Time for an Update

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 9:06 pm by Libbie

It’s been a very full week, so I thought I’d update you on all that’s gone on.

Last Thursday Alden left for Spain with a friend from school whose father is Spanish and whose family goes to visit relatives in Spain every summer. This year they very generously invited Alden to join them. So he’s larking about the Mediterranean coast for four weeks in a small town nestled between the mountains and the sea, poor fellow. I spoke to him on the phone today, and it sounds as if he’s having a ball.

Eowyn left Monday with a gang of kids from the youth group who are helping out for a week at a camp for mentally and physically challenged children and adults. This is her third or fourth year helping there, and she absolutely loves it.

Becky’s job situation is improving a bit, and she is very thankful for that. A couple of the managerial spots parallel to hers have been filled, and her new boss has been letting Becky know that she recognizes and appreciates the hard work she has been doing in less than ideal circumstances. That appreciation alone goes a long way.

Alasdair’s arm is out of its cast after just two and a half weeks! The doctor had said 4-6 weeks, but apparently it is healing well enough that it was let out on parole for good behavior. Of course Alasdair still has to be VERY careful, and it’s still in a sling, but he is relieved to be able to move, wash, and scratch it at will. By the way, impossible as it seemed, the Lord provided a job for him that he can do with one arm (and not his dominant arm). He is making phone calls ~20 hours a week, and the other hours he is doing an internship at our church.

Lauren’s work has been more lively of late, which is nice, although she is a trooper and doesn’t complain anyway. She and Alasdair are at a wedding in Kansas City this weekend.

And I have been having an amazing week. You may have already figured out that if Eowyn and Alden are both away, I’m home alone this week…

My number one goal for the summer is to go through the whole house and clear out stuff, sort it, cull it, and reorganize what’s left. Not surprisingly, a lot of what I need to sort is Al’s things—papers, books and files by the metric ton—but there is also plenty of miscellaneous junk that belongs to the rest of us that needs to be gotten rid of. So, my plan for this week was to blitz through as much of the house as possible while no one was around to need me for anything. I CANNOT believe the help the Lord provided for me in doing that.

Unbeknownst to me, it turns out that Jayne Clark, a friend of mine who is between jobs at the moment, loves to clear out and organize places and is unbelievably good at it. She has been incredibly generous with her time and has been here with me every day this week, and what we have gotten accomplished in these five days is beyond imagining. Jayne is great at things like: (1) seeing the big picture of the whole project; (2) figuring out where and how to start and then which piece of the puzzle has to be tackled next, and then next, etc.; (3) teaching pack rats like me how to evaluate their stuff, make decisions about it, throw or give things away, and so forth—basically how to think differently and wisely about it; (4) keeping you on task and making you finish one phase completely before you move on to the next; (5) removing the give-away or throw-away stuff so that you start to enjoy the benefits of the clearing-out process immediately; (6) coming up with new ways to organize what you’re keeping so that you can keep it under control, and (7) brainstorming creative and exciting ways to use the space you’ve cleared. There is still plenty left for me to do at this point, but the difference in this house in a single week is barely short of a miracle. I think she should consider doing this professionally! What a gift it’s been to me.

Going through Al’s things hasn’t been too bad so far. Certain items bring a smile, or a tear, or a tug at my heart, but it’s been do-able. I think being a task-oriented person, which can occasionally be a hindrance in relationships, is a boon in situations like this. Of course I’ve run across things that make me stop and ruminate. I’ll give you a for-instance or two:

Al was one for jotting miscellaneous notes all the time—about sermons, about things he was reading, about movies he’d seen or Bible passages he’d been meditating on. They were on every available piece of paper, usually in a certain kind of blue pen, always in the same handwriting, often in such a terse form that they would probably mean nothing to someone who didn’t live with him and hear the things he talked about all the time that were on his heart. I’ve been living in the midst of snowdrifts of these pieces of paper with his cryptic notes on them for years and years. When I started clearing out, my thought was, “Al is not here to need these anymore, so I’ll throw them away.” But then I stopped and reconsidered. My tendency when I’m making a change around the house—painting a room, or rearranging things—is to take pictures of the new situation, because that is what is exciting to me. But I have learned over the years that I have to discipline myself to take pictures of the old set-up, because that’s what is going to fade from memory and therefore be of interest later. Similarly, I am so used to having Al’s notes around that I was only thinking about him not wanting them. But I know that in future years, there will be no more of those notes. So I’m saving a certain number of them with the idea that when I especially miss Al I can pull one out and feel as if I am again sitting next to him as he’s taking notes on a sermon, or as he’s musing about a passage of Scripture or a good movie. Maybe it will make me feel close to him.

Here is another. Besides various medicines, herbal supplements, vitamins and so forth that I ran across today, I found the boxes from two of the many treatments that doctors prescribed over the years for the sores that Al used to get on his scalp. Knowing what a trial those sores were to him, and the feeling of hopelessness we had experienced because nothing seemed to touch them, it made me smile to think that Al is now living healthy and free of all such things. Ahhhh, such glory.

One evening this week I walked over to the cemetery and sat on Al’s grave, enjoying the quiet, peaceful, bird-filled green woods and the delicious weather we’ve been having. It was good to just sit and think about the fact that what Al is seeing these days makes this beauty pale to invisibility in comparison. It must be spectacular.

And lastly, I want to tell you about last Sunday. During the spring I occasionally thought about Father’s Day and how hard it was likely to be for the kids. I also anticipated our anniversary with a tinge of dread. Sometime in May I checked the calendar and realized that this year the two occasions were going to fall on the same day. Ouch.

But actually, it was probably good that the days that hit all of us hardest happened together. That way, not only did we get it all over with at once, but we could support each other through them (except for Alden, who had already left for Spain, so we prayed for him). I asked the kids if they preferred to ignore Father’s Day or to celebrate it, and they all chose to face and embrace it. So we did. Church was hard emotionally, although very encouraging, and we all did a lot of crying, but the rest of the day we did things like eating good food together, watching a movie that Al would have enjoyed and discussing it afterwards (which he thought was very important), and sharing memories of Al that were funny, or poignant, or just dear to us. It was a good day, and I think we all came away from it being deeply thankful—for Al, for each other, and for God’s faithfulness. We have been well loved and richly blessed.

Anyway, we have been experiencing lots of good things and seeing God’s hand in and behind them. Thought I’d share some with you. Thanks for caring,



Miscellaneous Happy Things

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 5:00 pm by Libbie

Thought I’d write about some recent happy events this time.

Monday was Alden’s 14th birthday, and we had a good time celebrating it. Now we are all looking forward to watching a couple movies he got for his birthday. Last night his youth group small group leader got a birthday cake for him that the boys all shared at their Bible study.
Alden's Birthday
Alden’s Birthday

Eowyn finally turned in her last term paper after two v-e-r-y short nights of sleep. Hurray!

Last night Eowyn went to a prom with a friend from church (nothing romantic between them–just friends who like to have a good time, which I think is by far the best way to go to a prom). It was great fun taking pictures–first here at the house with just Eowyn and Mitch (who looked as dashing and classy as James Bond), then at a nearby park with four seniors from church and their dates, then at a different park with 24 kids, all dressed to the nines. Becky and I tagged along for the whole thing, and it was a blast. Plus, the young man who invited Eowyn is the son of our dear friends (and Al’s colleague and brother-in-arms in the Old Testament Department) Doug and Rose Green, so it was really fun to do all the picture-taking parents-of-the-dates things together with them. Al would have enjoyed the evening so much and been so proud of his lovely daughter.



Titanic, anyone?

The name is Bond. James Bond.

When these special events come along, we miss Al even more. It would be neither right, nor healthy, nor helpful to pretend otherwise. But we just make a choice to set that sadness in the background, to place the happiness of the events in the foreground, front and center, and to enjoy them wholeheartedly.
[This should be a new paragraph, but I can’t get the program to let me enter a space, no matter what I try!] And lastly, completely unrelated to us, here is a link to a performance that is pretty amazing.
Two notes, however:

1. Make sure you have sound on your computer and that it’s on. Without sound it’s just a very good juggler performing. With sound, it’s astounding.

2. I have never been to the website that this performance is located on, but I’m told it contains some less than edifying material. This link, however, should take you directly to the juggling show.





Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 1:17 pm by Libbie

Just wanted to let you know that Alasdair had surgery on his broken arm yesterday, and that it went smoothly and all seems to be going well. The operation was late yesterday afternoon, and they did a nerve block as well as general anesthesia, so the pain has only started to set in in the last hour. It’s becoming distinctly uncomfortable, but hopefully the Vicodin will help. It’s good to have the surgery done so that the healing can begin.
Thanks for caring about us all–


PS: Update as of 5:30 pm. The pain is pretty intense, and Alasdair, Lauren and Becky are on a 7 or 8 hour drive to a wedding in northern New Hampshire, so I know he would appreciate your prayers!