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Dispatches from Hickory, N.C.

A few days ago, or maybe a week, I was feeling a little anxious and overwhelmed. I knew I had several book trips coming up, I was just settling into a new pastoral call, and my youngest son, Josh, had just started a new preschool.

Maybe you can relate to that feeling of anxiety that always seems to hit me well before new things begin. On the upside, I often don't have much nervousness immediately before events, but I don't like that angsty feeling that often distracts me from enjoying the moments of calm before busyness sets in again.

Nonetheless, I had to put my feelings aside, because a day after driving 50 miles one way on ice-covered roads to church in Southwestern Minnesota, I hopped on a plane from the Minneapolis airport to head to Hickory, N.C., for a book talk and visit to Lenoir Rhyne University, about an hour equidistant to Asheville, Charlotte, and Winston-Salem.

I can't adequately put into words my time here, the experiences, the affirmation, the challenge -- …

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