Thursday, August 16, 2007

Kate O

I got to spend some time with Kate Obermueller this week. She’s coming on staff at ACL this autumn, and we hired her without the benefit of a face-to-face meeting. She had some amazing references, and we can’t wait to have her in London. Since she was traveling around and visiting family and friends before her move, we worked it out so that we’d be in LA at the same time.

I’m so glad we did.

We spent a full day talking about our lives and how we came to ministry. We talked about ACL, about a shared vision for ministry, about our responsibilities and dreams for the coming year. That night Julie joined us for dinner at a great local Mexican place, and she and Kate got to know each other. Today I took Kate to Fuller for a walk around and a look at the bookstore, and then Julie took her to Nordstrom Rack for a little pre-London shopping (yikes!).

The point of all this was to speed up the orientation process and get to know each other before we work together. The surprise has been how much we enjoy each other and feel comfortable talking about life, faith, ministry and, well, anything. Julie and I couldn’t be happier for this new partner in ministry, and ACL will be lucky to have her there.

Aunt Lynette and Shell Beach

That's Aunt Lynette in the middle, with most of my family on Christmas Day 2006.

I helped with a memorial service for my Aunt Lynette on Saturday in Shell Beach. Actually it’s probably not accurate to call it a service—we set up tables for more than 80 people on the vacant lot next to where she lived, and the event was catered by Alex BBQ (a fixture in that town for years).

Shell Beach has been a family vacation spot since my grandmother bought a house there in 1970 (when I was 7). I've spent parts of every summer since then (as well as other seasons of the year) swimming, fishing and relaxing in this low-key little town sandwiched between the 101 and the Pacific. It's truly one of my favorite places in the world.

My aunt Lynette (great-aunt, really) had been the matriarch of our extended family on my Mom’s side for more than 20 years. She never had kids of her own, but she was a wonderful grandma and great-grandma to a lot of us and our kids. All of us remember her stories, her laughter and her wacky way of taking a 5 minute conversation and stretching it out for an hour or so. We loved her a lot, and it was good to have a chance to say goodbye.

I baptized Lynette in her bed on Thanksgiving Day last year. She was raised in Christian Science, as was most of my Mom’s family, but through some friends and others (mostly my Mom), she came to faith in Christ over the past few years. I remember her talking for less than 2 minutes about her own sense of forgiveness (a record brief conversation), and for days and days about the people she needed to forgive. Reconciliation just wasn’t real for her unless she shared it—gave it away to people who had wounded her along the way. I remember a long chat and prayer for her mother—who hadn’t been very nice to her at all. Lynette was worried that her salvation wouldn’t ‘stick’ if she neglected to forgive everyone she’d ever known.

I wish we were all a little more like Aunt Lynette.

Now she wasn’t perfect, but I can’t help wondering what our churches and relationships would be like if we lived our faith like Lynette did? Personally I have no idea—I’m always amazed at my ability to hold tenaciously to a wound or a slight. Don’t you struggle with that, too? In my entire life I have never known anyone who wanted to be forgiving as much as Lynette, and I want to remember her example as I move ahead with my own life.

Being in Shell Beach again was great for all of us. Ericka came up with us and shared our hotel room—it was a slumber party for the four of us. My dad came up and had a great time with members of my mom’s side that he hadn’t seen in years. Neighbors came and enjoyed the celebration as we talked about our life and faith.

Lynette lived 94 years. She built friendships and loving family relationships all along the way, and taught us all some lessons on hospitality and love and forgiveness. We were blessed to know her and love her. We would be lucky to turn out to be even just a little bit like her.

Here are some shots of the ocean in Shell Beach.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Another update

So we've been staying with my in-laws since we got back. That wasn't really the plan--we were going to stay here for a week and then move in with my mom. But my mom's house is in the final stages of a major remodel and so it has made sense to be here a little longer.

We're in a large complex of condos in Glendale, and being around here has reminded me of something important. London is such an ethnically diverse city, and a complicated place to communicate effectively over a long period of time. I taught a Bible study at the church in the Spring, and out of the 12-14 people who came regularly, at least 7 countries were represented.

So I was walking through the complex here on my way to the laundry room, and I was struck by the number of languages I could hear: Spanish, Korean, Tagalog, lots of Armenian and even a little English. So many immigrant groups have made homes in Southern California, and I'm realizing that growing up here was a part of my preparation for service in London. Sure, there are very different ethnic groups in each place, but being accustomed to the presence of so much different-ness, so many people from so many nations and cultures, has helped me in my ministry within Greater London.

This visit has been really good for us so far. We've reconnected with friends and family, I've gotten a lot of work done toward my study leave plan, and I've been reflecting on what I'd like to accomplish when I get back to my responsibilities. Julie has been cutting hair for some of her old clients and hanging out with Ian by the pool here.

It's strange, but I think I may miss this place more after this visit than I did in December. But I also think that we're all a little better prepared for the move this time. We know what's coming--the good and the, well, not so good--and we're able to make ourselves ready in a way we couldn't before. has occurred to me that I'm thankful to God for so many things right now. For helping me use my past to prepare for the present and future, for allowing us to be reminded that we have friends in both places that we love and enjoy, and for giving us this time to rest and regroup and renew. God is good.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Our first week in California

So we've been relaxing a lot over here--catching up with friends and family and playing a little. It's good to be home, and we're soaking up every bit of it as we re-connect.

Ian is working on his artistic technique on the patio of my in-law's home, where we're staying for the first two weeks.

I went to a Dodgers game with an old friend of mine. They were playing the Giants, otherwise known in LA as the 'Hated Ones'. This is Barry Bonds up to bat.
Me with my buddy Shane. We were in the nursery together at the First Presbyterian Church in Burbank, and have been friends ever since.
My son-in-law works in one of the local companies, a global entertainment behemoth. He took me for a tour this week.

This is the trauma room on the set of ER.
The ambulance bay from the ER set.
One of my sisters and her family are camping this week near Ventura. This trailer is parked at the edge of the beach.

Ian and his cousin Bella, building something in the sand.

I went boogie-boarding with Ian and my nephews. That's me (really) in front on the right.