Most of you know I've been on vacation and study leave in California for a few weeks. The time here has been so good--fellowship with friends and family, familiar food and some space to read. We're still not done: We're celebrating Julie's birthday tomorrow evening, and on Sunday some good friends from London will be here for a birthday party for one of my nephews. Life is pretty good, though we're starting to anticipate the trip back to London next week.
One of the highlights of our time here was a short trip up to Shell Beach, about 180 miles north of Burbank, where my Mom owns a house. The street leads down to some bluffs that overlook the ocean, and if you climb down there are tidepools to explore and sealife to chase (and sometimes catch). My grandmother bought this house in 1970, when I was 7 years old, and it's been our holiday spot ever since. I spent so much time there as a kid, and it warms my heart to see Ian playing on the same beach and crawling across the same rocks as I did when I was his age. We enjoyed every minute of our 5 days there.
I also spent a fair amount of time reading. One of the necessities of preparing to preach and teach is having a concentrated time of study and reflection--I focus on what others are thinking and also on how what I think is changing. On this study leave I've read three important books and hope to get one more done before I go back to London. Later I'll post a review of what I read--I've been challenged, annoyed, inspired and taught during this past month, and I hope it shows in my preaching over the coming year.
Today Ian and I went to Fuller Seminary, so Ian could see Daddy's book in the bookstore (OK, I like seeing it, too, but Ian was the one who asked to go...honest). I kept seeing friends and former colleagues there, and Ian asked if I knew everyone there. I don't--anymore--but it was nice to be reminded of what an important place Fuller is for me. I was a student there for 5 years, long enough for 2 master's degrees, and I also worked there for 4 more years later on. It's a big part of my life.
This afternoon I took Ian, along with 3 of his cousins, over to my in-laws' house to swim. We're just recovering now as I write this--it's such a good sort of tired to see the kids play together as if nothing about their relationships has changed. That's a major smile.
I may try to post once more before we leave on Tuesday, hopefully with some pictures. We get back to London on the 20th, and jump right into a full schedule of work, an orientation for Ian's new school, and a slate of expat events for me to attend.
I'm savoring each remaining moment with my family here, even as my heart is turning back toward our friends and ministry in England. More news later.