Chapter 2–Changes in Health and Jobs

By the end of 1993 Roger had been placed on some new drugs, and we looked for the Asacol, Imuran, and Prednisone to give him some relief with his ulcerative colitis (UC) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  Imuran was not good for him.  In fact in 1996 we found out that he was genetically predisposed to low white blood counts while he was on Imuran.

But until that time, the doctors didn’t know why his white blood count was low. In December 1993 his WBC was 1.6; that meant a trip to the hospital for two units of blood.

The prednisone made him so hungry, gain weight and acquire the usual “moon face” a person gets with long-term steroid use.  His temperament didn’t change much, like it does in so many, but there were times that I could tell he wasn’t himself.

The doctor at Carle had done an Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) prior to the liver biopsy and determined that Roger had beginning stages of Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC).  I really wish I had paid more attention to that diagnosis.  It wasn’t hepatitis.  It wasn’t a pickled liver from too much alcohol consumption.  It was PSC that made him an eventual candidate for a liver transplant.

Looking back, it makes sense now why church work was so difficult for him.  He was tired all the time. And his intestinal problems raged most of the time. He was finishing up a building program, swinging a hammer at every opportunity, preaching, teaching, visiting, while shepherding a congregation.  Add four kids and a wife who needed attention, love, and money and you will understand why he resigned his work at Union Baptist Chapel in January 1994. He just didn’t feel he was doing justice to the pastorate.

Consider our position.  Roger had no income to contribute to our family.  I was the primary bread-winner.  A teacher’s salary, even in a public school, qualified our family of six for free/reduced lunches, for which we were grateful.  I’ll admit I panicked.  Women tend to feel secure when their cupboards filled.  Mine were almost empty.

But I shouldn’t have been frightened.  Our God supplied our needs through checks from friends, food from unknown sources, and love gifts from churches. One church who gave, Salem Baptist, would become a vital part of our lives.

Still, Roger had no job.  I had a job.  Roger, traditionally in our minds, was supposed to have the job.  Our roles had reversed.  I worked.  He stayed home.  I really tried not to hold that over his head.  We did what we had to do to keep our family afloat, but I often wonder how much it bothered Roger.*

My dad died in May of 1994, so my mother came to live with us.  We had to add on to the house, and I’m sure that was another stressor in Roger’s life–not the  mother-in-law–the planning and building.  Roger loved my mother and took excellent care of her.

My teaching partner Marlene and I had been taking evening and summer courses at Sangamon State University (now the University of Illinois Springfield), planning to complete our Masters in Educational Administration.  She finished up in the summer of 1994; I completed my work officially in December 1994.  She had definite career goals.  Me? I just thought it would move me up on the salary scale.

But several faculty members took the early retirement option offered by the State of Illinois, and that included Harristown’s Elementary Principal Larry Turner and Niantic’s Junior High Principal Ron Jump. Thanks to Superintendent Dave Bills and the school board, I was offered the elementary position, provisionally until I had my certificate.  Both elementary and junior high principals’ positions were officially mine in January 1995.  I often joked with Larry and Ron that it took one woman to do both of their jobs!**

principal

So, while having the role of two principalships, supervising JH night ball games, attending board meetings, PTO meetings, and going to our kids’ athletic and academic activities, 1995 kept us busy.

Roger’s call of God and work ethic made him yearn to do something.  We started Weldy Family Ministries and made ourselves available for evangelistic meetings or pulpit supply.  That was fun traveling to different churches, but it wasn’t his primary calling.

Sometime in 1995 we began working part time at Salem Baptist Church.  Roger was music director, and I helped him at the piano.  Bless Pastor Gerald Thompson’s heart for having the desire to have us work with him.  The next 20 years would be highly rewarding as we worked alongside a great man of God.

The years between 1995 and 1998 brought many doctors’ appointments, blood tests, an ultrasound and an ERCP to check his liver.  We even consulted a doctor at the University of Chicago to get a second opinion.  Roger dealt continually with the UC, but honestly, he just learned to live with it.  We both did.

It’s easy to give plaudits to someone who is dead, but this is an honest evaluation of Roger’s character:  he kept on doing what he needed to do, even if he didn’t feel like it.  He was a determined guy.


*One of the principles in our marriage was that financially, the money in the bank was “our money.”  It was never “my money.”  I think that helped during this financially rough time.  We had no secret accounts hidden from each other.  Because everything was “ours,” we weren’t jealous, selfish, or bitter.  We all did what we could—when we could—to help the family.  Time doesn’t permit to share what we required of the kids as they grew up.  But just know that they didn’t get free room and board if they moved back home between college and work.

**I worked in both buildings for 2 ½ years, when the school board realized that as I was spending my mornings in Niantic and afternoons in Harristown, I was just putting out fires in each building.  I felt so ineffective.  They kept me permanently at Harristown beginning with 1997-1998 school year.


By the way

You may have guessed that Roger and I held traditional, Biblical (and I’m sure in some of your opinions “archaic”) values of marriage. If you understand this, the following will be make sense.

Co-teacher Marlene and I started working on our advanced degrees kind of on a lark.  We had talked about it, but not seriously.  Then one day we heard that there was a finance course required in the Masters of Arts program being taught at a local university—that evening.  We walked into that class, unregistered, and walked out with the information we needed to continue. 

And so it began.  Without any discussion with Roger.  I just signed up, and that was it. 

Sometime around 2005 we had a “disconnect in our marriage.”  I won’t go into the details, but we dealt with it head-on (unlike so many couples who just let things fester) and learned more about each other and how to make our marriage grow and blossom. We even went to several marriage retreats, and I learned so much about myself.  Even more, I learned that the greatest thing Roger needed from me was respect. 

In our long talks, I asked him for examples when I had not respected him.

He didn’t have to think long.  “When you went for your administration degree you didn’t consult me.  It was like you didn’t value my opinion.  It was like you were going your own way and making your own plays in this team sport of marriage.”

Wow.

Now, lest you think that was the only flaw I had in the respect area, let me set the record straight:  There were MANY other times when I showed disrespect.  And he remembered each one.  I sincerely apologized for not respecting him.  And then I made a concerted effort to put respect at the top of my list on ways to please Roger.

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