Grounded

It’s been quite a month!  Within three days of returning from Lebanon, we were in the air again, this time to California.  Our 2.5 week trip there was in jeopardy when a visit to my primary care physician revealed that the pneumonia (which had been diagnosed in late March, but which we thought had been successfully treated) was still alive and amplified. She reluctantly agreed to let me travel, if I promised to do only what I had to do, and rested in between. Armed with antibiotics and a sobering report from the radiologist, we headed west.

  Just walking along a Roseville street . . .

Just walking along a Roseville street . . .

Our first stop was Sacramento, where we presented three workshops at the annual Thrive Conference hosted by Bayside Church. We’ve spoken at every Thrive Bayside has held, and consider it one of the highlights of our year. If you’re lacking energy or vision, you won’t be after this adrenaline-producing conference. Our three workshops were packed out and full of life, which is consistent with the vibe at Bayside. Ray Johnston, lead pastor of Bayside and one of our dearest friends, exudes an energy and hopeful vision that is contagious. It’s always such an honor to serve with him at this conference.

Submitting to my doctor’s orders, I did nothing at Thrive besides those three workshops, which was a big sacrifice. The plenary sessions, times of worship, and mingling with friends new and old are always life-giving to us personally, so it was a loss, but “the right thing” for my health. I was just so thankful to be there at all!

  All three of the workshops we gave at Thrive were packed out and very lively.

All three of the workshops we gave at Thrive were packed out and very lively.

  One of the best parts of Thrive…connecting with these beauties. How we love Carol, Christy, and Leslie Johnston!!

One of the best parts of Thrive…connecting with these beauties. How we love Carol, Christy, and Leslie Johnston!!

From Sacramento, we flew to LA, rented a car, and drove to Palm Desert where we spoke at a Couples’ Date Afternoon hosted by Southwest Church. Renee Jucht and her team did a wonderful job putting together a great afternoon, 4-7 pm, and almost 300 attended this sold-out event. It was a special joy to us to have a number of friends attend this event, including a sweet couple who had attended Engagement Matters in New England with us before their marriage three years ago. Small world!

  A light dinner, several talks, and questions around the tables filled up the three-hour event at Southwest Church.

A light dinner, several talks, and questions around the tables filled up the three-hour event at Southwest Church.

  Renee Jucht and Dotty Metcalf and their husbands led the team that hosted the marriage event at Southwest.

Renee Jucht and Dotty Metcalf and their husbands led the team that hosted the marriage event at Southwest.

 Kevin, Rawni, and little Regan Munsey dropped by for a visit before we spoke at Southwest Church. We’ve known Kevin since he was a really little guy and we are so thankful our journey together continues.

Kevin, Rawni, and little Regan Munsey dropped by for a visit before we spoke at Southwest Church. We’ve known Kevin since he was a really little guy and we are so thankful our journey together continues.

The next few days we spent in Santa Clarita, hanging out with Kari and kids while Gabe was in the Holy Land with a group from his church. It was such a delight to be with Brandon, Ana, and Micah before speaking the next weekend in Tehachapi at the Mountain Vineyard Church. Barry and Saundra Galloway lead this wonderful congregation and for the third time in four years, we spoke for their marriage conference. There’s nothing to not love about this weekend. Barry and Saundra have such deep hearts of love for this community and their church is making big difference as they live out their faith in practical ways. We love partnering with them.

 Barry and Saundra pour themselves out for their congregation and their community.

Barry and Saundra pour themselves out for their congregation and their community.

 At conference end, they pray over all those who attended.

At conference end, they pray over all those who attended.

  We always feel the love . . . Red Sox (and Patriots) fans in Tehachapi!!

We always feel the love . . . Red Sox (and Patriots) fans in Tehachapi!!

We also had the privilege of speaking for the “Fantastic Fours” moms’ hour at Grace Baptist Church. It’s heartening to encourage moms who are in the trenches day in and day out, raising their children in the context of an ever-changing and increasingly confusing landscape of cultural values and mores. The hope we bring comes in the unchanging Word of God, which holds the answers our hearts desperately long for.  

The in-between days were spent with Kari and kids and we were thrilled to be there for Brandon’s Open House at his elementary school, for Ana’s graduation from “Fantastic Fours”, for Mother’s Day, and for many trips to the park, to the mall to see the fish/turtle pond, and a few trips to 7/11 for Slurpees.  We’ll never get “enough” time with these precious Littles, but we’re so thankful for the time we do have.

  Brandon and Ana are expert helpers in the kitchen and proudly present a batch of freshly baked cinnamon chip scones, aka “Gigi Cakes”

Brandon and Ana are expert helpers in the kitchen and proudly present a batch of freshly baked cinnamon chip scones, aka “Gigi Cakes”

  Papa hung a third swing in the backyard so all three can swing together!

Papa hung a third swing in the backyard so all three can swing together!

  The park never disappoints . . .

The park never disappoints . . .

  Brandon and Ana at Brandon’s Open House.

Brandon and Ana at Brandon’s Open House.

  Mother’s Day brunch before church

Mother’s Day brunch before church

  All but Gabe got to attend Ana’s graduation.

All but Gabe got to attend Ana’s graduation.

  Ana’s graduation from “Fantastic Fours” was very sweet.

Ana’s graduation from “Fantastic Fours” was very sweet.

  Mother and daughter

Mother and daughter

  Papa and Micah

Papa and Micah

I spent the last three days in California with my mom in San Diego while Paul stayed with Kari and the kids until Gabe returned. Loved every minute with my mom. She is so inspiring! Still so sharp and independent, it’s a joy and a delight to share moments with her. The stuffed bears are part of her collection from years gone by that I sorted and repacked. I am so thankful for the times we share.

  My mom and her bear babies

My mom and her bear babies

We flew home on May 19th in time to speak at the rescheduled marriage event for Avon Community Baptist Church (which was postponed from March 5 when the Nor’easter left the area without power). Sunday afternoon, the 20th, we spoke to a full house on “But God…” The “date night” included an amazing steak and shrimp dinner, prepared in-house, which was quite impressive. We love partnering with this church and are sorry we failed to get a photo of us with Jay and Liz Abramson and Tim and Sharon Ponzani, who provide leadership for this happening place. It was a great event.

  Many couples came out for the date night at Avon Community Baptist Church on Sunday, May 20th.

Many couples came out for the date night at Avon Community Baptist Church on Sunday, May 20th.

  A fantastic steak/shrimp dinner was served in between sessions and was enjoyed by all.

A fantastic steak/shrimp dinner was served in between sessions and was enjoyed by all.

Our plans to fly to Ethiopia and then Uganda on May 22 were grounded when I returned to the doctor on the 21st for my third chest X-ray in this ongoing battle with pneumonia. Instead of flying to Africa, I was ordered to go to the imaging center for a CT scan because of a nodule in my upper right lobe which indicated unresolved pneumonia. So we’ve had an unprecedented two weeks at home as I’ve undergone various tests and gone to a variety of appointments, culminating with a bronchoscopy yesterday to biopsy the nodule. Thankfully, the interventional pulmonologist is quite certain the nodule is not cancerous, but the biopsy will confirm that and direct future treatment.

So . . . we’ve been sorting, cleaning, and doing things left undone for a long time due to our crazy away-from-home schedule. It’s been disappointing, to say the least. Not only have we not been with our friends and partners in Africa these days, but we also missed a week we would’ve shared with our daughter Lisa, who has spent the past two and a half weeks leading a mission trip to Uganda for Cal Baptist University. In the midst of the disappointment, we have accepted that this is what God has for us now and have really tried to lean in to that.

Thankfully the doctor has given us clearance to proceed with our summer plans, which will kick-off with our first ever marriage conference in Viet Nam starting June 27 and we are very excited about that.

For now, we accept our “grounding” and have enjoyed the slower, quieter days which have allowed us to sort out not just our piles, but also our souls.

And that’s good.

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