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June
17
2021

June 17, 2021

Celebration of Life

The celebration of the life, love and ministry of Fran McKendree will be Saturday, September 11th at 2:00pm at Kanuga Conference Center, Hendersonville, NC.

For those interested in housing at Kanuga a registration link will be available shortly.

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June
10
2021

June 10, 2021

Fran McKendree

May 9,1947 – June 10, 2021

 

Rest In Peace, Rise in Glory Fran! Beloved spouse, brother, friend and companion on the journey, the angels are singing more soulfully than ever. As we lean into our grief may we also embrace the blessing of Fran in our lives. We have been blessed, let us be a blessing.

June
2
2021

June 2, 2021

Dear ones
Over the last year and a half you all have lovingly and prayerfully shared our difficult journey with cancer. Your prayers and messages of love and support have held us and sustained us through some very challenging times. In so many ways you have been the outward sign of God’s love. Our journey is now transitioning to hospice and a holy transformation to God’s greater glory. While the body becomes weaker each day, the Spirit continues to shine and grow as it reflects the light of your love and prayers.
 

March
14
2021

March 14, 2021

March 14

Hi, my friends.  Thanks so much for your words of support and beautiful prayers following my last journal entry.  I’ve been waiting just a bit to post a follow up, hoping to have more information to share with you. 

The PET scan that I mentioned in my last journal entry was a mixed bag - showing that the cancer had spread in one area (hip/pelvic area), remained unchanged in another, with no new spots. So the decision was made; stop the chemo and go to a three week radiation therapy, which consists of an initial treatment where you are fitted with your very own lower body form, kind of like getting form fitting foam sculpted to your body for sending via UPS. Once the nurses have the form they start marking your body where they will be targeting the radiation. Lots of whirring, buzzing and clicks.

The radiation treatments are very short, only lasting a few minutes, compared to chemo infusions. I began on March 4, have had seven to date with five scheduled for this week. I’ll have to be honest … they are really knocking me down. No energy, completely unable to focus, sleeping (restlessly) 10-12 hrs.  The fatigue and pain have been challenging… still trying to get this under control.
We continue to ask for your prayers for healing and discernment. 

with love and gratitude,
Fran

 

 

February
14
2021

February 14, 2021

St. Valentine’s Day, 

I was talking with a dear friend this past week, exploring some aspects of a project we are working on. Somehow the conversation went to swimming, then swimming in the sea, then swimming lessons. I shared with her my experience of taking swimming lessons at 6:30 in the morning in an estuary of the Atlantic, a small, somewhat sheltered pond in the town of Chatham, on Cape Cod. My memory of this is that I was around 9 or 10 years old and my parents had decided it would be good for me to have swimming lessons. I’m not sure why this was… I could already swim well enough, nothing fancy, but a utilitarian, modified Australian Crawl that could get me from shore to raft and back. So I was not happy with this desire for me to become a more polished swimmer.  Besides, I did not like swimming, still don’t. To firmly cement the unpleasantness, the lessons I (I?) were signed up for were at… hold your breath… imagine air temp about 45F, water temp, generously at 40F, wind out of the SW at 15knots, grey sky, a bit of a light, cold  drizzle….enough of a chop on the water that you couldn’t see into it, but I knew, everyone knows, there are creatures in there just waiting to pinch your toes or whatever they could get a hold of…. …. exhale…6:30 in the morning! 

So there we were, a group of maybe 15 or so, boys and girls, huddled together, dreading wading into the freezing great unknown. At this point in my growth cycle I weighed about 58 lbs, with every rib sticking out, brush cut, nothing that would help keep me warm, except a thin beach towel, still a little damp from hanging on the clothesline through the foggy night and morning. The teacher/coach had paired us up after the first class earlier in the week by height, weight and general ability, so there I was with my “buddy,” Robert, who looked exactly like me…. the only difference as far as I could tell was that he was blind.

My first thoughts about being paired up with a blind kid, I must admit, were not happy thoughts, for which I am today, thoroughly ashamed. But there we were. At the second class we had to pass certain tests, just to make sure we wouldn’t drown, and learn some move whereby you’d somehow keep your buddy’s head above water if they did get into trouble.  Please remember this is in 1956 and that I am reconstructing this some 65 years later.  I was impressed that Robert trusted me to put an arm under his neck and drag him toward shore. He was a bit impressed with me to trust him to get an arm under my neck and drag me toward shore, which he could not see. When I asked him about that… how do you know where the shore is, he said by the sound …. that the shore had a completely different sound to it than the open water.  OK.  I closed my eyes and gave it a try, sure enough, completely different…. lesson learned.

So on this morning the coach’s brilliant plan was that we would swim with our buddy to the raft, maybe 30 yards from shore.  There was a clumsy ladder on one side and from two sides on the water’s surface, buoys tied to yellow ropes that marked the deeper water, where we would not be going. The big challenge of the day was that we would be diving into the water from the deck of the raft, maybe 3 feet from the deck to the water, and swimming to shore. All the other buddy pairs accomplished this without any trouble at all. Now it was just Robert and me. I vividly recall thinking “how am I going to help Robert dive into water.”  What would it feel like to stand, toes curled over the canvas bound edge of the tippy, rocking raft, pull your arms up over your head, bend over from the waist, to the point of almost falling and then push off, jump into something that you could not see, had never seen, only knew by touch, smell, taste. How far was it to the water? he asked.  Pretty much the same distance as the length of your arms, I said.  After a few minutes of the two of us standing shaking, shivering, with blue lips I said, how about we go together, same time, count of three? OK…

That’s about how I’m feeling today, at this moment, this morning having had a PET scan that will hopefully show us what’s next on this journey, toes curled just over the edge of the raft, about to dive into what??  I know a little bit about what fear feels like, and pain.  I know a lot about what hope feels like. I know I have a trusted buddy to keep my head above water, surrounded by a close circle of other faithful, trusted buddies and beyond that, thousands… a mighty cloud of faithful buddies.  We’re hoping that these past four chemo infusions are doing the work they’ve been given to do, we’re praying for clarity, to trust that our decisions will be guided by the Spirit.  We ask for your continued prayers for healing and guidance.  I’m forever grateful to that coach, who’s name is long gone from memory, for the strange wisdom of my parents, and for the gift of Robert’s trust and brief friendship.  I’ll let you know when we’ve hit the water.

with love,

Fran

January
7
2021

January 7, 2021

Hi my friends,

The sound of the gong in the healing garden is ringing just now - someone has just completed their chemo protocol and has rung the gong to celebrate.... what a beautiful sound it is!! It's January 7 and I'm sitting in the recliner about to begin another round of chemo treatments.    We were hoping that the Balversa I've been on since the end of September would keep the cancer at bay, or even  rid my body of it completely.  However, this is not the case and the most recent PET scan showed that while a couple of spots that had been there in September were gone, there were two new areas of concern.  And so we begin another round of chemo - two weeks on, one week off.  I'll have a PET scan in Feb to get a clear picture of the progress.

I am once again coming to you for your prayers of support as this next round begins.   They have sustained me, and Diana, over these past months and I know are a crucial part of my healing.  I am so thankful for your prayers and good wishes, and I know in my heart that I will again come through this latest setback. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

With love and gratitude,

Fran

 

December
12
2020

December 12, 2020

Hi all,

Thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful responses to my latest journal entry... they are uplifting, reassuring and a huge part of this healing process!

I realized after I'd posted that I have a video of Lindsey and I performing "Threshold" that you might enjoy seeing.  I'll post the link below.

I am filled with gratitude for your support.

Fran

Threshold words and music Lindsey Blount/Fran McKendree

December
10
2020

December 10, 2020

“With eagerness and curiosity,
I move ‘cross the the threshold,
guided by love,
ushered by strength,
and a willingness to hold space for all,
hold space for all.”

I’ve begun today with the words of a chant that my dear friend and colleague Lindsey Blount and I have written recently. Actually, Lindsey wrote most of it … I just made a couple of suggestions!  I’ve begun with these words because it feels to me that I am in the process of crossing a threshold, personally.  And because it feels to me that my challenge and our collective challenge these days is to somehow, “guided by love, ushered by strength,” find “the willingness to shape and hold space for all”… space for all that this threshold crossing will bring.

My personal threshold is that I’ll be coming up on the one year anniversary of my diagnosis in a month or so. As I write this I’m aware that there is a huge wave of gratitude welling up inside me… there was a time when I wasn’t sure I would reach this anniversary.  Through your prayers, the great kindness of Jim and Judith Nourse who have been providing acupuncture and reflexology treatments, Diana’s unfailing support and optimism, God’s grace and the amazing work of Dr. Anthony and the whole oncology team at Pardee, I know I have been guided by love and ushered by strength through these months. I will have a PET scan on Dec 20th and will look at the pictures with Dr. Anthony the following week.  So… now.. I’m holding that space open, open for the new medication that I’m on to do its work.  I am hopeful, optimistic and confident that it is.  It feels like it is.

Collectively these days we are in the midst of a great threshold crossing, following the election of the Biden/Harris team and the announcement of a vaccine for the Covid, even as every day we cross yet another threshold of new cases and deaths.  I am so hopeful that we will find a way through the tumult of this past year - that we will be “guided by love, ushered by strength” to a new day. There is much to do and it will require each of us to bring the very best we have to every conversation, every opportunity for bridge building, every opportunity to be a life-affirming presence in our broken world.

I had mentioned in my last journal entry that the AwakeningSoul gathering was coming soon so I hope you’ll indulge me if I share a bit about the event.  It is with a grateful heart that I can say that it went spectacularly well. We did a hybrid/virtual gathering… just a few of us on site at Lutheridge. We were able to assemble a super competent and creative tech team, Carrie, Rachel and Angelo.  Our presenters, Jen Bailey, Serene Jones and Brian McLaren were stellar - all spoke from the heart, each from a different perspective. It has been our practice at AwakeningSoul not to tell our speakers what we’d like them to talk about. Instead, we invite them to speak about what is stirring in their heart, what is giving them life, what they most care about, what gets them out of bed in the morning, their fears and hopes and wow… did they ever bring it!  Meaghan Brower was fabulous as our “conversations” host and Brian Prior managed to leap across the limitations of Zoom world as our MC and chaplain. Diana McKendree’s morning and evening meditations were soulfully centering and Eric Murrell brought his magic to our audio and lighting needs.  The AwakeningSoul Ensemble - yours truly with Isabel Castellvi, River Guerguerian and Chris Rosser was buoyant, even though we were missing on stage and in our hearts Lindsey Blount (in Germany) and Charles Milling (FL) who were not able to attend due to the pandemic. 

Our banner artist this year was Holly Doll, a young woman from North Dakota, and her paintings were amazing and inspiring. I invite and encourage you to go to the AwakeningSoul FaceBook page and follow the links to the event, where you’ll be able to take in, at your own pace, our four days together. It was life giving for me and I am truly grateful for the hard work and support of my co-founder/partner in AwakeningSoul, Ann Holtz.

My friends - I am feeling really good these days.  My energy level has been consistently good and my heart and spirit are strong and open to each and every moment.  I am so grateful for your support… I can feel it rising up.  I would ask for your continued prayers for healing and for the life of the world.

with love and gratitude,

Fran    12/10/20