The very words release a flood of warm memories. Our first parsonage in rural Ohio was an old farmhouse with a porch swing where Mary and I could watch farm tractors and rusty old pickups pass by. We could wave to the neighbors who lived catty-corner across the road.
My all-time favorite memories of a front porch swing was in Portland, Oregon where I attended Western Seminary and served as pastor of Powellhurst Baptist Church. The house was a fixer-upper for sure, which we obtained for a pittance. Mary, bless her, saw potential in the old unkempt house—easily the worst property on the block. I saw an exterior that hadn’t tasted a coat of paint for decades. It reminded me of an old rusty pickup truck languishing behind a barn, with weeds creeping over the running boards.
In those days, Mary was Joanna Gaines before there was a Joanna Gaines in the HGTV series Fixer Upper. Too bad she was married to Syd Brestel instead of Chip Gains. Even so, I muddled through all the restoration until the home regained its original charm and—quite honestly—became the nicest house on the block.
Houses in old Portland neighborhoods have a charm most modern track homes lack. Today we want a back yard with a fence to provide privacy from neighbors we may not know (and don’t really care to know) by name. Older homes had small backyards but a nice roomy front porch. Neighborhood homes may not have had air conditioning or flat-screen TVs with Netflix, but they did have front porch swings where neighbors could watch real life in real time—both comedies and tragedies.
On summer nights Mary and I often sat on our front porch swing on Grant Court and hollered at our neighbors about how beastly hot it was. We could watch all the kids from the neighborhood playing catch, tag, hide-n-seek, or whatever happened to be on the menu. Often in heat of day the neighbor kids would gather on our front porch and ask, “Whada ya wanna do now?”
I don’t believe we have ever experienced true neighborliness to the extent we did on Grant Court, and a lot of it centered around the front porch swing.
So that was my inspiration for launching this blog site.
I invite you to join me here on The Front Porch Swing. Sure, I may do most of the talking, but I invite you to interact with the blogs. You may want to say a hearty “amen.” Then again, you may want to take me to task. Either way, let’s just be neighbors and enjoy getting to know each other. More importantly, let’s celebrate both the kindness—and fiery holiness—of our awesome God.
It is my desire to release a fresh blog each week.
See you next Monday? Oh, and invite your friends to join us on The Front Porch Swing.
It’s the neighborly thing to do.
P. S. I have written a book with the working title Fear and Wonder: Celebrating the Kindness and Severity of Our God. Moody Publishers have contracted to publish the book and has the right to change the title.
Because I’ve never been the pastor of a mega church and don’t have a television ministry (nor desire one) I am seeking to promote the book through my Website and weekly blogs. Next week, we’ll take a closer look at all that.