1. Well, my mother-in-law did it! She made the trip to Hickory, NC and back again, with only about four stops each way. After a lot of coaching, re-directing, and sign making, Lorena pressed on and did what few people thought she could do. She successfully attended part of the 2021 Taylor Family Reunion. Yes, she was confused by much of what was going on around her, but she did recognize her brothers and sisters when she got to speak to them. That alone was worth taking the trip. (Eleven of the 13 remaining siblings were able to attend this year; one has since passed away.) We’ve often said that Lorena is most like herself when she prays. Maybe that’s why she was asked to close the family worship service in prayer on Sunday morning. That was a precious moment. We usually stay for the whole week and participate in all the reunion activities, but this year we came back after a few days so as not to overwhelm her. There are a few snaps below, and we’re trusting our cousins to fill in the gaps for us. As always, my son Andrew is capturing the event on video.
2. Mercy. Grace. Covenant. Love. Hope. Those were the broad themes I spoke on last week at one of the camp meetings in our region. There was a wonderful response to the message each night, and on several occasions, the altar service lasted well over an hour with dozens of folks responding in prayer, gratitude, and/or repentance—just quietly singing, praying, hugging, and waiting on the Lord. Happily, the leaders were not being manipulative at all; they just said, “Come if you feel led, or pray with others in your seats, or leave quietly if you’d like. Just spend these moments with the Lord in whatever way the Spirit leads.” It was beautiful to watch the grace of God melting hearts and renewing hope. (The Apostle Paul reminds us that it’s the kindness of the Lord that leads to repentance, not the harshness of preachers and other believers.) I was especially moved by the willing response of the young people. Oh, and I may have “ugly cried” once or twice while singing Jenn Johnson’s “Goodness of God.” 🙂
3. Seldom does this sort of thing resonate with my spirit (because of its inherent potential for abuse), but a brother spoke a word over me on the final night I spoke at camp. He said, “While we were praying, God gave me a vision of you as a shiny trumpet, and God playing his sacred song through you, blowing his breath of life through your voice when you teach and preach. He’s using you to play his beautiful song of grace for many people, even as he continues to polish out any remaining discoloration in your own trumpet. There’s an accuser trying to call people’s attention to the discoloration rather than to God’s song and the polishing he continues to do for you. Don’t ever be discouraged by that accusing voice. Just keep letting God give the clarion call of his kingdom through you.” Alrighty, then. So be it.
4. My head and heart are exploding from all that I’m learning in my dissertation research. My working title (which will almost certainly change over the next several months) is: “Thresholds of Eternity: Tracing the Veil of Yahweh’s Sanctuary from Its Creation and Consecration to Its Destruction and Obsolescence in the New Age of Living Temples.” I estimate that I have about four more months of intense research, followed four months of principal writing, followed by two months of refining and defending. The only frustration is watching my workout schedule getting squeezed out. I have got to remedy that. Oh, and I’m going broke buying books for this venture. But I suppose that that’s not too terribly frustrating. After all, this fall we’ll be renovating the basement and creating a home library/podcast studio. If there’s any money left. 🙂