When we Bascoms had recently come back from Africa to Kansas, and the Swiharts came to town from California, we met walking out of church, went out for lunch, and immediately bonded. Our three guys were older than their three younger children, but Nancy and Judd’s free spirits and openness to genuine fellowship drew all of us to them. Soon our collaboration on bringing a L’Abri conference to K State brought us together for a season. Our fellowship stuck – not just soon after, but for 35 years and counting!
This year as I’ve observed Nancy trying to put this book together, I see her searching for how to communicate ways God has unveiled His presence in our shared life here on Kitten Creek Road. She’ll likely “show” more than “tell” the story, and may not have thought of describing the principals, i.e. Judd and Nancy. It occurred to me to try to describe them to readers, from a neighbor’s point of view. Ready for some contrasts? While their marital unity seems natural and constant, really it’s rather remarkable, considering their differences. Here’s husband Judd with blue eyes and early gray hair, with young looking brown eyed wife, Nancy. Judd is a choleric German with an unrelenting work ethic bolstered by marked energy and strength. Nancy tends to be a little more up and down, with less physical stamina. With her beautiful voice, music has played a big place in Nancy’s life, but Judd can’t carry a tune. They make quite a duo, with Nancy ‘s creative spirituality, and Judd’s straight-forward practicality.
Nancy says she’s an introvert, while Judd comes across as a cheerful extrovert. In his profession, Judd counsels troubled people day in and day out, but never appears worried, nor mentions a word about his confidants. In contrast, Nancy identifies painfully with those who share their sorrows with her…even animals. Judd dutifully puts up with all the strays Nancy can’t resist adopting. When it comes to spaces, Judd takes the lead as the “barn-raising” builder, and Nancy the artistic beautifier. A meal at her table is a delight to behold, to taste, and to share in warm fellowship. The experience brings to mind John 12:3, “The home was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
If I were to try to identify their spiritual gifts, I am reminded of I Peter 4:10: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” Nancy’s gifts seem to be mixed, with a strong dose of “mercy,” and I’d see “helps” as Judd’s outstanding one. Only hearts that really “do it as unto the Lord” can be as gracious as this pair have been in sharing so broadly with hundreds of us…sharing…well, you name it – their farm, their home, barn, car, bed, table, garden, mower, snow plow, ladder.. whatever you need… plus their counsel, fellowship, leadership, teaching, laughter, and just plain T.I.M.E.
How do you summarize such open handedness, such open heartedness? The word that comes to my mind is…well, they’ve just made themselves and whatever they have “available.” No, I shouldn’t attribute their availability to themselves. Human beings just aren’t naturally that big-hearted. It is God who has gifted them, by His Spirit. He’s indwelt them, surprised them – and the rest of us – and that’s the testimony of this story.