Fall Frolics

Is there a more breath-taking time of year than fall in New England? It’s like a royal parade of color, sights, smells, and sounds, all unique to this spectacular season. We are delighting in every day and willing them to slow down. Our finiteness looms large in the midst of such thoughts.

Besides the pageantry of the foliage, apple picking is another true delight of fall. After five years of visiting the orchards with our dear friends the Yardleys, we continued the tradition with the Martises last week since it was a bit far for the Yardleys to come from their new home in Charlotte, North Carolina. The day was perfect: crisp and cool enough to feel like fall, but warm enough to be without jackets. We picnicked, played in the hay maze, tasted and picked lots of apples, and topped it off with apple crisp a la mode. Couldn’t have been improved upon.

Matthew Martis takes the position once held by our three girls, on top of Paul’s shoulders to reach those “just out of reach” perfect apples.

Speaking of “fall,” they are awfully tempting, aren’t they? :)

We broke away from fall to go to Rome . . . Rome, Georgia, that is. Nate and Jeannie King, long time partners for Engagement Matters, have relocated to Rome and put together a four-day blitz for us in four different venues. We spoke on parenting to their Christian school, on marriage to the adult Sunday School classes at their church, again on marriage to several life community groups, and on a woman’s journey to a group from the Presbyterian Church. In addition, we toured “Winshape,” the beautiful retreat center run by Chick Fil-A and situated on the immense and gorgeous campus of Berry College. And in between times, we hung with Nate and Jeannie and their three beautiful children. It was a delightful time from beginning to end, though we hated to leave them in Georgia. We sure miss having them in these parts.

Emily, Camryn, and Drew arrive with their mom for Sunday School.

We had a stimulating conversation about effective family ministries over lunch with Nate and Jeannie and Tommy and Priscilla Overton (graduates of Gordon-Conwell) before leaving Rome.

Our final stop in Georgia allowed us to reconnect with Tom and Joan Carmody, with whom we went on our first family missions trip to Haiti in 1999.

Back home, we resumed both counseling and our Patriots' Bible Study. Attendance at the study has grown each week and are now up to 10 couples, with a great mix of veterans and new-to-the-team couples. The interaction is lively and open and the spirit is great. Paul’s chocolate chip cookies are at least part of the reason that the couples are so faithful. :)

This past weekend, October 9–11, we partnered with the Westfield Evangelical Free Church and Pastor David Young out in western Massachusetts. We were encouraged to hear that our invitation to speak there came after Pastor Young’s daughters received complimentary copies of Letters to my Daughters at Cedarville College last year (after Doug and Julie Macrae spoke in chapel and gave each student a copy of the book.) They called their dad, raving about the book and suggested he invite us to speak. :) What a privilege it was to link arms with him. The church is burgeoning and there was a palpable spirit of eagerness and joy in the body. We did a parenting seminar on Saturday morning, a "Couples' Night Out" on Saturday evening, preached at both services Sunday morning, and in between spoke to their junior and senior high groups on sexual purity. It was full and good.

Parents arrived Saturday a.m., eager to hear some tips on parenting.

Paul took me straight from Westfield to Logan Sunday afternoon to fly to my folks’ home for a couple of days. The visits are never long enough, but it’s always so good to have any time with them. We drove down to Harrisonburg for the day on Monday, and even though we saw some gorgeous leaves along the way, the highlight of the day was seeing gorgeous Lisa. How fun for her to have her grandparents in her world! We had a great time.

Grandpa and Grammie Collins get a peek into Lisa’s world at James Madison University in Harrisonburg.

All too quickly, my days there were up and I returned in time to join Paul for our day of counseling ministry on Wednesday. As I write, we’re preparing for tonight’s Patriot’s study and then we'll drive to Connecticut tomorrow for the first “Iron Sharpens Iron” women’s conference. We’re honored to be workshop presenters on Saturday.

That’s about all the haps here. It’s time to get outside and drink in the fall beauty. Hope you can do the same.