Aloha! We’re en route to a much needed and very exciting ten day vacation/writing break in Hawaii. Just writing that makes my heart beat faster. :) We were last in the islands five years ago, and few places we’ve been have provided better relaxation and disengagement for us than these beautiful islands in the Pacific.

We will be reminded of the vastness and spectrum of the creativity of God when we land in Hawaii’s 80 degree temps and fair tradewinds, especially when we reflect that last Sunday, we were at Gillette Stadium for the first “snow bowl” of the season.

But first: we were honored to be seminar presenters at Iron Sharpens Iron’s first women’s conference on Saturday, October 17. The 3300-women event sold out within weeks of registrations opening, underscoring the need for such a conference. We loved being a part of it! Keynote speakers Elizabeth George and Shaunti Feldhahn were inspirational to hear, and the worship leader, Anthony Evans, helped us experience God. We were asked to present on Raising a Trailblazer: Rite-of-Passage Trail Markers for your Set-Apart Teens and we spoke to a packed-out room of moms of teens wanting encouragement for the challenging journey through adolescence. Women are so responsive! They laughed, cried, took notes, asked questions, and hung around to talk. They encouraged us. They stopped by the book table and spoke with us further. They bought books. And did I say they talked to us? We had a wonderful day and were so thankful for the opportunity. It was capped by a lovely dinner out with the other speakers, and we so enjoyed exchanging ideas with those driven by some of the same passions we’re driven by.

Paul and I had many stimulating conversations with women who stopped by the H.I.M. book table at the Iron Sharpens Iron women’s conference.

The conference was packed with 3300 women, eager to worship and to be taught.

Following the ISI conference, early on Sunday the 18th of October, we headed back to Massachusetts to meet up with friends from California, first to attend church together and then to cheer the Patriots on to victory at Gillette Stadium. Driving in the pouring rain, we were comforted by reports that by game time at 4:15 pm, temperatures would be around 46 and the rain would dissipate to “light.” Our friends had gotten both tickets for the game as well as indoor tailgating tickets, so after church, we bundled up and arrived in the still-pouring rain to enjoy a yummy spread of football food in the big white Dana-Farber tent. We held on to the hopeful meteorologist’s report, and cast increasingly wary looks through the glass doors as game time approached. The “46-degree dissipating rain” promise turned into snow and 34 degrees by the start of the game as the N’oreaster ripped through the area, reminding us once again that there are still many things we can’t know or control.

Truth be told, I’d rather have snow any day than pouring rain at an open-to-the-elements stadium, so no real complaints here. And yes, we stayed until the “bitter” end of the phenomenal Patriot’s rout of the Titans, 59-0. It’s pretty fun to be part of such unusual and unexpected moments, and we were with the right people for such a time. Mike and Deni Willeford are big sports fan and great sports and we had a wonderful time with them.

Here we are at Gillette with Mike and Deni Willeford, friends from California who weathered the exciting Patriot’s win with us. They were in New England to see the fall colors—but the last color they expected to see was white. :)

Did you know that I love snow??

We had at least 2" of snow fall on us during the game, and honestly - the stadium looked like a giant snow globe as snow fell fast and furiously throughout the entire game.

We warmed up several hours after getting home and were none the worse for the wear. A great “carpe diem” moment.

And then Monday came, and the sun shone, the temps rose, the colors displayed, and Sunday’s weather display became a distant memory. The following day, we went apple picking for one last time in the 2009 season. It was part of our “there really are things to like about New England” intro to one of our new Patriot’s couples, Chris and Elisia Taylor, who have been transplanted here from Houston. Chris was injured during pre-season, placed on IR, and is re-habbing here. That makes it kind of hard to assimilate with people and with the area, so when they showed up to Bible Study a few weeks ago, we decided to help them love New England. We had a great afternoon at the orchard, talking, picking, and eating ice cream.

Chris and Elisia felt better about being in New England after apple picking.

Counseling and an H.I.M. Board meeting happened before I flew to Portland, Oregon, this weekend to be the keynote speaker for the third annual “Betrayal Redeemed” women’s conference sponsored by Tuff Stuff Ministries. The conference is designed to provide a place of healing for women whose husbands have betrayed the marriage covenant through infidelity, pornography, and/or other forms of sexual addiction. Resources for these often times isolated women is scarce and and safe places are few and far between.

It was an honor to speak to these courageous women, who are deeply wounded and seldom understood. Though I felt inadequate, I knew it was where God wanted me to be. And He met me there. It was during the weekend that Sandy realized that this was the 20th anniversary of Earl confessing his sexual sin to us, which was the beginning of our long and significant relationship with the Wilsons. In a June blog I recounted celebrating Earl and Sandy’s 50th anniversary which made such a statement about the power of God to restore and heal that which was so broken. Our book Restoring the Fallen was eventually born from this journey. It was so good to offer hope to these women, hope that ultimately comes only from God Himself.

The view of Mt. Hood from my plane window as we flew into Portland was breathtaking.

Sandy’s team did a beautiful job creating ambience for the conference, which hugged every woman who walked into the gym.

Sandy and I are all grins at the end of the conference, as thanksgiving and joy overflow from our hearts at the ways God met us and the rest of the women this day.

While I was in Portland, Paul was in Buffalo, where he lead a workshop for the Iron Sharpens Iron men’s conference. He had a great time, made several significant connections, and felt he was well-received. An added bonus for him was staying with our nephew Randy Clark’s wife Rachael, their new baby Rhea, their son Ryder, and visiting grandparents Wayne and Sandy Clark (Sandy is Paul’s oldest sister.) Randy was away on business, so unfortunately Paul missed seeing him.

Thinking I was meeting up with Paul in Honolulu, I almost had a heart attack when he surprised me in San Francisco as I was awaiting the flight to Hawaii—with reservations on the same flight as mine. What a great surprise!! He is a memory maker for sure.

So, after a busy fall which has included travel to California, Georgia, Connecticut, and Virginia, and weather which has included warm summery days, crisp autumnal days, and snowy wintry days, we’re thankful for this break. We are looking forward to being renewed, refreshed, and reminded that it’s not just in the doing, but also very much in the being.