What is Normal?

Posted on August 19, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

We are grateful for the many significant opportunities God continues to provide for speaking and ministry opportunities. It seems we have constantly been traveling throughout the first three years of retirement; we enjoy the trips and the margin to relish the journey, but often find ourselves wondering what life would be like if we were home all the time.

WhatisNormal-1I’m posting some of the photos of the beautiful gardens we enjoyed on our recent vacation in Austria and Switzerland. As well as the drive through the Alps and delighting in mountain vistas, walks through the parks and relaxing in these beautiful settings were a pleasant contrast to exhausting sight-seeing excursions. Meanwhile, we find ourselves facing an unprecedented six weeks down home in Mississippi.

After mowing the overgrown grass, weeding the flower beds and nurturing Bobbye’s houseplants back to health, I have the yard back to a maintenance stage with only a few optional projects in the works. I have been scouting out the sunny areas of the yard with the intention of preparing a couple of small plots for a vegetable garden next spring. Another challenge is the need to figure out how to protect our blueberry bushes from the deer.

WhatisNormal-2It has been spiritually refreshing to have unlimited time for meditation on our porch with coffee and Bible each morning and then consistently engage one of the three-mile walking routes in our part of the town. It feels a bit strange but is spiritually refreshing to attend our home church several weeks in a row and be blessed by good biblical preaching and anointed worship.

We have been frustrated in our desire entertain friends and neighbors and use our house for hospitality since we were seldom home and found it difficult to schedule convenient times. So, it has been a joy to finally host long-time friends in the community and groups from our church for meals and fellowship, scheduling two or three each week.

WhatisNormal-3That means a lot of time together in the kitchen, cleaning and grocery shopping which so far is proceeding compatibly although tasks are not always clearly delineated! Friday night featured grilled pork, roasted vegetables and spinach madeline for dinner with three couples from my high school class 52 years ago. For an after-church fellowship we prepared a salad plate with tuna, chicken curry and shrimp noodles and side dish of fruit.

This is also a time of preparation for pending ministries, one of which is reading in preparation to teach a class the spring semester at Mississippi College. Another focus of office time is planning, scheduling and designing promotion of the Zwemer Summer Institute of Muslim Studies for 2014 at Columbia International University.

WhatisNormal-4Please note our travel and speaking schedule over the next couple of months in the column on the left. Serving on the board of trustees at William Carey University will entail driving to Hattiesburg one day each of the next three weeks for a scholarship banquet, board meeting and speaking at the dedication of a new building named for missionaries who served in West Africa. In October we are looking forward to our periodic road trip to CIU in South Carolina and an engagement in Richmond which will allow us to renew fellowship with IMB staff.

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