Thursday, December 09, 2004

What I will miss about Abilene

I am having my computer boxed up and ready to move tomorrow, so this will be my last blog for a while. Thanks for bearing with all the moving laments--this present suffering will be over before long. My brother and I leave next Wed. in my car for Nashville. Please pray for our safety on the road.

There are many things I will miss about Abilene, but here are a few:



Reading the newspaper and knowing at least half of those mentioned in the local news.

Sunsets and sunrises (don't see many of those)


The quiet streets--an asst. police chief once told me that a traffic jam in Abilene was "two cars at a stoplight."

Knowing I had a hand in educating some of the leaders in Abilene.

Sam Thomas Elementary School

Hendrick Hospital and the faith-based care given there.

In fact, all the doctors, dentists, nurses, hairdressers, tailors and other helping people who have served me with grace and skill

My associates at ACU where I taught for 8 years

The Reporter-News which get its licks and often misses the mark, but still serves up a local paper geared to its demographics and the moral values of its readers

The Abilene Public Library with its burgeoning programs and growth under librarian Ricki Brown and the Friends of the Library

Local Friday night football--not that I go to watch, but I love reading about it, watching the bands in parades and seeing the names of the sons and daughters of my friends in the paper

The many churches of all kinds which have loving, caring people

The good-deed doers in Abilene. We have the highest concentration of non-profits in Texas.

Sisneros Buick--earlier Fred Hughes Buick-- where we bought our first Buick over 30 years ago--they actually treated this gray-haired widow as one with some intelligence

The public school system which has recently come through many trials and pains, but is one the right track now with Supt. David Polnick

The local TV news which is often more upbeat than filled with blood and gore

The Public Library book sale where I could buy 4 paperbacks for a dollar.

The Mexican food restaurants, especially El Fenix where the cheese enchiladas are the best I have ever eaten

The three major movie theaters where a customer can always get an extra squirt of butter and can hole up on a Friday afternoon without being bothered by crowds

And last, but certainly not least, Trilogy my spiritual formation group.

But then Nashville has:

Brandon, Sheryl, Maddie, Ella and?

Otter Creek

Bradford Pear trees

More choices for eating and entertainment

The prospect of being trapped at home by snow

The wonderful downtown Public Library and the Frist Art Museum

and other wonders I can't forecast.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Random thoughts on a busy day

Hooray, yes I am thrilled by the third Thomas baby to arrive in June. Brandon and Sheryl have such beautiful, funny, cute, cuddly, intelligent....must I go on?

One of the things we puzzled about yesterday at Trilogy was why most people don't think of righteous living as being evangelistic or missional?

I have two very good friends, one a cousin, who have MS--why is it taking so long for a cure?

There is certainly a long list of people to call when you move--gas, post office, telephone, cable, electricity, water and sewer, doctors, etc. I am tired--I want to BE IN TENNESSEE!!!!!

Wigs have certainly changed since I wore one during the big hair days of the 60's. My friend Gina's is soft, silky, and very natural.

Several times this week I wanted to escape to the movies--When is Neverland coming out?

I love outside Christmas decorations. One house on the corner of my addition has a gigantic snowman. The batchelor who lives next door to me has gone all out with lights lining his driveway, a lighted wreath and outlined bushes. I have absolutely nothing--all is packed or shortly will be. I will make up for it next year!

Monday, December 06, 2004

More last things

Today was really special. The students and teachers at Sam Thomas Elementary and I had a panoramic picture taken in front of the school. Cam Hurst, the principal, arranged the affair. Standing with me were Lauren and Christopher Paul Wertheim, grandchildren of Ronnie and Darla Lorenz and children of Robyn and Paul Wertheim. My cousin, Brittany Tucker, also stood with us. It was a very wonderful time being with 900 children and many of their teachers whom I knew from times past. They are going to frame it and give me a print before I leave. Sam was all over the place as friend Wayne Hennington took the picture (he is a school photographer who loved joking with Sam). Cam said that the principal community was not the same since Sam died--there was no one to keep them close any more. Ann Mayhall, one of the teachers came up and said Sam gave her the first start in the classroom at Bowie. She is an excellent teacher. Sam had a good eye for those who loved children. In fact, at least one other teacher there also taught for Sam--Janie Moore. The school secretary is the daughter of Sam's secretary at Bowie; Nyla Rideout (can't think of her married name) grew up at Minter Lane and was in our Junior class for 3 years. She also teaches there. Diane Cope is an excellent teacher in 2nd grade at Thomas. The librarian Peggy Langford is a good friend and goes to Highland. My cousin's wife, Becky Tucker, teaches P. E. at Thomas. And Cam's wife Joan was a student teacher in Sam's classroom. Dina Longmire taught with me at Dyess. And those are only a few of the connections.

Then I went to Trilogy and the friends gave me a beautiful gift--three ceramic women who are meant to be stood in a circle of friendship. And besides that, we had New Mexico chips (a brand made only in Roswell, McKay's coconut cream pie and a yummy chicken corn chowder which I plan on serving during the holidays in TN.

My last worship committee meeting was a great inspiration as always. Gina Lewis had her new wig and looked marvelous. This committee has been a rich blessing in my life for the last 9 years. I maintained a log of all the songs we used in worship so that we did not sing some too often and so that some were not overlooked. That was a fun job for my librarian mind-set. Very often the Spirit moved in our meetings when just the right song or verse would come to our minds, or when Amy Boone brought a book or a scripture that was perfect for the day to come. Let's see, that means I had the privilege of helping plan 468 Sunday worship times. We have laughed and cried and prayed hard (especially during the women in worship issue).

The theme next Sunday is "75 Years and Counting." I pray the Spirit will pour in extra measure His love and guidance on our band of saints at Highland and on the worship committee.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

I love celebrations!

When you read the Old Testament, you can't get away from celebrations and feast
days, feast weeks and the year of Jubilee. I think Christians don't do enough celebrating--once a week is not enough to celebrate the blessings of God in Christ.

I've been going to a lot of parties and celebrations, and while they are sometimes tough emotionally, I love them. Yesterday a group of friends gave me a little reception in the atrium at Highland in recognition of my leaving. It was truly a wonderful afternoon, seeing not only many friends from Highland, but from around town. My cousins came over from Anson, a childhood friend from Hamlin showed up with her family, and old school friends came to drink punch and reminisce. I taught in 4 AISD schools and all were excellent situations with great principals and teaching budddies. Some of my friends from Austin Elem. School came yesterday, and we had a picture and fun talking about old times. When I think of all the dedicated teachers I associated with, I have to tear up thinking of the influence they have had on the children of Abilene with very little notice and pay. Bless them all.

Then today we REALLY celebrated the 75th anniversay of Highland in Moody Col. at ACU. Hundreds came and sang songs celebrating each decade of the history led by Lynn Anderson and Mike Cope. We even sang "Blue Skies and Rainbows." No, Lynn and Mike didn't lead the songs--they led us through the history.

I was privileged ( among others) to be asked to give a short forecast for the next 25 years of Highland, so I got to be on the stage and look out at all the 700 people at the luncheon. It was a glorious sight. I couldn't sing the traditional "The Lord Bless and Keep You" because of the lump in my throat.

Tonight is the last meeting with my small group which has grown from a small group of friendly strangers to a really tight and loving group over the years. I hate to leave them too.

No ever told me that six months could pass so fast. When I made this decision in July, I never dreamed December would be next week. But so it feels. What a blessing to be a part of such loving people wishing me Godspeed and lovely times in Nashville.

Thank you God, for the lovely band of friends who have been so dedicated, loving and concerned about me over these past 47 years.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Leaving the baby

Today I said goodbye to the NCCIL family and to my baby which I watched from the very first moment such a museum was even mentioned to today when it is known nationally in museums and the circles of children's illustrators. The NCCIL is the only museum of its kind--it exhibits and tours the ORIGINAL art work from children's books which have won the Caldecott Award (the highest award a book can win for its artwork). We have mounted some 30+ exhibits and toured them all over the country from Washington State to New York City and have files of accolades from all venues. And the best part is, we bring thousands of school children every year for tours and art lessons.

The Texas Commission on the Arts was in town this week, met at the NCCIL, and fell all over itself complimenting us. Needless to say I am very proud. But today I had to resign as a Board member and volunteer because Nashville is too far a commute for meetings. They responded by placing me on the Advisory Board--so the ties are still there. They also gave me a very nice reception, a little gift and wonderful compliments.

The NCCIL (National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature)is just part of the growing arts community in downtown Abilene and that community is largely responsible for the revitalization of the downtown area. It has been fun to see it develop from a deserted area to one just beckoning people to come, look, and enjoy. I have loved it.

The arts are so important to the cognitive development of children, and I am glad to have had a part in bringing that to the children of Abilene through the NCCIL. And of course, it fits very well with my great passion for children's books and children's literature. I can't wait to exercise that passion in the beautiful downtown Nashville Public Library where Maddie and Ella go for an excellent storytime. I wonder if they have a Friends of the Library group?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Undeserving, but appreciative

At the risk of seeming prideful, I will be writing over the next few days about all the nice things people are doing for me as I leave. I write this for Maddie and Ella, but also to keep it in my memory.

Last night at the elders' meeting at Highland, the elders affirmed, blessed and thanked me for my service at Highland. After my pastor and friend Mike reviewed my years at Highland and my connection with the Copes, he opened it up to others to say what they wanted to. It was very gratifying and thrilling really to hear what they said. Some talked about my widowhood experiences and the way in which I dealt with that, some talked about my teaching at ACU and at Highland, one spoke of my work with the community with the NCCIL, one dear soul lauded me for the way I had reared Brandon, one said I had taught him the meaning of worship, one spoke of how much I had influenced his wife. The laugh of the night came when Jerry Strader talked about my work on the women's issue committee, and Mike said, "Judy was entirely neutral the whole time, right?" Jerry just said--"This is one strong woman!" After that they all lay hands on me and sent me out. What a wonderful experience.Ronnie Lorenz walked me back to my car, and I was speaking to him about how
undeserving I was of all the comments. Ronnie said, "I don't think you realize how much people think of you and how much you have influenced this church." Then I had to cry the buckets I had been holding in.

Then early this morning I attended a city council meeting as a member of the strategic planning committee for the Abilene Public Library. The committee report was presented today. As the session ended, Mayor Archibald said he understood that one member of the committee was moving, and he had me stand. He continued to thank me for my community service and said he understood it would take five people to replace me. Which, of course, is nonsense--nevertheless, it was nice, and I appreciate it.

All of this to say, I am undeserving--I just enjoy using the gifts God gave me--and I give Him all the credit for anything I have accomplished along the way.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Tom Brokaw

As Mike has done today, I too must write about Tom Brokaw retiring. I was a mere babe of 28 when I first began watching him. My day is not complete unless I watch the Nightly News as I began to do with Huntley and Brinkley. The NBC version has always seemed to me to be less biased and more journalistic than Dan Rather.

I am sure I will keep watching Brian Williams, although I do not feel the connection with him yet. I do admire Brokaw for leaving at his height to "give others their day." A somewhat selfless statement, I think. He is the epitome of small town boy made good, and he often beamed values even when they were not spoken on the air. His expression at the end of particularly difficult stories spoke volumes.

I will miss you, Tom.