Whirlwind on Steroids (part 1)

I'm well aware that I begin many of my blogs with "I can't believe it's already ______" and though I always "mean" it, I mean it even more this time.  April ran out of days, and once May began, it's been hard to catch our breath.  On Monday we take the boat to Catalina Island to begin our summer of family camps, and I can honestly say I'm not quite ready.  Fortunately, 48 hours remain between now and then and I'm trusting that the loose ends will be secured and the "have to's" will be completed.  

These past six weeks have held some of our highest highs as well as some of our lowest lows.  

April ended on a high note of spending Monday the 29th at Whitinsville Christian School, speaking on relationships.  We taught two different chapels and four different classes in the course of the day, covering both junior and senior high students.  Under the umbrella of the goodness of God's design, we spoke on "becoming the right person rather than finding the right person" in a variety of ways.  Topics ranging from purity and modesty to dating and marriage were touched on and we enjoyed every minute of our interaction with this wonderful student body.  Great way to spend a day!!

The day ended with a Home Improvement Ministries Board Meeting.  It says a lot about your Board when you look forward to meeting with them.  Blessed!!

The middle schoolers at Whitinsville were quite engaged as we spoke on relationships.

Following a day of counseling, we were off to California again for the annual THRIVE conference at Bayside Church in Granite Bay, May 2-4.  We love being a part of this conference, which is dynamic, relevant, re-energizing, spiritually challenging, and fun.  It's kind of a "party with a purpose."  Ray Johnston knows how to do that better than anyone we know.  It's such an honor to present workshops there, and this year we did two on marriage and one on parenting teens.  All three were packed out and well received.  We’re so thankful.

THRIVE conference at Bayside—lacking in nothing except sleep.  :)

Straight from THRIVE, we drove to San Francisco to spend Sunday with Bethel Church.  We were so happy to be back at this church after doing a marriage conference for them last September.  We had the privilege of teaching together at their church services, morning and night, and their merged adult Sunday School class.  Bill and Marja Osgood provide such passionate leadership for this strategically located church in the Mission district of SF.  We love partnering with them. And of course, our dear friends John and Marilyn Nugent provide the lay leadership for our ministry there and it's always a treat to partner with them in ministry as well as celebrate our friendship.  After a full day, we caught a red-eye home, forgetting temporarily that we gain little from such craziness.  :)

John and Marilyn Nugent and Marja Osgood (not pictured is her husband, Bill, lead pastor)
made it a great day for us at Bethel.

We were home 3-4 days before flying back to California.  Technically, 4 days, but Monday was a wash following the red-eye, so 3 productive days would be accurate.  Counseling and other meetings filled the days, as well as selecting paint and carpet and readying our long-neglected house for some work.  Maintenance must happen at some point!  For the first time in our married life (which hit the 37-year mark on April 24), we hired an interior painter.  Definitely one of the better decisions we've made.  :)  We left for California on the 10th, and returned to 20th to a freshly painted downstairs.  We decided we could totally get into this.  :)  Nice.

We returned to Bayside Granite Bay to speak for their Mothers’ Day services and were truly humbled by the invitation.  Bayside's congregation is also so warm, supportive, and appreciative.  The effects of trickle-down leadership are obvious.

Much to our delight, Gabe, Kari, and Brandon made the trek from Santa Clarita to Sacramento to celebrate Mother's Day with both of their mothers, so the weekend was laced together with wonderful moments of multigenerational delight.  The pool, the park, church, frozen yogurt, Oscars tacos.  Great times.  Great memories.  Great Mother's Day.  All too quickly they drove south and our brief reunion was temporarily suspended.


We hung around Sacramento for the next few days in our "home away from home"—the hospitable home of Scott and Sally Shaull.  They've hosted us 3 out of the 5 times we've been out to partner with Bayside since January and have loved us so well.  They have amazing hearts.  Scott cooked up a phenomenal steak and lobster post-Mother's Day feast on Tuesday night and it would be hard to beat this culinary fete anywhere.  Add to that great company—Johnstons and Shaulls—and you've got a "couldn't get any better than this" evening.  

Ray, Scott, and Paul hover over the just-about-to-be-eaten,
fresh from New England, hand-carried-by-Scott lobsters.

Another highlight of these days was getting to spend a morning with one of my heart friends, Christina.  Once a young camper at CBS, "Nina" is now the mother of 4, wife of a godly man who doubles as a highly-trained doctor working with pediatric trauma cases, and thriving woman of God.  We had such a sweet morning together, catching up on what we could, and ending longing for more time.  Pure gift.

It was great to be with Nina.

Wednesday, May 15, we ended our 5-part series on marriage at Bayside's "Date Night."  How we've loved these nights!  To an enthusiastic crowd, we talked about how to keep your marriage alive if you're married, and how to make a wise choice for marriage if you're not.  It was a great ending to an effective series.

Our final date night at Bayside.

Before I wrap up part one, I want to highlight a couple who made a huge difference for us.  Manning our book table is always a challenge for us as it's hard to sell books and be available to people who have questions after we've spoken.  Dave and Diane have become friends of ours over the past months and when we asked if they would be willing to be at our book table once or twice during Mothers’ Day weekend (Bayside now has 6 services), they said, "We'll do it for all six services."  And they did.  Cheerfully.  Servant-heartedly.  In a "it's our privilege" sort of way.   We were/are so grateful for the way they came alongside us.  We truly couldn't have done it without them.  They are "difference makers" through their service.  

Dave and Diane after service #6 at Bayside.  We'll always be grateful.

On to southern California . . . and the whirlwind continues.  On to part 2.