Recent photo of my parents in my office

Recent photo of my parents in my office

February 23, 2008

Time to Update

I don't know if the main reasons I've avoided this is disobedience, pain, sleepiness, or some kind of closure I don't want to start, but here goes.

I have been on FMLA (a government program called Federal Medical Leave Act) at a part-time level for quite a while now. This is something that my job provides as a means of both protecting my job and also limiting me from the length of time that I can be paid without showing up! I'm sure that many of you are aware of this legal system. In my situation, I am allowed a certain number of hours during which I receive 60% of my payment, even when I'm missing due to illness time that I've already used up after regular sick time. But when THAT time is gone, then I have to move to full time disability, and my job is in effect "terminated", which makes lots of sense for the college since otherwise I would simply continue to be absent, even though I'd love to keep working, and despite that fact that I can't seem to keep working more than little bits.

The true situation is that I reached that point during this week, and after 21 years, am formally no longer working for Wheaton College. There are many positive ways that Wheaton is handling this for me that remain -- I continue to receive a salary of 60% of my normal pay (amazing) and full health insurance benefit (along with some other benefits). There are lots of details to be resolved that Margie and a good college friend of mine are working together on, and we are blessed. At the same time, this is not a simple situation, and I am in a bit of shock, I'd say.

How is this affecting me? I am somewhat overwhelmed, since it will reduce the regularity of my connections to people that I have known and loved for many years (and didn't expect this to happen so soon). I just went into my office this late afternoon (Saturday), and began the farewell process with prayer and letting go of the space. Actually, I've already taken the artwork and plants from the place that my parents recently helped me hang (with their help also!), with another form of "adieu." And I'm sure that thanks to the College's hospitality, I'll get to say farewell at some other moments upcoming. Nonetheless, this is a place no longer tied to my "identity", and I am in the process of listening to God in order to more accurately hear his will for my future.

A close friend of mine, Mario Bergner, has joined others in counseling me with a suggestion that I think I have somehow had as an instinct for a longtime also, but which is quite scary. That is that I have the possibility of growing in maturity and ministry beyond Wheaton, but would never have done so without this kind of "kick out of the nest", so to speak. I'm not completely sure why this be would certain, but I know that I have questioned at times whether I could have ended my life contendedly by serving the job I had. That is no disrespect for the importance of the Head of Music Librarianship, nor for Head of Public Services, nor for the Head of Collection Development -- all positions that I held over the last 21 years. Nor was it a sense that I was being disobedient or a failure to God in my work. I grew and learned through all of those years, thanks be to God. But it is now that in this season of life, I have had to find a way to step forward, that this is also a time of near panic for me.

How to do this from a place of such weekness and illness, how to trust in the goodness of God, the heavenly Father? How to release the shooting tension of pain that can grab me down my legs and demand radiation from my attempts to sit, lie down, walk, etc. -- does God still desire that I live and be a blessing for others? Can I be certain of my own adequacy as a believer when I catch another glimpse of my own failings (narcisisstic, humorless, groaning whiner) when the only thing I struggle to do is to release my sins to Jesus and precisely admit that very thing? It is then that I am over and over showered with love from friends such as yourselves. So many of you tell me that the Holy Spirit has united us together in worship or joined us in unity amongst the saints, and then I am quieted and my heart softens and my body also rests. Thank you beyond expression for those words of encouragement. I have lists of those of you whom I look forward to writing to, either via e-mail, or, better, by actual card! (Or perhaps, someday, we'll see each other in this life also!)

One thing I do continue to hear from so many, and to find echoing in my ears, is that my time is not yet over yet. May the words of the Peter the Apostle serve as encouragement: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him the be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
I Peter 5:8-11.

In His love,



Anonymous said...

Dear John,

I knew that you were leaving Wheaton, because my mother forwarded to me an update she had received from your mom. It was heart wrenching to me, because I could imagine the pain of such a necessity. Now reading your post, I am encouraged through you yet again, as I have been over and over since I began keeping up with you and Margie through your blogs. The Lord truly does have something for you beyond Wheaton -- it is already happening. You bless so many by your honesty and your allowing others into your struggles. You allow us to participate with you through prayer, and many through physical manifestations of assistance (I wish we lived closer so I could help -- but alas, we live in the Great White North of Canada HA!- but only 3 miles from the US border, so not too white).

Your faith is a beacon of hope. Your determination to be open to God in the face of your weakness and your limitations allows Him to be the strength. This is what I see in what you and Margie write, and this is what has helped me many times to examine my own faith and to seek God in a deeper way. Your ministry is not limited to one place -- it ripples around the world. Thank you.

With love and constant prayer,
Marilyn (Henderson)

Nancy Bergner said...

Dear John,

Mario, the kids and I continue to pray for you daily. (Elijah still thinks that a prayer is only a prayer if it includes intercession for you and Margie.) We keenly feel the pain of the many miles between us, and yet, during the Eucharist, we sense the communion of saints, and know that we are together with you, Margie and Jesus. The kids and I periodically return to our attempts at praying without ceasing--each hour, interceding for your healing, confidence in Christ's companionship by using the themes centered around phrases from the Our Father. So in this early hour, we pray that His Kingdom and Kingship will be made made manifest in your home and your body. That his will would be done here in the glorious, miraculous and joyfilled way that it is done in Heaven.

Many blessings to you, Margie, the kids and your parents.

Nancy Bergner

Anonymous said...


Your post really touched me. I've been a subscriber to your feed for several months now & always keep an eye out for your next update. I follow Margie's blog pretty regularly as well.

I feel the memories & the loss too, though obviously not in the same way as you do. I remember times we met in your office & the times I spontaneously showed up to visit. Even though I haven't seen you in a very long time, I already know the hole that everyone will feel when you've moved out of your office.

Thank you for the honesty in your blog, John. I'm glad you came forward to talk about this. I think your fears about "putting it out there" are normal. Nothing disobient about that. Leaving something so familiar is scary. It's the unknown. Thank you for your courage.

David McMillan

David said...


I too grieve the loss of your presence in the office. Though we didn't see each other as often as we used to, in one building, there was always the notion of your presence.

May Christ grant you the comfort necessary to grieve this loss and to strengthen you for his new purposes.


David Malone

Anonymous said...


I hadn't heard you had left and am truly saddened. You will be missed, and I confess it will be hard for me to enter Buswell and not think of you, or hoping to come across your path as you work. Blessings to you and Margie - our church has had the opportunity to pray for you and your family over the past few months and I wanted to pass that along to you.

-Bill Struthers

Anonymous said...

Date - March 8th 08
From - marti
John, Margie, and Fawcett's Brazil and elsewhere,

This is the first blog writing I- marti- have ever posted in my entire internet life. I am privileged to address it to all the Fawcett's & others.

First of all, John, froom reading all your blogs in the last couple of years -
your candor and baring of your soul is very moving. It is a powerful testimony in itself. Thank you for telling it like it is.

Margie, may God bless you and strengthen you daily ! You have a wonderful love for John and children. You are and have been "sticking it out in sickness and in health" and that is praiseworthy.
Amazing that you have time for the Mug & Muffins Ministry. Tell me more about it ! (e-mail below)

Even though I have not e-mailed Mary/Pastor Bill more than a few times, believe me, I have prayed for each of you - John, Margie, Bill, Mary & families many MANY times - ever since Emmeline and you have been undergoing these trials.

Pastor Bill & Mary - thank you for being at John's and Margie's sides during all the tough times. Praise God you were able to be there at these crucial moments, giving your best! ( Wouldn't we also like to have a pastor/parent team like you both have been ! )

My older sister (still teaching at 69 yrs) - Linda Stones, doctorate in Voice & teacher of Opera, Music History, etc. ) would have LOVED have a warm Christian such as you nearby - that is, in the Los Angeles area. or at her Calif. State Univ. Northridge ...OR even at her Episcopal Church/Newhall - WOW, you must be almost a living encyclopedia for classical music.
By the way-Soprano Jennifer (Episcopal Newhall church) was one of your students at Wheaton

John and Margie, Mario mentioned that your focus needs to change - and that God has a different ministry in sight for you and your family. It makes sense. May God confirm every step you take.

But I sympathize with the office clear out. It hurts to take down the pictures and say "I have to retire."
Remember - "RETIRE" is not a word in God's dictionary.

Ref. - cancer treatments - May God give you stamina and strength- mind, soul and body to continue as long as God shows you they are worth it. May your faith and the promised recovery be a testimony and sign to all of us, but especially to the secular world !

I never felt sick, but Nov. 03 a routine gyno exam the physician felt a lump in ( my) neck. Turned out to be - (no n -Hodg type lymmphho. ( So the treatment was radia -tion in yr 03 and for a recurring groin lump chemoo - 6 sessions in yr 06 .
Rec'd blessings from God each time - ministry-wise and physically (no nausea, no notable hair loss). Praise to our loving God!

JOHN, compared to what you have gone through, the above (immediate paragraph) it was NOTHING, not even a drop in the bucket. You have been MORE than a trooper.

But the recommended 6 mo spaced blood exams & check ups are standard - and each time I go it is one more opportunity to praise God in public for the good report.

To all the Fawcett's
May God grant you and your families the DESIRES of your hearts. May THOUSANDS come to KNOW the God of love, healing and forgiveness through your lives !