Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Grandma & Fortune Cookies

Life has been hectic lately. I've been out of town a lot for business reasons, but last week we had to leave town for personal reasons. My Grandmother was dying.

Olive Kipfer was 94 years old and had a long, full life. She lived most of her life in my hometown of Pontiac, Illinois and that's where she died. We were able to leave Thursday in time to see her later in the day, though she was unconscious. We really wanted our kids to see her before she passed, not only to see her one more time but so that they would be able to begin to ask the hard questions about life.

She died very early Friday morning. Her wishes were to be buried as immediately as possible with family attending, and we did. I did the grave-side funeral service for them, and it was a sweet time together.

Then we were able to leave Pontiac and return to Woodstock in time for baseball on Saturday. After baseball we enjoyed a warm afternoon at Woodstock Water Works. It was good to get back to life in our city. But after experiencing the death of someone I loved very much, it's hard to get back to any sort of "normal" life.

This might be a good reminder for all of us to spend time soon with those who are nearing the end of life. Death should also be a helpful (though frightening) reminder that none of us know when the end will come for us, but there is no question that it is coming.

It has been said that life is a vapor like a mist that rises in the morning and disappears with the sun. In your short time, how will you live? Will you allow the reality of death to get you to ask the most important questions about life? That's what it has done to me.

Back to Woodstock...

We had a friend in town on Sunday and missed most of the Dick Tracy Days parade for some time with him over lunch. We got to the Square in time to see only a few things, mostly very loud fire trucks. One of the things we apparently weren't sad to miss is the rain. We saw several people soaked from rain, though it stopped by the time we arrived.

Whenever we miss a Woodstock city event we are bummed. There are few things we savor more in Woodstock than parades and events and people and enjoying the city. Don't take Woodstock for granted. Some smaller cities have similar events, but few do them as well as Woodstock.

Oh, and one last thing. My favorite parade item is always the candy. Yeah, I should grow up, I know. But with four kids we usually rake it in. After arriving late all we got were a few things a couple of friends at the parade were able to pick up and kindly share. One of them was a Perry Moy chocolate fortune cookie. I don't know Perry, but I know his cookies well. I love those things. Thanks Perry!

Monday, June 19, 2006

June Weekend

2nd BaseOur two oldest boys played their first baseball games on Saturday and both did well. It was a beautiful day, very warm, and all the kids seemed to have a blast. I'm an official coach of the T-ball Astros (Elijah's team), and I also helped coach the Bittie Ball Blue Jays (Jack's team). I am really going to enjoy the baseball season.

FreeFriday night and much of the day Saturday was the Woodstock Music Fest 2. I was able to hear a little bit Friday night an about 40 minutes worth on Saturday night. The crowd was very eclectic, from college students who are back home for the summer to parents and their small kids, and even a good deal of older adults. There was food, beer and margaritas for sale. I didn't take advantage since I couldn't spend a lot of time at the event, but it all looked inviting.

Live MusicThe bands were good, better than I expected. One band led with a sax. I know at least one band is from Woodstock, Tall Grass Magicians. I liked their music. Fun stuff. Honestly, all the bands were enjoyable and I'm surprised more Woodstockians don't make their way out to events like this, though it seemed fairly well attended.

One last thing, Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Coming Home

I have been away for 6 days on a road trip to North Carolina for a conference. It was a great trip and I saw many old friends. But there is nothing like coming home. I missed my wife and four kids.

Coach and SonsI expected to be home on early Friday morning, but we left a little early and I got home in time to take my two oldest boys to their first practices for baseball. I grew up with a great Dad who was always at my practices and games for every sport I played. I want to be that kind of Dad.

During Elijah's (5) practice I found out his team needed another coach. I had decided a few weeks ago that if the teams needed any more help that I would volunteer. So I let the coaches know I'm available and they jumped at the chance. I got my own hat and shirt as a coach of the Astros T-ball team and the proud father of a good little player. Jack's (7) practice was directly after Elijah's. I've been working with both kids for weeks (new gloves, bat, balls, and a big backyard) and they have really learned to love baseball. It should be a great season.Pitcher

It's also going to be a great season because of all the great people we are getting to know: George, Jodi, Ray, Michael, Andrea, Marla, Pete, Brian and many others. Woodstock is a great place to live, and sport is a great way to get to know people in the community.

Well, the first games are Saturday (tomorrow) morning. I guess we should get out and practice.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Presidential AddressI went to my first Woodstock High School graduation ceremony to see two young ladies graduate. I had the joy of bringing my daughter Sarah (9) to enjoy the afternoon with me.

A couple of observations...

1. I don't remember so many speeches when I graduated. Is that a Woodstock thing or have things just changed? Also, they were printed in the bulletin thing. That was pretty cool.

2. I was impressed with the amount of people there. I know there were a lot of graduates, but the turnout seemed huge to me. Great to see.

3. An ambulance came on the track right next to where the students were sitting as they were reading student names and handing out diplomas. I haven't heard, but my guess is that someone passed out from the heat. It wasn't a student, it was someone in the stands. I hope they are okay.

Sea of Blue Streaks4. The weather was incredible. I had the clothes on that I preached in, including a short sleeve button-up shirt and tan-ish pants. We started off standing next to the announcer's building by the football field, but it kept the breeze off of us and made us really hot. At one point I got so overheated that I started sweating and was afraid that my pants would start sticking to my legs. So we moved locations. But not even the sweat and heat and sunburns could ruin the perfect graduation weather.

Road to the Future5. You can't watch a graduation without remembering your own. The year after my high school graduation was the year when I made the most mistakes, when I did the most stupid and silly things of my life. It was also one of the most important and transformative years of my life.

I know that among the Class of 2006 there will be some colossal and painful mistakes made in the next year. But I also know for some this is bound to be one of the most important years of learning and growth in their lives. As a community, we need to pray for our graduates.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Internet Connections

I'm online a lot. I have TMobile wi-fi at Starbucks, access wi-fi on my laptop at the Public Library, and wi-fi at my house. For me the Internet is an important tool for study, networking with other pastors, and a hundred other things.

So when the Internet connects me to local folks, it's a bonus. Through my online photography I was able to meet Toni. I've met her in person a number of times since she is often online in Starbucks too, but only briefly. Now both of our Woodstock pictures are online in the same place. How cool is that?

Toni is a freelance writer and also has a website, Travels with Toni. Worth checking out.

While I'm at it, someone I met when I first moved to Woodstock is Darin Sakas. He runs (President and Publisher) WaterFowler.com through a Woodstock Square office. I have never fired a weapon (except spit wads) and I'm not fond of eating duck, but Darin is a great guy anyway. :)