Here, There, and Everywhere (Part 1)

We've spoken in sixteen different venues, made two trips to California and one to Pennsylvania, run two H.I.M.-sponsored conferences, spoken at seven different events in the greater Boston area, counseled seven days, had four different sets of houseguests, and have only been home 19 of the past 49 days.  No wonder I've found "time" for reflective writing  elusive. No surprise that I've changed the date on the subject line of this blog three times. The time has now come.  Captive on a flight to St. Louis, I will resist the temptation to read until I write.

Though it seems like forever ago, we flew to California just before Valentine's Day to hang out with the "fam" for a couple of days prior to speaking.  We joined my mom and three of my sisters for a Persian meal in Irvine to launch our 11-day tour of California and had such a sweet time.  It was the first time we had been with my mom since my dad's funeral and it made his death seem a bit more real. Brandon and Ana did their part to mitigate our grief. They both love their Great-Grandma Essie.

Three of my sisters, Francene, Sue, and Melissa, drove my mom up to meet us in Irvine for lunch.

Great-Grandma Essie loves and is loved by all little people.

For the 4th year in a row, we were privileged to speak at The Rock Church's Valentine's Couples Night Out.  Brent and Melissa Slezak put their heart and soul into this event and we love partnering with them.

Getting there to celebrate this "heart" day, however, threatened to give us heart attacks.  Leaving in "plenty of time" from Gabe and Kari's home in Santa Clarita, we began the 48-mile journey 3 hours ahead of start time, but arrived with only 5 minutes to spare.  Unconvinced that we would have even 5 minutes as we crept along the slowly moving, very congested Los Angeles freeway (are there any other kind???), I actually changed my clothes in the car.  Discreetly, of course.  Makes for a very relaxing start to a speaking engagement.  Fortunately, we were feted to a delicious dinner in a beautifully set fellowship hall prior to speaking, so our heart rates had returned to normal levels before we were handed the mics.  And . . . "all's well that ends well" is apropos.  The evening went very well.  

A big shout out to Brent and Melissa, however, who remained calm as we updated them on our non-progress, even when we at some point, rather despairingly suggested that they might need to speak in our stead.  "Keep driving," they responded, unflustered.  We did jettison the video clips we had planned to use since a sound check was impossible, but that was a small price to pay for severely underestimating that 48 miles would take 3 hours to drive. Make that 2 hours and 55 minutes. This reinforces our belief that if we ever return to live in So Cal, it will be because God makes it unmistakably clear.

Brent and Melissa Slezak hosted The Rock Church's Valentine's couples event.
Love their hearts for family and marriage!!

Our return to Santa Clarita that night was painless.  Thank you Lord.  And being wakened early Saturday a.m. by a loud "GRRRRRR" from the little monster-in-training (Brandon) caused us to forget the frustration of the drive just hours earlier.

Later that day, we flew to San Francisco to speak at Peninsula Covenant Church on....marriage!!!  We love PCC and we love Gary and Anne Gaddini, so it's always with joyful anticipation that we come to Redwood City.  Everything—the people, the principles, the plans—of this church body are dynamic, relevant, and proactive.  They are not just hearers of the Word, but also doers.  We love their love for God's Word and their commitment to living it authentically.  This is top-down leadership in action.

We taught at all three services on Sunday. . . from coat and tie, to shirt and khakis, to jeans and long-sleeve.  Paul thought it was good that they stop at three services.  Bathing suit for the 4th???  :)

We also taught at their "Big Wednesday" night gathering on intimacy.  A larger-than-normal group apparently formed, most likely a response to said topic, and we had a great night together.  After presenting, Brian Rehn (the family and marriage pastor at PCC and all around great guy) fielded texted-in questions, which ended the evening on a "scratch where I'm itching" note.  We loved it!!

In between Sunday night and Wednesday night we met up with various friends, poked around several exciting thrift stores, and caught up a bit with ourselves.  After Wednesday night, and before our next speaking gig began Friday night, we spent two glorious days on the beach just north of Monterey as guests of some dear friends.  With the sound of waves crashing just yards from the condo, we lost ourselves in the beauty of the ocean, the joy of walking the coastline with sand scrunching beneath our feet, the discovery of sand dollars so plentiful it seemed like we'd hit a "jackpot", the mesmerizing effect of watching the sets of waves pummel the shoreline with wind-driven mist dancing off the cresting surf, and the daily ritual of observing the symphony in the sky as the setting sun painted a color display that would rival the most extensive show of fireworks.

It was the therapy we needed and we basked in the wonderfulness of each moment we were there. And did we mention that we drove through  (actually by) fields teeming with giant, ripe artichokes - the vegetable of the gods????  Heaven on earth.

We had a sweet time of fellowship and food with the Gaddini gang
at their home twice while in Redwood City.

As the crowd gathered for our Wednesday night talk on intimacy,
I grabbed a hug with long time friend Neyney Jackson.

With our hosts at the beach condo, we delayed all evening plans until the sun had retired from displaying its glory, which reflects His glory.

We spent the weekend of Feb. 21-23 at Mt. Hermon Christian Conference Center, speaking at their couples' conference.  Our love for Mt. Hermon goes way back...38 years to be exact, as we spent several days of our honeymoon in the backyard of this conference center.  We've been back many times through the years for a variety of conferences and have always appreciated Mt. Hermon's commitment to Biblical integrity and to growing God-honoring families.  When Dave Burns invited us to speak at this conference, we enthusiastically accepted.

And we were not disappointed.  We had a warm, receptive crowd.  A few "old"—actually, "long-term"—friends, and many new friends.  A well-run program.  Working with Dave Burns. Great food. Beautiful setting.  Ziplining through the great Redwoods.  

Nothing to improve upon.

The best?  Hearing from numerous couples that God had met them in a significant way during the weekend.

All praise is His.

Dave Burns, director of family and marriage programs at Mt. Hermon made us feel very at home.

The weekend was sold out and the crowd was very engaged, interactive and appreciative.

We were thrilled to do the zipline tour at Mt Hermon.

We flew back to Boston on Monday, Feb. 24, after spending the night with our dear friends Johnny and Lori Potter at their home in Monterey. This almost-two-week trip was rich in so many ways and we returned home thankfully pooped!!  We hit the road again just 2 days after returning, but that's a story for part 2.  Blessings!!!