Friday, August 09, 2013

In Praise of Inspirational Friends

My, my; it has been a busy and tiring week. But along the way there have also been moments of powerful inspiration. Thank You so much, Lord. The Word. Claire. The rain. The lawn and garden. The ability to serve you. And godly friends.

Indeed, included among those inspirational highlights was a great afternoon with Perly & Sandy Schoville on Monday. The Schovilles have been dear friends for decades and they have always presented to us the most amazing examples of love, generosity, good humor, moral courage, love for the Scriptures, and wisdom. We love them very much and our lives have been marvelously enriched by their friendship. We feel profoundly honored to have been embraced by their family as well. Monday's conversation was particularly neat as Perly and Sandy shared stories from their latest mission trip to Nicaragua as well as their exciting tour of Israel.

Also up this week were a couple of early morning "Panera parleys." The first was my regular Tuesday meeting with Dick Wilson and John Malek at the West Maple Street restaurant and then on Thursday I met Pat Osborne over at the Westroads Panera's for a conversation over a book he had given me to read dealing with the Law, the gospel and evangelism. Both mornings were stimulating to the max.

There was also inspiration aplenty on Thursday afternoon as we gave the first of this month's "When Swing Was King" presentations. (Only 12 more to go!) The location was Life Care Center here in Omaha, the nursing home where my Mom lived for the two years before her death. That alone makes the LCC program especially meaningful. But, in addition, "When Swing Was King" started here and we have made many friends among the residents and staff.

What else? Well, I had a nice talk over the phone with Ric, my youngest brother and the only one of the 5 siblings that still lives in Denver. Also Claire Nicole, my Claire's niece, has been back at our house this week as she began her duties as an OPS high school teacher. But since her new apartment wasn't ready until Saturday, she moved back into the bedroom she occupied this past winter and spring. It's been delightful to have her back and we had a very pleasant dinner last night out on the deck. I grilled burgers, hot dogs, and Italian sausage and, on the stove inside, we stirred up a delicious concoction of bell peppers, yellow squash, onions, mushrooms, thyme, sage, and lemon-infused olive oil. Meanwhile Claire boiled up the season's first ears of corn from Wenninghoff's Farm.

However, the most poignant and memorable of this week's inspirational moments for Claire and I (and for Karla Struble too who was sitting with us) came at a "celebration service" honoring the life of Katie Nissen, the lovely, talented and strongly principled 17-year old who died last week of a mysterious brain ailment. Katie's parents are our longtime friends and pro-life colleagues, Tim & Pam Nissen, and we have been praying regularly for them all week.

It was listening to three Christian friends talk about Katie and the sterling example of her lifestyle of faith that really captivated us. Katie's joy, her winsome witness, her hope, the helpfulness and good cheer she so generously provided to many, her attention to knowing and living the Word of God, her humility, her gratitude -- these virtues honored God and created a powerful moral challenge to everyone who heard these young adults talk about her. We had known Katie just a bit as a young girl -- she was known around our house as the kid with the most enthralling smile we have ever seen -- but to listen to her friends speak of her with such appreciation, respect and tenderness made us wish we had known her a lot better.

But, for Christians, such regret isn't the last word. For, according to the sure promise of He Who died on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins, we are going to share heaven with Jesus Christ -- and with everyone who humbly received Him as their Savior.  So, yes, we will one day see Katie and again delight in that brilliant smile.  And, after hearing those testimonies on Tuesday, we will be looking forward to that all the more.