Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Blessedness of “Being With”

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which translated means, "GOD WITH US.    – Isaiah 7:14; and Gospel of Matthew 1: 23

Dear Family and Friends,
Greetings from Wooster, OH on this first day of winter, and the first day in which snow has blanketed the landscape here in Wayne county.  Our hearts are full of gratitude to God for His provision of this location that we've been slowly making into a "home" by His grace.  He has sustained Abby and I through the year-long effort to sell our home in Cedarville and then through our move in October.  Now we are enjoying making connections with the amazing people and provisions needed to establish our home here in Wooster. 

We are thankful for our son, Brad, and his wife, Raquel; and for our daughter, Mindy, and her husband, Steve; and our grandchildren, Caleb (14), Kiara (10), and Della (4).  They have spent time with us in Wooster to help us during our move.  Thankfully, our move brings us just a bit closer to their homes in Ann Arbor and Erie, Michigan, respectively.  Please pray with us as we establish priorities related to each other, our parents and family, a place of worship and service, and as we invest time in this new chapter of our lives.

At this end of thirty-three years at Cedarville University, Grace Baptist Church, and the Cedarville community we miss those of you that we can no longer be with on a regular basis.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you as God reminds us of you.  We hope more of you will let us know if you are in the area so that we might arrange for you to visit us at 1041 Curtwood Drive, Wooster, OH   44691.

This week, we are planning our first multi-day period of being with mom Moser (Marietta) in her home.  At 85, after her stroke last year, she has not advanced beyond walking with personal assistance; and is advancing into Alzheimers.  We are thankful to be two hours closer to her so that we can join the rotation with Abby's six sisters in continuing to care for her in her home.  Mom Silvius continues to do well, but with limited mobility outside her home, at age 90.  She lives with my sister, Margie, and brother, Dan, and on the farm near Dundee where I grew up.   Both moms are within 1.5 hrs of Wooster.

With Carie Kurtz who helped us find a home; now a friend.
With the onset of a New Year, pending Abby's good health for which we are thankful, I will be undertaking some part-time involvements related to "projects" that will combine my interest in land stewardship with my profession of faith.  This goal comes with the intent of building friendships in Wayne County, including with those who are passionate about the "natural world" but who may not know of our Creator’s passion for reconciliation of all of His creation through His Son’s redemptive work to restore us (see Col. 1: 9-23).  Your friendship and prayers are much appreciated.

May God continue to strengthen and guide you all.   We hope you are encouraged in your remembrance of Emmanuel, “God with us.”  We thank God that He undertook His divine "rescue mission" to Earth to abide with us in order to ransom us (“buy us back” from the market of human pride, sin, and rebellion) that we might have Abundant Life now, and live with Him and the redeemed forever.

In Christ,
John and Abby

Monday, December 10, 2012

Putting Down New Roots

A fitting expression for people moving and settling into a new location is “putting down roots.”  Since our move to Wooster in October, this expression has a special meaning to Abby and I.  Let me explain how we have literally “put down roots” of a special tree that was given to us as a parting gift when I retired from Cedarville University last year.

Near the end of Spring Semester, 2011, when we were planning to sell our home during the summer and move to Wooster, OH, the campus environmental stewardship organization, Pro Terra Forma, gave us a little potted Pawpaw tree (Asimina triloba).  What a fitting gift from beloved students who were conscious of the value of trees which serve both mankind and creation as air purifiers, air conditioners, sound blockers, sound-makers (wind in the branches and musical instruments), providers of habitat, housing, and food; and are a source of aesthetic beauty in the landscape.

Because we had hoped to move within a couple of months, we nestled the potted Pawpaw in a pile of old potting soil in a partially shaded environment preferred by this understory plant species.   Little did we know that this “temporary” location would become home to the Pawpaw for the whole summer, fall, and winter as God seemed to be answering our patient prayers with a message of “slow down and wait for My timing.”

As the chill of Autumn days came on in 2011, we felt the chilling of the housing market and were resigned to the fact that we would be living in Cedarville Township for the winter.  Little Pawpaw dropped her leaves and I added some extra mulch to protect it for the cold of winter.

With the warming of Spring, the prospects for the sale of our home warmed, and by July, we were thankful to have contracts for the sale of our home as well as a contract to purchase a home in Wooster.  When moving days came in early October, we did not forget our tree friend who had grown a few new limbs.  We enjoyed a “moving ceremony” assisted by Tim Clark, the new owner of our home.  Together, we potted up Pawpaw for its ride to Wooster.

After a tending to a long list of “moving responsibilities” (Maybe you can relate?), we transplanted Pawpaw from the plant pot to the Wooster soil of our back yard at 1041 Curtwood Drive.  We again remembered with thanksgiving the students who gave us the gift.  We also reflected on our loving God Whose timing was perfect to allow us more time to fully adjust to the idea of leaving our Cedarville spiritual family and friends.

We hope that Pawpaw’s roots will grow and prosper so the tree can add its many “tree benefits” to our landscape on in the years to come while we nurture it, and then beyond.  Likewise, Abby and I hope that we will be good stewards of God’s provisions to us now that we are here so that we can enhance the Wooster community and those with whom He brings us into contact.

Thanks to so many of you for your friendship and prayers.  If you are in the area, please let us know so you can stop in and see where we are “putting down roots” for this new chapter of our lives.