Though fall arrived “late” this year, it is making a quick exit as the Christmas season makes its appearance “early.” Or so it seems! As we fly home today from a 10-day trip during which we spent 2 days each in 5 different towns, I’m musing about walking in to a home bedecked in orange, greens, and golds, all representing the season just passed of falling leaves, harvest, and shortening days. But if past performance is any indication of future expectations, Christmas will be here in short order, ready or not. And though I’m certain my lofty goals of projects completed will exceed the time needed to complete them between now and then, I’m hopeful that my desire to prepare my heart for Christmas will outpace my attempts to prepare my gifts.
August has flown by, which is consistent with the beat of the whole summer. When the family camp program was canceled at CBS back in late December, we had no idea what the summer of 2017 would look like. We weren’t concerned that we’d be twiddling our thumbs, quite honestly, but we couldn’t have imagined then the opportunities that have unfolded for us. “Only God.” Indisputable.
For the first time since launching this blog over twelve years ago, three months have elapsed since my last post. In an unprecedented quandary, I’ve had a really hard time finding the words to write, for though there have been many great moments and experiences during this time, we have concurrently experienced some of the darkest and most difficult days of our life together. And quite frankly, I haven’t known how to communicate about this, fairly and honorably, especially since it’s ongoing. This is a season during which my silence hasn’t been “golden.”
If “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .” is related to a house decked in outdoor lights, a beautifully decorated tree indoors, and stockings “hung by the chimney with care,” we’re off. Way off. Thankful to have just gotten all pumpkins processed and the orange and rust decorations put away . . .
Though the song “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” is affirming the beauty of the Christmas season (and who would argue that?), I could easily build a case for an equally fitting song to be written about fall in New England. I quickly run out of expressive adjectives to describe the delights of this season during which beauty parades in different colors and presentations daily for about six weeks. We have been savoring each eyeful of gorgeousness in this land of deciduous trees whose greatest beauty comes through the transition from life to death. Interesting paradox.
We were treated to an early kaleidoscope of color the last weekend of September when we drove to Newport Center, Vermont, to present a marriage conference at the Newport Church of God. The home church of Paul and Lyss Gandy (our 2016 CBS musicians and high school family camp directors), they persuaded Pastor Larry Wall to invite us and we’re so glad they did. We had a great weekend with the Walls and their congregation, celebrating God’s design for marriage. We tagged a couple of days on to enjoy the beautiful area while staying in Lyss’s family’s cabin on Lake Memphremagog. It was a true gift of restoration and renewal to be there as we hiked, leaf peeped, and enjoyed some time with Lyss’s extended family. And it officially became an international trip when we had dinner in Canada. :)
The conference was well received and we heard from many that God really met them during it. As always, we pray for ongoing fruit.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church overlooks the lake.
Spectacular photo taken by Lyss Gandy.
Paul and Lyss emceed and led worship for the conference, and did both so well.
Here we are with the Gandys . . . always a good time.
Dinner out with Lyss’s local family, who were delightfully hospitable and welcoming.
Pastor Larry and Sally Wall: passionate for Christ and for transformation. We enjoyed being guests in their home and sharing stories of hope.
On the drive down we found the colors to be distracting from keeping our eyes on the road.
Home October 4th, just in time for the Patriots’ women’s and couples’ studies, with some counseling packed in around them. We’re so thankful for robust groups in both of the studies, and we sense that God is doing a deeper work among us. Pray for those studies as you root for the Patriots. :)
Columbus Day Weekend brought with it not just increased foliage color, but a sweet visit from Derek and Julie and their precious littles. Though the four-day stay included the stomach flu for Rachel, a bad head cold for Derek, and a very rainy Sunday (no complaints—just reporting), it was so good to be together. Those unplanned-for-elements insured that we had plenty of down time, which was a good thing for all involved. We did stroller walks to the park daily and played lots of indoor hide-and-seek, games, and read a plethora of books. Loved every moment.
Papa and his girl Rachel showcase their very blue eyes and beautiful smiles.
We did make it to a little farm stand, but as you can see from Rachel’s face, she was still under the stomach-flu weather.
We got the Johnsons off Tuesday afternoon (always sad) and spent Wednesday and Thursday as per usual: Patriots studies and counseling. There was a lot of laughter and many points of connection as we taught on temperaments at the couples’ study Thursday night. Great time.
Off to California first thing Friday morning for a full long weekend. Built around a wedding Paul was asked to officiate, the week had a little bit of everything. First stop: Biola University, where we were honored to tape two podcasts for the Institute of Marriage and Relationships, which is directed by Dr. Chris and Alisa Grace. Alisa had written a blog on our book
Before You Save the Date: 21 Questions to Confirm your Decision to Marry
and asked us to follow up her blog with a couple of podcasts. Even though we had to slog through a delayed-from-Boston flight (after getting to the airport at the ungodly hour of 6 am . . . and then leaving 1.5 hrs late :( ), waiting 30 minutes for our luggage at LAX, waiting another 30 minutes for the rental car van to pick us up . . . delaying our arrival to Biola by 1 hour 45 mins (and costing us lunch with the Graces), it was so worth it! We loved being with Chris and Alisa, whose hearts beat in sync with ours regarding family and marriage, and we are so excited about the Institute of Marriage and Relationships they are directing at Biola. The podcasts we recorded will be aired in the near future and we’ll keep you posted so you can tune in.
Speaking of Chris and Alisa Grace, they will be speaking at the annual H.I.M. Marriage Retreat, March 3-5, 2017, in Newport, Rhode Island. Registration has started and as has been true the past several years, it will likely sell out well in advance. Register now! This will make a great Christmas gift for your spouse, your married kids, your parents, and your friends.
Friday evening, we spoke at The Rock Community Church in Anaheim Hills for their couples’ night. Jeff and Shauna Ochoa spearheaded this marriage shot-in-the-arm evening and provided a lovely date night for many couples. We’ve partnered with this church numerous times in the past and are so thankful for their commitment to healthy marriages.
Jeff and Shauna Ochoa planned the Couples Night Out for The Rock Community Church in Anaheim Hills, California.
The main event of this trip to California was Davey and Ruthanna’s wedding, officiated by Paul. Ruthanna grew up coming to family camp at CBS and she and Davey Ray met at CBS when they both served on staff. They attended our Engagement Matters Weekend last December and soon after they asked Paul to do their wedding. We accepted the honor with pleasure. The wedding on Sunday was a God-honoring celebration of a couple committed to living faithfully for Christ. Held in beautiful Highland Springs Resort in Cherry Valley, CA, under an 1100-year-old oak tree, the metaphors of legacy, of roots, and of strength were lost on no one. It was a thoughtful, meaningful wedding and we were so happy to be a part of it. It was also such a joy to be with Dave and Kim Noble and Isaac Rossitor again, all fellow past CBS staff, as well as with the Lee family, who have been family campers for over two decades.
We also managed to squeeze in a few hours visit with John and Grace Tebay, two of our longest and most beloved mentors. At 84 and 82, they are beyond remarkable and we hang on their every word and insight—and savor every moment. Their godly wisdom has been an invaluable resource to us since before we got married and we feel so blessed to have them in our lives. We closed out Saturday over dinner with two couples we’re mentoring, Brent and Melissa Slezak and Josh and Carley Gire, and left so inspired by their hearts and hopes.
John and Grace Tebay are in a league of their own and we’re so blessed to have them in our lives.
Davey Ray and Ruthanna’s wedding was beautiful and Christ-centered.
Such a fun reunion with Dave and Kim Noble (former CBS director) and Isaac Rossitor (former assistant head cook at CBS.)
One last thing before we returned to New England: a day at Disneyland with Brandon and Ana. Gifted by a dear friend employed by the Magic Kingdom, we made the most of this celebration in honor of Brandon’s 6th and Ana’s 3rd birthdays. 25,000 steps later (collected from 8:30 am to 8 pm), we left happily exhausted and full of memories we’ll keep savoring and replaying. Big moment of the day? Brandon’s inaugural ride on the Matterhorn. Pretty daring for a just-turned-6-year-old. Ana and Papa set a record for the most times on Ariel’s Grotto and King Arthur’s Carousel, though those numbers would’ve been shared with the Winnie-the-Pooh ride had it been open. I will never stop delighting in Disneyland, nor will I give up my dream to one day work there (though my aspiration to be Tinkerbelle and fly from the Matterhorn across the sky has been scratched off the list . . . for about 40 years now.) How grateful we are for generous friends who help make such memory-making days happen.
Disneyland was spectacularly dressed up for Halloween.
Brandon’s response just moments after his first ride on the Matterhorn. He was pretty happy that he conquered this very scary ride.
Back in New England, we’re joining the masses who are mesmerized by the glorious parade of fall colors which are truly breathtaking. No photos or words can capture the display, which unmistakably points to the glory of God. We’re savoring the days and thanking the Lord for His creative nurturing of our souls through such reflections of His majesty.
One last sunrise at Campus by the Sea over Labor Day Weekend,
taken as Lisa and I hiked the loop on our final day at camp.
Hanging out with David Laflin (the illusionist) and the Wong family,
we had some very fun moments on giant swings, ropes courses, and zip lines.
How could you not love this weekend?
The “Birdsongs” did a phenomenal job leading us in worship
before each of the four teaching sessions.
|The stillness of the water is found only early in the day, prior to campers discovering the four inflatable “blobs” anchored in this lake.|
A special dinner out with the Wongs in honor of Paul’s birthday.
|Happy birthday, Papa and now 6-year-old Brandon!|
|Paul, Lisa, and I arrive to serve the Labor Day Family Camp.|
Our terrific program staff served so well,
diving right in to do whatever needed to be done.
Worship was led by Robert Kovacs, Claire Peister, and Seth Heinz—and was appreciated by all.
|A large group of kids second grade and under gathered at the front of the Main Deck each morning for the always-favorite devotions created and led by Paul.|
|One last chorus of “We love you campers, oh yes we do . . .” as the final family camp group departs on the Catalina Express.|
|An early morning walk on the beach, before the marine layer burned off (which it later did.)|
|A little sand castle we built in our spare time . . . or at least, that we stopped to admire at the end of our walk. :)|
|Dick and Becky Molenhouse spent a day with us and we joyfully caught up on one another’s lives.|
|With the “boys of summer” on his back,|
Nathan visits the pigs at the farm.
|Snuggle time (briefly) with Mama.|
Go Sox!! Even Rachel is being trained right. :)
Oh, and then there’s our most favorite team: Go Pats!!
|Dick and Nancy Beggs, from Idyllwild, California, joined us for a night of non-stop talking, a few tears, and a lot of laughter.|
|Berea family campers Gary and Kim Walker, Skip and Avonne Jarvis, Dennis and Heidi Lommen, and not pictured is the Lommens’ daughter Jenny and her husband, Jed. A very special group of friends.|
The Jarvis family . . . Skip and Avonne and their four great kids. We shared a 7:30 am breakfast together and had coherent, meaningful conversation with these set-apart young people. So encouraging!!
Sunset over the lake in Wakefield, Massachusetts.
|“Be exalted, O Lord, above the heavens . . .” This photo was taken out of the window of the plane flying from Denver to San Diego. The changing skyscape kept us mesmerized for almost an hour. It was spectacular.|
|Here we are: our entire immediate family. Brandon walked me down the aisle after Ana lead the way as the “flower girl.” Gabe and Derek each read scripture and everyone else did the hard work of making it all happen. It exceeded our expectations.|
|My dear mama, almost 87, is the only living parent we have and we are so grateful for her health and mobility which allows her to be present at moments like these.|
|These five weren’t present 40 years ago! :-) The next generation, by God’s grace, will carry the mantle of truth in the decades to come.|
|Jack’s 16th birthday celebration started with brunch at his Aunt Susie’s house. Such a great time!!|
|Along with my sister Melissa, we had a great night at the zoo. The bronzed gorilla is no relation.|
The “Greatest Generation Ever” memorial includes a bronzed collection of injured veterans being entertained by Bob Hope, with a continuous loop of one of his comedy routines being broadcast. Pretty remarkable.
|Hiking to “Interlaken” along the first lake . . . breathtaking!!|
|Taken from Independence Pass on our way to Aspen, this photo doesn’t really do justice to the incredible beauty—so use your imagination.|
|Paul, fully recovered from his brush with altitude sickness on the climb to the top of Aspen, stands on the platform upon which he married Wes and Anna Welker four years ago.|
|Jeannie and Bob Mannes were most gracious to receive us for a “down memory lane” visit in their home in Denver.|
|Elsa and I had a great time together catching up.|
|A wonderful group of CBS family campers gathered for food and fellowship in Parker on the Johns’ family ranch.|
|One more sweet celebration of our 40th.|
|The Daggetts—Kristi, Tim, Isaac, Maddie, and Joel—met us at a park for a wonderful time of reconnection.|
Our final social gathering prior to flying home—bbq and s’mores at Danny Oertli’s parents’ home. Delightful!
|We “rocked it” with Nathan and Rachel for three days while their parents got away. Loved every moment.|
|Sunrise behind us as the moon sets before us over the Rockies. Such assurance that He goes before us and behind us, always present, always with us. How comforting! All praise is His.|
|Our first program staff photo, taken during orientation week.|
|The night of our last family camp banquet, all dressed up and ready to go.|
|Brandon and Ana are in love with their new little/big brother Micah James.|
|The program staff are teaching the new group of campers the memory verse song, which Paul and Lyss Gandy “wrote.” They set 1 Peter 3:15 to music and it tops the charts as one of the best memory verse songs written for CBS ever.|
|Claire Peister, Lyss and Paul Gandy, and Joe Yardley brought down the roof when they performed as a quartet.|
|Our 1st annual "4th of July Old Fashioned Picnic and Games” was held on Sat. July 2 and fun was truly had by all. Pictured here is one of the four teams that competed against one another.|
|Apparently this team won 1st place—at least in this popular “toss the cheese puff onto the shower-cap-smothered-in-shaving-cream” event.|
|The annual game show—this year named “The 2016 Gallagher’s Games”—was a huge hit and this dedicated, hard-working team made it look easy week after week. Such a great night of laughter, friendly competition, and intergenerational craziness.|
|The 4th annual “Ladies Only” tea was held one Saturday afternoon for the staff women. Especially lovely is leaving our staff shirts behind and celebrating the bond of women.|
|The full moon loop hike is another staff-only hike, and though only 11 took advantage of this opportunity this summer, it was one of the best hikes ever. The clear, bright night made flashlights unnecessary . . . and a few bison made it interesting.|
|Off this intrepid group goes to enjoy the island in this unique way.|
|Successfully to the top of Lone Tree, sweaty but smiling. The full-sun morning added challenge to the hike.|
|Taylor Tebay and Ryan Beiter share a moment before Ryan boards the boat to return to the mainland.|
|This is just part of what they set up in our honor.|
|This is the crew that orchestrated the tribute given in our honor at the banquet for family camp 4. Such precious friends/family.|
|Campers surround the “baptismees” to hear the proclamations of faith prior to them entering the waters.|
“Great is Thy Faithfulness!!!Morning by morning new mercies I see.All I have needed Thy hand hath provided.Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”
|Hand-carried, freshly cut lilacs from New England “fragranced” the surprise visit to honor my sister Laura for her birthday.|
This little fighter, Maggie, attacked this plastic tube with a vengeance, which betrayed her very weakened, sickly condition.
|Sunrise over one of the lakes at Cumberland Wilderness Retreat.|
|Under the tent—the “meeting hall” at this not-yet-developed but full-of-potential camp.|
Battle of the sexes . . . men against women in finger-rocket-blasters.
Fish fry—starring freshly caught fish by the campers—absolutely to die for (well, the fish did).
Cumberland Wilderness Retreat’s future—site of the first construction which will happen in the next few months. We prayed over the land together.
The family campers at Cumberland Wilderness Retreat: 75 campers, 17 families.
The family camp staff—all great folks who served endlessly through the weekend.
|Papa and his well-loved grands, Nathan and Rachel.|
|Rachel lights up a room!|
|Bob and Clara Sharpless are such an encouragement as they continue to be involved in Kingdom building in their golden years.|
|Jim and Marge Perry have also been a part of CBS history for decades. When we got married, they were family campers, and eventually their sons served on staff.|
On the boat heading over to CBS for the summer. This is a great group!
|Staff optional hike up “Scar” with “Lone Tree” in the background.|
|Dick and Nancy Beggs, retired from Christian camping (they are connected with Camp Maranatha in Idyllwild), stopped by for a visit. Our friendship spans our marriage; we met them at the CCI conference at Mt Hermon in 1977. They are treasured friends.|
|The program team for the 2016 family camp season. Such a great, great group!!|
Sunset at Cumberland Wilderness Retreat. Unfiltered beauty.
|The facilitating team for our workshops; on the far right are Dave and Diane Watts, our faithful book table handlers.|
They didn’t miss a trick when it came to decorating for this conference.
The Fenway Franks were delicious and made us feel right at home.
Imagine finding all these Red Sox fans in the high desert east of LA??
|Short but sweet time with the kids prior to jetting back to Boston on those beloved red-eye flights.|
Updates will be coming, but for now, thanks for your prayers and resources that have gotten us here. We want to be used by God to make a difference . . . on Tuesday, as well as every other day of the week.
|Our houseguests from California brought a lot of life and energy to our home during Easter week, starting with Easter Sunday breakfast.|
|Joyce was born and raised in Africa, and her “knocked knees” were surgically repaired at a CURE Hospital in Africa. Years later, Easter 2016, she was baptized in Arlington, MA.|
|Our delightful gathering on Easter Sunday, with much talking, laughter, and fellowship.|
|Most of the couples who attended EM April 2–3 . . . though some had already slipped out before this photo was snapped.|
"Excellent speakers. All of them. I took something from each talk. Thank you!!” (15-year-old male)
"I appreciated that nothing was sugar-coated. It helped me realign my thoughts on what really matters in life.” (15-year-old male)
"I loved attending with my teenage daughter. It opened up opportunities for us to discuss topics we had not, and gave me the way to do it. I wish I had known these things when I was a teen.” (female parent)
"I recently asked God to please show me someone that was going through the same struggle of staying pure. I am so happy this conference exists and I am thinking of so many people to bring next year. This conference helped me get closer to God.” (17-year-old female)
"Really appreciated the candor and vulnerability of the speakers.” (male parent)
"Getting to spend the day at 'Worth It' reinforced what we have been attempting to teach them about relationships.” (male and female parents)
"The things I learned today will change the things I do in the future.” (14-year-old female)
"Most of the speakers were fun so it helped teens who were not thrilled to attend.” (female parent)
"You guys fit so much into one day! Well done. Thank you so much for your ministry! God bless!” (female parent)
|Paul Friesen opens the day with passion and humor, instantly helping all attendees relax.|
Kate Wylie uses some volunteers to illustrate how hard it is to have a foot in both worlds.
|Adam Rowe addressed the issue of media and technology, hitting hard on the destructive nature of pornography.|
|Don Davis wrapped up the day with the good news of forgiveness and the hope of redemption.|
The aftermath . . . cleaned up and packed away . . . these folks stayed ’til the end. So grateful for them!
The cuties I spent a week with in California. I can never get enough of the grands!
|Held at the beautiful Carolina Inn on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill, the ceremony was a declaration of the gospel of marriage.|
|Our wedding party . . . sooo late 70’s. Love it!|
Full time seminary students, worship leaders at their church, and parents to half a dozen laying chickens. Jake and Kaylee have a full life.
“Thank you for such a life-giving, refreshing weekend!”
“We learned so much this weekend and will recommend this conference to all our married friends!”
“What a fantastic reminder of how much God loves us and His design for our marriages.”
“We can’t thank you enough for the AMAZING weekend in Rhode Island. We are so blessed to learn what it is to be rooted in Christ as a couple. We are so grateful for the prayer session that equipped us to live our lives as one spirit and tackle the world together. We will be sharing our experiences and the tools with our small group.”
“My husband and I just returned from the marriage retreat in Newport and are HIGHLY recommending it to all our married friends! You guys do a wonderful job and we cannot wait to come back next year!”
“Thank you so much for leading, with Paul, such a wonderful marriage conference weekend. We came away with so much to think over and talk about. We are grateful for the wisdom both you and Paul share with so many.”
|Opening night: being lead in worship by Danny and Rayna Oertli, Rich and Sue Musacchio, and Paul and Lyss Gandy. A strong start.|
|The theme “Marriage Strong” was carried out beautifully by Kelly Plosker, who once again worked her magic on the ball room, creating an ambience of welcome, comfort, and delight. We are so thankful for her gifts used so powerfully.|
|Sunday afternoon . . . the guests are gone and the team is tearing down. We pause for a photo and a prayer, giving thanks for the incredible ways God met us.|
|Pioneer Valley Christian Academy’s headmaster, Tim Duff, addresses the larger-than-expected crowd at the “Worth It—Springfield” night.|
|The daily walk to visit “Cody” and “Mouse,”|
two horses who live in the neighborhood.
|Rachel, showing early signs that she enjoys being all dressed up with somewhere to go.|
|Sibling love. Ahhh . . .|
|Craig (worship leader) and Danika (asst. to program director) and Chris (emcee) and Suzanne flank us on stage at the Tuscarora Conference Center’s marriage conference.|
|Some of the mentoring moms at Bethany Church Greenland,|
ready to debrief the morning.
|It LOOKS warm . . . but it wasn’t!|
Nonetheless, we had a great time at the Nubble Lighthouse.
|The cousins—stopping long enough for a quick picture before voting to suspend the walk on the Marginal Way and return to the warmth of the car.|
|Cousin Katie, Auntie Lisa, and Nathan enjoy a rare opportunity to set foot on the island where Mr. and Mrs. Mallard raised their little ducklings.|
|Nathan and Rachel enjoyed dinner in the North End on Sunday before going to church on Palm Sunday.|
|Papa and Nathan made quick work of the 6” Spring snow fall.|
|A small remnant of the MLAC youth group long after most had gone home. What a great group!|
|A visual of this is important—it was pretty hysterical.|
|She said “Yes!” to his very heartfelt proposal.|
Most of the couples who attended the MLAC marriage conference.
|These three couples have been at every MLAC conference we’ve spoken for. Treasured friends.|
|One last stop before heading west . . . dinner and frozen yogurt with the Copleys. It’s hard to believe these “little girls” are so grown up!|
|Time with the Dahlstroms is always stimulating, and it has nothing to do with the coffee. :)|
|Earl and Sandy Wilson continue to be used by God in so many important ways. They are still on the front line of redemptive work.|
|Jay and Sarah Welch are enjoying marriage fully.|
|Rachel, Alissa, and MaryAnn were very fun ice cream dates.|
|Lunch with Duke and Amy Paulson was another highlight|
of our time in the Pacific NW.
|Hope Community Church of Newburyport, MA, held their marriage conference in Portsmouth, NH.|
|Anyone left standing at the end of clean-up was grabbed for this photo.|
|This lovely family hosted us in Alabama and we were so encouraged by their commitment to Christlikeness in their home.|
|They outfitted us with rival shirts . . . symbolizing how two very different people can be strong together.|
|The team at Solitude Baptist Church did a wonderful job putting on their marriage conference.|
|Valentine’s breakfast in bed . . .|
. . . and dinner by candlelight. I am a very blessed woman!
|Being framed with Jess and Elizabeth Bousa.|
|The Restore Church marriage conference.|
|Rachel at 3 months is edible . . . so sweet and low-key.|
|Nathan is a very happy, active, loving little guy and a great big brother.|
|Many of our H.I.M. Board Members and volunteers, without whom we couldn’t do what we do. So thankful for each of them!|
Derek, Julie and Nathan welcome baby Rachel to their family.
|Al and Bonnie Magill and Bill and Helen Challener were part of the marriage conference leadership team for First Pres Schenectady.|
It was a special joy to be with these four.
Hard at work, working together . . . many hands make many pies.
Connie Lawrence and Joy Coonradt have faithfully served Mom to Mom at Grace Chapel for years now. So good to reconnect with them!
|Lisa, Paul, and I walk the Coronado Beach at sunset.|
Does it get any better than this?
|The Garcias hosted the Dreves for a Saturday brunch . . . |
and fun was truly had by all.
|We were thrilled to share a lunch with our dear friends and ministry partners, Bob and Carol Kraning—especially after Bob’s near death heart attack episode this fall. These are “salt of the earth” people and we’re so thankful they’re in our life.|
|A couple of days in San Diego with my mom and siblings . . . |
We were happy to be there to celebrate my sister Melissa’s birthday with a cinnamon-roll-centered brunch.
|Our Thanksgiving table. We were delighted to have my second cousins, Madeline and Abby Shiell, and LeeLee Jackson, a mentee of Gabe and Kari’s, join the gathering.|
Our two days on the family farm in Pixley went far too quickly, but we did manage to get the annual family football game in: east vs. west.
I think we tied, though the west may disagree. :)
|One last event before we flew home: it was a joy to attend stage manager Kelsey O’Keeffe’s production of “A Christmas Memory” and to sit with her parents, our dear friends, Dawn and Jim.|
We thoroughly enjoyed speaking in to the lives of these couples considering marriage at Engagement Matters.
The Johnsons get a family walk in as night falls.
|The tradition continues: our annual visit with Grant and Emily Williams and their daughters|
|An added bonus of our St. Louis visit was catching up with Wes and Anna Welker and meeting their precious 4-month-old twins.|
The first ones who arrived to our final study got a sneak preview of the cinnamon rolls they would take home.
Pictured are some of the women who attended the Wednesday study all fall. Lexi is holding Hudson in the center back of the photo.
|Many of the couples who attended the couples study this fall. Our hearts for them are so deep.|
|Happy Birthday, Jesus!|
The “fam” on Christmas Eve
|The Amicos with the gingerbread house we made for them.|
|Ready for bed in new Christmas jammies…|
|The littlest “little,” modeling her matching jammies|
|Ana is ready for Christmas breakfast.|
Out-of-the-park delight with her new Olaf slippers.
“Just what I wanted!”
Brandon’s light saber makes it into Nathan’s hands and he’s mesmerized.
|Brief but sweet afternoon visit with Patty and Kimmie Benes . . .|
more chosen family
The morning after, with John and Marilyn Nugent.
|The “littles” are checking to see if the Gigi Cakes|
(aka cinnamon chip scones) are ready yet.
Family devotions, doing the Butterfly Song. Everyone’s favorite!
|Family walk in light rain, the day before the snow.|
|Nathan wasn’t quite sure what to think of this cold white stuff|
(a first for him) but everyone else loved it.
Papa and Brandon had a blast sledding tandem.
Of course! Snow ice cream!! Another first for the next generation.
|Overlooking the Wai’pi’o Valley on the northern shore of Kona, just before we hiked 1 mile straight down. Fortunately, we made it back up!|
On to Kauai, we hike the first 4 miles of the NaPali Trail, to this magnificent waterfall, and then walked the 4 miles back.
It was challenging and glorious.
Yes, that’s your man Paul standing under the waterfall.
Someone had to take the photo, so I sacrificed getting in that 55-degree water to be the photographer.
|We drove to Waimea Canyon on Kauai,|
the Grand Canyon of the Islands. Magnificent.
|After most had left, we grabbed this photo of a very small but delightful remnant of the conference attendees.|
|Sunset, crashing surf, and a great model.|
|The “littles” with the Mouse.|
|Eleven hours and 23K steps later, we leave the park.|
Guess you could say we made a day of it.
Tom and Betsy Newell were instrumental in running the conference in Arroyo Grande . . .
|. . . as were Paul and Sherri Masters, who treated us to a fabulous home-cooked meal of freshly caught fish. Yum!!|
|Ross and Caitlyn Macrae stand with Paul soon after being pronounced husband and wife.|
Julie and Nathan stand in front of their new house in Mechanicsburg, PA.
|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.|
|Aunt Margaret makes 100 years of age look like 80!|
|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.|
|Our daily walk on the beach help to stimulate our brain cells for writing.|
|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!|
|The Union Fellowship at Park Street Church welcomed our teaching on finances.|
|Paul and Lianna Chong host the Union Fellowship group.|
|Jon and Marilee exit after being pronounced husband and wife by my brother-in-law, David Leach.|
|The original “Collins crew” with the matriarch.|
|Julie, Betty Ann, Barbara, Dawn, Helen, and me. Kelly had already retired for the night. Helen is still surprised!|
|Carl and Cathy Blatchley and Lars and Bethany Nielsen worked hard to make the Grace Baptist Church marriage conference successful.|
“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.|
|Don and Betsy Hasselbeck were at New England Chapel for the couples’ night. Love them!|
|We are so thankful for Nate (executive director of Berea) and Heidi Parks to whom we have passed the mantle of family camp.|
|What a joy to perform the marriage of Paul and Alyssa Gandy in Newport, VT.|
|Two “half staffs” combined to make a powerhouse “whole staff” at Berea. This is the week one staff . . .|
|. . . and this is the week two staff.|
|Staffer Erik Anderson leads his group of guys. During the second camp, we had 64 students 4th grade and below . . . and 51 of them were boys.|
|Kelsey O’Keeffe, serving for the sixth summer at Berea, finds a creative place for her high school girls’ small group time.|
|One of the 14 baptisms in Newfound Lake . . .|
. . . with some of the witnesses celebrating this meaningful declaration.
|Jumping into frigid water at Sculptured Rocks|
provided an afternoon of fun.
|Daily hikes along the lake front renewed our minds and worked our bodies. Mark was joined by several other staff guys after this photo was snapped.|
|Howard Clark, who was our speaker for both camps, holds court with the staff during a riveting Question and Answer session.|
|Our final staff photo after the week two banquet. Parting is such sweet sorrow.|
|Standing in line for the zip line at SpringHill camp with the Wong family. We loved it!|
|SpringHill is a beautiful place!!|
|To celebrate the end of family camp and Paul’s upcoming birthday, the Wongs took us to “Black Rock Steak House” for dinner and it was great!|
|Brunch at the Wongs': great food, but greater company.|
|Our niece, Heidi Rottschafer Lemmerhirt, and her 3 came for a visit that was enjoyed by all.|
|Eric and Stacey Rauch stand with us before we spoke for the couples event.|
|With temps reaching 106 degrees, it was really refreshing to jump in their pool.|
|The grand finale: strawberry cream pie a la Kari.|
|Standing in front of Lisa’s new rental at CBU!|
The Labor Day Family Camp program staff team . . . a stellar group!
|A full camp enjoys worship led by Christian Hushaw, Alea Peister, and Seth Heinz.|
|Dancing under the lights and the stars. Very, very cool.|
|Late-night staff gathering around Paul’s cookies and stories of engagements. Great bonding time.|
|David and Cherylyn Hegg served as our resource couple for the weekend. We always love spending time with them.|
|What a perfect ending to a wonderful visit with my mom!|
|The sun sets on another summer at Campus by the Sea.|
|The entire staff team: facilities, program, and year-round staff.|
|The program staff.|
|The “staff only” annual shore hike . . . pausing at Frog Rock.|
|For the first time in a long while, the 4th of July fell on Saturday,|
so we rented the "Blanche W” and took the staff in to watch the fireworks in Avalon Harbor, followed by a flying fish tour. Such a fun night!
|Every Saturday night the staff enjoyed Paul’s freshly baked|
chocolate chip cookies—much to their delight.
|The annual tea party for staff women was delightful.|
|In a most unusual twist, Family Camp 5 arrived in RAIN, and in order to keep our campers as dry as possible, the our staff cheerfully got drenched.|
|The annual staff-only hike to Lone Tree took place during Family Camp 5,|
and though it didn’t draw a large crowd, those who went had a great time.
|The “Staff Coffeehouse” was resurrected this summer, featuring some great acts as well as some great desserts. “Pavlova” a la Vonny was the biggest hit.|
|Into town for our “staff appreciation dinner” to celebrate our seven weeks of serving together.|
|Dave and Vonny were our “right hand people” serving as the “deans” of the staff cove,|
Little Gallagher’s, as well as leading the college group.
Vonny also directed the elementary program. So thankful for them!
|The host and hostess of “Go For the Glory” . . . stylin’!!|
The “fam” minus Gabe, who had returned to the mainland to lead
the college missions trip from his church.
|Nathan helps Papa ring the bell for announcements.|
A bunch of Friesens, Herbsts, Rottschafers, Clarks, Oertlis, Millers, and Stucks.
So fun to have them all at camp!
|The original 3: Kari, Julie, and Lisa.|
|The Mt. Hermon team who served the marriage conference weekend. Dave Burns is in the middle.|
|Dear friends who attended the Mt. Hermon conference:|
Carter and Tracy Welch and Mike and Tricia Toews.
|Ah yes . . . Fosters Freeze . . . just like it was 39 years ago!|
|Howard and Kathy Clark, Bill and Christi Bachman with sons Andrew and Nathan . . . |
we spent a delightful evening together.
|Loved having some time with Rosemary Dougan, though we all missed Garth so much.|
|Ray Johnston and Paul greet each other at the beginning of Thrive 2015.|
|Four generations of strong women.|
|My mom and four of my six siblings celebrate the Cinco De Mayo|
at a San Diego Mexican restaurant.
|Sweet friends at the Arabic Evangelical Baptist Church in West Roxbury.|
|Paul and Liana Chong direct the young marrieds ministry at Park Street Church.|
|The Wai Wong Family came to town and we love spending the evening with them.|
|Joel and Sarah Schuster are doing a great job leading the ministry|
at Marsh Creek Community Church in Ekton, PA.
|Haddon and Bonnie Robinson are still praising God in spite of many medical challenges.|
|Barbara Boyd and Paul enjoy catching up on family history.|
|Bill and JoAnne Shore make the 80’s look very young.|