Sleepless - but not speechless - in Seattle

A week ago we returned from our 12-day trip to the Pacific Northwest, exhaustedly energized. I know . . . that sounds like an oxymoron, but I think it’s apt. We flew 6,000 miles, drove about 1500 miles, and spoke 18 different times to a very diverse slate of audiences (including a church staff, junior and senior high students, young moms, and lots of couples), and reconnected personally with four different couples during the in-between moments. On top of that, we crazily cheered on the New Orleans Saints to winning the Super Bowl and that was really exhausting!

We loved every opportunity, and hence were energized, but our fatigue level was high when we landed back in Boston on February 9th.

This was our third time in four years to partner with the Moses Lake Alliance Church (MLAC), which means that we have really developed deep hearts for this wonderful group of people. It’s such an honor to have a continuing relationship with them and it’s amazing to us that though 12 months pass between visits, we feel very connected to them.

A large part of that is attributable to the executive pastor of MLAC, Kent Copley and his wife, Staci. We have really bonded with their precious family and believe that they would be “chosen family” friends if we lived in the same area. Their daughters, Tori and Britni, and their dog Sal, have all worked their way into our hearts and we love hanging out with them. Laughter bounces off the walls of their home when we’re together, whether we’re baking (Paul and Tori have a chocolate chip cookie competition going and I held a cinnamon roll workshop), eating, or just catching up.

Kent and Staci Copley with daughters Tori and Britni enjoy Paul’s waffles before heading off to work and/or school.

Tori and I are quite proud of our rolls!

And Tori and Paul are both very proud of their cookies!

Our ministry moments with them were productive and inspiring. We spoke at their annual marriage conference at Camp Spaulding to a “sold out” crowd, and loved reconnecting with those who had been there in previous years as well as meeting a number of new couples. At the end of the last session, Kent invited couples to share how God had met them and I was especially touched by the young man who confessed that though married only five years, he realized that he had gotten “lazy” and was no longer investing much in “wooing” his wife. From the response of many in the room, it was clear he wasn’t the only one.

Four of the couples at the Moses Lake Alliance Church marriage weekend are all smiles as they prepare to head home.

Back to Moses Lake for a very diverse schedule. Monday night we met with the MLAC pastoral staff and had a wonderful evening with them, processing the important topic of balancing marriage and ministry. We feel very comfortable with their team and we especially respect and enjoy their senior pastor, Jody Bowser and his wife, Caryn. It was a good night. The next morning we spoke to their young mom’s group, led by Caryn Bowser, and that was a treat for us. We closed the morning by playing Danny Oertli’s “If Ever You Worshiped” and there wasn’t a dry eye. Mothers with young children especially need to be encouraged that their efforts on behalf of their children are acts of worship and Danny does that so well in that song.

Our last speaking for MLAC was Wednesday night when we had the privilege of addressing their junior and senior high students on the topic of God’s design for sexuality. We were really impressed with the students, who seemed to have a higher level of maturity than many teens. They were attentive, interactive, and asked some great questions.

We reluctantly loaded the rental car and drove back over the “pass” Thursday, leaving behind a very dear group of people in Moses Lake.

Fortunately, there are very dear people on both sides of the “pass” and we were meeting up with some of them by lunch time on Thursday. In preparation for speaking to a large couples event on Friday night, we met with the tech team and the staff behind the event over lunch. Elaine Morse, the director of small groups at Overlake, and her assistant, Candy Smiley, were delightful and well organized. They made us feel welcomed and at home. We later had a delicious dinner at Dan and Candy Smiley’s home, along with a number of other couples who were on the team. And finally, we rounded out the evening with a late night Starbuck’s date with Sarah Hathaway, one of our New England girls, who is attending Seattle Pacific University. It felt very collegiate.

We spent Friday morning reconnecting with Richard and Donna Dahlstrom—for the first time on their turf. Richard is the senior pastor of Bethany Community Church and spoke at our marriage conference last February. We love his teaching and his heart and found it delightfully stimulating to spend a couple of hours with them.

We had an early lunch with Richard and Donna Dahlstrom in Seattle.

Friday night went off without a hitch and was beautifully done. The ambience created by a talented team, music provided by Jesse and Marissa Butterworth, and a few hilarious video clips, all supported our two 25-minute talks. We felt very good about the evening and very thankful.

Married Life Live at Overlake Christian Church was a sell-out and seemed to be enjoyed by all.

Elaine Morse, director of small groups at OCC and of “Married Life Live” was an absolute delight.

On top of that, we were honored to have one of my college friends, Janet Prentice Long, and her husband, Jay, and their daughter Lucia drive from Port Townsend to attend the evening. What fun to reconnect with them! The other huge bonus was discovering a soul type friend in Elaine Morse. The minute we walked into her office and saw her lacrosse stick on the wall, the bond happened. We felt like we were leaving a long time friend when we said good-bye Friday night. We trust our paths will cross many times in the years ahead.

Jay, Janet, and Lucia drove from Port Townsend to attend Married Life Live. Janet and I were colleagues at San Diego State University back in the 70’s, and Paul was our IVCF staff worker.

Very early the next morning we were off, and drove almost three hours to Grayland, a small town on the ocean by Westport, Washington. Several couples from South Beach Community Church had heard us speak last summer at the Coaches Time Out (CTO) Conference in Portland, Oregon, and they convinced their pastor to invite us to speak at their church. We focused on parenting for the first half of the day on Saturday, and on marriage for the afternoon. We had a lovely evening with the senior pastor and his wife, Myron and Carla Ness, and then taught at both services Sunday morning. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with this congregation and would happily return if the opportunity arises.

The last to leave South Beach Community Church after the morning worship services.

We barely made it to the hotel in time for the Super Bowl kick-off...but we did. :) What a game!! Having just been in New Orleans one month earlier, the endless and confident refrain of “Oh when the Saints . . . win the Super Bowl . . . Oh when the Saints . . . win the Super Bowl . . .” ran through our minds as we watched every minute of that fabulous game. We were thrilled for the Saints in general, and for ex-Patriots David Thomas (#85) and Heath Evans (on IR) specifically. Both of these guys and their wives were very committed to the couples Bible study while in New England and we are so happy for their success. Wasn’t it a great game?

We took advantage of our location and met up with friends Duke and Amy Paulson after the Super Bowl, and with Dane and Amy Looker (ex-Patriot, retired Ram) Monday a.m. prior to flying east. Both couples are committed to honoring the Lord in their marriages and families; it was refreshing and encouraging to be with them. It was a great send-off, capping twelve great days in Washington.

Mt. Rainier, which had hidden behind clouds during our entire tour, revealed all but its tip as we left. What a lovely farewell gesture! The flight home was uneventful and productive. It was a joy to see Guy Steele’s smiling face at Logan as he picked us up and it felt very good to climb into our own bed in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, February 9th. Home again...for at least a few days. :)