Category Archives: Family

Family Memories

The Ways We Say Goodbye

I have long been a student of human behavior. Even as a kid I can remember thinking about how people said goodbye in such different ways. Whenever Dad called the house from work and one of us kids answered, he was pretty cut and dry. He stated the purpose of his call, asked his questions and hung up. I hardly ever remember my dad formally saying goodbye. Even when I watched him at work, taking orders over the phone, he would conclude the call with something like, “Well, Ok then” and drop the receiver.

My mother made much more of a production of saying goodbye. She would insist on a hug and kiss on the cheek, and demand reciprocation. She lingered over the goodbyes she gave her children and grandchildren. You could not in good conscience depart her home without participating in the goodbye ritual.

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Filed under #change, Christian Faith, Family, Leadership, Ministry, Pastors

A Tribute to Mom K.

When it comes to mother-in-laws I won the lottery. That’s not just sentimental hyperbole, I believe it to be true. I write this as the Kline family prepares itself to pay tribute to and honor their matriarch, Joan J. Kline, who passed from this life on July 16, 2022. After a life well-lived (95 years and 9 months) she finished her race.

I first met Mrs. K in the Fall of 1982. The campus ministry of which her daughter Lori and I were participants held a retreat at Tippecanoe Baptist Camp. We stayed in the recently constructed lodge and were hosted by the Kline’s, in their role as resident camp managers. Mrs. K cooked for us and saw to any hospitality needs we might have had.

A few months later I found myself as a guest in her home, as members of that same campus ministry group had shared a deputation service at the Miami Baptist Church. Lunch, with all the fixins was provided by Mom K, with Mr. K. assisting. It was obvious then that large groups of people did not phase her, in fact she thrived in those moments.

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Mirage Meanderings

According to Merriam-Webster a “mirage” is “an optical effect that is sometimes seen at sea, in the desert, or over hot pavement.” It may have the appearance of a pool of water, but it is an illusory or unattainable reality. It also happens to be the name Mitsubishi gave its compact hatchback – an economy car if ever one was made – which I recently drove on vacation over 1500 miles in the great American West.

Our trip took us from Denver, Colorado to Phoenix, Arizona along a circuitous route that passed through Alamosa, CO; Moab, UT; Williams, Flagstaff and Sedona AZ. Along the way we hiked, explored and photographed five national parks, a national monument, a couple of tourist traps, two of America’s metropolitan centers, and some state and local municipal parks. We spent time with family & friends and had plenty of windshield time to reflect.

As I coaxed the aforementioned Mirage up and over mountain passes, through valleys, forests and deserts, even managing once or twice to pass slower traffic; I kept coming back to the irony of its name in connection with it’s performance. While it had the “illusory” appearance of a car, you had to make an appointment with the accelerator to get up to speed. Long term comfort was “unattainable” given they way it hugged the pavement, revealing each and every crack, crevasse, seal, bump, alteration and pothole. Loading luggage was equivalent to working a jigsaw puzzle, as it only fit in one particular configuration. There was plenty of time for thinking with road noise making conversation challenging. And more than once we had a hard time locating where we had parked the thing, given it’s knack for disappearing between larger vehicles.

Please do not get me wrong. This first world problem of transportation did not inhibit our trip or in any lasting way make us suffer. We made all our planned connections, saw the destinations we had counted on, and rediscovered the beauty and wonder of our nation. It was a wonderful vacation on which the Mirage became something we laughed about. Sometimes it even surprised us, proving advantageous when it came to parking in crowded lots and prompting a smile at the gas pump.

In today’s hectic and turbulent world, a vacation can be as illusory or unattainable for some as a mirage. Our ten plus days in the West and Southwest afforded a disengagement from the news as well as the responsibilities of daily life. I disciplined myself not to check work email, to mostly stay away from news sources, and shun social media. Still, the harsh and horrid scenes of the war in Ukraine, and mass shooting in Uvalde came forth. When, if ever, might those individuals find days of extended leisure, travel, or disengagement from life’s hard truths? Such dreams must seem a mirage.

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Filed under Christian Faith, Family, Holy Days, Spiritual Formation, Travel

Boomerang

His AKC registered name was “Hogan’s High Dollar Boomerang” but we knew him as “Boomer”. His sire was an award winning Welsh Pembroke Corgi, so he came from good stock. Sadly, he succumbed to lymphoma at the age of 9.

When we adopted Boomer at the tender age of 8 weeks we were not looking for a show dog, just a family dog from a breed we had enjoyed before. He was our second Corgi, little short-legged dogs with big dog attitudes, best known as the preferred dog of the Queen of England. High energy, herding instincts, loyalty, curiosity (some would say “nosey”) are all characteristics of this breed. Boomer had them all.

He spent countless hours looking out the front window of our home, watching over the neighborhood, alerting us if something was slightly different. He had his nemesis’ – the squirrels that ran the fence tops of the back lawn, chucking at him with derision as he stood sentry, barking from below; and (for some reason) a certain greyhound who’s owner walked him past daily (never figured out what he took offense to there – maybe it was the long legs?). He faithfully chased rabbits away, nearly catching one or two young ones in the past, but uncertain what to do with them when he had them cornered.

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Brood X and Living in the Present

It’s been 17 years since we’ve seen these creatures, or at least the prior generation of their kind. Some cicadas are annual visitors, but Brood X , the current emerging generation of cicadas (also known as the Great Eastern Brood) are now coming out and up from a 17 year subterranean gestational period to do their thing topside. What is their thing? Finding a mate is a top priority so they can perpetuate the species and come calling again in the year 2038.

Looking Back: 17 years ago my family and I were living in Bloomington, Indiana a densely tree populated part of the state, giving us a front row experience with these dude’s parents. I remember that time well, not just from of the overhead drone of cicada mating calls, but because of other things going on at the time. My oldest sister, Ruth, had passed away that Memorial Day weekend after too short a battle with glioblastoma (brain cancer), and we were participating in her funeral. Driving back and forth between Bloomington and Greencastle, we traversed the forested lands of Monroe, Owen and Putnam counties with the constant musical hum of the full-throated cicada choir in the canopies overhead.

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