What a difference ten days can make. We had been planning this Michigan/Ohio trip with my folks since sometime last winter. We just picked this two week spot on the calendar for no particular reason. It didn’t really matter to us when we were to go, we just wanted to give my dad an opportunity to visit old friends and family. I’ve learned one of the benefits of living a long life is having the ability to look back and see God’s hand in the outcome of plans and decisions made. What happened this past week is a good example of this. With all the miles and many places we can cover in a year, what are the chances we would be here at my dad’s side the very day he receives the unexpected news from the doctor that he has an incurable and aggressive form of lung cancer and that it’s already spread to his liver? Although it was hard news to swallow, we are thankful that we were able to be here with Dad as he learned his fate. Even more than that, we are thankful for God’s unconditional grace and plan of salvation, that my father had the opportunity to spread this Good News to others over his thirty-four year career as a Lutheran pastor, and that he instilled these beliefs in his children creating a strong faith that made getting thru this tough week possible. Needless to say, we were not able to make the trip as we planned but knowing that God is in control of this and every situation gives us the comfort and strength to face the upcoming days ahead and be grateful for all God’s blessings, knowing He does have a plan in mind for Dad and for us as well.
We’ll be shifting out of vacation mode and back into truck mode on Saturday when we leave the summer goodness of Minnesota – fresh raspberries, fresh picked sweet corn, and home-cooked meals - and head down to Louisville, Kentucky to pick up a show on Sunday and take it to Austin, Texas. It’s nearly time to get back to work.
This old picture above shows my father, Carlton Palenske, as a new graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary and about to embark on a ministry that would take him from Apacheland's San Carlos reservation in 1957 to Winona, Minnesota in 1991. In between those years were stops along the way at churches in Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, and Missouri. It's no wonder I became accustomed to the nomadic lifestyle - it started in my childhood.
Here is a more recent picture of Dad enjoying his much deserved retirement.