Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Decision

About two months ago we moved my father into a Memory Care Home. It was not an easy decision. Ever since we discovered that he could no longer take care of himself or his house in Pennsylvania by himself, he had been living with us. We purchased a house with a suite on the main floor so he would not have to walk up and down steps. It was a pretty good arrangement and we were happy to have him with us, even if he often wished he were still on his own.

Grandpa Peasant with Danny Boy, the floor cat.
However, earlier this year his one working kidney failed and he went on hospice care. We though he had only days to live. But then his kidney started working again, he regained his health, and was taken off hospice. But he did not recover completely. He was weaker, his memory got decidedly worse, and so he needed more care, especially people to watch him during the night. For a while, we hired aides to come in and watch him while we slept, but he didn’t really like that, and we still had the burden of watching him during the day. He didn’t always need help, but we needed to be there and available, just in case.

After several months, we began to realize the impact this was having on us and our family. Still, shouldn’t a son be able to care for his father in his old age? So while my brother and sister began encouraging us to consider other care options, there was a level of uncertainy with me. He should be my responsibility.

What helped me think through this decision was the fact that while yes, I am his son and he my father, and that is a precious vocation and relationship, it is not the only one I have been given. I also have the vocation of father, and husband, and pastor. These people need my help, attention, and care as well. How can I balance all that? How can I care for my father and not shortchange the others? Those are not easy questions to answer. It is also difficult being a son when you’re also a caretaker.

So my brother, sister, wife, and I investigated a place close by and decided that the best way we could care for and love my father was to move him there. We approached him about it (for we would not have done it against his will) and he was okay with it. Of course, there was a period of adjustment for him, but he has settled into the routine there and is comfortable. Either my wife and I (or both of us) go to see him everyday and make sure we stay in close contact with him. We have devotions with him and make sure he knows he is loved. He doesn’t always remember our visits from one day to the next, but we live in the moment and enjoy them when we have them.

It has definitely taken a big stress off of us. I think we actually feel closer to him now that he is not in our home with us! That sounds weird, I know. 

So while it was not an easy decision, it was the right one. I know many people are probably struggling with the same decision. Know that you are in my prayers. And I hope that if you are and read this, maybe this will help you a little.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving

We had Thanksgiving dinner with my father in his memory care home. My wife's year-end holiday to work this year was Thanksgiving, so she couldn't be with us - she worked both Wednesday and Thursday nights and so was home sleeping. So we'll have our big feast on Friday and instead spent Thursday with my father, so it all worked out good. Two kids home from college and my sister came down to be with us, too. Here a picture . . .



Monday, November 21, 2016

Our Weekend Guest

We were privileged to have Pastor Martin Orende of the Lutheran Church of Kenya with us this weekend. He is in St. Louis studying for his STM. Since I preached at one of his congregations when I was in Kenya, I invited him to come and preach at my congregation here. Perhaps we'll be able to have him back next year as well. Here are a few pictures from the weekend . . .


At the foot of the Washington monument.


In front of the White House.


At the Smithsonian Air and Space museum.


In front of the US Capitol.


Presenting an icon of St. Athanasius after the Divine Service.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Last Night

Last night my family and I went down to Richmond to see my daughter at VCU and go to her first symphony orchestra concert. We hadn't seen her since dropping her off at school in August! We had a nice dinner together, followed by an even better concert. All the pieces were very interesting and performed very well. It was also fun watching my daughter play - she is every expressive in her playing and you can tell she really enjoys what she is doing. And that's not just true of the concert, but of her whole experience so far at school. She just seems happy. Warms a father's heart. :-)

Here's a couple of pictures. Now that I think of it, I wish I had taken one at dinner, but oh well. The close up picture stinks, but I'll post it anyway. She is 3rd stand 1st violin.


The entire symphony. Sarah is to the far left. As in . . .


Right in front of the harp.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Has It Been a Whole Month?

I know I haven't posted anything here for a bit . . . truth is that I've had some thoughts, just not much ambition to do so. Maybe I will soon. But as I looked at the calendar, it's been a whole month since I last posted! Yowzers!

I will tell you that we dropped off my older daughter at school last Saturday. She is a freshman at VCU in the music program. She is on the top (twelfth) floor of an older dorm. While she, my wife, and other daughter waited in line for the elevator, my son and I carried some of the stuff up all 12 flights of stairs! Good thing I'm in shape. :-) She seems happy and her roommate seems nice. I'm sure I'll have more updates as time goes by . . .

This weekend we will be taking my son back to school - back up to Massachusetts. That trip is a bit longer! He'll be a junior this year in Computer Engineering. He is still trying to decide if he wants to go more toward the hardware or software side of things. I guessing hardware, but we'll see. Since its a longer trip, we'll be making a mini-vacation of it, spending a few days after dropping him off away and relaxing a bit. It's not near enough, but better than nothing!

I've been trying to take it easy these last few weeks of August as well - no meetings or classes, though I am doing some other things. But it's nice not having to go out at night for a few weeks. I'm also trying to gear back up to jump back into my doctoral studies. I've been on a leave on absence for a bit, but will try to get my candidate exams done in the Spring. We'll see if I can swing it. :-)

Been busy also on the Circuit Visitor front - some problems to see to, but also the joy of several installations of new pastors. I even had the opportunity to preside at one of the installations - my first time.

What I have let slip this summer is work around the yard and the house. Hopefully I can get caught up on some of that soon . . .  But for now, getting ready for our mini-vacation! It will be really nice to be away and decompress a little.

Monday, July 25, 2016

I Should Have Known . . . and other thoughts on a Monday

In my sermon yesterday I used the example of a coral snake and a corn snake, two snakes that look alike, but one you don't want around (coral snake, poisonous) and one you do (corn snake (good and helpful). The point was that sometimes we see what God sends us as a coral snake (harmful) and not a corn shake (helpful). But Jesus promises that the Father gives only good gifts to His children - even if we cannot see aright.

Well, I guess I could have used a different example also - email. Sometimes you get an email that look fine, but turns out to be harmful. Sometimes its hard to tell the difference. It happened to me last night and I got tricked. Fortunately, what happened to me doesn't appear too malicious and was taken care of by a password change. It could have been worse. I should have known better. I usually do know better. Let your guard or better judgment down for one moment . . .


But that's how evil works, isn't it?

Today (after fixing my email problem and sending out apologetic emails to everyone who got a bad email from me!) was hymn picking day. I didn't get a far as I hoped, but did make progress. This is a tough time of year for picking hymns, for there are readings and Sundays that just no one has written hymns for! So it is quite difficult to try to select hymns that will fit the readings and strengthen the message of that Sunday. But if I can just get through October, it gets much easier for a while. Reformation, All Saints, End of the Church Year, Advent, Christmas - lots of good hymns to pick from then!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Vacation Bible School

Last week we held our Vacation Bible School. It is always a full, fun, and exhausting week. We have a lot of fun and the kids learn a lot. Here are so pictures for you:

Early arrivers playing a game:


Our teachers:



Games:


Learning activities:



Crafts:


More fun:


Offering - We collected $440 for The Hope Academy (a school for orphans) in Kenya!


Some of our children:







Our snack providers and preparers!


Thanks everybody who helped make it a great week!