West Coast Speaking Tour

Thankfully fall was still in its glory when we returned. Is there anything more beautiful?

Though we did miss the “peak” of fall colors in the greater Boston area due to our west coast trip, as we walked the beaches in southern California, we were reminded that the beauty of creation is not limited to one area. And thankfully, we’ve been snapping photos left and right since returning because, much to our delight, there are still plenty of fall leaves to enjoy.

The Christian Law Enforcement Fellowship marriage conference held at Forest Home Christian Conference Center. These precious couples, lead by Herb and Debbie Smith (front row, right), are committed to not being part of the 87% divorce rate in the law enforcement ranks.

Our almost two-week California tour exceeded the high expectations we had prior to going. First stop: Forest Home Christian Conference Center, to speak at the Christian Law Enforcement Fellowship (CLEF) marriage retreat. Herb and Debbie Smith (friends from my college years and Paul’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship staff years) once again outdid themselves in creating a safe and hospitable environment for these dear couples whom they mentor year round. It’s the sixth time we’ve spoken for this group since 1993 and our hearts grow deeper for them each time we’re with them. As they serve on the front lines in a profession that boasts an 87% divorce rate, it was heartening to be with these twenty couples who are committed to honoring their marriage vows. One couple came “at the end of their rope and out of hope” with plans to pursue divorce, and were met by God in a life-changing way during the conference. During our final session, when we invited testimonies, the husband tearfully shared how God had interrupted the trajectory their marriage was on towards destruction and they were going home with renewed hope and a strong commitment to grow in their marriage. All praise to God!

That Sunday night, October 5, we spoke at Northpoint Evangelical Free Church in Corona. The pastor there, one of our dearest friends and partners in ministry, David Hegg, hosted the “Married...and loving it!” evening with his lovely wife Cherylyn. About 400 came out, in spite of the all important Red Sox vs. Angels game 3 that was being aired during our talks, and we had an electric evening. We gave two talks, with a break in the middle, and were thankful for a very engaged and responsive group. Going into the evening, we didn’t want David to announce that we were from Boston, since the Angels had lost the first two games at home and the majority of those present feel about the Angels as we do about the Sox. We felt such a good connection with the crowd, however, that we “risked” losing them by presenting David with a Curt Schilling signed jersey at the beginning of the second talk. Doug Macrae had procured the shirt and had Curt sign it: “To an ‘Angel’ who's trying to save New England. Thanks! Curt Schilling” It was a huge hit and an affirmation to the ministry that David and Cherylyn have had in New England as they have spoken at HIM-sponsored family camps and marriage conferences.

We shared some wonderful moments with our dear friends, John and Wendy Turney.

After spending a comfortable and talkative night with the Heggs, we went on to Santa Ana, where we spent a meaningful and precious evening with our dear friends, John and Wendy Turney. Our friendship with the Turneys dates back thirty years to when they first came to Campus by the Sea for family camp. Let’s just say they didn’t fall in love with CBS immediately . . . but thankfully, by week’s end, they were hooked—and they’ve been part of the family ever since. We’ve shared many significant moments with them through the years and we love them dearly. After a fifteen-year battle with melanoma, John’s days on earth are coming to an end and we were so grateful to have this farewell time with them. Their faith remains rock-solid, as does their love for one another, and yet they are dealing honestly with the pain of this passage. As has been true with the Turneys for all of the years we’ve known them, they once again inspired and encouraged us. We will miss John so much.

We spent a good portion of Tuesday meeting with most of the CBS leadership team (Greg, Wendy, and Steve Jones) in the Long Beach Harbor, reviewing the 2008 family camp season and getting the wheels turning for next year. We had a wonderful time together affirming our shared vision and goals for family camps. We are thankful for their partnership.

We got some early morning walks in on the matchless California coastline in Laguna Beach.

The next couple of days were spent reconnecting with very important people in our lives, all of whom we’ve known for over thirty years. Our dear friend, Wendy Offield, provided us with some much needed R&R at her retreat-like home in Emerald Bay on Laguna Beach. We talked and walked the beach endlessly, and it was good to catch up with her and with each other.

Continuing southward, we spent an afternoon with our long-time mentors, John and Grace Tebay, and only wished it could’ve been longer. They set the bar for who we want to be when we hit our “golden years.” That evening, the four of us joined the precious Coykendall family in Encinitas for a lively evening of great food and discussion. Kent Coykendall served on our summer staff at CBS in the early 80’s after having been a family camper during the 70’s. He married a Wellesley-bred New Englander, Robin, and along with their four children, they have made family camp a tradition. We loved being in their home.

A highlight was spending time with our mentors, John and Grace Tebay (far right), and Robin and Kent Coykendall, long time friends from Campus by the Sea.

Our final stop south before circling back north was in Spring Valley, where we spent Friday morning with Paul’s Aunt Naomi and Uncle Bill Clark (who are in their nineties and now living in an assisted living complex) and their daughter Sharon. We treasured the moments with the last surviving sibling of Paul’s dad; they are “green with sap” even in their old age, as the Psalmist declares, for having served and praised the Lord their whole lives (Psalm 92:14, NASB).

Larry Hampton leads worship at the Anaheim Vineyard Marriage Conference, and invites Campus by the Sea family campers to sing “I am Somebody” for the rest of the conferees.

We went back up north Friday afternoon, October 10, to speak at the Anaheim Vineyard’s marriage conference. We loved working with John and Laura DePaola (John directs the family and marriage ministry there) and their team (which included Mike and Monica Cornelius, who invested greatly in this event). Collectively they did a great job of planning and executing the Friday–Saturday conference. Those attending were open, responsive, and receptive, during both worship and teaching times. It was a privilege to partner with them.

Marcus and Joy Stenzel (holding son Griffin) hosted "Marriage Matters" at First Presbyterian Church of Monrovia on Sat. evening, Oct. 11, and our presentation on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was well received.

We “flew” (in the rental car) from Anaheim to Monrovia for an evening at the First Presbyterian Church. Joy and Marcus Stenzel (another over-thirty-year friendship) hosted their “Marriage Matters” couples’ night out and had us speak on temperaments in marriage. Since our temperaments are almost opposite, we always have plenty of illustrations and lots of laughs presenting on this subject. We were so impressed with the marriage and family ministry the Stenzels are spearheading at their church.

We met up with the Turneys for church Sunday morning, and it was a good place to be with them. Brunch afterwards, and then good-bye. We doubt we’ll see John again on this side of glory, but what a huge comfort it was knowing it was only a “til we meet again” farewell.

The last night of our California tour was spent at Qualcom Stadium, watching a game we’d just as soon forget...but at least connecting with Kassidy Thomas. The three of us didn’t make much of a dent among the crazy Chargers’ fans.

Coincidentally, the Patriots were in San Diego to play the Chargers Sunday night, and we were fortunate to be given four tickets to the game. We took our niece and nephew, Stefanie and Frankie, and except for the way we played and the outcome of the game, we had a great time. It was a first for us to be on the losing end of a game in a hostile arena . . . and we decided we didn’t want to repeat that anytime soon. :)

Our final stop was in Chula Vista, where we met up with three of my sisters for a lovely brunch. Hostessed by sister Melissa, we wandered down memory lane for most of the morning and had many laughs. It was good to be together.

Exhausted, we flew home, arriving early Tuesday morning, and proceeded to counsel that day. :) The Patriots’ Couples Bible Study Thursday night was well attended and the apple pies we made were the perfect end to a fabulous southern-cookin’ dinner made by Beth Ann Evans. We’re so happy to have resurrected the tradition of sharing dinner prior to study; it allows for fellowship and relationship building, which helps round out the study portion. We’re averaging 14 couples a week. Yeah!

Engagement Matters filled the weekend of the 18th and 19th and was once again hosted by the Macraes. Though the turnout was small (as has been true of our fall weekends), we had great interaction with the couples. Nate and Jeannie King continued their commitment to partnering with us and flew in from Atlanta (where they now live) to do so. What a gift to us to have both the Kings and the Macraes on the team for this critically important weekend.

We squeezed in a farewell party for the Yardley family after day one of Engagement Matters ended. It was a wonderful celebration of this very special family, who have lived so “missionally” and intentionally for Christ. Their move to Charlotte, North Carolina, comes after a very thoughtful and prayerful year-long process that led them to believe that their family values and goals would best be met there. Though we hate to see them go, we respect and support their decision and believe that Charlotte will become a better place because of them.