Before we get there (it’s just under three weeks until we depart for our summer ministry on Catalina Island), let me reflect on this past month. It’s been full and varied.
Right after returning from our last California ministry tour April 28, we were honored to present at the final chapel for Lexington Christian Academy’s Class of 2008. Gregg Meserole invited us to speak on God’s design for relationships (no arm twisting needed), and we spent an energetic hour interacting with a very engaged and respectful group of seniors. We were really thankful for the privilege and for the experience. Having two alums of LCA (Lisa ’01 and Julie ’03), we are honored to partner any time with those who have had such a critical and growth-producing impact on our daughters.
Our second book signing was held at Christian Book and Supply in Burlington, on Saturday, May 3. The always gracious Linda Camp (store manager) was a delight to work with and accommodated us well. Once again Paul’s chocolate chip cookies were big “sellers.” If only you could sign a cookie . . .
That night we addressed a lively group at Trinity Church of Bolton on the subject of parenting. Carl and Kathy Blatchley and Norm and Debbie Nielsen hosted the evening and did a lovely job of making spring seem real by setting beautiful tulip-adorned tables and serving delicious homemade strawberry shortcake. The evening tied in with an adult Sunday School class they are facilitating that is using the parenting DVD curriculum Paul and I recorded last year.
Early Sunday morning I flew off to Washington, D.C., to co-host a surprise fiftieth birthday party for my baby sister, Laura Leach. What a joy to see her complete shock when she walked into a room teeming with her best friends and later to hear them give accolades to her as they each contributed a flower to her “we love and respect you, Laura” bouquet.
The following weekend (May 9–11) was the Camp Berea Mother-Daughter weekend, and eldest daughter Kari flew in from California to speak with me for this great event. Anoli Bragdon, in her first solo flight as Program Director, did a wonderful job designing the retreat, which was arranged around the theme of the Wizard of Oz. Kari and I tied in to the woeful “If only” laments of the scarecrow (“If I only had a brain”), the tin man (“If I only had a heart”), and the cowardly lion (“If I only had the nerve” (courage)), by teaching out of Deuteronomy’s classic “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” We loved interacting with all the precious moms and daughters, who ranged in age from 5 to well beyond 60. Of course, what I most treasured in my heart was the joy of partnering with Kari, who speaks in a way that people listen to and whose wisdom far exceeds her years. What a gift for me to serve with her. Who would’ve thought when she was a challenging seven-year-old . . . God is good!
Paul was making his own appearances around the country during this same time period. He flew to Denver to surprise our daughter Julie at her first WDIA (women’s lacrosse) National Tournament appearance as a coach. She played for Cal Poly’s team the past four years as they secured four national titles, but it was a vastly different experience for her to be a part of the coaching team this year. Paul was able to cheer her on as Poly fought through the quarter- and semi- final rounds victoriously. He missed the title game in order to honor his commitment to present a seminar at Iron Sharpens Iron in Worcester, and Poly went down in defeat in double overtime. Fortunately, Paul felt the Iron Sharpens Iron conference was a great place to be and thoroughly enjoyed his experience there. And Julie is still happily stunned that her dad made such a herculean effort to support her in Denver.
May 16–18 we made a return visit to Church of the Savior in Wayne, Pennsylvania, to do an all-day Saturday parenting conference. COS’s Children’s Ministry Director, Ellie Greenhalgh, put together a blockbuster weekend for kids and parents alike, and it was inspiring for us to see her creativity and hard work make such a difference! Ellie, grandmother of 7-going-on-8 herself, makes the Energizer Bunny look low on voltage! We loved working with her and sharing such common passions. Sunday morning we partnered with our dear friends John and Marilyn Nugent by teaching on marriage to a number of adult education classes at COS. Though our time in Wayne was short (we zoomed out after teaching Sunday morning to fly back to Boston to teach that night), it was both professionally and personally uplifting.
Home briefly for counseling and reading mail before taking off to New York City for a 36-hour soiree honoring (and very much surprising) my dear friend Patty, who will soon hit the big 5-0. Our little group of three women hit the Big Apple with great enthusiasm as we explored Central Park (which was glorious in her Spring apparel), took in a phenomenal production of Wicked, and meandered over to Ground Zero the next day. It was a magical, unforgettable tour celebrating one of my heroines in life.
Memorial Day weekend was spent at Myles Standish State Park, camping with eighteen other families for our annual Family Tenting Camp. Blessed with perfect weather, we enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation in both nature and in each other. Biking, swimming, and exploring filled the days, and the nights were centered around a common meal (prepared by Jim and Sue Martis, H.I.M.’s personal chefs!), a time of worship (led by Rich and Sue Musacchio), and a time of devotions (led by Paul). The grand finale each night centered around the camp fire, and required graham crackers, chocolate bars, and marshmallows. Nothing like a good s’more!
One of our campers wrote to us afterwards:
Thank you very much for a awesome weekend. It was a memorable experience and just a great time with the kids. My words really can not explain how great (fulfilling with God's great Grace) this time was for our family. As we drove from the park on the way out, to see Gods great beauty revealed in such a beautiful place and in the relationships He gives us in our families was amazing—I almost came to tears thanking the kids and God for a great time together. [My son] was 6 or 7 when we first started this tradition where back then the focus was camping and "making fires." Now I see him serving, focusing on God and relationships.
Thank you for making these traditions—Adventures for our families where God is an irreplaceable part!
There were many highlights of our long weekend together, but the “highest” for us was having Thora Eames join us for Saturday evenings’ festivities. Ninety-year-old Thora expressed the delight of a young school girl to be surrounded by eighty kids and adults eating, worshiping, and learning together in such a set-apart venue. And what a joy it was for all to have her among us. A gift for all!
We are thankful that Focus on the Family has chosen to carry Raising a Trailblazer as one of their recommended resources. Paul, Kari, and Lisa will also be on the Focus on the Family Weekend Magazine with Dr. Bill Maier each weekend in June discussing Letters to My Daughters. You may find the times and stations or listen online by going to www.listen.Family.org/weekend.
The next weeks will be full as we wrap up our Partnership training program, speak at a pastor’s conference in Connecticut, have a reunion with our Trinidad team, and tie up loose ends before a ten-week summer at camps. We are so thankful that our confidence is in a God who goes before us!