Rocky Mountain High

The pattern continues: home for 3 days for counseling and other meetings, and then off again.  Destination?  Denver!  Venues?  Many and varied.  Delight quotient?  Off the charts.

Danny and Rayna Oertli put together an eclectic weekend for us to help us get our toes in the water of this part of the country and we loved every minute of it.  We started with a live interview Friday afternoon, April 29, on the Gino Geraci show.  Gino is the senior pastor of Calvary South Denver and host of a daily 2-hour radio show (KRKS-FM) broadcast from his church.  Though we were appropriately “nervous” (this is an uncommon venue for us), Gino quickly put us at ease and we had a great time talking with him about several of our publications which reflect our passions.  Great opportunity.

We passed on Danny’s invite to see the Rockies play that night, and were so glad we did as snow fell during the game.  Instead, we watched the royal wedding with Rayna and Grace and were pleasantly surprised by the hymns sung, the scriptures read, and the homily given.  And the fairy-tale factor was huge—she was a beautiful bride!

Uncle Paul enjoys some moments with Maggie and Jack Oertli, who are falling in love with their new puppy, Tulo.

Saturday morning, bright and early, we headed to Hope Community Church to speak at an all-day marriage conference.  Dean and Rebecca Wertz head up this church, and Danny’s parents, Jay and Marti, serve as the Adult Ministry pastors.  Great folks!  Worship was provided by Danny and Rayna, much to our delight, and the setting was perfect for good interaction with the couples, who ranged from several months married to almost 40 years married!  We were so impressed with the spirit of the group which always seems to reflect the leadership of the church.  The congregation is fortunate to have the Wertzes and the Oertlis at the helm.  Both couples have deep character and fully surrendered hearts which have been forged in the crucible of pain and loss.  We love to hang with folks like these; their lives reflect the hope of the gospel so profoundly.

Dean and Rebecca Wertz tried to focus on keeping the worship lyrics rolling, but found each other somewhat distracting . . .  :)

. . . so Jack Oertli stepped in and did the job flawlessly.  :)

The setting was cozy and comfy and we felt very connected with those who came.

We headed straight from Hope Community Church to Crossroads Church in Parker to speak at their Saturday night service, making it a rather full day.  :)  We were instantly drawn in by the lead pastor, John Snyder, who is truly one of the warmest and most pastoral men we've ever met.  As the weekend would unfold, we watched him greet most people who walked through the door by name—and between the 4 services, close to 1,000 people attended.  That’s a shepherd who cares deeply about his flock!  We also found out that he was raised in Yucaipa, and is friends with the Kranings and others we know from that area.  Small world!!  The services went well and we felt very blessed to be a part of what’s happening at Crossroads.

We also were thrilled to reconnect with long time CBS-camper, Stephen McLaughlin, and his wife, Ellie, and daughter, Lexi.  We hadn’t seen them since their wedding four years ago, so we talked fast and furiously over lunch, catching up with them.  Such a sweet family!

Stephen, Ellie, and Lexi McLaughlin joined us for lunch after the final service at Crossroads on Sunday.  Loved being with them!

The balance of Sunday was spent playing with the Oertlis’ dog, Tulo, running races with Maggie (which she won consistently—altitude advantage or age?), reconnecting with dear friends Deb and Mark McCormick, and teaching Danny and Rayna to play “Nickel.”

First thing Monday morning, we headed to Colorado Springs to do a radio interview with Ryan Dobson for his show, “Grounded”—but en route, we squeezed in a short visit with our niece, Kristi, and her three kids.  We missed seeing Kristi’s husband Tim, who is a coach and school teacher, but it was great to meet their two children born since we last saw them.

Sleeping baby Joel, Isaac, and Mattie (on Kristi's lap) extended warm hospitality during our brief visit.

On to the radio show we drove as snow and sleet began to fall.  Denver seems a bit like Boston!  Snow in May!  Wow!  It didn't slow us down, fortunately, and we were happy to arrive in a timely fashion to “Family Talk” headquarters, where Ryan shares space with his dad, Dr. James Dobson,  host of Family Talk Radio.  We have deep hearts for James Dobson, as he was one of the primary coaches for us as young parents starting in 1980.  We tuned in to Focus on the Family regularly back in those days and read just about everything Dobson ever wrote through the years.  To say that he had a strong shaping influence on our parenting would be an understatement.

It was therefore quite an honor for us to be guests on his son’s radio show all these years later.  As we know, it’s who you know . . . and Danny has been on Ryan’s show a number of times, so he convinced Ryan to take a gamble with us.  We didn’t feel the same anxiety we had felt on Friday before we went on the Gino Geraci show (maybe the fact that Ryan is 15 years younger than me had something to do with that!) but we did feel privileged to be there.  And we had a blast.  Besides talking about family and church issues, when off air, Ryan and I were talking about making raspberry jam and bread recipes.  It was very, very comfortable.  The interview, conducted by Ryan and his co-host, Toben Heim, was aired recently and can be heard here.

Ryan Dobson and Toben Heim flank us in the studio of “Grounded.”

Ready, set, go.  Let the tape roll!

Back to Parker, with another brief stop en route to catch up with ex-Pats and dear friends, Tom and Julie Ashworth.  Tom played for the Patriots 2002–2005, and besides helping the team win three Super Bowl titles, he and Julie were faithfully involved in the couples’ Bible study.  They both became more serious about their faith journey as a result, and continued growing by leaps and bounds during the last years of his NFL career which were played out in Seattle.  Is there anything more encouraging that seeing seeds planted producing a harvest?  Wow.  Though only 45 minutes in length, the visit filled us with such thankfulness and hope.

Tom, Julie, and Carolyn welcomed us to their Castle Rock home where we had a happy reunion.

One last event before flying back to Boston—a couples’ dessert night at Front Range Christian School.  Set up by our long time and dear friends Dave and Kathleen Sherman, we were impressed by the creative use of their school-owned coffee shop, “Higher Grounds.”  They packed the place out for the “date night with a purpose” and besides good coffee and yummy desserts, the crowd seemed to appreciate what we said.  One woman told me afterwards that when we talked about the damaging dynamic of a controlling wife and a passive husband, we were describing her and she really wanted to change.  We love moments like that which make it so clear that the Holy Spirit is at work.  Praise Him!

A coffee shop venue was perfect for our evening at Front Range Christian School.

Dave and Kathleen Sherman worked hard to make the evening successful.

And then . . . off to the airport.  Why not?  A 12:45 am flight would get us home Tuesday morning, May 2, so we wouldn't really lose a day.  So with the lights of Denver shining brightly below, we left the Mile High City for home, very thankful for four full and productive days of ministry.