When asked (often) why I’m retiring, my answer has been that I believe the Lord wants me to close this chapter in my life and ministry. A second compelling reason is that my health over the past six years or so has been suspect. I wrote about having eight stents placed in two of my heart arteries back in 2008 and 2009. Then three years ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, sending Isaura and me down a new path which has changed the way we eat. We have chosen to fight this cancer from a holistic approach, which includes Isaura preparing organic foods. And I’m feeling fine!
I know my retiring is a bit confusing because many of you thought I retired already. Actually, this is my second retirement. I retired from the Navy chaplain corps six years ago when I turned 60. This time I’m retiring from organized church ministry. In place of serving the church I am looking forward to doing a lot more writing. My primary focus is to write some historical novels about my pastor/circuit riding great grandfather’s exploits during the Civil War, 1862-63. I am also planning to write an update on the first book I published in 1998, “The Sandwich Generation: Adult Children Caring for Aging Parents.”
I have a few other writing projects as well. One of them is to compile my Roots in Ripon articles by subject, or year, or some other way. Quite a few folks have asked that I do this. In addition, my girls want me to write some children’s books. I may move this up on the priority list since my grandkids are growing real fast!
Another writing project I have planned is a book on “Humor in Combat.” This would be the funny things that can, and often do happen when the bullets are flying. I have been collecting such stories from war vets for a number of years.
My final book focus is to write about Navy chaplains who first served as Marines. During my years in the service, I met a number of chaplains who had previously done a hitch in the Marine Corps. What took place in their lives that brought them to the point of sensing a call of God to provide ministry to the men and women of the Navy and Marine Corps? I aim to find out.
There are lots of other things I’m looking forward to doing, such as spending more time with my grandkids. For instance, this past school year I’ve been working with 6-year-old Alyssa, a kindergartener, helping her learn a song, entitled, “The 50 States in Rhyme.” There’s some patter that goes with it which she has also learned. So, last Friday when I went to pick her up from school, which is my normal routine, I told Miss Huff, her teacher, that Alyssa had a song she wanted to sing for her. So, with kids running all over the place, with shouts and various other noises made by kids escaping for the long Memorial Day weekend, Alyssa stood there and sang the song, and nailed it! If you’re not familiar with the song, after the opening patter, it begins by listing all fifty states in alphabetical order, implementing a sing-song melody. It’s a hoot!
The full impact of retiring from the active pastorate has not settled in just yet. Isaura and I love the folks in the Ripon Free Methodist Church. They are family. Last Sunday evening the congregation hosted a Retirement Dinner for us which was truly a blessing. The spaghetti was delicious, the entertainment superb – the Golden Valley Chorus sang a number of songs – and 14-year-old Lexie Anderson from our church performed a praise dance which brought down the house. During the sharing time, so many people stood to offer such kind remarks and remembrances that it left Isaura and me emotionally drained.
Our plan is to stay put right here in Ripon so we can be close to our grandkids and where we can also continue to fellowship at the Free Methodist Church. The new pastor is Steve Evoy and he will be arriving with his family in early July. They are driving out from Michigan. Pastor Steve has already made it very clear that he wants Isaura and me to continue attending the church, which was music to our ears.
A number of folks have asked me if I will continue to write the Roots in Ripon articles now that I’m retiring. The answer is yes. I enjoy these opportunities to share each week, besides the fact that many people have encouraged me to stay.
And then there’s this little matter of golf. This game, which the Scots came up with some 600 years ago, is a recreation I really enjoy. You will no doubt, see my car in the club parking lot frequently.
But it’s Isaura, my bride of 38 years, whom I will be able to do some things with which we’ve not been able to do mostly because we haven’t been able to take off on weekends for years on end. We have a number of trips planned, both nearby (150 miles or less), and some long trips (Europe, cross-country USA).