Whirlwind on Steroids (part 3)

Wrapping up the whirlwind: our annual H.I.M. Memorial Day Family Camping Trip was canceled due to dire weather forecasts, which proved to be true.  Though very disappointing, it was the right decision.  Snow fell in VT and NH that weekend!!

As a result of that cancellation, I was able to fly down for my brother Frank's remarriage.  It was good to be with five of my six siblings even briefly.

Six of the original seven Collins siblings at Frank's remarriage.  

In between lots of counseling appointments and preparation for family camps, we also took on re-painting and re-carpeting our long-neglected downstairs in anticipation of having Derek and Julie with us for the next several months as they birth their first child.  :)  We are very pleased with the results and have wondered what took us so long to prioritize those projects!

Lisa and I ran the Covered Bridges Half Marathon Sunday, June 2, for the 4th year in a row.  As it turned out, 85 degree temps and 95% humidity made it our most difficult "half" and our worst time.  In spite of Lisa's gracious encouragement throughout all 13.1 miles, I spent much of it wondering if I could do it.  Thankfully, I did, but I vowed to not compete in a "hot" run again.  Ever.   

Even so, the grueling nature of the run was made somewhat bearable by the kind-hearted people who stood along the race route and sprayed us with their garden hoses.  Lisa and I were extra blessed by our dear friend Glenn who twice met us along the route with a spray bottle and icy cold wash clothes. Especially at mile 11, when 2 more miles seemed impossible, Glenn refreshed us with these coolants and encouraged us with "You can do it!" I was amazed at how revitalizing such acts of kindness were and what a huge difference they made in our determination to finish well.  Well, at least, to finish.  For the record, I am using "we" very generously here.  Lisa could've run circles around me and finished at least 45 minutes sooner than we did.  She is very, very gracious.

Lisa, Pam Barker, and I ran as the "Green Team" this year at the Covered Bridges Half Marathon.
13.1 miles later in brutal heat and humidity, we celebrated our accomplishment.  

It was a joy to reconnect with Bethany Church of Breakfast Hill, New Hampshire, on Monday, June 3, as we spoke to their First Monday Couples' Night.  To a packed room, we spoke on "finishing well" in marriage and the couples seemed very engaged and appreciative.  First Monday at Bethany was spawned by First Monday at Grace Chapel, launched by Gordon MacDonald and carried on for 9 years by Paul.  It was heartening to see the continuation of that strategic ministry to men.

That evening ended with the exclamation point of Derek and Julie's return to the States to begin the wait for their baby's arrival.  Derek once again flew within 24 hours after a positive malaria diagnosis.  :(  Fortunately he responds quickly to medication and had enough in him to make the trip.  He did return to Uganda 11 days later and will return to the States July 12 for the countdown.  Their due date is July 25.  Exciting times!!!

Welcome home, Derek and Julie!  A delayed celebration of Derek's birthday included
freshly baked cinnamon rolls and fresh blueberries.

Not many people make Phoenix, Arizona, a destination of choice in June, but we did—in response to an invitation from lead pastor David Harris to do a marriage conference at Paradise Church.  We loved partnering with David and his crew, who did a great job of putting together a meaningful weekend for couples.  We were especially pleased to reconnect with Matt and Christen Bumen and their precious children Derek and Riley over breakfast one morning.  Paul married them 10 years ago and it's very, very encouraging to see their vital, growing marriage.  Though very brief, our time was rich and wonderful.  And hot.  It was 113 degrees on Saturday.  :)

Matt and Christen Bumen and David and Tammy Harris were instrumental to making the Paradise Church conference happen.

Along with this crew, all of these folks have deep hearts for marriage
and are serving Paradise Church in some manner.

Straight from Phoenix, we flew to Washington, D.C., to pull off a surprise 30th anniversary party for my youngest sister, Laura, and her husband, David.  Our girls are some of their "surrogate" children and together with them, we really wanted to honor their beautiful marriage. They have been so intentional about keeping their marriage alive and growing—and truthfully, they make marriage look great.  We're so thankful for them.

It was a blast working together with some of their closest friends to honor them on the occasion of this milestone.  Thankfully, it came off without a hitch and along with 30 of their closest friends, we celebrated their uncommonly good union.  

Here they are on June 18, 1983 . . .

. . . and here they are 30 years later, still madly in love with each other,
and even more in love with Christ.

The party-goers at the home of their dear friends Bob and Lisa Hartman (front row, far right).

We drove back home early the next morning with Derek and Julie, who had driven down for the party, and began the countdown for our summer at Campus by the Sea.  It was crazy to say the least but we managed to get through our final counseling appointments and wrap up other loose ends before we flew to Caifornia on Saturday, June 15th, as Derek flew back to Uganda.

It was a joy to spend Father's Day with Gabe, Kari, and Brandon, as well as Lisa and Julie, and then all head to Campus by the Sea together on Monday, the 17th, where we launched our 38th summer there. 

Gabe opens his Father's Day gift from Brandon: SF Giants' t-shirts for both.  :)

The best gift for this dad—his three daughters!
Off to Catalina we go, with three grown up daughters and two grandchildren on the way.

The whirlwind sort of has landed in Gallagher's Cove which hosts Campus by the Sea.  Not that we're sitting around eating bonbons, mind you, but we're breathing deeply the sea air and basking in the simplicity of life disconnected from technology and traffic.  We're in to our second week of family camp already and I'll write about that before long.

I mentioned in the first part of this series that we've had some of the highest highs and lowest lows over this past month.  The lows have included almost losing my dad over Memorial Day Weekend, when he apparently suffered a TIA or a mild heart attack (from which he has fully recovered, thankfully, though his decline from dementia marches on).  The night of Memorial Day we received word that my sweet cousin Donna's 21-year-old son had drowned accidentally, and that news plunged us all into deep sorrow.  More recently, the mother of very dear friends succumbed to a 9-month battle with cancer, and these friends had lost their dad just 9 months ago, also to cancer.  And we experienced greater challenge than usual assembling a program team for family camps this summer.  Plenty of applicants, but putting together the right team for working with our older kids was difficult.

I wish I could say that we handled these all with grace and confidence consistent with our belief in our Sovereign Lord, but there were many moments of anxiety, concern, and grief.   No apologies for grief; it is what it is and warranted in times of loss, but it's been good to be reminded these weeks at camp that God really is in control and that He's got us covered.

Inside and outside of the whirlwind.

All praise is His.