Wrapping it up in New England ’til September

Forty-eight hours ago we landed on the sacred shores of Campus by the Sea to begin our 36th summer of ministry together in this very special place.  Thankfully, some things never change here.  Like the sound of the ebb and flow of the tide rolling over the rocky beach, or the chirping of birds whose sounds, which are mostly lost in the noisy world we live in, pierce the silence in this place of quiet, or the sounds of worship that make their way from the Main Deck and echo off the ridges which form the protective boundaries of this safe place.  Or the lack of cars, cell phones, traffic, stuff, etc.  In a world in which text messages invade focus and concentration, and headlines and news flashes constantly disturb our peace, we are breathing deeply and allowing this quiet retreat to wash over us restoratively.

We left anything but quiet.  As is always true, it's a race to the finish to be ready for a summer of family camps.  This year was no exception.

After the camping trip at Myles Standish over Memorial Day weekend, we celebrated Julie's upcoming nuptials with a wonderfully meaningful shower.  The "chosen family" friends who came brought gifts wrapped in receiving blankets for her to take to the CURE hospital in Mbale, Uganda, for which her fiance serves as the executive director.  Julie was as excited about the prospect of bringing the blankets to the mamas at the hospital as she was about her own shower gifts.  It was a wonderful night of celebrating all that is good.

The shower gifts came wrapped in receiving blankets for the CURE hospital in Mbale, Uganda.

Julie flew back to San Diego on Tuesday, but Paul, Lisa, and I continued on to Fenway Park to see the Boys of Summer who wear Red Sox uniforms drop one to the White Sox.  We had a blast nonetheless as we enjoyed perfect baseball weather, on street parking, and a refund for our tickets, bought through Stub Hub, because we had received tickets that were 10 rows behind the ones we had purchased.  Sweet.

We got there in time for a close up view of our players as they warmed up.  Very fun.

Early the next morning we drove to W. Cornwall, CT, to speak at the fifth annual pastors and staff conference for Avon Community Baptist Church.  Jay and Liz Abramson lead this church, ably assisted by Tim and Sharon Ponzani.  What a refreshing group!  Their staff has had no turn-over in the five years we've been doing this, which is quite remarkable in itself and reflects the level of health in this church.  We love partnering with them.  The conference is rather low-key in terms of teaching, very interactive, and is scheduled to have plenty of "hang" time.  Walks, croquet, table games, and a little Brian Regan (a great comedian) via DVD filled in the spaces.  This is one of the rare conferences we do that feels as beneficial to us spiritually and emotionally as it is for the group.  A bit of calm in the midst of craziness.

Ever the competitor, Paul came close to winning two different rounds of croquet, but had to be satisfied with two second place finishes.

The team, with Paul standing next to the champion on his left, Tim Ponzani.  Fun was had by all.

Some of the staff had already departed, but this is the remnant of those who attended the pastors’ conference.

We returned home Friday afternoon in time to prepare for the H.I.M. pool party on Saturday, June 4th.  A more beautiful day would be hard to find, and a very happy group of around 80 invaded the Macraes' "retreat-like" property and had a blast.  Jim and Sue Martis did a great cook-out for everyone and the pool, trampoline, soccer field, and legos were enjoyed.  This 8th annual event was a big hit and a great way to launch summertime.

David Swaim explains to Kimary, Lisa, and Barbara why their family showed up at the pool party with a 4-day-old foster baby.

Hard to improve on this venue!

Matthew captures the attention of Lydia and Abby with a good idea (hopefully)!

So much fun was had by all ages in the pool.

Lisa, Paul, and I drove up to Woodstock, VT, that evening so we'd be in the right place to run the Covered Bridges Half Marathon early the next morning. We ran this last year in the pouring rain, and survived, but we were elated that God graced us this year with perfect weather.  We really couldn't have improved on the day:  gorgeous vistas throughout all 13.1 miles, unbelievably lovely weather, and great company. We felt very blessed. Top it off with having a photographer and a driver in Paul, and we could find nothing to complain about.

Except maybe the challenge of running 13.1 miles.  That's a long way!  Before the race, I picture myself as a fleet-footed runner.  That fantasy is quickly dispelled and I return to my reality of being a sure-footed plodder.  At various moments during the race, I question my sanity for choosing to do such a thing and I struggle to believe that I can do it.  I keep plodding.  Lisa cheers me on.  I sing silently "I can do all things, through Christ who strengthens me . . ."  I keep plodding.  I check my running watch to make sure I'm making progress.  I win another mental battle as I get a second wind, which I mistakenly believe will carry me painlessly through the rest of the race.  I'm wrong.  I fight to finish.  I cross the line 4 minutes slower than I did a year ago, but very, very thankful to have done it.

And then I begin to think "That wasn't so bad.  I can do this!  When is the next race for this fleet-footed runner?"  :)

All smiles after we've run 13.1 miles together . . .
. . . and even bigger smiles when we hit Dunkin' Donuts after we're cleaned up and on the way home.
I've now logged 4 half-marathons since November of 2009.  It's funny now to think of how I reacted to Lisa's suggestion in Nov. 2008, as I watched her run a half-marathon in Kitty Hawk, NC, that we run together the next year.  “Impossible!” I told her then. I guess it wasn't.

Two days later we put Lisa on a plane to Tel Aviv for her two-weeks-long missions trip with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  Reports from her, though scarce due to infrequent Internet opportunities, are glowing.  She's loving being able to serve as the athletic trainer for the athletes running evangelistic sports camps in Israel.  We'll love hearing all about it when she arrives at CBS next Friday.

Lisa's off to Israel as a short-term missionary.

We spent the next two days wrapping it up in New England until we return in September. Counseling filled most of the time, but we managed to get packed up and cleaned up before we flew to California for yet another summer of family camps.

How blessed we are!