. . . but it's "worth it."
So 48 hours after the Boston Marathon Bombing, we were on a flight to California to speak at Bayside Church's monthly couples' date night. Though we have loved, loved, loved doing this every month of 2013, it seems that each month is challenged with obstacles. Weather delays. Lost luggage. Almost missing the event. Crazy!
Continuing in the theme, our luggage didn't arrive with us because our to flight Sacramento via O'Hare was canceled (thunderstorms this time!) and we were rebooked to Sacramento via San Francisco. Our bodies made it but our luggage didn't. Paul was all too happy to make another trip to Costco to buy his monthly new outfit for speaking. Me, not so much. Especially since my personal shopper (Kari) has re-located to Santa Clarita, so I was left to my own devices in a very limited amount of time. I know, I know. First World Problem. No sympathy expected.
The theme of this date night was marital sexuality, and we appreciated the very responsive crowd. So many commented on how grateful they were that we were willing to address this "verboten-in-the-church" subject. One couple wrote, "LOVED all that you shared last night @ Bayside…God worked thru you, reaching right into our 30-year relationship…I'M AMAZED!!! Thank you." We were very thankful.
Thursday we spoke at the first event geared towards the 55-plus gang at Bayside. Allan and Karen Hearl lead this new ministry which is just beginning to take shape and we were honored to help with their launch. A salad luncheon followed by worship led by Brandon Yip preceded our talk on "Finishing Well." The group was eclectic and represented the spectrum from married and remarried, to single and single again through widowhood or divorce, and everything in between. But despite the diversity of life stage and experience, there was a sweet spirit in the place. As the committee met to reflect on the event, there was agreement that it had been very successful. Praise Him!
|Allan Hearl welcomes the 55-plus crowd to the launch of this new ministry outreach at Bayside.|
Still without luggage, I flew down to Burbank that night and met up with Gabe, Kari, and Brandon, and Paul flew back to Boston the next day (united with his luggage.) I spent a frustrating number of hours on Friday awaiting delivery of my suitcase (which had been flown multiple times between Boston, San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and finally Burbank) but it finally arrived, and off to the beach in Ventura we went to play late in the afternoon. Very, very fun.
|Gabe, Kari, and Brandon enjoy the beauty of Ventura Beach.|
Kari and I spoke at a women's conference at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach all day Saturday, while Paul spoke at two Iron Sharpens Iron conferences in New England. Our day was much more relaxing and lovely than his, but he felt good about his experience.
Women's Conferences are works of art. Really. The beautiful decorations. The delicious food, presented as though for a Queen's Court. The details all tended to. The air of expectation. The delight of women gathering. These women did a fabulous job of preparing for the day and Kari and I enjoyed working together on "Sacred Influence: Journeying through life with Racers, Pacers, and Tracers." Borrowing from very impacting talks Gary Gaddini gave at Campus by the Sea a number of years ago, we talked about the importance of mentoring and of being mentored as we go through life. It was truly a joy for me to speak with Kari, and I think the women really appreciated that, too. It was a good day.
|The beautiful snack table reflected the care and beauty of all aspects of the women's conference|
at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, CA.
|Most of the committee that made the women's conference happen—a great group of ladies!|
Early the next morning, I drove to San Diego to spend 5 days with my parents. My mother has recovered beautifully from her mastectomy, and it was such a privilege to spend a few days enjoying being with them and doing a few projects around the house, as well as helping with the early morning and nightly routines with my dad. I also got to be with the three sisters who live in the area at various points. Really special, memorable days.
|My remarkable mom at 83, following two surgeries in the last two months. I told her she'd set the bar at a level I hope to never have to reach! What an amazing woman she is. So thankful for her.|
I flew back to Boston on Thursday, April 25th, and disappointingly, my luggage didn't arrive with me. Oh no!!! Not this again! In a Groundhog's Day-esque way, Friday the 26th was a repeat of Friday the 19th, only worse. The suitcase, promised at 6 a.m., eventually arrived at 5 p.m. A very long, frustrating day. Crazy again. And yes, I know, a first world problem.
The following day was our annual "Worth It" Conference, focused on sexual and emotional purity. This family event is one of the highlights of our year. We believe so passionately that we experience God's best when we trust His design, and this is especially true regarding relationships.
We had a packed house and a phenomenal staff whose teaching and life stories both inspired and challenged the audience, which was composed of parents and teen-agers. All of the staff were open and honest about the goodness of God's design as well as the heartache of going against it. Besides the three plenary sessions, we offered relevant workshops and peer group, gender-based sessions that provided forums for going deeper in some areas. The day ended with a challenge to commitment to purity.
|Most of the "Worth It" staff, gathered at day's end to thank the Lord for meeting us.|
|Retired NFL player Don Davis poses with a group of eager students at the "Worth It" conference.|
The feedback on the day was overwhelmingly positive and some of the comments included:
"There were several times throughout the day that someone said something and immediately I would think, 'I came here to hear that. That was meant for me! It's just crazy and wonderful." (16-year-old female)
"The most beneficial part of the day was that I'm worth the wait!"
"Great message. My mom brought me and, to be honest, I didn't want to come. I AM SO GLAD THAT I DID!" (13-year-old female)
"It was an awesome day. Great food, fantastic speakers who really related to us students . . . I will definitely come again!"
One youth leader sent this:
"Overall, all 8 kids that came really liked it and said they loved the speakers and learned a lot and wanted to bring others next year! The girls said, "It was great to hear everyone's stories about making mistakes so that we know not to follow in that same path, but we really liked hearing Lisa talking about doing it the right way!" (Go Lisa!) They also LOVED hearing Adam talk about how he valued his wife so much before they were married and that is proof that she can trust him to value her and be faithful forever. Another quote they loved was from Jillian about, "You don't have to worry about attracting all the guys. You will attract the one that God has planned for you.'"
We couldn't have been more thankful for the day and pray that the effects of the day will be felt for years to come.
The following day we had the privilege of conducting a "renewal of vows" ceremony for a couple whose marriage was rocked by infidelity three years ago. Through years of hard work and lots of God's grace, their marriage not only survived, but is thriving. It was a celebration we'll treasure remembering. There were many poignant moments, but I'll never forget the look on the face of the 14-year-old son as his parents recommitted themselves to one another. He later said, "I've been praying and waiting for this day for 3 years." His radiant face said it all.
The very full weekend was rounded out by some exploring Boston with daughter Lisa and her friend/mentee Jillian who flew up to help with "Worth It." We had a blast walking the streets, taking in the sights, and consuming the delights of some great eateries. A perfect end to a great weekend.
|Lisa and Jillian and I delight in the Public Garden's blooming tulips.|
It was very nice to not board a plane this weekend—or to be waiting for errant luggage to be delivered.