Summer is done done

Do you remember the time when summer didn't officially end until after Labor Day weekend . . . and then some?  Though summer 2014 has for many been over since the middle of August (really???), our summer is only now "done done."  I'm flying home from San Diego today, after spending the last lingering vestiges of summer in that beautiful city visiting my mom and sisters.  Walks on the beach and warmish ocean water confirm that summer is holding on a bit, but when I land in about 6 hours, it really will be over.  With a twinge of sadness, I'll pack away "summer only" things—but a full and beautiful fall is in the offing, and life moves on.

We managed to pack much into the past three weeks (gasp!) post surgery. A few days of "what hit me?!” or "what ran over me?!” shifted my expectations of a "walk in the park" recovery from ventral hernia repair surgery to "I didn't see this coming" shock, but after four days of not much movement from the couch, we headed up to Ogunquit, Maine, for two days of R & R before heading back to California for our final family camp there.

Getting to be in Maine was so worth the effort!  We stayed in a sweet cottage "loaned" to us by our dear friend Hank and walked all over that adorable little seaside village. Early morning sunrises, fresh "lobsta" off the pier in Perkins Cove, endless "slow" walks on the beach, and nothing on the agenda but relax, relax, relax.  It was just what we needed and we felt very renewed by the time.

The sun rises over Perkins Cove . . . in the very still, cool morning.  Love.
Paul's "birthday lobsta" from dear friends . . . so yummy!

We returned to reality long enough to (re)pack, check in with the doctor (he said that all I was experiencing that was unexpected by me was "normal" - which seems like it shouldn't have been unexpected, but . . .) and off we flew to California on Wednesday, Aug. 27.  We had two very important birthdays to celebrate before heading over to Campus by the Sea, and we arrived just in time to make (Paul's) and  Brandon's (6)4th birthday cake. If it looks familiar, it's because it's just like last year's cake . . . only with a 4 instead of a 3.  Brandon's temperament is beginning to show.  :)

Gigi and Brandon decorate his birthday cake.

The finished product brought smiles all around.

Papa and Brandon break in his new birthday squirt guns in the pool.  Not sure who had more fun!!

What fun to have just over 24 hours with Gabe, Kari, Brandon, and Ana before they headed to Sacramento for the long weekend, and we headed to Catalina.  Love being able to celebrate these two very special men!  We were also thrilled to spend the night with Lisa in her new condo in Sherman Oaks.  She found a great place to rent with two other women and we loved "meeting" the place and the roommates finally!

Off to Catalina we went early Friday morning for the first ever Labor Day Weekend Family Camp.  The CBS powers-that-be thought it would be worth trying at least once to see if it would lift any burden off the very impacted six week-long family camps and to see if there is a market for a shorter, less expensive family camp option.  They asked us to speak for it, feeling that might give it the best shot at success—as well as direct it.

It seemed so simple a year ago to say "yes" to the proposal.   As the time drew near, however, we realized it would be much more challenging than we anticipated.  No one really expected it to sell out and have a waiting list months ahead, but it did. Just under 200 campers gathered for the weekend, and 14 of them were under 3 years old.    “It shouldn't be a challenge to pull together a staff…” proved to be the most unrealistic expectation we had. What???  As it turned out, few of our 2014 summer staff were available to serve that weekend.  One-third of them live far from SoCal (in VT, OK, WA, PA, FL, etc.) and most of the rest had school (shocking that Labor Day is not honored on most college campuses!), jobs, or weddings. In the end, though, God provided in amazing and almost miraculous ways to meet us and all our needs and the weekend went without a hitch. The staff team He brought together was incredible.  We were SO SO thankful when all was said and done.

Paul was honored by the staff  with a Shelby-directed birthday skit,
since camp started on his real birthday.

We were very thankful to have Ray and Carol Johnston, along with their daughters, Christy and Leslie, serve on our staff team. Treasured friends for about 30 years now, Ray helps Paul celebrate his birthday with a beautiful blue, matches-his-eyes polo.

Lisa came through, recruiting Rhema and Kendrick (both UCLA student athletes)
to serve on our staff.  They all did a great job.

Here's the team!!!  Such a great group.  We were very blessed to partner with them.  Four of them had never been to camp before, but within 24 hours, we were a well-functioning team—and by the time Monday rolled around, we felt like we had served together for a lot longer than 72 hours. Hand of God!

We used the first two program days of week-long family camp (transformation and proclamation) for the two full days of camp and the campers rallied around the themes quickly.  We had the dance night and ice cream social Saturday, and on Sunday evening, Paul and I spoke on temperaments followed by the worship at the fire ring and s'mores.  The weekend was packed full and everything went according to plan.  We all commented on how thoroughly engaged the campers were from the moment they arrived.  They squeezed in all they could, from waterfront activities to banner making. They didn't miss a beat.  We even had four baptisms!

Kendrick, Lisa, and I hosted one of the s'more tables, a first for Kendrick.
He was a quick study . . . spearing those marshmallows!

We lost our sunlight earlier than we finished our dancing,
so with the aid of a floodlight, the dance went on.  Very cool!

While we were committed to doing the best program we could, God was up to far more important things.  Here are some of Paul's reflections on the weekend:

"A husband, coming very reluctantly to camp, came up after a session asking if we had been living in their attic. “Those were the exact issues we have been facing.”  He later told us it was either a miracle at camp for them or divorce.  They left with a new resolve and hope for a future together.
Another single guest was in tears as she let us know she had never seen families eating together.  She later called her mom and asked why they had never been together around the table for meals.  Her mom apologized for this and a new bond was formed between a mom and daughter.
Another couple came estranged because of sinful choices the husband had made.  During the weekend there was repentance, forgiveness, and hope for a future.  It was a very powerful weekend."

And yet another: a young single man came really questioning his relationship with God.  "This is a make or break weekend for me" he explained to our staff.  God met him in extraordinary ways, and he left camp changed, committed to whole-heartedly following Jesus.

One woman wrote:  "We were tremendously blessed, healed, convicted, and guided to seek God in an intimate, surrendered way."

Another wrote on her evaluation:  "As I looked at the staff this morning (as they stood before us and sang the Benediction), there is such a 'sweet, loving, kind, gentle, humble, and pure spirit' among them.  That spirit of purity is the spirit of CBS.  We love CBS.  We love CBS.  We love CBS."

And one more:  "I feel that we got the best of the week-long camp smashed into a weekend.  It was such a great experience for everyone."

All praise is His.  Our desire is to live to the praise of His glory.  Hearts overflowing with gratitude.

We spent an extra day at camp, debriefing the summer with the senior leadership team, and that was time well spent.  We all agreed the Labor Day camp is a keeper.

Down to San Diego we went on Wednesday to spend some time with my dear mom.  It was a very special time to just be together. The highlight was being with her at her oncology appointment and hearing the doctor's report that her latest scan was clear.  What great news!! It was also fun to be there to host two couples who have been long time friends and colleagues of my parents.  It's very meaningful to hear insights from them of my father's life and its ongoing impact on them.  I love that! His legacy lives on.

One more highlight for me was reconnecting with my 7th grade Physical Education teacher, Mimi Test.  She was a young Navy wife doing her first teaching stint at my junior high school and my Mom took her under her wing as a very experienced Navy wife.  My mom's care for her and my "love" for her bonded us in a way that has never faded.  What a treat it was to spend several hours with her and catch up on years gone by.  She's a remarkable woman, full of wisdom and grace, and I was reminded of how blessed I was to have her as an important mentor during such an awkward season of life.

Besides people time, we walked the beach, watched the sunset, enjoyed simple meals together, and somehow managed to make 3 runs to Costco in 6 days.  We also had a special night at the Lamb's Players Theater in Coronado seeing a fabulous production of "Les Miserables."  If you live in San Diego, don't miss it.  They've just extended it until early November.

Walking the beach at Torrey Pines State Park . . . breathtakingly beautiful.
Lunch with Mimi Test and my mom was a true highlight of my time in San Diego.
All too quickly the time came to an end and I said farewell to my precious mom and to summer in the same breath.  The seemingly endless summer is truly done done.  What a great one it was!

The sun sets on the summer at Coronado Beach.  "The heavens declare the glory of God."  Amen!