Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Campbell Hall

One of my tasks as Manager of the Conference Center was to go through each building, check them and lock them up. In Campbell Hall, I would run up the stairs, listening for the tap, tap, tap that almost sounded like someone following behind me. In the hallway upstairs I would stop, inhale deeply and be still, feeling the spirit of the place. I've said this before, but I believe that a place holds and absorbs the spirit of those who frequent it. Nothing is more true than this at the Christian Church Conference Center and Campbell Hall. On the day of the celebration for the life of Campbell Hall, the spirits began to leave in the form of tables and benches, windows and doors, shingles branded with it's image on them, a couple newel posts but most especially in the hearts of this who where there. They continued to ebb out as the fire company used it for training purposes, busting windows and going through the roof. And more the day the pickers came and took the rest of the doors and windows. By the time the actual demotion began, Campbell Hall was just an old building, past its prime, ready to go. As I watched the demolition I was giddy with excitement.  Finally! From a management standpoint, the building was difficult.  As I watched the demolition, at one point the entire east wall was gone and the stairs were exposed and I lost my composure. I cried tears of memories, smells, sounds. The demolition was fascinating, an art. The operator was precise, managing that huge thing like it was a surgical instrument. And it was done well. 
Now it is time for new experiences. We have a new building being built over the next several months. It will be handicap accessible, have air conditioning, two (count them!, two!) screened porches, ample meeting and lodging space. It will have its own sounds and smells. Those who frequent it will bring their laughter, tears and spirit. More couples will meet in this building, maybe sharing their first kiss on the elevator, and eventually marry (my sister met her husband at Campbell Hall). And people will examine their faith, question their faith, find their faith in God. How freaking awesome is that?!

Monday, November 11, 2013


A month or so ago I received a note asking me if I would consider speaking at the retirement celebration for my boss. I was humbled and honored and panicked at this request. I asked for a few days to ponder and pray and then accepted. I fretted over this last month knowing what I wanted to say and wondering how to tell this man what an impact he has made on my life. And to do it without choking. Last night was the celebration and this is what I said to that man:

I first met Lari Grubbs at the Centennial celebration forLandsdowne Christian Church.  I did what I usually do meeting someone in the region, stuck out my hand and said “Hi I’m Dana Miller from Christian Temple”.  I saw him again a few weeks or months later at another function and did the same thing “hi I’m Dana Miller from Christian Temple”. He smiled with that twinkle he has and said “I know who you are”. 

Lari Grubbs knew who I was.

A few years later I applied and interviewed for the position of manager at the Christian Church Conference Center.  The most experience I had was with the church.  Lari warned me my learning curve would be steep, that he was there for me day or night, I believed him and offered me the position. 

Lari Grubbs knew who I was and what I could do.

My experience working with Lari has been easy. My husband likes to use the phrase User Friendly in the military. This has definitely been my experience. I knew several things working with Lari.  I knew he was available.  He once told me he could answer the phone in the middle of the night, attend to the matter and fall back asleep. I knew he trusted me. His confidence in my ability to care for the Conference Center and the people of the region gave me a greater desire to serve and do good things. I knew that communication was key and we had an open line.  And I knew he had my back.   I always felt like I worked with Lari rather than for him.  I always called him my boss but Lari was more my guide.  My questions, problems, comments were met with a question in return in order to form a thoughtful solution.  And a joke was always thrown in to lighten the situation.

At the celebration for Campbell Hall, Lari publicly recognized me and appreciated me.  He asked me later if I felt appreciated.  What I didn’t tell him that day was that I always felt appreciated by him.  At the end of every conversation we ever had, Lari would ask me two questions.  He would ask me “Do you know I appreciate you? Do you know I love you?”

Lari Grubbs knew who I was, knew what I could do, loved and appreciated me.

This season was a challenge.  Personally, I was not in a good place, balancing the care of my husband, care of myself, and the care of the conference center.  In June, Lari arrived as usual for YAC.  Upon seeing him, I began to talk incessantly about everything going on at the center.  He just stood there, let me ramble forever and when I finally exhausted myself, he opened his arms, held me in his embrace, and said “there, there, I’m here, it’s ok”. Like a parent to a child.  And that was exactly what I needed.

Lari Grubbs knew who I was, knew what I could do, loved and appreciated me and knew exactly what I needed

Lari Grubbs has been my boss, my minister and will continue to be my friend. So Lari Grubbs, I ask you two questions. Do you know that I appreciate you? Do you know I love you?