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Last fall I re-entered the rhythm of academic teaching after enjoying a sabbatical in winter, spring and summer 2011. Karen Petersen Finch ably handled my duties as department chair in my absence. My sabbatical was both restful and productive, and it reminded me once again of the gift of university teaching. I devoted my time to four projects: in January I wrote a chapter for a book providing hermeneutical guidelines for reading Christian classics (my chapter was on how to read the literature of the desert fathers and mothers); in May I joined Jim Edwards in speaking at the West Coast Pastors Conference (my topic was on what the Early Christian catechumenate can teach us about training people in the faith). I also did a great deal of reading on the history of the catechumenate, my current research project. Last but not least, I wrote a sequel to A Grace Disguised. More obviously theological, A Grace Revealed: How God Redeems the Story of Your Life explores the theme of redemption, which consists, as I argue in the book, of living out a story of growing into who we already are in Christ. It was a joy to work on the book. Zondervan says it is due out in October 2012.
The other big news concerns what has happened to the family. As you probably know, I married Pat in August 2010, happily inheriting two step-daughters, Morgan and Taylor (and Pat inherited three step-children, Catherine, David and John). The family has since grown quite dramatically. David married Kelli in December 2011, John married Annalise in February 2012, and Catherine gave birth to our first grandchild, Gideon, in March 2012, which made her husband, Jacob, a very proud father. So in very short order the family has grown from four to eleven. All are doing well. Catherine and Jacob live in Portland, where Jacob started his own business (The Detail Difference) and Catherine teaches junior high (though she is currently on leave); David and Kelli live in Durham, N.C., where David works for Reality Ministries and Kelli for a Duke grant that supports pastors of small Methodist congregations; John and Annalise live in Seattle, where Annalise serves as a nurse at Seattle Children's Hospital and John works at Earl Palmer Ministries. Morgan teaches at a Spanish immersion school in Seattle and Taylor is about to graduate from SPU. I am so grateful for them.
I am grateful for Whitworth, my colleagues, and our students, too. I am enjoying a rich season of life. In A Grace Revealed I introduce readers to the teachings of Abba Theodore, who coined the phrase "ambidextrous" spirituality. He defines it as a commitment to trust God right where we are, whether we face adversity or enjoy prosperity, for God will work out his redemptive purpose in our lives no matter what our circumstances. I bear witness to this truth.
God bless you all.
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