Fall . . . beautiful fall!!!  We love everything about it!!

We've been home now for the longest string of days we've put together in 2014.  And it's been nice.  It's provided us with some great recovery moments, as well as time to work inside our home (the sorting, purging, organizing will never have an end, but some progress has been made...) and to relaunch counseling and our two Patriot studies.  

Recovery moments, needed as a result of my hernia surgery (now five weeks back, I have been cleared to run as well as do whatever else I wish) as well as from a long, exhausting, and amazing summer.  Paul and I have taken many long walks, watched a few movies, gone to bed early, and kept it pretty simple.  It's been good.

In between, we've sorted out life at home, tackling stacks of papers, piles in rooms, etc.  I should say we've “begun sorting . . .”  as this will be a never-ending task, I fear.  Especially since only one of us has a vision for making it happen.  :)  But there are fewer stacks today and order is emerging in several rooms of the house.

The slower pace has allowed us to do things normal people can do when they're not jet-setting about the country.  Like, visit friends who "cut the ribbon" (umbilical cord?) opening the doors of their brand-spanking-new school building for New England Academy (NEA) —their fifth child?  We were more than impressed when we recently toured the new home of NEA, founded and directed by Dr. Ryan Plosker and his wife Kelly (who are not only some of our dearest friends, but who also serve on the H.I.M. Board.) It was remarkable to see the the fruition of their dreams and visions for a well-designed school building that would meet the needs of the special community their school serves.  Incredible!

Ryan and Kelly Plosker's "fifth child"—a brand new home for New England Academy!

We were home to enjoy a meal in our home with long time friends Doug and Kelly Hart, who were visiting the area from Indiana.  We experienced "Bedford Days" and were reminded of some of the delights of living in a small New England town during the fall.  We attended church 3 weeks in a row.  That is a record.  :)

Doug and Kelly Hart have been in our lives for over 30 years.  Loved having them in our home!

We watched the Patriots play their home opener at Gillette Stadium for the first time ever.  All previous visits to Gillette have been in December (except one in late October, but it might as well have been December, as we had torrential rain which became snow during the game!), and therefore freezing.  With unseasonably warm weather last Sunday (the 21st), we left our jackets and boots at home and thoroughly enjoyed the game very comfortably! 

Check out those short sleeves!  Such a fun game!

We were home to welcome daughter Lisa "home" for five days of vacation, which included the Pats game, apple picking, eating fried "fish cheeks" at Charlie's Place in Gloucester, walking barefooted on Good Harbor Beach for a couple of hours, and shopping at the Farmer's Market in Boston. Great weather, great fellowship, great fun.

Yes, he can still lift his daughter to the top of the apple trees!

Lisa and Paul taste the spoil . . . Yum!

Good Harbor Beach on a lazy late September "dog day."

We were home to intersect with a precious family from California who came to Boston Children's Hospital so their 7-week-old son could have a needed surgery.  Only God could've orchestrated this. Starting back in 2009, when Julie went to work at the CURE Hospital in Mbale, Uganda, follow the thread:  she volunteered at the premier children's hospital in the world for treating children with hydrocephalus, where a treatment procedure (ETV) was developed by Dr. Ben Warf and Dr. John Mugamba, wherein the child with hydrocephalus undergoes a small surgery that leaves the child non-shunt-dependent (hydrocephalus is traditionally treated by inserting a shunt.) Obviously, this is a much better treatment plan for these children who live in mud huts and have little access to medical care required by on-going shunt revision, infections, etc.  It's also better for children who live in suburban neighborhoods with access to great medical care.  Though not successful in all cases, it has been successfully used to treat thousands of hydrocephalus cases, and the CURE Children's Hospital in Mbale has become a teaching hospital for the ETV procedure for pediatric neurosurgeons from around the world 

Fast forward to 2014: our son-in-law Gabe's best friend and his wife have twin boys in California in early August, one of whom has hydrocephalus. Dr. Warf is now working at Boston Children's Hospital . . . and several phone calls later between Uganda (Derek and Julie), Boston (Dr. Warf), and California, the plan is hatched to fly the baby to Boston for surgery.  Not only that, but the timing is such that other dear friends make available their apartment in downtown Boston for the exact two weeks the little family from California needs housing close to the hospital.  So exact, that the friends who opened their home flew out of Logan one hour after the California family flew in.

Who but God??  It has been so deeply touching to see how He has orchestrated all of this, down to every last detail.  The couple of times we've shared with this precious family have been so sweet as all of us grope for words to express what words can never express.  "Over and above all we could ask or think . . .”  That's what this is.

Besides long walks, simple meals, and sorting, we've also resumed our counseling schedule and launched our two Patriots’ Bible studies. We've been happily surprised by the high interest in both of these studies this year. There were 19 women out for the women's study this week and 24 at the couples study last night.  Most are seekers, which is very exciting and daunting all at the same time, and we are very aware that we're dependent on the Lord to reveal Himself.  Pray for these groups!  

This past Friday we left home to spend the weekend in Ann Arbor speaking at the Ann Arbor Christian School. Our chosen family friends Wai and Elaine Wong are hosting the weekend and if you can't be home, this is a pretty sweet place to be. Thankfully, we've found fall here, too.  

The view from Wai and Elaine's backyard.  :)
As Paul said, "Suffering for Jesus in Ann Arbor . . . someone’s got to do it!"

Fall!!  Arguably the crown jewel season of New England, during which the sights, the smells, the colors, the games, the bonfires, the foods, the clothes, and the events all invigorate and enliven. Though saying good-bye to summer is never easy, the sorrow is quickly driven out as fall bursts on the scene in all her glory.  Drink in the beauty wherever you are.  Delighting in being home for a few weeks during this spectacular season, we are doing just that.