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These beatitudes come from Darryl Tippens’ excellent book, Pilgrim Heart:

  1. Happy are those who serve the world by abandoning it for a little while.
  2. Happy are those who rest, for they will get their work done.
  3. Happy are the playful, for they will be serious achievers.
  4. Happy are the imperfectionists, for they will achieve much.
  5. Happy are those who drive in the slow lane, for they will arrive in peace (or in one piece).
  6. Blessed are those who build walls for they will be fully connected.
  7. Happy are those who say “No,” for they will be affirmed.
  8. Blessed are those who know the tie that binds, for they will know the freedom of belonging.
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While I seem to be having more and more trouble finding the time and energy to post, I have more and more friends who are getting in on the blogging action.  A number of these are Togo missionaries who are excited about getting a decent internet connection—although, according to Murphy’s latest post, it’s only working when the electricity goes out!

In an effort to organize my side bar, I’ve divided my blog roll into four categories.  Maureen’s blog—which hopefully will be resurrected once we get moved and she has a computer and an internet connection at home—is in a category of its own, just as she is.  Next you’ll find “Cyberfriends.”  These are people I know mainly through the internet, but whose cyber-fellowship I value.  Then you’ll see a group who are “On the Front Lines.”  These are people who are actively serving in front line mission situations, both at home and abroad.  You’ll see quite a few new listings there.  Finally, I’ve made a group of friends with whom I go way back, several of whom are are former missionaries.

This weekend we made the long trek to Albany, Texas – our soon-to-be new home – to reconnect with the church there and, specifically, to look for a place to live.  We were told that there was little to  no suitable rental housing in the town.  Although Maureen has owned an flat in Singapore for several years, this was my first venture into buying property.  We knew that there would not be a lot to choose from in our price range, but we felt confident that God would provide something.  There was one house on our realtor’s web site that we really liked and would have been a good buy, but it was just beyond our means.  Just a few days before our trip, we heard of a “for sale by owner” house that sounded good. 

Thursday we picked Jeremy up from school at noon and started heading west on I-20.  We had bought a portable video player for the trip and checked out several videos and audio books from the Vestavia Hills Public Library, so the boys did pretty well on the trip, until about 7:30 p.m., when they started to lose it.  At about 8:30 we pulled into the Econo Lodge in Marshall, Texas (not recommended) got a restless night’s sleep, and headed out at 7:00 a.m. Friday for our remaining 6 hours to Albany.

That afternoon, we started looking at homes.  It turned out that this home (click and scroll down), previously for-sale-by-owner, had recently been listed with another realtor, and the price had come down. When we first saw the house, we were a bit disoriented, and didn’t feel that it flowed very well.  We looked at another, smaller home that we could make do with, even though it only had two bedrooms.  We went back and saw both homes on Saturday, and—having gotten some rest, both places looked better.  We began to see more possibilities.  In the end, we made an offer on the larger home and, after a little negotiation, feel that we are able to buy it for a good price.  Somehow we’ve misplaced our camera and the photos we took, but you can see a few shots online by clicking here (and, again, scrolling down—it’s the house, not the ranch).

We spent Sunday night in Arlington, TX with our friends Suzanne and Dale Christiansen (Suzanne was one of Jeremy’s first grade teachers in Togo), and drove back to Alabama in the rain yesterday and last night.  God was gracious and we arrived home safely about 9:00 p.m.

Today I’ve been finalizing negotiations, lining up inspections, getting some ideas on insurance, and trying to figure out what to do for family medical insurance.  One part of me just wants to get through all of the details and focus on living.  Another part of me knows that this is living – that life is in the details, in honoring God and being faithful in the mundane, not just in the grandiose.  God has repeatedly shown himself faithful in working out so many details of this transition.  I’m finally learning to trust him in those that remain, and that, just as the details never stop, neither does his faithfulness.

 

This morning, as I stepped out of my car to walk across the parking lot to the church office, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling that this must be the most beautiful day that ever has been. The air was crisp and cool, the sun was shining brilliantly, highlighting the colors of autumn that seem to be at their peak. I had forgotten how beautiful fall can be, and I’ve been awed by the dazzling display of God’s creation even as it prepares to sleep through the winter. Could a day be any more glorious?

I don’t think, however, that it was just the weather that had me in such an elated mood. This morning as I awoke, I fumbled on my bedside table (not really a table, but a storage trunk that supports a lamp and several books) for my glasses, and discovered a handmade card placed there the night before by my bride. As I had crashed early, she had stayed up to make me a card to let me know that she still does not regret marrying me ten years ago today. I put on the coffee and returned to bed; soon, our Jeremy and Jonathan were up and piled in with us. Lying there with my family, I thought back to our wedding day ten short years ago and realized that, on that day, I could never imagine how richly God would bless me between that day and this one.

That day, itself, was a most beautiful day. One of our best memories was going to the “Parks and Gardens” near Accra, Ghana to collect bougainvillea and palm branches to decorate our outdoor wedding chapel on the McVey’s front lawn. We were joined that day with many friends to celebrate – friends from Benin, Togo, and Ghana. The youth group from the Amasaman church sang as the guests arrived, and our missionary friends sang during the ceremony itself.

Like all good African events, the wedding got off to a late start. Papa Christian Nsoah, who was to give Maureen in marriage, was late. His wife, Sister Lizzie, who was preparing the food for our guests, had fallen seriously ill. But finally he did arrive—with the food that their daughters and neighbors had helped prepare –and then came the bride—and never has a groom felt so proud. Could a day be any more glorious?

It was a wedding day that both of us had longed for and anticipated for many years. But on that day, we really had no idea what our lives together would be like, how richly we would be blessed in the years ahead. And I’m confident that today, ten years later, we still await blessings–levels of knowing and being known–that are yet to unfold.

It reminds me of yet another beautiful day, a wedding day, for which we eagerly await. Could a day be any more glorious? I think that maybe it could. Because even when that day arrives, we will not yet know all that is to be experienced as our intimate relationship with Jesus grows even deeper. I think that heaven, like my marriage to Maureen, will just keep getting better.

Happy Anniversary, Daa. I love you.

“While the gates of hell will not prevail against the kingdom of heaven, it is altogether possible that segments of the church of God will vanish from the earth in the next generation.  Jesus once posed the most penetrating of questions, “When the Son of Man comes again, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).  He did not answer his own question.  I gather that he continues to place this query before us today.  Two answers seem plausible:  Either we choose spiritual malaise and inevitable extinction, or we choose the renewal that comes through radical discipleship.”  — Darryl Tippens in Pilgrim Heart