We can’t remember a more glorious fall in all our years in New England (which shockingly now number 24!). We have delighted in and been enlivened by an unending and unfolding parade of brilliant colors, each seeming to proclaim the glory of God. Words and photos both will fail to do justice to the autumnal gifts we’ve been indulged with.
It hasn’t been leaf peeping alone that has kept me from making a blog post, though admittedly I’ve exchanged indoor time for outdoor time as often as possible. It’s my “carpe diem” bent at work: the keyboard will always be here, but the leaves and the warm temps won’t.
We’ve actually been home very few days this fall, and following a long summer of being away, the piles of unsorted build-up are constant reminders of an on-the-move schedule. It’s all been good, fortunately, and full of numerous celebrations of weddings and birthdays and life in general.
The day after returning from our final family camp over Labor Day weekend at Campus by the Sea, we drove to Philadelphia to officiate the wedding of Ross and Caitlyn Macrae. It was a true honor to marry the son of our very dear friends, Doug and Julie Macrae, and the weekend was full of joy and celebration.
|Ross and Caitlyn Macrae stand with Paul soon after being pronounced husband and wife.|
What fun it was to drive from the wedding festivities to Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, to visit Derek, Julie, and Nathan and to see the house they’ve just signed papers for. It has officially become real to us that they are stateside and only 7 hours from us! With their second baby due in two short weeks, it feels like a gift to have them so “close.” Derek is still working for CURE International, now as Director of Development and Sustainability. They’re all adjusting well to their new life in America.
Julie and Nathan stand in front of their new house in Mechanicsburg, PA.
Julie and Nathan visited us in Bedford while Derek returned to Africa for 10 days. We were home only two days (during which time we launched our Patriots studies ( the women’s study on Wednesday morning and the couples study Thursday night) plus, did some counseling, before heading to Nantucket Island the weekend of Sept. 18-20 to officiate another wedding. This was especially meaningful as it was a re-marriage for a couple who had been divorced for five years. It was such a huge celebration to reconcile a family in a beautiful seaside ceremony.
|Wedding by the sea . . . Paul re-married this couple, much to the delight of their two children.|
|We had a great time on Nantucket Island with Julie and Nathan. It was the first time for all of us to this beautiful island.|
Because of the timing of the Patriots’ bye week, we had a 10-day break beginning Sept. 25. The timing was perfect as it enabled us to fly to Iowa to celebrate Paul’s Aunt Margaret’s 100th birthday on our way to a writing retreat in California.
100th birthday!!! Besides a little oxygen support, Aunt Margaret is remarkably young-old and healthy. Her mind is sharp, she’s very mobile, and the praise of her personal Lord is always on her lips. It was an such a joy and an honor to celebrate with her. Aunt Margaret was married to Paul’s father’s brother, Uncle Leland, who passed away a number of years ago. She has now survived three of her four sons, so her losses have been great, but her trust in the Lord has been unwavering. She’s still investing in others: a privileged group of young women are currently being mentored by this incredible woman of God. We were greatly inspired by her life and left praying that we would be like her when we grow old.
|Aunt Margaret makes 100 years of age look like 80!|
On to California we flew, where we spent the first two days doing a “marriage intensive” for a couple recovering from a huge hit on their marriage. God graciously met the four of us and much progress was made toward the restoration of their union. We’re so very thankful.
Since we were so “close”, we drove to Santa Clarita to celebrate Ana’s 2nd birthday. We had a brief 36 hours with the Garcia and managed to pack in lots of fun and celebration in that short time.
|Ana is all smiles in her new birthday Sports Coupe. Can’t believe she’s 2 already!|
|Lots of fun birthday moments with our little pink princess and her big brother, who loves everything about birthdays, no matter whose it is.|
We were blessed to spend the next five days in the villa of some dear friends who are committed to helping us get our current writing projects done. We walked the beach daily after putting a good day’s work at our computers. The time was productive and restorative, both of which were needed.
|Our daily walk on the beach help to stimulate our brain cells for writing.|
Driving from the Central Coast to Sacramento for our return flight, we were fortunate to meet up with three sets of dear friends, breaking up a long, beautiful drive with relational deposits.
|We met up with our dear friends John and Marilyn Nugent along the “gold coast.” Note: only John is pictured here. :-)|
|We happily connected with our best friends from seminary, now living in Monterey, Johnny and Lori Potter.|
|And we checked in with newly transplanted from New England to CA, Steve and Jenny Luxa. It made In-N-Out all the better to share it with friends!|
Home just in time to speak to Park Street Church’s Union Fellowship (their young married’s group) on the subject of finances. Our second time with this group, we love speaking into the lives of those in the 0-5 year stage of marriage. We thoroughly enjoyed the evening!
|The Union Fellowship at Park Street Church welcomed our teaching on finances.|
|Paul and Lianna Chong host the Union Fellowship group.|
After leading the Patriots women’s study Wednesday morning and then counseling the balance of the day, I flew to Bozeman, Montana, to attend the wedding of my nephew Jonathan and his bride Marilee. Paul had been scheduled to officiate a wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, which had to be postponed due to the deployment of the groom, but the changes came too late to get an affordable ticket for Paul to Bozeman, so I went “alone” —but was joined by Kari and Lisa there. It was a wonderful time of reunion as all six of my siblings and my mom were in attendance. We had a great time being together and celebrating Jon’s marriage. We also greatly enjoyed the beauty of Big Sky Country as we hiked and soaked in hot springs. Fun trip!
|Jon and Marilee exit after being pronounced husband and wife by my brother-in-law, David Leach.|
|The original “Collins crew” with the matriarch.|
Home on Columbus Day, just in time for the foliage to explode in color. We’ve been on the road the past few years during peak week, so we’ve particularly relished the “parade of color” we’ve been treated to daily. Besides counseling and the Patriots studies, we spoke at Grace Chapel’s Mom to Mom on Thurs., Oct. 15. We always love to partner with this group! The young moms were so appreciative and responsive.
The Johnsons rolled back into town as Derek had a business trip to the west coast. So Julie was part of the weekend surprise getaway in honor of my dear friend Helen’s 60th birthday. Helen is one of those rare gifts in life. Our friendship began when she worked at Campus by the Sea in 1978 as a summer staffer, and it has only grown through the years. Helen has visited our home annually to get her “girl fix,” as she was an only child and has two sons but no daughters. She is well loved by all in our family. So we gathered a small group of seven and spent the weekend in Annisquam, honoring our beloved Helen. It was a great time.
|Julie, Betty Ann, Barbara, Dawn, Helen, and me. Kelly had already retired for the night. Helen is still surprised!|
This past weekend, we spoke at a local marriage conference hosted by Grace Baptist Church in Hudson, Massachusetts. Headed by Carl and Cathy Blatchley, the team did a fabulous job on the conference. It was so well run and so well received. We spoke on “Discovering Intimacy” to a packed-out sanctuary, and many expressed deep appreciation for the impact it had on them. We taught the next morning at both of the Sunday morning church services on “Living to the Praise of His Glory.” Our time with the congregation of this very alive, very responsive church was positive in every way. We are so impressed by their vitality and their vision for kingdom work.
|Carl and Cathy Blatchley and Lars and Bethany Nielsen worked hard to make the Grace Baptist Church marriage conference successful.|
We just received this kind note from one of the couples who attended the conference at Grace Baptist Church in Hudson:
“Thank you, Paul and Virginia, for a wonderful life-changing marriage conference. As I shared with you, I've never been to a marriage conference that takes the Biblical, temperament, and biological differences and make them very, very relevant to marriage. Your reinforcement of how differences can strengthen your marriage when viewed with grace and gratitude helped us greatly.”
|After the second service Sunday morning, we thank the Lord, with Carl and Cathy Blatchley, for meeting us this weekend.|
We managed to squeeze in a couples date night for New England Chapel in Franklin Saturday evening. :) Why not? We love to speak locally, and happily fill in gaps with such requests. It was a great night as we addressed “how to keep your marriage a priority."
|Don and Betsy Hasselbeck were at New England Chapel for the couples’ night. Love them!|
Whew! Weddings. Birthdays. Seasons. Patriots. Moms. Marriages. Football. Reunions.
It feels as though we’ve been “gathering nuts” for the long winter ahead. So much of the fall has been nurturing to our souls. Though our schedule has been full, it’s been primarily full of joys and celebrations. We feel very blessed and our hearts are overflowing with gratitude.
We’ll enjoy every last vestige of this glorious fall, ever aware that it merely reflects the glorious God we serve.