Our Holiday Letter

This has been a year of extreme highs and terrible lows for our family.  This year began with illness and surgery.  Scott was experiencing terrible pain and the doctors misdiagnosed it.  He walked around with appendicitis for almost four weeks before a specialist rushed him into a successful surgery.  We cannot say enough about the care he received at BroMenn Medical Center in Bloomington, and will remain silent in regards to another facility.

Scott’s recovery was swift and we were able to travel to Israel-Palestine in February.  In 2014 the conference graciously allowed Scott to defer his ordination trip so that we could, instead, travel as a couple on the 2016 Ordinand Trip to the Holy Land.  It was an incredible trip not just because of the sights and sounds, but also because of the many colleagues and friends who were on the trip with us.  Not only that, but Carrie’s sister decided to join the trip.  We were blessed to be part of such an incredible experience with such amazing people!

While we were on the extension trip in Ammon, Jordan we received a call from our foster care agency that they had a placement for us.  We, obviously, were not available to take the placement and we were crushed that after such a long wait we were unable to become parents.  Just days after our arrival home we received another call for a 10 year old girl to be placed with us.  We were overjoyed (and nervous)!  She moved in the next day on March 10.  “A” would stay with us for the next five months.  The situation was not what we or the agency expected and our home quickly became unsafe.  She was moved to a more appropriate placement in August.

During that summer Scott completed his second residency (set of summer classes) in the ACTS Doctor of Ministry program.  We are blessed that his church has given him extra time for continuing education and provided him with financial support that makes this possible.  He has one more assigned sermon and an integrative paper this year, one more residency and then begins his thesis writing.  He is almost there!

Carrie also worked hard this year to grow professionally.  She completed her certificate in nonprofit management from Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University) this year.  She also traveled to Chicago for the Mediation Skills Training Institute at Lombard-Mennonite Peace Center which got her interested in a Clergy Clinic process which she began in the fall.

This fall we cancelled our membership with our TaeKwonDo (Korean martial arts) Dojang (gym).  We really enjoyed Master Soo Kim and the other students at Soo Kim Martial Arts, but the times didn’t work with our schedules and the expense was great.  Instead we have gotten a membership at the Riverplex downtown.  Between exercise, healthy eating, and better sleep (and our Fitbit tracking) 2016 has been a year of increasing health for us as a family.

Despite our busy-ness we were able to get away for some days away.  In April we took “A” to Pere Marquette.  It was especially fun to see a little girl’s face light up the first time she stayed in a motel room.  We enjoyed hiking trails and seeing beautiful river scenes as well as a ferry boat ride and an afternoon at the Saint Louis Zoo.  In late April we took “A” to the Mark Twain cave and sights in Hannibal, Missouri and went down to the Berry family lake house in Saint Genevieve, Missouri in June for the twins’ birthday.  Carrie and “A” also got to spend a few days in late June in Saint Louis with family and, then, got to go to the Lincoln sites in Springfield.

In August, after “A” moved out, Carrie took a few days off to hike the Ozark trail.  Then, in September we spent two days in Chicago on a spur-of-the-moment trip.  We also dropped off our wedding rings for resizing (and added some bling to Carrie’s ring) and we enjoyed a day at Shedd’s Aquarium.

This Thanksgiving was spent with Carrie’s family, but at the home of…Carrie’s sister’s husband’s family (confusing? Not really, we’ll take them as full-on family any time)!Thanksgiving Day, itself, was wonderful overlooking downtown Saint Louis, but we also enjoyed several days visiting with Carrie’s family in Town and Country.  Christmas is expected to be with Scott’s family at his childhood home.  We are especially looking forward to seeing Scott’s sister and her husband who will be down from Wisconsin, so Christmas is looking to be just as wonderful as our recent Thanksgiving!

As we move into the holidays we reflect on a crazy year and we realize that we have received many blessings.  We look forward to Christmas celebrations at our churches and we hope that you and yours can count as many blessings in your lives as we do in ours!

Blessings & Peace,

Looking Inward.
Yes, this is my MRI from two months ago and that is my tumor.
We still don’t have a proper name for it.

In just a few hours (at noon) I will be undergoing a special MRI.  The doctors are going to be placing small sensors all over my head and doing a scan that will let them see what they are doing during the surgery.  If you’ve ever seen Dr. Shepherd on Grey’s Anatomy doing a TV version of brain surgery, I imagine it will be a lot like that: without all the distractions, sex and death.  This MRI will be loaded into their equipment on Monday morning and they will be able to see what they are doing inside of my head.

What we were not aware of, until Friday, is that these sensors are kind of like green lifesavers.  That’s not the good part.  Wait for it.  They stick them on my head before the MRI at noon on Sunday and I have to keep them on until (and throughout) the surgery.  Okay, I know that in the grand scheme of things that doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but we planned a big dinner out with some of our family Sunday night.  You know, a last nice meal before the surgery.  Now it appears I’ll be going to a nice restaurant in Saint Louis looking like some sort of Star Trek alien.

Well, at least I won’t actually see anyone that I know.  That’s the upside.  Oh- and it’s the Super Bowl, so we’re likely to be alone in the restaurant, so no one may see me anyway!

On a related note I learned something else recently.  One of my mother-in-law, June Berry’s, friends had a brain surgery and had a stressful experience as she was coming out of anesthesia. As she woke up she found that she was being put into an MRI.  You can imagine that it was all very disorienting for her!  It was a very stressful experience and June’s friend wanted me to be warned about it, especially because it was a similar surgery with my same surgeon at the same hospital.  I have good news.  Well, they do it differently now.  This is the cool part:  They now have an MRI right in the operating room so when they are finished with the surgery and I’m still on the operating table (and still knocked out) they will do an MRI right there and then to make sure there is no swelling, bleeding, and to make sure that no part of the tumor remains.

Isn’t it remarkable that we live in an age where my surgeon can scan my brain and see what he is doing as he operates?  Isn’t it remarkable that we live in a time when we can have MRI’s, which were on their own so rare even just two decades ago, right in the operating room?

Anyway, I just wanted to share a quick update. I hope that this note finds my friends and family doing well and I will be praying for all of you!  May God’s blessings be evident o you all on this Sunday morning!

I am especially praying for those of you at First United Methodist Church Pontiac who are working through the Fruitful Congregations material in my absence.  I pray for the Holy Spirit to be upon you all in this discernment process, to show you a way forward, and to build up your passion and excitement for ministry in our church, community and the world!!!

Blessings & Peace!

Scott