It's hard to believe we've actually been home two and a half weeks, which records as our longest stretch in 2013 between now and this coming August. We've thoroughly enjoyed reacquainting ourselves with our home, our neighborhood, our local friends...and have been rudely awakened by our list of "to-do's" around the house (which can seem non-existent when we're out and about) as well as mounting piles of paperwork, mail, etc. Though we've made some headway, much is still unfinished as we fly off to Detroit, MI, today, and this much we know....it will be just as we left it when we return in four days for a brief two days before flying to California next week.
It's also hard to believe we've been home from Uganda for 3.5 weeks. It still feels close enough to touch and we find ourselves praying for the pastors and their wives regularly and asking Derek and Julie for updates on these precious folks. Plans are in the works for our return, during which time we'll focus on continuing to train the pastors to teach their congregations the beauty of God's design for family and marriage.
Early on Wednesday, March 20, we re-entered life. Driving in much-needed California “liquid sunshine,” we made our way to Bridgeway Christian Church in Rocklin to speak to their Mom2Mom group. What an energetic gathering of about 150 moms! They were certainly not going to let rain keep them away from this morning of "group therapy": childcare, yummy snacks, adult conversation in small groups, connection with mentors, and a talk to boot. So they came, and they listened. The topic of "In-laws" is always a popular one as we deal realistically with some of the challenges of this dynamic relationship which is problematic to a degree in 3 out of 4 marriages. Lots of tears, lots of questions, and lots of stories followed the talk, and all agreed that not enough teaching is done on this topic.
|The leadership team for Mom2Mom at Bridgeway Church|
is doing a fantastic job of serving their young moms.
We had a lunch business meeting with a team from Bayside who lead the "Second Half Ministry" to the 55 years and older crew. We'll be speaking to their group in April, so it was helpful to meet with the planning team to gain a vision for their expectations. It was a wonderful group and a productive time, led by Allen Hearl (and his lovely wife, Karen, who is battling cancer currently and therefore not with us that day).
Back to our predictable schtick, we also spoke that night at the third consecutive monthly "Date Night" at Bayside. It was an enlightening evening, we were told by many who attended. There were "aha!" moments as we talked through respect, love, and submission by partnering Genesis 3:16—the curse—with Ephesians 5, the response. We love teaching on this subject because we identify the many distortions of submission and headship and recommend their disposal, while retaining the Biblical, Christ-as-the-model for both headship and submission understanding of the Ephesians 5 passage. This is so clarifying, regarding what plagues every marriage to some degree, and so hope-giving in terms of the potential of "reversing the curse." It was a great night.
Up early the next morning to drive to Truckee, a small town at the gateway of Lake Tahoe. We were so happy to be back with Sierra Bible Church, with whom we partnered three years ago. Wayne and Sandy Hoag lead this vital church with integrity and passion. We love their hearts. We love their boldness. We love their confidence in Biblical truth. Great people. A true honor to partner with them.
In our days there, we spoke to their MOPS group, to their junior/senior high students and parents about sexual purity, to their couples date night, Paul to their men's breakfast, and we taught at all three services on Sunday. In all settings, we found great openness and receptivity to the teaching.
Our hosts for the weekend, Randy and Joy Hitchcock, filled in the "blanks" with a delightful dinner at their home one night and an invigorating hike one afternoon. Lake Tahoe is in their backyard and is truly a crown jewel of geographic beauty. We hiked to the Vikingsholm in Emerald Bay and were captivated by its beauty. And hanging out with the Hitchcocks was icing on the cake.
|Sierra Bible Church's leadership team, headed by Wayne Hoag (standing right next to me) are vitally impacting the Truckee community for Christ.|
|Randy and Joy Hitchcock (and their sons Chad and Cooper and dog Blizzard)|
were very caring hosts for our Truckee ministry tour.
An overnight stop with our dear friends Scott and Sally and lunch with more dear friends John and Marilyn took us up to our flight out of San Francisco airport late Monday afternoon and the end of our just over 3-week-long trip was in sight.
It seemed like we had been gone a really long time when we flew into Boston on Tuesday, March 26, in the wee hours of the morning. We had only been home six days since the beginning of February, so I guess that's why it felt like we hadn't been home. :)
We did jump right into it, but truthfully felt ready to do that since our recovery from Uganda had happened in California. The week leading up to Easter was full of appointments, counseling and otherwise, and it felt really good to know we wouldn't be packing our bags for a couple of weeks.
For the first time in years, we hosted Easter at our home. What a joy!!! We flew Lisa home for the occasion and had a blast Saturday watching JMU play Northeastern in baseball (would've been more fun had we won, but...), shopping at the farmer's market by the North End, having cappuccino and pastries at Cafe Vittoria, walking to and through the Public Gardens and visiting the ducklings who were sporting Easter bonnets, and eventually having dinner in the city using a very expired gift card (which was honored). It was a gorgeous spring day, which I now know was the exception during this "spring is a calendar date at best" season, and we squeezed everything we could out of it. Easter Sunday was glorious. After worshiping, we hosted 10 around our table and had great fellowship and food until we had to come to a quick close to get Lisa to the airport on time for her 6 p.m. flight back to Virginia.
|The Public Gardens at sunset on Easter Sunday Eve . . .|
Mama Duck and her ducklings in their own Easter Parade.
|Easter Sunday dinner . . . delightful time with friends, yummy food, great fellowship,|
and the resurrection. Can't improve on that!
Home the next week as well, we had a H.I.M. Board meeting and finalized details on our newest book, due to be released May 1. The Marriage App: Unlocking the Irony of Intimacy is at the printers as we speak, after a long, laborious labor. A "ninth hour" crew of very creative friends helped make it come together with a cover design, as Guy and Barbara Steele kept their "nose to the grindstone" to complete editing it to its print-ready state. None of our books would ever see the light of day were it not for these two and we are so, so grateful. More will be coming on the book soon.
A highlight of the week was speaking at MOPS at the North Shore Community Baptist Church. Love that ministry! Two days later we hosted a full weekend of Engagement Matters April 6 and 7. Nineteen couples crowded into the Macraes' home in Weston for the weekend to interact on God's design for marriage. It's no secret that we love this weekend, and this group was especially interactive and appreciative of the teaching. Some of the comments we received from attendees include:
"This weekend has deepened our understanding and strengthened the foundation of our relationship, and also raised challenging questions for us to consider."
"It has helped us identify areas to work on and be aware of, helped us to think of positive changes we can make to strengthen our relationship, and to not be afraid to take as much time as is necessary to be sure and ready."
"The weekend was so positive. It has reinforced our decision to be married one day while also giving us a reality check and opening our eyes to safeguards, boundaries, and practical things we can do to help our relationship."
|We had a great group of couples for our April Engagement Matters weekend.|
After a few more speaking engagements, some counseling, and more organizational work at home, we packed our bags and flew to Detroit. I'll write about that wonderful weekend in my next post, with hopes that spring will have sprung and "latent spring" will be no more.
|Well, apparently spring has sprung in Ventura,|
and Brandon doesn't seem to mind the chilly water. No nerve endings in kids!