Sunday, February 27, 2011

A New Kind of Normal

When you are reminded how short and precious and fragile life can be, you make all kinds of promises to yourself about what you're going to change in your own life. I'm going to clean up the house, do laundry, walk the dog, go to church on Sundays, find more friends, eat better (no, not really... what's the point in that?), tell people I love them... I don't know if any of us really make good on those promises to ourselves. We do, in a way, just go on with life as usual. But I can't help but think about Kenda and how her "life as usual" is never going to be the same. I know she will do okay because she's a strong person, grounded in her faith. But she could certainly use our prayers and support as she finds her new normal.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Everything Changes

My last post was about my own post-mortem, and this week I'm neck-deep in the grief of Ken Diehm's post-mortem (he chose cremation by the way). My boss, leader, pastor, mentor, friend passed away last Saturday. Suddenly. Unbelievably.

I can't begin to explain the effect he had on people. We expect thousands at his memorial service. But for me, he was an inspiration. He taught me to take a deep breath and not over-react. He was calm and tolerant. Slow to anger. Sometimes it frustrated me because he never got worked up about the things I was worked up about. But over time that helped me to learn that everything was going to be okay... that whatever the big issue was, it wasn't the end of the world. 

When hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Ken led the church in opening up our apartments to be transitional housing. Pictured below is one of those "refugees" - a chef who was serving us some jambalaya. 

Ken was joyful. He laughed easily and often. He loved a good joke. Pranks. Spoof videos. Funny commercials. The Big Bang Theory. Teasing people. Being teased. The last project he worked on was an "answer" to the recent Doritos Super Bowl commercial where the guy was sprinkling crumbs over dead stuff and bringing it back to life. If only that really worked. But it does in a way... because the pews where Ken sprinkled those Doritos will be full to overflowing this weekend.

One of Ken's greatest legacies may be his work in Kenya. He brought Kenyans to the forefront of our consciousness, showing us that even just a little bit of our effort could make a huge difference in their lives. Since his first visit to Kenya, we have built solar-powered computer labs, decreased the drop-out rate in our partner schools to almost zero by feeding meals, provided medical equipment and procedures, provided water wells and sponsored over 200 children orphaned by AIDS. We have partnered with churches, missionaries, hospitals, schools and co-ops to improve the quality of life of people in their villages and give them hope for the future.

Ken touched many lives and everyone has their own favorite story about him. But my favorite story about Ken is just the story of his life. He was committed to his family, kept good boundaries, worked tirelessly for the poor and underprivileged, led with ease and encouraged us to be creative. Over time, he carefully put together a collaborative team that worked well together and fed off of each other's strengths. The last book he had us read together was all about change. How fitting.

When the grieving is over, we'll have a lot to do. Ken gave us his passion and now we have to find our own way and continue his good work... and even find our own good work to do. We have to lead our church into the overwhelming change of a new pastor, hopefully a visionary in his or her own right. 

I'm thankful for the time that I enjoyed sharing life and work with Ken. I still can't believe he's gone. Over time, the reality will become our new normal. The one thing Ken would want us to do is trust. Trust that God is going to take care of us. That good will come out of tragedy. That there will be new growth and new life that come from the seeds he planted. I do trust in that. I believe it wholeheartedly. Ken would want us to laugh, to live, and to serve others. Let's do it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bury or Burn?

I used to think I definitely wanted to be cremated when I die. It seems like it would be so much cheaper than a full-on burial. But the more I research genealogy, the more I think I should be buried somewhere. Not that anyone will really care, but what if someone a hundred or two hundred years from now is trying to find my birth and death dates? If I'm not buried anywhere, where do you put the marker? How will I have a catchy epitaph if there's no stone to put it on?

I should mention that recently I've spent a lot of time uploading tombstone images to - so I do have a good reason for thinking about these things.

I guess I'm just too vain. If I weren't, it shouldn't matter whether I'm buried or burned.

I was somebody.
Who, is no business
of yours. (Anonymous epitaph, Stowe, Vermont)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What I Know: Anna Knust Zogg

Anna is a mystery. We don’t know who her parents were, but from the census records of her daughter Flora, it is believed that she was born in Switzerland. She married Mathias Zogg in Carthage, Missouri and had one daughter, Flora. What happened to her after she and Matthias divorced? From the divorce records, we see that Matthias accused Anna of not doing her household duties (cooking, cleaning, etc.). Anna never appeared for the court proceedings. One of Flora’s daughters thought she remembered a visit from Anna when they were children. The other daughters disagree that it was Anna. Aunt Melinda likes to theorize that Matthias murdered her or that she ran off to California to become a star. My belief is that she probably remarried and moved away from Carthage, Missouri. OR she may have followed the Quinns to Texas to live near her daughter, but was not a part of her life.