Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Life Moves Pretty Fast

And speaking of moving, that is what I have been doing this week. We are moving to Leesville, SC. This move will allow us to be closer to our children, parents, and dear friends. I am excited about this move. Leesville is a very nice place, and Tracy and I have wanted to move there since we've been together.

We will be without internet for about 2-3 weeks after tomorrow. I will do my best to check in now and then until we are back online at our new digs.

Happy birthday to Christi, and to James as well.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Turkey Hangover

No shopping for me today. Though my experience as a pro wrestler may come in handy, I do not participate in the "Day After Thanksgiving Sale." With all of the kids minus one here, we will be packing and preparing for our impending move. In-laws are possibly coming down for a visit this weekend, and we are well-prepared with leftovers.

Today I woke up with a headache that goes all the way down to the small of my back. Is there such thing as a "Turkey Hangover?" If so, it was well worth it!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!



May you be blessed today, stuffed to the brim with Turkey and trimmings, and all the while thankful for the blessings of family, food, and fun.

Tracy and I will be spending the day with 6 of our 7 kids. I will be watching the Macy's parade and tonight we will enjoy my favorite tradition: the annual Thanksgiving viewing of Home Alone.

Have a wonderful day, and a blessed hoilday season.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Obligatory Thanksgiving Pre-Game Post



The last several months have been nothing short of a test of my faith and a building of character in me and Tracy. We are not the same people we were when we moved to Walterboro. I believe that we are stronger in our faith, more disciplined in our spiritual life, and more focused on God's plans for us and our family. The best is yet to come.

So, this year, rather than wax nostalgic over my long list of things I am thankful for (though I am no less thankful), I am simply going to list one new thing for which I am thankful. To be sure, there are many new things I could list, but they are all rolled up into one word. Rick, aka, Mr. Coffee, will understand this word as it applies to me.

Without further ado, the new thing I am thankful for this year is: clarity. I have been seeking it for a couple of years now. I have had it, then quickly lost it. But now I have it, and I am going to hang onto it. So many things which have not made sense for a long time have finally come into focus. It took a move to Walterboro, a new pastorate, the transmission dying on my van, the radiator and water pump going out in my truck, my dog dying, a trip to Wisconsin, my grandmother dying, and my wife having surgery to get it. I suppose I could add a renewed sense of purpose to clarity just for good measure.

New doors are opening, changes are coming, and all in all, for the first time in a long time, I am really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Update on Tracy, etc.

My wife, the amazing Tracy, has successfully had that pesky gall bladder removed. With her low-to-zero tolerance to pain medication, she should be asleep until Thanksgiving Day! Well, maybe just tomorrow. And with that, we are now officially beyond all scheduled surgeries and are now able to focus on the holidays as well as a move.

That's right, we are moving...again. Basically, we have lived in our current home for five months now, with absolutely no written lease having been provided. We have asked; we have insisted; all to no avail. So, all of a sudden, landlord decides he no longer wants to rent the house. We have until December 15 to find new digs. Colorful metaphors aside, what the devil meant for bad, God has turned into good.

Another instance of God turning something into good was that on Saturday I blogged what I would consider to be one of the more substantial posts I have done in a long time. I commented on the whole OJ Simpson "confession", Ted Haggard's "coming out," and referenced Luke 7:36-50 as to what the Lord's attitude toward these men is vs. our general attitude and our need to categorize sin into degrees of atrocity.

Long story short, I pressed the "publish" key and the whole thing vanished into the blogosphere. Gone. Bye bye.

Rather than retype the whole piece, I used it in the sermon Sunday. The general attitude of the church was, "Fry them now, forgive them later." We are so far from God's heart when it comes to grace, mercy, and forgiveness. It was truly a defining moment. More on that later.

Will update more when I can. Thanks for the prayers.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Update on Steven

His surgery went very well. There are never guarantees, but the surgeon was very pleased with how it went. Hopefully he will never have to endure this again. Steven is doing well today and may very likely go home on Monday. I talked to him earlier and he sounded great. He is a tough kid and should recover quickly.

Thanks to everyone for the calls, prayers, and support. Now we have to get Tracy operated on November 20.

Badgers just won! Barely, but they won. Woo hoo!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Matters of Life and Death

I was perusing my blog posts over the last month and there seems to be a rather hefty emphasis on death. Granted I have no control over who passes and when, but it seems that lately there has been a surge of death in my life. In a very short time, my dog and my grandmother have suffered sudden, massive, and fatal strokes.

The interesting parallel between the two is not that Levi and Grandma Vick died similarly, but how they lived before their deaths. I have pretty well gone on record about Levi, but not about Grandma. She was truly an amazing lady. She lost her husband, my Grandpa, 32 years ago. She continued each day, in spite of the grief and the loneliness. She also lost two of her six children. After raising six kids, she "adopted" four more and raised them. She went bowling with the seniors well up into her 80s. She did her own gardening and yard work. Up until recently, she drove herself and her other senior friends to the grocery store and to doctor appointments.

My motto has been "Get Busy Living" for the last couple of years. I believe I inherited this attitude from my Grandma. She absolutely loved life. She had her routine each day; she rested when she needed to; and she pressed on. She rarely took medication. She truly was an amazing lady.

As a pastor, I visit elderly people nowhere near her age who cannot do the things Grandma did. I feel sorry for them. Many seem as if they cannot wait to die. Grandma Vick couldn't wait to live.

While we were all at her bedside, no one cried or mourned. We laughed and celebrated her life instead of crying and mourning her death. She lived 94 years, and I mean she LIVED. She remembered birthdays of all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She had her right mind all the way to the end.

Though she was unconscious, I believe she knew we were all there. Each time I spoke to her, she responded by squeezing my hand, smiling, and at one time trying to talk. I was one of the last ones to leave and come home. She waited until we were all gone, and then she passed yesterday at 3:00 am Central Time, just mere hours after I unpacked my suitcase.

So what does all this mean? I don't know. One thing I do know is that Jesus said He came not only to give us life, but ABUNDANT life. Literally, "life overflowing." Whatever this means to me, I want it. Like Levi and Grandma, I want to keep on living, no matter what life brings. Like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, I want to "Keep on breathing, for the sun will rise again, and who knows what the tide will bring in."

Lately, I realized that I am too quick to let things get to me. I was talking with my cousin Ben the other day and I pointed out that nothing seems to bother him. I want to be like that. I used to be. I believe I can be again. I want to laugh more, live more, and love more.

Why not?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

An Amazing Lady

Theo F. Vick
April 20, 1912 - November 9, 2006

Home

I arrived last night. I was able to spend a couple hours with Tracy before she had to leave to go to Columbia. Steven, her oldest, is having major surgery today. Please keep him in your prayers as well.

At last report, Grandma Vick is still hanging on.

I will be heading to Columbia tomorrow to get my children, who I have been dying to see. I have missed them so much.

I am going to rest today. I need it. I can hardly hold my head up to blog.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Good Day

Yesterday was just one of those days that will stay with me for awhile. I drove over to Monona, where I was born and visited my old neighborhood. It has been 31 years since I lived there, and very little has changed on Shore Acres Road. The convenience store where my sister and I used to bike up to and get a "Blue Moon" ice cream is no longer there. It appears that it was torn down only recently.

I drove out to Cottage Grove and visited my Dad's grave. I spent quite awhile there. It was hard to leave. I'm not sure why. I do miss him terribly.

My next stop was downtown Madison, where I visited the capitol building and walked down State Street. I made a stop at Steve and Barry's and at last purchased some Wisconsin Badger merchandise. I still love my Gamecocks, but being a Badger fan is bred into us at birth.

After an incredible visit to our great city, I stopped and visited with my Uncle John and my cousin Keri-Jo, after which we met up with my Aunt Sandi (Mom's sister) and cousin Jason and dined at Outback. Then they took me to visit the graves of my maternal grandparents. I miss them so much.

Then we said our goodbyes and I headed back to DeForest to Kimmy and Denis's. I slept like a log for the first time since I arrived last Thursday.

Today I pack up and head back to Milwaukee for an evening with the newlyweds, Ben and Joneen. Tomorrow I fly home.

It is strange how Wisconsin affects me. I absolutely love it here. I feel like I belong. In SC, though I love it there, too, I feel like a stranger, though I have lived there most of my life. I grew up in SC. Married there...twice. My children were all born there. Yet I still feel like only a visitor. Maybe this will pass once I am home and in the arms of my wife and children.

Maybe it won't. No matter where I land, Wisconsin is my home.

Either way, yesterday was a good day, and it will stay with me for a long time.

Monday, November 06, 2006

New Plans

Grandma Vick is still hanging on, bless her heart. Relatives have flown in from all over the country, including myself, to say their goodbyes. If she continues to hang on, I am just going to head back home on Wednesday and wait. When she passes, I believe we will just drive up for her funeral, which I will still be a part of.

I don't think any of us expected that Grandma would still be hanging on. We should not be surprised, though. She has lived an amazing 94 years. Her zest for life is a phenomenon. She lost her husband, my Grandpa, way too early, and yet continued to live each day. She buried two of her children, including my Dad, and while most parents would roll over, she pressed on.

She was given no hope after her stroke, but since I have been here, I have seen her smile, and I am told that she has tried to climb out of her bed. I would not be surprised at all if she actually overcame this. Vick women are strong. I see this even in my daughters.

Unless something changes in the next 2 days, I will be headed home on Wednesday as planned, and then we'll see.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful

Gosh, I had forgotten how beautiful Wisconsin is. The farmland is absolutely breathtaking. Yesterday my Uncle Bob took me on a family history tour. I saw the gravemarker of my great-great-great grandfather, who along with 10 other families, came here from Norway in 1843. Now THAT was cool.

Last night we had a family gathering over in Oregon, WI at my cousin's place. I have not laughed so hard for so long in quite awhile. My family rocks.

Grandma is still hanging on, and I don't know when I will be able to go back to SC. Meanwhile, I am thoroughly enjoying my time with family here. I am staying with my cousin, Kim and her husband Denis (no, I spelled it right---he is from France).

Today I may just hang out and watch the Packer game. Later I may drive over to Monona, where I was born, and look around.

More updates as they come in.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Journey Begins

I am all packed and ready to be driven to the airport. I have just checked the weather, here and there, and here is what I can expect:
  • I am leaving in a short-sleeved short. The weather is nice and warm and rather humid.
  • When I arrive in Wisconsin, it will be about 28 degrees (feels like 19) and they are calling for "flurries."

I used to love getting a "flurry" as a kid from the local convenience store. And how about those Mc-Flurries?

But I digress.

If I am able to get online while in Madison, I will update on the events as they unfold. Otherwise I will instruct my lovely wife to update you from her blog. I am sad to point out that she has not yet upgraded to the beta blogger.

Pray for safe travel, and a pleasant visit despite the circumstances. I understand that relatives I have not seen in centuries will be there. I am looking forward to seeing everyone.

Ciao...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Blogger Brethren



(Photos blatantly stolen and used without permission!)


Here I am posing with my two best friends in all the world. These photos were taken at our high school reunion recently, and I have been meaning to post on these two gents.

To the left is Rick, whom I have known since 1983. We met as freshmen in Coach Payne's P.E. class. We went from casual acquaintances to fast friends to brothers in Christ. All in one semester! To this day, he remains a mainstay in my crazy life. Rick challenges me. He makes me want to be a better husband, father, pastor, and friend. Even though he is not a wrestling fan, I treasure our friendship and our mutual affection for caffeine.

On the right is James. I first met him in 1975. We were in the same second grade class, something was said about Star Trek, and we have been inseparable ever since. Our friendship has crossed state lines and stood the test of time. He stood as best man at my first wedding, and he was present at the births of all of my children. He spoke at my ordination, and he never forgets my birthday. We share a deep love for science fiction, film, baseball, football, single malt scotch, and a good cigar every few years, among many other things, including a number of long kept secrets known only between us. For three decades, I have called this man friend, and also brother. I realize that a friendship like ours is extremely rare, and I am all the more thankful for it.

My, the stories with which we will regale our grandchildren one day!

Update & Prayer Requests

I am leaving tomorrow for Wisconsin, and I will be staying at least a week. Grandma is still hanging on, but it could happen anytime now. I am praying that I will be able to get there before she passes. The Lord has miraculously provided the means for me to get there, and so I give Him thanks. Please pray for the following:
  • Pray for Tracy. I will be gone for a whole week. On the day I am to come home, her son Steven is having major brain surgery. I will post more on this as the time draws closer.
  • Pray for a flight free of incident going and coming.
  • Pray for my family. My aunts and uncles are holding up pretty good so far.

My thanks in advance for the prayers and support. It means a great deal to us.