Sunday, August 31, 2008

Labor Day News

I write this from Audrey's house in Knoxville.
She is taking a Sunday afternoon nap - after preaching this morning. It was a good worship service. Her church - First Christian Church - is a very old building in downtown Knoxvile and you can tell it once was very grand. There is a balcony that goes al the way around the sanctuary which empty at least this morning. I bet this church could hold 400 people, but there were only about a hundred in worship.
it was a very nice worship service. Very meaningful to me and Audrey's preaching was intelligent and authentic and actually made me cry. i think I cried because it is so clear the God is working through her - and it awes me. The congregation obviously loves her and that certainly makes a mother feel good.

yesterday Chuck and I drove to Hendersonville north Carolina to see my Uncle Jim. A long day with driving almost 6 hours back and forth but still it was good to see him. Uncle Jim lives in a beautiful house on top of a mountain and he is still - at 85 years of age - able to keep it up. His friend, Marion, was visiting and we all went out to lunch together. I learned about Uncle Jim's politics and his health and his life in North Carolina. Most of all I learned that it meant a lot to him that Chuck and I took a day and spent time. In the morning before I went I felt like I herd my parents approval of a day like today. it had been 3 years since I saw him last. And it was time. this is what family does.

As i am writing this, I am watching a "Presidential Campaign Focus Group" on C Span.
they are watching snippets of speeches from Obama and McCain and reacting to what they are saying. It is fascinating. As this whole campaign is fascinating. Now that the democratic convention is over I am looking forward to the republican. this woman from Alaska is going to be interesting learn about - she seems so conservative - how can McCain think he is going to pick up any of the Hillary women? I wonder.

Speaking of Hillary, I just finished reading American Evita by Christopher Anderson. It describes her ambition and her fighting nature. I always knew that i viscerally reacted negatively to hillary the fighter. As i read this book I can see that she has been a fighted - no holds barred fighter - her whole life. She is also the master of compartmentalization - being able to put unpleasant things in a box in her mind and then not think about it. I believe that enabled her to say things that were not true with such conviction that she herself believes them. Thursday I watched her give the final New York votes to Obama and I kept wondering "how does she do that?" How can she - after fighting this fight to become the democratic candidate how can she laugh and smile. Isn't her heart absolutely broken? But what I really got from this book was has incredibly ambitious and strong she is. She is not done - I am sure of that. But I, for one, am glad she is not the democratic candidate.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Visiting Ellen

I write this from Chicago where I am visiting my sister Ellen. She is in the family room watching television.

Yesterday we went to her physical therapy together and today we went to the doctor. Chuck and Tom are in the kitchen preparing ribs for dinner. We are going to have Sarah and James for dinner and even Samantha (who supposedly lives here) will be joining us. I look forward to that.

Ellen is doing - as they say - as well as can be expected. There is much to celebrate. First of all, she does not have "cancer brain" as others have described. She is keeping her mind sharp and still very engaged in life. She keeps up with customers through email and actually is doing 2 per cent better in sales this month than this time last year. That is pretty impressive.

She had an unfortunate accident last week when the needle fell out and taxol went into her skin and not her veins. When I arrived she was still icing it (ingeniously with frozen tater tots in a pillow case). After we saw the doctor today, he said it look like she has turned a corner and does not need to do that.

When we went to physical therapy it is obvious how much improvement she has made. She is able to march and lift her legs and walk well with her walker. I can certainly foresee that soon she will be able to manage only with the cane. As we remember the original back surgery, we know that we are blessed that she made it through that so well.

Her spirits are good although she is, of course, bored. She cannot do much except literally wait for her body to heal and for the chemo treatments to come to an end. yesterday we cleaned out her corner of the family room and it is very clear that cards mean a lot to her as they do to anyone who is stuck in this waiting time.

Her address is 503 Arbor Lane, Oswego Illinois 60543

The biggest change is in her hair. She is white. She was going to go natural even before the cancer hit her, but it is a change. She now matches my brothers! With me being the odd one out. I think she look like Jane Alexander - very regal.

Anyway, God is good and God is blessing her as she experiences healing in so many ways. I am blessed to be here.

Keep Ellen and Tom and Sam and Sarah and Sean and family in your prayers. This is not easy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Advance Conference

I write this from Magnetic Springs, Ohio where I am serving at Advance Conference. Advance conference is the camp for young adults aged 19 throught 29. This week we have about 75 campers and 7 faculty members. i am one of them.

Our theme for this week is "Divinity and diversity." The morning consists of a Bible study, morning prayer (solitary reflection), a keynot presentation, and a small group discussion.
After lunch we have faculty meetings, a "demoi" or committee meeting, free time, and then dinner.

After dinner there is vestpers, a fun activity, a closing circle, snacks and then games and discussion. This hardly explains all that goes on here.

Right now it is 5 o clock. My committee has planned the vespers for tonight and I took a 2 mile walk. And after I write this I am going to go sit in the shade in an adirondack chair and contine reading "Three Cups of Tea" I feel so relaxed because my keynote is over. Audrey and I spoke yesterday about diversity.

The young people here are really impressive. This evening we are going to do a commissioning service for Erin McKinney who is going to be a Global missionary and go to Dominican Republic for a year of working there. At the serive three people will speak about their year of service. Ryan wen to India and worked at a hospice for Aids victims, Christa went to Israel, and Erin went to Paraguay and I believe worked in a school. Then after that year they "went on with their lives" and have surely been influeced by the experience.

In our discussions we have college students, young professionals, and some who are working their first jobs. The conversations are rich. At the same time, they are having a lot of fun. As I went to bed last night at 11:30, there was a game of "Capture the Flag" being started.

So, it is good to be away from the everyday church world and have a new group of people to guide and to learn from.

Monday, August 4, 2008

getting Ready!

I am getting ready for two things.....
Next week is Advance Conference and Audrey and I are doing the first keynote together. It is a week about diversity and as the beginning speakers our topic is " Diversity - So What" . So, I have really started thinking about it. I have checked out some websites and would really like to come up with a book to guide us. The Keynotes at Advance (this is a camp for 19-29 year olds) used to be just talks - but over the past few years they have become much more interactive. so, I find myself thinking of activities as much as content. Because the whole week is devoted to diversity, we just have to get the conversation started. So, if anyone has any recommendations for me, send it along. This thinking period is always interesting.

(Audrey is in Atlanta right now taking a course so that she can have standing with the UCC - more options for her for in the future. But it makes it hard for us to communicate!!)

The other thing I am getting ready for is starting my courses in Spiritual Direction. It all starts at the end of the month. I just got my first book in the mail today - "The Art of Theological Reflection" by Patricia O Connell Killen and John deBeer. O boy O boy O boy. I am going to start this right away. Looking forward to it all!!!