Throughout the month of November, I want to take time to share about people or things I am grateful for over the past year. Previous entries: Jeremy Bouman, Public Libraries, Fuel Saver, Eric Carpenter, WellCare/Medicaid, That One Jimmy’s Egg Meal, Beth Katz & Lonnie Michael, Mark Rober, Running, JK Rowling, Fire Pits.
Last Wednesday, I was at Flagship Commons filling out some documents. It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and his schedule is busy, but I wondered if a friend had a few minutes to hang out. I text him, and sure enough he says he will come by. A bit later, Alex Ehly walks up. We catch up on our families, work, and faith.
When I resigned from Christ Community Church, I wasn’t sure how it might affect my friendships with people there. I had been blessed by so many. I’m grateful a number of the staff continue to be friends.
This past Monday, I went by CCC with Eric Carpenter. It can sometimes be strange to walk back inside, but so many people greet me with joy and love. Here comes Deb Beck. She’s smiling and gives me a hug like always. “Good to see you!” Deb always takes time for people no matter her work load.
Paul Gedden is in the Atrium, and we chat for awhile. So much so, we sit down on the Atrium stairs while we talk, just like we used to do. You can’t just have a quick “I’m fine” conversation with him. Here comes Chris Brooks, does a double take, and comes over to see how I’m doing. We talk college hoops like usual.
Often when I’ve walked in the building this past year it’s like I’ve never left. I’ve got a good excuse to see Doni Gregory since the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. After some fun give-and-take about the Red Sox and Yankees, we talk church life like we used to do. Doni was one of the staff I’d often work with on pastoral care and benevolence. Of course, if I’m talking to Doni there’s a good chance Leslie Feeney will make an appearance. Here she comes. Always welcoming, asking how the family is doing.
Usually when I walk in the front doors, Merna Abernathy is right there to greet me. We joke about me being available to do pastoral care while I’m there, and then we talk about our families. She often saw my boys running around the Atrium at top speed, weaving in and out of people and tables.
I make it a point to go by Sue Beed’s desk. She’s been battling cancer, but still is there doing her job as well as she can. We hug, and she gives me an update with her health. She also makes sure to send some candy with me for the boys. As I’m talking to Sue, Eva Brandt comes out of her office to say hello. We talk running and family. Eva was on a China trip I led back in 2009, and it’s been cool to see what God has been doing in and through her since then.
“HEY!” I don’t even need to turn around to know it’s Steve Yost. At various points this past year, I’ve missed working with him. Everything going on with Husker football? Yeah, it’d be fun to have Steve around so we could talk. If he wasn’t saying “Hey” to me, I’d get a head nod and a smile from him as I sat in on the choir and orchestra rehearsals.
If I’m at the choir and orchestra rehearsal, I’ll usually go and talk to the tech crew. Often, Sandy Carroll is there quietly and graciously going about her responsibilities. We chat about the latest with work and our families.
Walking the halls at CCC I usually cross paths with members of the Facility Team. Carlos Cruz, Larry Hovorka, Evan Petersen, and others. A greeting, and then right back into conversation topics of old like Messi vs Ronaldo or fantasy football. And then they are off since they are always working away at some project behind the scenes.
Its not always at CCC. It’s been fun eating at Raising Cane’s with Marc Birkey every couple of weeks. No set schedule, just a text from one of us that amounts to “It’s been awhile since we had lunch…” There was the time I was at HyVee, eating donuts with Gideon and Charlie, when Jed Logue came over to say hello and talk for awhile. And, if I happen to be at the nearby Chick-Fil-A or Starbucks there is a good chance I’ll cross paths with someone.
There are a lot of these moments with a number of the staff. Jokes about smartwatches? Austin Asay. Silly attendance texts? Jessica Hawley. Pokémon GO? Ian Willsey. Haven’t even mentioned other moments with Kristi Dowding, Jonathan Norton, Elizabeth Bartz, Lisa Ashton, Keagan Blancke, and others. Quick and fun interactions that are a reminder of the good people I worked with for a dozen years.
There are also the moments where they minister to you. There was one time I was sharing with Wendell Nelson. He was late for a meeting, but still wanted to hear what God was doing in me. After I was done sharing, trying to cut it short because I knew he was late for his meeting, he then took time to pray for me.
Back to Alex Ehly. We connected one summer morning at Chick-Fil-A. Peach milkshakes were probably involved. I was sharing the good and bad with life, and started crying. Part of the reason I allowed the emotion to come forth was knowing and trusting Alex. He’s a friend. He, like many other former coworkers, continues to be a friend. I am grateful for those friends.