This town of Upland is, joyfully, my home.
When others think of Upland, they generally think of it for two reasons: either Ivanhoe’s or Taylor University. I know people who think of Upland as a “cute” place to live. Some think of it as a bubble, a little piece of Americana — and it can be.
For seven years in the 1980s, my family lived near the state capital of Annapolis, Md. While living there, I could have chosen to work in one place, lived in a different city, worshipped in another city and have my children attend a school apart from their church friends. Thus, we could have been living a disconnected life and in so doing could have been tempted to be one type of person in one place and another type of person in another place.
As I read the New Testament, I am struck by the number of interactions that occur between neighbors, family and friends. The towns in Scripture were smaller, the relationships tighter, the family tentacles reached farther and the legacies deeper.
I can see Upland having characteristics much like these New Testament towns. Land ownership is meaningful. The church I go to also has people I work with and neighbors that I live by. The life I live in front of my colleagues at work is also seen as I work on my house, as I worship and interact at my home church and at the sporting events of my children. Connected. Everywhere. One area of my life flowing seamlessly into other areas of my life.
These truths were brought home to me more than I ever could have imagined at the recent passing of my mother. My mom and dad moved to Upland in 2005. Dad passed in 2008. Mom remarried Tim Diller, a former Taylor faculty member and fellow employee. She retired from Taylor’s athletic laundry position at age 86, two years ago. Mom taught local children piano until three months before she died. She sat next to me in church most Sundays, and we shared a meal in the DC after church. My family tied to my work, tied to my neighbors, tied to nearly every part of my life.
And I have learned to love those deep connections.
This little town of 3,500, including our Taylor students, has made me a more complete follower of Christ. It challenges me to live a more consistent life because I share my life at so many levels. I have learned that Christ is honored when we share life deeply, when we live life consistently and when the parts of our lives are put together as a whole.
Upland may have challenges I have to remember so I can be made a more complete follower of Christ. But in many ways, it has shaped me into a more complete person than I had ever anticipated when this journey began 31 years ago.
Yep, this little Town of Upland is my home. My failures are a little more known and my joys a little more shared. I rejoice over that fact.
I hope you are encouraged to make it your home one day.