Mid-summer thoughts going through my mind . . .
-- I like the summer but I don’t like the heat. After a lovely spring, June hit us hard here in Middle Tennessee with temps hitting the upper 90s pretty quickly. All one can do during such spells is, in my humble opinion, head for a pool or stay inside and run the AC. I hung up the swimming trunks a long time ago, so I opt for the latter and try to confine my outside activities to early mornings or late evenings.
Actually, here right before July 4 we've had a little break in the heat and humidity with daytime highs in the low 80s. It won't last, for sure, but for now I'll take it!
-- Younger Son left for camp in Missouri last week and will be gone nearly a month. Wife and I will go collect him later in July. This is his third summer and he couldn’t wait. He always comes home physically and spiritually refreshed. We don’t have any direct contact with him other than letters and the camp will forward e-mails we send. And we can look at photos on the camp website. Our communications from him are always sparse, and I am sure only take place when someone is standing over him telling him to do it. We miss him but know he’s having a great time.
-- With Younger Son’s departure, Wife and I took the opportunity to get out of town for a couple of days. We looked at the calendar and saw that Summer and Fall were filling up fast so if we wanted a little getaway, and maybe an early anniversary celebration since we’ll be busy when the actual day arrives, this was the time to do it. We literally made the plans Friday morning and got in the car and left Friday afternoon. We made the five-hour drive to Asheville, North Carolina, home of the Biltmore, billed as the “largest private home in the U.S.” Only the massive structure hasn’t been a private home in many years. Built by one of the Vanderbilts, his descendants opened it to the public during the Depression and it has been that way ever since.
The whole thing is just incredible and the grounds are beautiful, tucked away in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Wife and I toured the home and the winery (added back in the 1980s) on Saturday. It was warm but not unbearable and we had a great time going through the rooms in the house in the morning, then tasting the wonderful wines in the afternoon. (They told us we could have eight different samples -- very small -- but I'm not sure anyone counted). We went back Sunday morning and walked through the gardens which are equally beautiful. Looking at the beautiful plants and flowers, I felt guilty for not being able to make things grow any better than I can or, more accurately, not being willing to devote the time to making things grow.
We stayed in a “B&B” in town, which is always an adventure. While I enjoy the amenities of a hotel, little inns such as this can be delightful, as this one was, and we enjoyed chatting with the other guests at breakfast both mornings we were there.
-- We were back in time for the latest offering in our little town’s summer concert series Sunday night. These concerts take place for several consecutive Sunday nights in the summer at an amphitheater in one of our city parks. We will sometimes take a picnic, sometimes just drinks, or sometimes just ourselves and our lawn chairs. This year’s lineup has included the old Western Band “Riders in the Sky,” Beatles and Eagles tribute bands and some local ensembles. It is way fun to sit out on a nice summer night with friends and neighbors and listen to tunes. A great way to end the week too.
-- We are enjoying Daughter’s college friend who is our houseguest this summer. She and Daughter keep plenty busy outside their respective work obligations and they have a little crowd of friends that congregates here often. Their time here will be too short. Our guest will leave near the end of July and Daughter, with her Rush obligations, will go back in early August. Time flies.
-- I am half-way through my Read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year project and I must say it has been extremely gratifying. As I wrote when this began, I have been privileged to listen and study under some wonderful teachers of the Scriptures but, somehow – and to my detriment -- I often missed the story, kind of like one of those not-seeing-the-forest-for-the trees kind of things.
Anyway, at the half-way point, I have found in the Old Testament that: (1) the Old Testament heroes are as flawed as I am (and that’s plenty flawed) but God saw something in them that He was able to use in spite of that; (2) God is extremely patient, as displayed in the continuing back-and-forth with the children of Israel; and (3) God also has a point where he says, “No more.”
In the New Testament, I am through all of the Gospels and almost through the Book of Acts. I have loved reading the stories of Jesus, His life and teachings – the fulfillment of the Law -- as I have simultaneously been reading through the Old Testament where glimpses of Him are evident. The Book of Acts has reiterated for me the importance of community and how God created us to be social creatures. I am also as convinced as ever that the church is to inclusive, not exclusive, that all should be welcome, and that all – men and women alike – should be equal in participation and leadership.
I am looking forward to finishing well and giving a wrap-up when I’m done at the end of the year.