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Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:10-13 KJV

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Monday, November 18, 2019

An Appreciation, Christina Ellenberger Jackson

 50th wedding anniversary - Christina and Gregory Jackson, November 22, 2019

We met on the first day of college, in English class. My brother asked me about any girls I had met at Augustana. I said, "There is a redhead in English I would like to date and maybe marry."

Christina liked to quote that comment and be offended about the maybe. I always said, "I had not asked you out yet. That was the first day of classes."

She told that story at Lagomarcino's, at the 40th Moline High School reunion. Kris Streed, at the same table, offered this addition, "I remember you walking around the dorm saying Gregory, Gregory." Everyone had a big laugh, especially since Christina could not remember her reverie.

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So we married a few days after an early Augustana graduation and moved to Canada for seminary and graduate school. Christina earned an MA in German literature, with most of the lectures and all of the reading in German. She was an excellent researcher for the department, no surprise to me. We did research projects at the library together, and she scouted the best books at book sales.

I was being interviewed for a pastoral call in Ontario when the bishop's phone rang. He expressed some surprise and handed me the phone. "You were accepted at Yale Divinity School," Christina said. "It just came in the mail." The bishop congratulated me and I left his office.

At Yale, Christina landed a job doing research for Dr. Joan Fassler, at the Child Study Center of Yale Medical School. In contrast, I was a lowly xeroxer at the medical school, and we did research together. I helped with the Fassler work and she helped with theology.

After an STM, the delayed first call was in Cleveland, Ohio, where we became overly acquainted with the Cleveland Clinic. I applied to the Notre Dame PhD program, after talking to Stanley Hauerwas, who had taught at Augustana. That meant a full scholarship, moving to Sturgis, Michigan, an hour away from the ND campus. People despaired, but we countered, "We will never be younger or poorer than now."

Christina grew in her research skills, so she later became the information specialist at an engineering firm. They never found anyone like her, they grieved, when she became disabled and could not work.  The medical issues were very serious, but God provided. We always had insurance coverage for her even though mine became too expensive to continue.

Her other skills including cooking, any and every form of sewing, and jewelry making. Several times women bought the jewelry she was wearing at public events, as in "Where did you get that? you made it? I want it now, I will write a check."

In 2017, Christina found she had cancer and underwent a mastectomy. That malady changed to stage 4 in late 2018, so she began radiation and anti-hormone treatments. The shots will continue as long as she lives, and she has excellent physicians.

We are living in semi-demi-retirement. Online university teaching and independent publishing continue, so we spend most of the day in the same room with Sassy Sue, often discussing theology and world news. Christina's comments about newsmakers and Lutheran leaders are hilarious.

Bethany Lutheran Church and our Philippine mission - they are members, family, and friends combined. We even have a group of scholars who discuss traditional Lutheran doctrine. Likes must attract, because we produce books, essays, YouTube narration, videos, and Christian art - each independent but working together. Christina loves this fellowship and family, and so do I.

Although many have been encouraging about writing, Christina has always backed publishing most of all.

These are real roses, but not from the garden. Who said, "Grass is boring, fill the whole front yard with flowers?"