Kilby and me have been on the run.
Our goal is not to clutter our schedules as busybodies, but to have good full days. Our deep desire is that the time the Lord gives would be well spent. On a micro level, this includes our moments: our personal thoughts and our interactions with one another, and with brothers and sisters and strangers. On a macro level: truly, all of this fleeting life. We know the days to be evil, our time brief, and our purpose clear: to walk joyfully in relationship with Jesus Christ, pointing to Him, to the cross and the resurrection, and inviting others into the family–into overflowing joy and stable peace and steadfast hope–as we follow our Savior daily.
Our hope is to walk through everything with eternal perspective, which influences all details of life. We long for meaningful conversation pointing to Christ. We search out opportunities to serve and to share testimony from the past and vision for what is up ahead. We will share many miles on the road enjoying one another’s company, with a destination and goal in sight. Much prayer for the present, and prayer for the future. Rest.
And these past 2-3 weeks have contained quite a bit of fulfilled hopes (along with challenges, frustrations, learning). We have had friends welcome us into their homes–some short notice–to share the Gospel and testimony with their Church community. We had an awesome youth pastor in South Carolina not only offer his family’s two free rooms for Kilby and me, but then allowed his living room to become one of the coolest places we’ve had the privilege to visit with folks.
We were headed to Florida for a weekend of discipleship with students from Shindler Drive, when we stopped in South Carolina to cut the drive in half. Our good friend and host, Eric, sincerely prayed over us following breakfast and wished us well on the journey. Kilby and me passed through Savannah GA and made our way down to our friends Nick and Chloe, who are currently working with the Shindler Drive students. The weekend went well. We were given the opportunity to speak truth in love, and to visit and talk with those who desired to do so. Our rest came in the form of a water park that Saturday, with the youth group! It was the brain-rest, body-sore, type of thing you may well know.
The pastor of the church family allowed me to share encouragement and offer challenge to each person in both services on Sunday morning. It was another privilege, unexpected. I am grateful for the ways the Lord opens doors. Kilby and me spent that evening with Nick and Chloe in St. Augustine, just down the road. They are family to us, and reminded us of that so clearly all evening. We were grateful for the breath of fresh air before the drive back to the mountains on Monday morning.
We stopped in at Steak n Shake for lunch after our departure–Kilby had a gift card from her birthday, so we splurged and had milkshakes. I think that’s a first for me, from there. It was good and we were grateful. We got back Monday evening, spent some time with Kilby’s family, and then got some rest. I’ve been staying with a local friend’s family. They have counseled me and Kilby all summer long, shown us family life clearly, and been true friends to us. We could not be more grateful. They have graciously allowed me to stay in their basement as I’m working to sell off some less good things (an old motorcycle in pieces, an old camper in pieces, and an old truck–altogether in one piece, but needing work) in order to purchase a camper for me and Kilby to stay in when at home this ‘semester.’ If you have any leads on a truly good deal, let us know!
The next night we shared with some small groups gathered together for Taco Tuesday. These are friends who have known we are preparing to go to Belgium, but who had not had a chance to hear the details. The small groups are in association with Red Oak Church, which is affiliated with the summer camp I’ve been working with for the past several years. They will be sending us out as a missionary couple at the beginning of next year.
We drove down the mountain on Wednesday to Mocksville, where our good friend Jonathan has acted as our advocate. We met Jonathan and Jessica this summer. They became friends and we were privileged to keep in touch. When I had received a call from Jonathan asking how they could set up a night for us to share with their Church family, I was deeply encouraged. That took place on Wednesday evening. Kilby and me both shared, and the Adult Sunday School classes and the youth all listened. We shared some pictures and stories and spoke of what lies ahead for us a couple, this fall and into the future. It was a great blessing. (They also treated us to some good NC bbq right down the road towards Lexington.) We said our farewells after several deep discussions, smiles, and hugs, a time of mutual encouragement.
The next days were spent visiting with individuals, planning details for the next months and years while considering various possibilities, cleaning up around my mom’s home, and Kilby knocking out portions of schoolwork as her online semester has begun! I was thankful that Kilby got to meet my good friend Harrison for a few hours. Saturday we thought we had found a camper, but it was a scam–though it didn’t turn out as desired, it was encouraging to know that my friend Doug was driving out just to help us pick up this camper, had it been as described.
That night we visited with one of our favorite couples. The babysitter and the second-string babysitters were all tied up or out of town; me and Kilby praise God for that, because it meant we got to visit with our friends, and their three children. We spent the evening hours into the night hours at their home, in their dining area and living room–with family. We ate delicious soup, built forts with their kids as they hurled themselves acrobatically from couch to couch, and had meaningful conversation, and ice cream. We saw these friends of ours act patiently as parents, read Scripture lovingly (along with other picture books), pray diligently, ask questions, and provide structure while allowing freedom. It was awesome, meaning ‘of God.’ (We also watched their youngest daughter spinning around on the nearly frictionless floor, with the biggest smile you can dream up.) We were also blessed by their willingness to share some of their struggles and unseen realities with us; our longing is to be real with people and for others to be real with us.
That couple had recently retired (scrapped) their favorite van–it had surpassed the manufacturer’s life expectancy, and will be sorely missed but fondly remembered. I feel that way about older (reliable) vehicles; they’re the best vehicles. Anyways, that family entrusted to us their earnings from the scrap yard. They put those dollars towards me and Kilby and what lies ahead. They showed us hospitality and generosity that is entirely uncommon in the world that we live in. And it has seared us in the best way.
Sunday brought a time of sharing with the youth class in Mount Pleasant. I was so grateful that my friend and brother Andrew was able to join! He became a believer a few years ago, and the Lord is working in his heart and mind and life. Kilby and me love the first service with the older folks, then always stick around for the second as well. Afterwards, we had a wedding shower. Our older, gracious friends had gone out of their way to prepare food and the fellowship hall, and invited folks to celebrate with us and the fact that our wedding is just around the bend. It was honestly one of the greatest events I have ever known. We smiled and laughed and ate delicious food and dessert, and Kilby and me didn’t have to organize it, or piece it together, or do the dishes. These friends truly served us, and it impacted us. I will never forget that afternoon. They also showed generosity in their words and dollars towards us and our future–helping make a honeymoon possible! We were, and are still, overwhelmed. Thank-you.
We are back in the mountains now to prepare for the wedding (shorter planning time than most these days!), for the honeymoon (it’s a surprise for both of us because I haven’t got it all mapped out), for the visitations and speaking engagements during our support raising tour (invite us your way!), and the years ahead. Please carry on in prayer with Kilby and me. Please, sincerely, reach out and speak with us about how the Lord is at work. Please challenge and encourage us, as we aim to do the same for you. Know that you are loved.
And now this lengthy whimsical update arrives at its end.