Wednesday, March 11, 2015

“Not everything you read on the internet is true.” — Abraham Lincoln

We have officially been gone about ten years now.  That number stretches to sixteen going back to my last appointment as a senior pastor at Grace UMC in Rogers.  In sixteen years, a nine-year-old girl becomes a 24 year old young woman, a college graduate with a husband and a child of her own.  Thanks to Facebook and other internet related stuff, we can watch the children and babies we knew grow up, graduate, and marry, have children, and begin careers.  Of course, if you haven’t been there to watch them growing, you tend to remember them as the small children you once knew.  Karen has seen kindergartners of hers become rodeo queens, engineers, teachers like herself, and has been a part of the lives of several of her friends who have moved to other states, gotten married and become really happy.  One of the biggest fans of the blogs I write is a woman who sang in high school choir with Karen over fifty years ago.  Sadly, we also are aware of the passing of friends, some way too soon, and others when it was in the fullness of time.  Karen is frequently handing me her iPad to show me some adult that she taught as a five year old who is now in the news for one reason or another.  We are able to follow the prayer concerns of former congregations and friends that are scattered all over.  We are delighted to see women that we knew as high school girls with their own children in a photo with close friends (the parents now grandparents) and their husbands.  It would be nice if we could attend the weddings, baptisms, graduations, and even funerals of those with whom we have been close, but geography and very expensive airfares keep that from us, yet through social media, we are almost there in person.  We are proud to see former churches growing and becoming a major influence in the communities they serve.  I really don’t know how early missionaries like David Livingstone were able to make it when it took six months just to get a letter back home.  Thanks to the internet, we have been able to watch our grandchildren open Christmas presents, and have face-to-face talks with our grown children about changing jobs and new challenges where they live.  Our spirits, which can drop very low this far away, are buoyed and lifted by simple comments, emails, and Facebook posts like this one from yesterday, “What an inspiration today's blog was!  Thanks you two for your faithfulness and giving us all such hope!”  While we are far away with only one family of Australians as near neighbors, we are still close to those we have served, loved, taught, and from whom we have learned.  Karen and I always make time to talk about things back home every day, often with pictures and stories to share.  We are part of a very different world here, but thanks to technology, we are still very much a part of the world we left.  When you are posting pictures of your children, your trips, and your church adventures—you are keeping us in your lives and therefore more alive and less lonely.  A picture of a completed jigsaw puzzle, a tasty dish, or a child’s triumph can make our days here brighter, so thank you for posting.  We miss you when you don’t let us know how your life is going, so don’t stop taking the time to put up your time in a 10k run or a note about what a great worship service you just attended.  We are all connected in so many ways, and I thank God for being able to stay in touch and still root for the Razorbacks from very far away.  We are with you in spirit and keep you in our prayers every day.  May God continue to bless your lives.  You have blessed and continue to bless ours.
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