Howling in the Trees
You will read the Bittersweet Journal sometime after 5 a.m. on Monday morning. That is when I send it every week, but I’m writing it on Sunday night up in the cozy corner of my writing loft. Our old farmhouse is very tight, warm, cozy, and comfortable tonight, but the wind is howling through the trees outside.
Lois is on the road returning from Kentucky, so I will feel better when we are all home safe and warm out on Bittersweet Farm. Hannah is traveling with her. Dale is on his way over tonight. So a few hours from now the little place will be full and that is the way we like it.
Today I preached at Bethel. I have attached the message below so you can watch it. It is a powerful truth and I think it will encourage you. Next week I will make my way north to Barakel again to speak to teens. It will be the last of the winter retreats. I will return to Barakel again the last week in July. Speaking of camp, here is a camp story that I hope will warm your heart and put a smile on your face:
Tommy Minton’s Shirt
You really do meet the neatest people when you set out to serve the Lord. I love this story. It puts a smile on my face and it reminds me of summer. Right now we all need a little reminder of summer and most of our faces look better with a smile on them.
When I saw him I noticed two things right away. He had big, white beard. It was really quite impressive. The other thing that stood out was that he was wearing a very unique, bright blue shirt. To make conversation I said; “Man, I love your shirt. The color really pops.”
He broke into a big smile behind his beard and said, “Well, thank you.”
I discovered that Tommy is a pastor. He is also a fisherman of impressive experience.
It was a good week. The fellowship was rich. The chapel was full of teens twice a day. The campers responded well. Sam Judd led the music and between sessions Sam, Tommy, and I fell effortlessly into conversations in the cool shade of the porch outside the old chapel.
The week passed swiftly. Thursday night was the campfire. The camper testimonies were not so much testimonies of spiritual aspiration like you often hear at camp, but stories of great hardships. Many of the campers came from very troubled homes. After a week of singing and games, horseback riding, hiking in the mountains, swimming, good eating, quiet conversation, and of course, spirited chapel messages they would pack up and return to homes where they would have little or no support for their faith.
My heart just ached for them as I listened to them talking one by one there by the fire up on the hill overlooking the lake that night. I walked quietly back to my quarters and slept with their stories on my heart.
It is always hard to drive out of the mountains. Their beauty haunts you, and leaving them means that you are entering back into a routine a little more complex that of a camp speaker. When you speak at camp you have the very best job in the whole place. You prepare your heart and mind to speak, you pray, you preach, you hang out with campers and staff members and follow up on your teaching and preaching in conversations over meals or in beautiful settings out in creation. When the week ends and you leave the mountains, it’s back to work.
I packed my things and said my goodbyes and opened the tailgate of the red Jeep to load all my things. I took one last look at the camp and walked around to the driver door and got in. There on the seat beside me was a beautiful bright blue shirt cleaned, and folded and gifted to me.
I wrote Tommy and I told him that wherever I spoke all summer I would wear his shirt. When I did I took a picture and sent it to him. I have pictures of me all over Canada and five states preaching in Tommy’s bright blue shirt.
February 24, 2019