Friday, December 16, 2016

Stolpe Star 2016

Taken at Memory Support Group
Turning a Corner

Good drivers know to slow down when they can’t see around a corner and accelerate as they come out of the curve to see the road stretching ahead of them. As we entered 2016 we knew we were coming up to a new direction and the events of Holy Week forced us to slow down as the way ahead of us was obscure.
When I accepted the call to a half-time interim pastorate for 1st Christian Church of Albany, Texas, we expected it would be my last, and we began thinking about the trajectory of the curve ahead of us. I went to Albany (165 miles west of our home) Friday-Monday, but Candy stayed in Dallas. On Palm Sunday weekend twice she wandered away from the house in the middle of the night. I drove back to Dallas as quickly as I could, and Candy spent Holy Week in the hospital.
After an exhausting battery of tests, she was diagnosed with the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. I immediately resigned as interim pastor, and for the first time in years I neither preached nor led worship on Easter Sunday.
Candy had planned to fly to Milwaukee to spend spring school break with Rachel and David, Sam and Elizabeth. Instead, David flew to Dallas to help us with this unexpected turn in our path, the details of which are just too intricate to spell out in a Christmas letter.
Most days are mostly good. We cry some. We laugh a lot. We give thanks for the gifts and surprises on this journey. Candy is doing well, and the changes in her medications have been helpful. We are thankful for Dr. Diana Kerwin and the staff of the Memory Disorders Clinic of Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas for their excellent care and the home health nurses and physical therapists. For Elizabeth Kent the counselor who is accompanying us on this journey. For the encouragement I receive from the memory caregivers support group, also at Presbyterian Hospital.
We are deeply thankful for the staff and people of Northway Christian Church with whom we have been members since my retirement from Central Christian Church. Pastor Doug Skinner has given us wonderful spiritual support both in his preaching and personally.
We are thankful for surprises that have come along the way. I must commend Candy for talking openly about her diagnosis. The responses of people help us receive each day as a gift and encourage others who deal with mental health challenges. In one such  conversation Candy became friends with Cheryl Cook, whom we discovered was the sister-in-law of a good friend of mine, and now Candy and Cheryl walk and talk together.
Prior to Candy’s diagnosis we had considered moving to Milwaukee to be close to Rachel and David, Sam and Elizabeth. Though slowed down by turning this corner, we are probably accelerating toward that goal in coordination with Candy’s Dad in Minneapolis and Erik who will stay in Texas as his music career continues to gain traction. To mix a metaphor, making this turn has a lot of moving pieces that need to fit together. So we move forward with prayer and patience, trusting we will be able to discern how God wants all of this to fit together.
As we come around the curve, we are shifting to Gmail for our email. Email, IM, or text me, and I will send you our Gmail addresses. The sbcglobal emails will work while we are in Texas, but you can keep in touch with us by Gmail even as phone numbers and physical address change.
I know this is a lengthy discourse, and even though it leaves out a lot of details, we wanted to inform you of the significant corner we are rounding. We want to give at least a brief update on the rest of the family too.
Connecting all of this to Christmas may seem something of a stretch. The annual reviews that we (and many others) send out at Christmas time do give some perspective and assurance that God has gone with us on our journey so far, so we are confident we can continue to trust God to be with us from here forward too.
Matthew (1:23) interpreted the angel’s announcement to Joseph of the impending birth of Jesus as a sign of Immanuel – the promise from Isaiah 7:14 that God is with us. So whether our personal and family journeys or the turmoil of the nation and world, Christmas assures us that we are not alone, but God is indeed with us.
Merry Christmas!
Norm for Candy too
Erik’s Music Career
Erik continues to play bass for country singer Troy Cartwright, which is accelerating. He also teaches piano, guitar, bass and performance. Moving out on his own is one of the major steps in the corner we are all taking on our journey.

Pennsylvania Trip in June
We both went to Pennsylvania in June for Hannah’s high school graduation. Rachel and David, Sam and Elizabeth met us there for the festivities. Hannah is a freshman at Messiah College in Mechanics-burg, PA majoring in Spanish and French education and runs track. Isaac is a high school junior and almost done with Eagle Scout and devoted to music with piano and trumpet.
We are thankful they will be with us for Christmas.

Candy Did Get To Wisconsin
Though not at spring break, Candy did get to Wisconsin by the end of summer to enjoy time with Rachel and David, Sam and Elizabeth. Sam is a high school freshman. Both Sam and Elizabeth are active in music and competitive swimming.

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