Category Archives: Life reflections

Farewell Nancy

Nancy and I met when we were eighteen. We had both just started a three month training course at Youth With a Mission, in Nancy’s native California. I had traveled from Tennessee for the experience. She was three hours up the road in a cheerfully charismatic non-denominational fellowship.

We made fast friends with a group of girls our age, a kind of rat pack of young disciples: Jen, Cami, Ginny, Nancy, me. Four blonds and a brunette, blissfully unaware of the effect we were having on the godly men around us, in more ways than one.

Nancy wanted to study journalism after YWAM, as did I. We kept in touch, and when she headed to Asbury College in nearby Kentucky, we would meet up occasionally. I was there when she met Scott, the guy who would change her life and give her three sons. Her journalism career at a weekly in Colorado paralleled mine in a daily in Tennessee, and we commiserated about bad bosses, terrible story ideas, and keeping our moral compass pointed toward Jesus in the strange new world of the 1990s.

Oh, we were so cute and naive. I sent presents for her wedding–which I could not attend because my car needed new tires–and for the births of her first two sons. I missed the third one, because by then life was in full flow, including a change of location to Scotland, pre-Facebook. It was a little harder to keep up back then, kids. We had to send emails uphill through the snow both ways.

We did all manage to meet up once, post-marriages but pre-kids, in Colorado for a four-day glorious reunion. Cami was married to Eric, whom she would later divorce. Jen was married to Ken, with whom she would travel many paths, including learning to flip houses in the San Francisco area and raising three girls adopted from China.

Nancy traded in journalism for a role in her husband’s church as he founded a new one under the leadership of theirs, which was growing outsized. Rather than get a bigger building and encourage commuting, their pastor wisely began to plan in surrounding communities. Scott and Nancy took up the challenge.

Fast forward, as we drifted apart, separated by geography and years. It was interesting that we changed directions in the politics of Christianity as well, but that never pulled at the foundations of our friendships. Among other topics, Jen remains staunchly pro-life to the point that conflating women’s rights with the rights of the unborn was a conversation we had more than once. I fluttered around what I considered a common sense middle with Nancy, who was quieter about the whole thing: if the church was so concerned about the unborn why didn’t it treat men the way it did women, explaining what a horrible sin it was to impregnate and abandon a woman and encouraging the policies that would regulate male bodies? Etc. You might be able to truncate the position into “we’d be actively pro-life if the church had a lick of common sense when it came to gender and racial equity issues.”

Cami was having none of that. She was right to choose and women’s empowerment all the way, and considered Nancy and I soft on feminism, even brainwashed, although that was not a word anyone used. Too loaded.

The letters (those were the days, my friend) cards and emails, and eventually the casual Facebook updates, kept coming, but we went from deep issues to liking each other’s pictures of batches of chocolate cookies–and announcements of forthcoming publications as Cami, Nancy and I launched our writing careers.

My last personal communication with Nancy was about six years ago, when her oldest son died. When a teenager in a Christian church commits suicide, and his parents are pastors, all hell breaks loose. Nancy disappeared from Facebook and I didn’t expect a response to my hand-written note. If there is anything worse than losing a child, it is being judged by your loving community for that loss.

Nancy was on my mind from time to time, and in my prayers. I liked graduation pictures for her younger sons, smiling at the small Scotts who had grown taller than their father.

About a month ago, it crossed my mind to catch up with Nancy, but I was busy, headed to Scotland leading a tour group with Jack. I’d do it when I got home.

Nancy and Scott were also headed out on vacation, for a swift getaway in Montana. That’s where the rainstorm caused horrific driving conditions resulting in a head-on collision. All those involved died at the scene.

It wasn’t a constant friendship, it was a backdrop from formative years. The world was steadier when Nancy–sensible, steadfast Nancy of the curious mind and the common sense “I see the difference between theology and convenience and power struggles” perception–was in it. The light looks dimmer, the world feels less safe, with this beacon of honesty, transparency, and kindness taken from it.

Fare thee well, Nancy. I know you went straight from that car seat to the arms of Jesus, and I feel confident of the first thing he said to you. “Hi, honey. What shall we talk about?”


Filed under Life reflections, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

Edinburgh LAUNCH

All I’ve got to say is, those hearings in DC had better have some consequences.

Our journey to Edinburgh started today, with lightning at Knoxville airport. As soon as the thunderboomer passed, they herded us swiftly onto the wee flying pencil—

—and we sat there. Finally the sweet flight attendant (Malachi) said he was very sorry, we would have to deplane as Dulles DC had a ground stop.

“A whodewhat?” someone asked, but we were ushered off the plane into the terminal. At the end of the queue came our pilot, who sat next to us and began explaining what was happening.

“Someone of a senior nature, a former president or VP, or perhaps the current secretary of state, is flying in for those hearings. Someone who doesn’t use the White House planes but can’t just fly in without security.” He paused, and chuckled. “And if there hadn’t been that storm, we would have gotten in just ahead of them.”

As it was, we sat in Tyson McGhee for three hours. It’s not an entirely unpleasant place to be, and the people trying to get onto later flights were nice as could be, as were the flight attendants telling them there was nothing they could do about it….

The plan reloaded about 5 pm, with a few less people and perhaps a little bit more attitude. Drinks were free, said Malachi. They were very sorry about this whole Dulles thing, and would get us there using a couple of tricks and shortcuts.

These apparently involved turbulence, but the drinks were free.

We landed. The two German guys across from me began to discuss the fact that their plane was still there, just two gates away. Our plane did not deplane. They discussed breaking a window and making a jump for it. Our plane did not deplane.

Malachi began to look concerned. It turned out, the airport was short a few “rampers,” people who help you get off the flying pencil and then get your oversized carry-ons.

The German guys noted that their plane had pushed back from the gate. “Well, we can spend a weekend in DC shopping,” one said. The other sniffed.

Beside me, a woman standing in the aisle glanced at her watch. “My flight goes in 15 minutes. It’s four gates down.”

“You might still make it.” I tried to sound encouraging. Malachi said into the phone, “Well can they hurry? These people have been waiting a long time.”

Two men in yellow safety vests began to manually push a set of stairs toward our plane. They had to angle them four times. At this point, the Germans, the woman who was going to miss her flight, and Jack and I were laughing hysterically as the two men repositioned the stairs for a third try.

“Does someone want to tell them they have the brake on at the back?” said a guy waiting in the aisle. The rest of the plane erupted into laughter.

“Don’t break my window!” One of the Germans yelled as they rammed forward, once again off kilter, and everybody hooted.

We got off the plane, eventually, and stood around waiting for the baggage that had been taken from us to be returned.

I held up the book I’d been reading on the plane. “Anyone want this? I’ve finished it.”

The lady who would have made it 15 minutes ago extended a hand. “I believe I’m going to be on the night train to Long Island,” she said. “Something to read would be lovely.”

A bunch more guys in yellow vests appeared, one with a piece of paper from which he was checking things off in a brusque manner, face like thunder. Then he threw his pen–a pilot 5.1–across the tarmac. It flew straight and true.

After a moment, I picked it up. “It’s a nice pen, anyone want it?”

One of the women smiled. “My plane is taking off now. I don’t believe I need a souvenir to remember this journey, but all the same, it’s a nice pen.” I handed it over.

“At least someone has a pilot,” muttered one of the Germans, and we all cracked up again.

And so begins our journey to Scotland. Stay tuned for more misadventures….

….and yo, Washington dignitaries, all those nice people missed their flights for you. You better come up with the goods.

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Filed under humor, Life reflections, reading, Scotland