Sunday, July 14, 2019

That Wonderful Wink

So last week Tony got ahold of my blog and before I could send it, he added the teaser, “Wait till next week to find out what happened at church”. 
Well, it’s been 50+ years, so I had to ask him, “What happened at church?”
And then he winked at me.
Oh!  Now I remember!!
I saw him for the first time at his parents’ house.  We were 17 and 19 and his folks were the youth directors of our tiny little youth group. They were so cool we had ’Training Union’ at their house before church!!  I was vaguely aware that they had a son, but to hear them talk, he was off at war or something.  Actually, he was touring Europe with a bunch of students, including a girlfriend, for the summer.  He had graduated from high school the year before but somehow had qualified to go.
And then, when I walked into their living room, there he was, back from the ‘war’. I was introduced and we had our Bible study.  From there we all jumped into our individual cars and proceeded on to the evening service at church, as you did back in the day.
And so when I walked into the sanctuary, I didn’t notice him till I turned my head, and there he was, sitting in the “Choir”.  I use the term loosely because it consisted of the 8 or 10 people who could actually carry a tune. I don’t remember them ever doing a special number or anything, and certainly never at night, but there he sat, facing our congregation of about 30.
“Wonderful”, I thought as I settled into my seat,  “Now I can take my time and get a good look at him during the sermon.”  
To catch you up to speed in my life, I had just finished my Junior year of High school, He had just finished his Freshman year at college.  
So I got comfortable and began my feast.  That was until this smiling guy, ostensibly looking off into the distance, WINKED at me!
I was mortified.  I left the service the minute it was over and didn’t hear another thing from him…..for…..OK, well, until about 3 days later, when he (at the urging of both my sister and his mother) called and asked me for a date.  We never mentioned the ‘Wink’ again……
Years later, long after we were married, he told me the truth.  “If you’d have winked back I would have run for the hills,” he said. “But because you blushed red and avoided me, I knew there was a purity and innocence I was interested in pursuing.”
Last Sunday we attended an annual “Hymn Sing” at a local church.  We may have been the youngest there, but we had to admit we’re not that young since we knew all the hymns!  
And then they played (as a special) that old song, “I’ll walk with God”.  Tony and I both got goosebumps and teared up at the same time as we listened to the words.  On the way home we tried to remember why this song was so important.
You guessed it, the next morning, I got out our old and faded wedding album and there it was.  It was the song, sung by a talented and booming baritone, that was used for us to light our one candle.  
I’ll put the words here in case you want to remember them.  I can’t believe that at our young age we had such mature thoughts.

I'll walk with God from this day on
His helping hand, I'll lean upon
This is my prayer, my humble plea
May the Lord be ever with me
There is no death, though eyes grow dim
There is no fear when I'm near to Him
I'll lean on Him forever
And He'll forsake me never
He will not fail me
As long as my faith is strong
Whatever road I may walk along
I'll walk with God, I'll take His hand
I'll talk with God, He'll understand
I'll pray to Him, each day to Him
And He'll hear the words that I say
His hand will guide my throne and rod
And I'll never walk alone
While I walk with God

Every one of those words have played true in our lives.  Maybe it’s because the both of us were so shy and naive.
Sorry we put the wrong address for the website blog last week. It’s  (No middle letter G).
Keep on Walkin!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Location Location

Today I’m happy to announce that it looks like many of you made the change of address to the new Blog apparently seamlessly.  I believe now you can make comments so have fun with that!
I promised you that for the next little while I’m going to give you some excerpts from our upcoming book, Weaving Sunlight. This is not shameless advertising, and you don’t even need to buy a copy. Basically we wrote it to ourselves so that we could see what God has done in our lives these last 50 years! Tony has a favorite song that he’s planning to sing at our anniversary celebration, by Andrew Peterson called “Dancin in the Minefields”. There’s one part where he still can’t get through without choking up, I suppose because it’s just a little too close to home. The words go, “At the end of all my faith, to end of all my days, when I forget my name … remind me.”
Weaving Sunlight was written as a reminder of the times we’re apt to forget as we get older. And to do that, we have to back to where it all started: at church. That’s where we first met, Evergreen Baptist Church, in Colorado. There we got to know each other, became friends, fell in love, were called to ministry, and eventually got married.
In the years since that time, the church moved (and when I say “moved” I mean they jacked it up and drug it) to another site a few miles away. The Post Office bought the land where it had sat, and I still can’t go in there without feeling something a little more meaningful than buying a stamp.
But I know, as I’m sure you know as well, the Church, for us, is not that bit of dirt under the post office, nor is the building we drug off and renovated. No, it’s much more than that, and looking back over 50 years, it’s even more than we’ve come to imagine.
Our kids grew up in church, whether the building was in America, Africa, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand or Australia. We used to tell them, “Unless you’re on fire, you’re going to church today.” They laugh about that today, but back when they were kids, they never were sure if we were serious or not. But they went to church, made friends at church, found Christ at church and each in their own way, got married in church. When we lived in Japan where earthquakes are common, we told our kids, “If you’re away from home and an earthquake stops everything, find a church, go there and wait. We’ll find you.”
It’s such an encouragement to see them carrying those values on to the next generation. Granted, going to a worship service in their churches is quite unlike what we grew up with, especially in terms of music. But we can still see the family atmosphere where they worship, and in their own way, they’re still making memories that one of these days they will choose to write about.
I suspect you have your own idea about what the Church today should and should not be like. It took an elderly deacon to remind a pastor friend of ours that “The church is not a coffee shop!” But in the pastor’s defense, I believe he still wants the church to be a place where family can gather, worship and grow in the Lord; and if a cup of coffee can help in that process, it can’t be all bad.
Phillip Yancey, renowned Christian author, is said to have come back to Jesus in a church in my childhood neighborhood in Evergreen.  I remember it well because my mother was incensed that they served coffee and donuts in the lobby before the services. She thought the whole lot of them should go where the coffee would be eternally boiling, and all I wanted was to go there and get a free donut.
Sadly, our church had no free coffee and donuts. It was more like Garrison Keillor’s imaginary church in Minnesota, "The Church of our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility”. But that was the era of the church I grew up in. And whether you’re looking at the Church back then or the Church today, I can still insist that, “Good things happen in church.”
Next time, I’ll share with you the mind-blowing thing that happened at Evergreen Church that would determine our destiny as man and wife.
Until then, see you at church!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Changes Coming

Today I’m going to make some announcements about change, (see below), but first I thought you might enjoy a Facebook post I made five years ago.  There’s nothing spiritual about it so apologies to those of you who are sharing this in Sunday school.  It does involve a meeting we had with fellow missionaries in Tokyo, and the outcome.
Here goes:
Last night we met with the Posse as we do every week. This time we chose a new watering hole in the classy area of Shinjuku called “St Marcs Choco Croux”.  While I don’t usually trust those Frenchy trappers, it looked glittery and inviting.  We bellied up to the bar, jawed and knocked back coffee for hours.  Someone suggested trying the hot dogs…
Long after sundown we all yawned and said goodbye, split up, mounted our ponies and started across the wild badlands back to our shack.  We said goodbye to our deputy friend as he boarded the stage coach.
Well, I guess he’s some kind of greenhorn because turns out, he had to stop the stage and leap off, barely managing to do so before he tossed his cookies.  We however, got well on our way before the rumblings began and we spurred our mounts toward safety.
All night in the full moon we jockeyed for time in the one holer:  one ‘doing their business’ and the other one outside dancing in the moonlight.  
Now almost 24 hours have passed.  We’re propped up against a tree wondering who’ll poke the signal fire.  Tony did decide to go for help this morning, but his horse got one sniff of him and wouldn’t let him ride, so he crawled back to the ditch.
Sometime last night I even hallucinated that I was back on that old ranch called Bangkok, but no, this is the modern, high tech spread called Tokyo.  Who’d imagine that the snake-eyed varmint called “food poisoning” could have snuck in the door!
Next week we’re going to watch our backs
And this time I’m going to skip the hotdogs and go for Chocolate! 

And now for the announcements.  We are ONE MONTH away from our 50th Wedding Anniversary!  I remember sewing a wedding dress for a young girl when I had been married only 2 or 3 years.  She intimated to me that she wasn’t sure about her upcoming wedding; after all, she said, “FIFTY years is such a long time!”  I wondered at the time how she could not be looking forward to that prospect here at the beginning, but I just kept sewing……. sometimes I wonder whatever happened to her.
And now we’ve raced thru our lives and here we stand, one month away from a goal that has almost never been achieved in our family….. of course, we understand that this has been completely by God’s good grace.  
And so if ‘The Good Lord's willing and the Creek don’t rise’  (you know that phrase originated from the tenuous peace the settlers had with the Creek Indians), we’ll be sharing some excerpts from our upcoming book, “Weaving Sunlight” for the next month or so.
But the important news is also that we are MOVING THE BLOG SITE for those of you who read this online .  From next week on (and even this week), we’ll be located at  Hope you'll follow me as we transition over!
God bless you all and let’s keep enjoying the journey together!