extraordinarily normal

I’ve just returned to my Airbnb following the final event of Grace Agenda 2020 in Moscow, Idaho. Tomorrow morning, Lord willing, I’ll hit the road back to Newberg. With three jam-packed days of meetings and events sandwiched between two scenic driving days, I expect to need at least a day to recover. By recover, I mean find my way back to earth! No doubt this is partly caused by how abnormal we’ve felt for so many months. I recognized how much I miss going to church, singing in a group, hearing good messages — live! For three days I felt normal and extraordinarily blessed by it as I participated in as many events as I could fit in a day.

I hope these few pictures and words capture the essence of my Grace Agenda experience. I know already I’ll need to check back on this post when abnormality strikes.

Only seven or so hours to reach my destination. When I started meeting people, I learned they had come from across the country, making my little drive insignificant.

I had actually registered for the event originally planned for April. COVID did its best to dissuade us from gathering, but once the conference began on Friday morning, very little mention was made of it. Refreshing!

The women’s seminar began with singing “The King of Love My Shepherd Is”! The music of Christ Church is either hymns or psalms set to music. I thought I might just be transported to heaven, adding my voice to all the others. Rachel Jankovic spoke first, followed by her sister, Bekah Merkle, followed by their mother, Nancy Wilson.

Yes, it’s a family thing, and in this case I see this as a strong affirmation for the way truth handed down through teaching and example honors God as he designed the family. I have been getting to know these women through countless hours of listening to the sisters’ podcast conversations on “What Have You” and Nancy’s “Femina” podcast. So getting to hear them in person and later getting to chat briefly with them felt like meeting some of my best friends for the first time!

To illustrate the hospitality that surrounds the Wilson family’s existence I must include the invitation extended to What Have You listeners to an open house at Rachel and Luke’s home. Having listened to every episode in the archives, I know the story of this home all the way back to the pouring of its foundation.

Yes, the mother of seven children (youngest is 4yo) still finds time to weave.

Could they be more intentional in their pursuit of hospitality?

“I don’t want to find you in my closet!” Rachel joked as she encouraged the limits of our welcome.

On my way down the driveway I stopped to reach my phone out the window to get this bugless look at the “amber waves of grain” that typify the area’s topography.

I was clearly in the minority, agewise. And what a blessing that was! It gives me great hope for the future, that Christian young people strong in faith and biblical teaching will carry on the message to future generations. I was heartened to observe families with small children come and sit for an afternoon of 45-minute messages, with only short breaks between (much like my parents did with us kids at Winona Lake [Indiana] Bible Conference back in the day)!

A free morning gave me a chance to walk the neighborhood, where I discovered this. In my case the phrase was “whatever goes down, must go up.”

Another wonderful outcome of my somewhat recent connection to Christ Church is the Bible Reading Challenge, which I’ve mentioned here before. Here was another not-to-miss opportunity to mingle with other Bible readers and those who facilitate the program. The women’s Facebook group alone has 23.8 thousand followers from around the world!

The reception gave me another chance to get to know Meg and Meg after we shared a table at the women’s luncheon a day earlier. They traveled with one daughter each all the way from Virginia for Grace Agenda. They were definitely inclusive friends who learned my name and introduced me to people they know. Yet another blessing of the unity of believers. It’s unlikely we’ll ever meet again in this life, but knowing them expands my anticipation of the next life.

A highlight to be sure was attending the 8:30 service at Christ Church. I didn’t take a single picture so swiped this off Google images as a reminder of my joy in celebrating God through sung and spoken worship in community with like-minded believers. There is no substitute for this!

Of course I can’t visit a new town or city without scoping out a Goodwill store.

…and a venti chai latte extra hot!

Still two more reasons ahead to use this, I thought I’d snap this selfie as a keepsake. It turned out the Sabbath Dinner I signed up for was only three houses down the street from my Airbnb.

Hospitality is a theme this week, and my hosts, Rayia and Jonathan, were delightful.

The final event was a Psalm Sing and Fellowship. The worship pastor at Christ Church led what at times felt like a rehearsal, as he helped us all enter into the parts singing. It illustrated clearly the value of rehearsal! Songs I stumbled through at first I soon sang with my head up.

Just how many highlights can a person stand?

It’s the next morning now. Sleep and my morning Shakeology breakfast have revived my energy for the drive home. My spirit is still soaring. Normalcy can’t be overrated.

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3 Responses to extraordinarily normal

  1. Becky says:

    Ahh! Sounds like you were refreshed, and singing without masks must have been freeing! As far as singing goes, no musical instruments right! I’ve attended a few services at Church of Christ here, just voices lifted up in harmony.. ahh can they sing.. thought I was singing with the angels! But I do like instruments for my worship too. Music transforms me and speaks to my heart more than a sermon. Thank you for letting us in on your spiritual journey!

  2. gmaalice says:

    Sounds like a wonderful experience! I did not see any face masks or indications of “social distancing”. Is Idaho open to that kind of activity now? I trust everyone stays healthy! YOU INCLUDED!☺💜

    *Alice*

    M. Alice Maurer Trusting Jesus as Savior and Friend

    On Mon, Aug 17, 2020 at 8:58 AM a little bit of this and a little bit of th

  3. Pam MacDonald says:

    Sounds like an amazing weekend! I’m so glad you made that drive.

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