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beauty instead of ashes

The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me,
because the Lord has anointed Me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of our God’s vengeance;
to comfort all who mourn,
to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,
and splendid clothes instead of despair.
And they will be called righteous trees,
planted by the Lord
to glorify Him.
Isaiah 61:1-3

This past weekend I had an opportunity to catch up with some dear friends from my college days at Taylor...Fort Wayne.  The hours spent reminiscing on Saturday were sweet.  The joys of actually being live-and-in-person with people whom mean so much to me...whom have influenced my life for the better...whom know me and still love me anyway, are unending.
Our paths crossed, in time, not by our own design, nor without pain along the way.
All a part of a grand design, orchestrated by God, who (like Hallmark says best) cares enough to give the very best to His children, were these years mixed with sadness and sweetness as we found ourselves on one campus, called by many different names.
The history is interesting.  The story long.  The ending bittersweet.
Out of the ashes, however, stands a beautiful story.
Of God's grace.
Of God's goodness.
Of genuine friendship.
Of a future that now simply exists in the memories of those blessed by a time spent together in the past.
As we shared memories of our years at 1025 W. Rudisill Blvd, the glory of God resounded.  In the stories of fun times, hardships, miracles, worship and prayer, and/or mischievousness (that may or may not have ever occurred), God's name was praised.  
More than book knowledge was gained by many in the classrooms, hallways, and dorm rooms of TUFW.  Opportunities for developing leadership skills abounded on this campus. Prayer times were a norm...a socially accepted part of life for many.  Card games and Monopoly, not to mention floor hockey and flag football, and even baseball, gave way to many hours of fellowship...and opportunities to work on good sportsmanship attitudes.  
The story of TUFW continues on through the lives of those of us who walked Wittmer halls, slept on those half-couch-turns-into-a-bed things in Lexington, endured The Pit in Schultz, had a food fight with spaghetti in the cafeteria (one of those things that may or may not have really occurred, Dean Arthur), studied all night for a Dr. Was exam, and worshiped together in chapel M-W-F mornings at 10 AM.  
Some of us are preachers, teachers, or lawyers...others have made names for ourselves on a grander scale with trophies and accolades too long to list here...while still others are stay-at-home-moms with pb&j stains on us at any given moment.  
To you, I say, whatever you do, do to the Glory of God.
To God, I say, thanks for the awesome friends You have given me.


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