September Splendour

I’m not sure what we were thinking when we booked this 11-day California tour for the first two weeks of October. Why would anyone voluntarily leave New England during the “crown jewel” portion of the year???

We got our first taste of the glory of autumn this past weekend as we used a gift card for an R & R night at the Mt. Washington Hotel in the White Mountains with our dear friends, John and Marilyn Nugent. The “vividity” of the colors was truly breathtaking and more intense and dense than we ever remember seeing. And that was under cloudy and sometimes rainy conditions!

John and Marilyn Nugent join us and explore the “foliage a-blazin” White Mountains

If you haven’t gotten out to drink in the extraordinary beauty and experience the natural therapy of these New England fall days, seize the moment! If you snooze, you lose, as these days pass all too quickly.

What a lovely September we’ve had! It has been Southern California-like in many ways: moderate temps, low humidity, and clear skies. We’ve taken many walks, gone apple-picking, and stored as much solar energy as we could for the coming winter.

Apple picking with the Yardleys and Earl and Sandy Wilson

Our “bed and breakfast” business has been booming throughout the month: of the 23 nights we were home, we had house guests on 14 of them! The most recent guests, Earl and Sandy Wilson, joined us in hammering out the final draft of our companion workbook to Restoring the Fallen, the book we jointly published through InterVarsity Press in 1998. We enjoyed spending extended time with the Wilsons, who are dear friends as well as partners in ministry. Their marriage is symbolic of the amazing grace and restorative work of the Lord.

Oregon ducks visit Fenway and witness the Sox hand the Indians another defeat.

Part of our “welcome to New England” package included introducing “outsiders” to the iconic Fenway Park (thanks to Doug and Julie Macrae, who generously shared their season tickets with us). For our friends from Germany, that meant explaining the game step by step. The only thing that didn’t need explaining was the enthusiasm of the fans! With Earl and Sandy, who both proudly wore their Oregon Ducks shirts to the park, it meant watching them “high five” every Oregonian or ex-Oregonian at Fenway. At least they didn’t wear their Seattle Mariners shirts!

Since the Armenian Marriage Conference the first weekend of September, we’ve had many wonderful ministry opportunities. We had the privilege of speaking at Free Christian Church of Andover on the kick-off of their Family Night on Sept. 17. It was very encouraging to partner with a church that is so committed to building into families and marriages. Two nights later, we spoke on marriage to an energetic group at Highrock Church, who were also launching their Family Night program. Senior Pastor David Swaim gave tribute to Dan and Susan Yardley, HIM Board members, for being “missional” at Highrock by bringing both vision for and hard work to get family ministries going there. What a positive difference one family can make!

September opened and closed with marriage conferences. The last weekend of the month, we spoke for the first ever Positive FM 89.3 marriage conference, held in Sebasco Harbor, Maine. Though rain fell all weekend, the spirit of the weekend wasn’t dampened in any way. We were deeply moved by the openness and eagerness of the couples in attendance, who interacted responsively with each other as well as with us. When the inclement weather forced cancellation of a harbor tour Saturday late morning, we offered an optional workshop on temperaments, and 90% of the couples attended.

Doug and Julie Macrae and Doug and Shannon Bannerman join us at the Positive 89.3 FM marriage conference

Partnering with us that weekend were Doug and Julie Macrae, who presented a workshop on “Having a Superbowl Marriage” that was wildly popular. They effectively cast a vision for investing in building your marriage and supported it practically by having supplies for each couple to make their own personal “superbowl.” Paul and I were thrilled to attend the workshop and make our “superbowl.” We hope to be the second couple who meets the Macraes’ challenge of doing 52 dates and cashing in on their promise of dinner out at the restaurant of our choice. :)

We left the conference very aware that we had been met by God and that He had been very present and active throughout the weekend. Though it was the first, if the couples who attended have anything to do with it, it won’t be the last. They’re all counting on there being a second annual Positive FM 89.3 conference next year!

It’s football season and it’s our privilege to be partnering with Heath and Beth Ann Evans and Don and Betsy Hasselback in leading the Patriots’ Couples’ Bible Study. For the ninth year, we are committed to spending Thursday nights in Wrentham, teaching truth from God’s Word to these great couples. We had fifteen couples out the past two weeks. Pray for these couples, who have a lot of pressure on them in the world of professional athletics.

Our counseling practice has also started back up, and we’ve committed about ten hours a week to meet with couples. We’ve also added intern Elizabeth Bousa to our team and she is specializing in working with adolescent girls.

We fly to California in the morning for an eleven-day tour, which will include two marriage conferences, two marriage nights at two different churches, and multiple meetings with various ministry partners. Please pray for us.

And, enjoy every moment of leaf-peeping for yourselves and for us!