our families. The Kneppers were sent out as missionaries by Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa and they return to So Cal every year for a furlough. We have been honored to partner alongside their family for many years in El Salvador and have also enjoyed precious memories during their furloughs in California. In the summer of 2013, Kathy was able to attend our daughter Hailey's adoption finalization and I was so thrilled to be part of Katie's quinceanera this week.
Kathy and I have shared many heartfelt emails, conversations and prayers over the years, crying out to the Lord for our children. Katie suffered a serious injury in 2011 and served with my El Salvador team that summer with a smile on her face in her wheelchair. The Lord has been faithful in many areas of her life and she has become like a daughter to me.
As the dream to attend Katie's quinceanera began to develop last year, three dear friends decided to join me for the special event. Valerie, Stephanie and Roberta were also honored to celebrate Katie's quinceanera and it was such a joy for the four of us to be there with the Sus Hijos ministry team.
Two moments from the quinceanera ceremony touched my heart. The candle ceremony was extremely emotional. Katie lit fifteen candles, representing fifteen significant people in her life. It was a beautiful expression of love and gratitude for the people who had impacted her deeply. I was moved to tears when Katie called me forward to express her love and appreciation for my leadership in her life. It was truly a moment that I will never forget.
I was called forward later in the ceremony to speak on purity and to sign Katie's pledge to remain pure for her marriage. The Lord had given me a beautiful picture of Katie to share at the ceremony. While praying for Katie, I saw a little cocoon that had fallen and broken on the ground. Although it had once been shattered, the butterfly emerged gloriously and it was breathtaking. This image represented Katie's transformation into a beautiful, young woman. I nearly burst into tears at the beginning of the evening when I walked into the event and saw decorate butterflies placed throughout the room. As I shared this picture with Katie in the ceremony and admonished her in God's Word, she began to weep. It was a powerful and emotional moment with an overwhelming sense of the Holy Spirit. I am so proud of Katie and the challenges that she has overcome. There is nowhere in the world that I would have rather been than celebrating her quinceanera this weekend. Congratulations Katie. I love you!
"Don't let anyone look down on you because of your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." - I Timothy 4:12