He is risen indeed!

We hit the tarmac running. A packed counseling scheduled followed our March 23 almost midnight return to Boston . . . and God met us in big ways to give us strength and focus for a long day and night of counseling. We continued with appointments Thursday and that night spoke at the Mom To Mom (MTM) group at BCEC (Boston Chinese Evangelical Church). Invited by Fannie Ng, who along with her husband Wai-Chin and their two children, Grace and Evan, attend family camp at Berea, we always consider it a privilege to partner with this group.

Paul and I guard the yummy desserts prior to the start of the event for MTM Couples Date Night at Grace Chapel.

These “mentor moms” and their husbands helped to insure the success of the evening by sitting at tables with their small groups, and helping with set up and clean up.

Friday night, March 26th, competing with the NCAA Tournament, we spoke at Grace Chapel’s MTM Couple’s Date Night. Connie Lawrence and her team did a wonderful job of making the evening very special, with yummy desserts and beautifully set tables with fresh flower centerpieces and candles. All of those special touches make such a difference and set a tone of “we love you and we care about your marriage.” The couples responded well to our talk and we had many good conversations before and after the program.

Our third Engagement Matters (EM) Conference of the 2009-2010 season was held March 27-28 in Weston at the home of Doug and Julie Macrae. Eighteen couples crowded into the Macraes’ living room turned seminar room and fully embraced the weekend. Nate and Jeannie King (and their fourth child, Brady) flew up from Rome, Georgia, to continue partnering on the team, and Ryan and Kelly Plosker joined the ranks as a resource couple. I could tell you it was a great weekend, but I’ll let one of our couples do that by quoting from the email they sent after the conference:

Dear Paul and Virginia,

Thank you VERY much for the wonderful seminar this weekend! My fiance and I had a wonderful time! Your stories and advice were full of grace and humor while at the same time being direct, uncompromising, and grounded in real-life experience and built on the authority of Scripture (and thought-out, consistent interpretations, at that!). We both came away refreshed, renewed, and challenged, and we’ve decided to do a few things differently in our relationship as a result of what we learned.

We’ve been having a hard time planning our wedding because I am so E (and F) and [my fiance] is so I (and T), so we want pretty drastically different things. But taking the time to focus on our convictions and character, as well as to learn a little more about Keirsey’s stuff (which I didn’t think would happen - we’re both already big fans of his) and re-evaluate our physical boundaries was very refreshing and made us both come away feeling even luckier to be with each other.

Thank you for a wonderful weekend!

Our team was very thankful for the weekend and felt it was one of our best ever. Our next Engagement Matters conference is scheduled for October 2-3, 2010, so please keep that in mind.

Eighteen couples at Engagement Matters work feverishly on their Keirsey Temperament Sorters before breaking for lunch.

Ryan and Kelly Plosker, with Logan, Jordan, Sydney, and Bennett, served on the Engagement Matters team.

Nate and Jeannie King, with their fourth child Brady, flew up from Georgia to continue their commitment to Engagement Matters.

Saturday night, after all day at Engagement Matters, we drove to Cambridge to do an evening seminar on marriage at Cornerstone Church. This sweet fellowship, lead by James Lee, eagerly listened to too much information in a short amount of time.

Sunday we wrapped up Engagement Matters by 4 and then a group of H.I.M. “Church Partners” arrived for dinner at 5. :) It was personally very encouraging to brainstorm with this group who are so committed to the ministry of H.I.M., and to come up with some ideas of how to make a bigger impact in New England.

And then we went home and collapsed. :) Quite a stretch there. We were very thankful for a very low-keyed Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday was counseling--and then we were off again.

This trip was mostly vacation. We drove down to VA to spend Easter with my folks and Lisa. We had a wonderful time! Part time in Alexandria with Mom and Dad and part-time in Harrisonburg with Lisa.

In Harrisonburg, we watched Lisa’s softball team play ball (she is their athletic trainer), and then we celebrated her successfully defending her thesis just days before. She’ll graduate with her masters in exercise physiology on May 7.

A celebration dinner with Lisa in honor of her successful thesis defense.

Easter Sunday morning was spectacular. Lis, Paul and I drove to the Tidal Basin at the Jefferson Memorial and watched the sun rise through the cherry blossoms. I can’t imagine a more fitting way to spend the early morning hours of Resurrection Day than doing just that!! We were so thankful for perfect conditions for such an outing and for the timing of the peak of the blossoms. We were enthralled. It was great preparation for going to church and celebrating our Resurrected Lord. Can we ever tire of saying, “He is Risen!!! He is risen indeed!” The day unfolded with a family gathering at my folks’ home and delicious food, great fellowship and a rousing hymn sing around the piano filled the balance of the day. Serendipitously, as the sun began to set, Paul, Lis and I zipped back to the Tidal Basin to watch sunset . . . and it was a fabulous end to a glorious day.

Easter sunrise at the Tidal Basin at the Jefferson Memorial with cherry blossoms at peak.

The beauty was indescribably beautiful . . . so I’ll let the photo speak for itself.

Returning from a joyous Easter service with my parents and Lisa, ready for brunch!

Back at the Tidal Basin for the sunset, 13 hours later. It was also spectacular.

Nightfall over the Jefferson Memorial. I couldn’t stop taking photos. Thank heaven for digital photography!

Back to Harrisonburg we drove the day after Easter, where we spoke for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) at James Madison University that night. Lisa has been volunteering with FCA since arriving at JMU and she was very eager to have us speak on relationships. Twist our arms! We were only too happy to comply. And Joe DeZelle, FCA regional director at JMU, was happy to have us, especially after reading Letters to my Daughters. The evening was powerful. An unusually large group assembled and were very responsive and interactive. Great conversations followed. We love interacting with college students about this vitally important topic and consider such opportunities a privilege.

The FCA gathering listens to announcements before our talk.

Back home we drove Tuesday, on a beautiful weather day with light traffic. The nine hour drive gave us plenty of time to debrief and reflect on this very busy season. It’s been good and we feel blessed.

Signs of spring are appearing around New England. We returned home to a blossoming forsythia bush, which seemed a fitting symbol for the new life that is possible because of the death and resurrection of our Lord. He is risen indeed!