How sweet to be out of cell phone service for a couple of days, out in the beautiful country. We went to Garrett County, Maryland over the weekend, where I had my first-ever BARN CONCERT!!! That’s right, cows and roosters and cats and dogs right there in the mix! God works in such providential ways…back in 2015, when Jamie was doing chemo at Johns Hopkins, I met a sweet sister-in-Christ, named Edith, in the oncology wing lobby. She was there that day for an ophthalmology checkup and her friend, Irene, was receiving cancer treatment in the same chemo room as Jamie. Dear Irene went to be home with Jesus this past year. Edith and I have remained close friends and we continually encourage each other in our journeys of vision challenges- pressing into faith and praying for one another. Edith is one of the most joy-filled, graceful, strong women I have ever known.   She is one of those people, that after being around, your spirit just feels lifted to a new level of faith and thirst for Christ.  And what a pleasant surprise it was this past weekend to find out that many of her friends and family have that same type of contagious joy and faith! 

Edith invited me to come sing and share my testimony in her community in Oakland, Maryland, where the majority of the population is Amish, with Mennonite and Brethren congregations thriving there as well.  Jamie, Joey and I had one of the most memorable weekends of our lives- we soaked in the beauty of open land and rural farms, we got a taste of simple living, we ate the most incredible bread and baked goods in the world, we made new friends with whom we laughed and talked until we could laugh and talk no more, we sang Christmas Carols in September just because we could, we shared our story- pointing to God’s glory and power, and we realized that we have much more in common with these people than we had imagined, who before, may have seemed quite different from ourselves…yes, our common humanity and our love for Jesus.  I look forward to visiting this beautiful part of the country again- the serenity and vast open space is a small taste of Heaven.  I do hope, as well, to sing in a barn on a stack of hay bales one of these days again…there’s nothing quite like it! 

“Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
Our comforts, and our cares.

We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.”

-John Fawcett (1782)