Isn’t it funny how quickly it turns to fall? The highs this past week haven’t been that dramatically different–90 instead of 98–but you can just feel the seasons changing already. The wind is blowing a little more, the mornings are a little cooler, and the humidity is decreasing.

This is the time of year that I really enjoy being outside. This long weekend, I spent a lot of time outdoors. On Friday, Doug & Peggy Martin helped me stain and seal my back deck which was much needed since it had never been done by the previous owners. A month or two back, the Martins showed up one day with their pressure washer and cleaned the whole deck themselves! I know they don’t like accolades for such work, but I cannot thank them enough for the things they do to help me. I now am quite an expert at staining a deck! Well, maybe not an expert, but I at least know how to do it correctly!

Saturday morning, after Doug and I slapped on a quick second coat, I went up to visit two newcomers to St. Nicholas, Ralph and Ona Graham. They invited me up to their home in Warm Springs to get to know each other a little better. Ralph is an accomplished horse trainer and so I got to see them ride a couple of horses in their huge barn. This was such a delight to watch! I rarely get to see people “at work,” especially when their work is also their passion. To see Ralph and Ona interact with those horses was extremely special. I also got to see Ralph’s guitar collection, which I had a lot of interest in seeing. I am so thankful for that time together and hope we can do it again soon.

Saturday afternoon, I decided to finish up some yard work that needed to be done, plus it was so nice outside. I built a fire and burned a bunch of limbs and leaves, which brought the attention of our friends and neighbors, the Massey family. Rachel has 3 girls, and they all came over and played in the backyard as well as roasted a few marshmallows over the fire.

Sunday, of course, was wonderful, as I got to announce our latest news that Baby #4 is on the way at the end of March. I love sharing news like that, and everyone was so excited for us. It’s such a treat to be able to share such a momentous event with a church family. Below is a picture of our little peanut, which Bronwyn calls “Baby Honey.” She read in a Berenstain Bears book that they had a baby and named it Honey so for months now, even before this one was conceived, Bronwyn has prayed every night for Baby Honey. When we tell Bronwyn that we don’t have control over the sex of the baby, she says, “But Baby Honey isn’t a boy’s name, so it has to be a girl!” Can’t argue logic like that.

baby-honey0001Labor Day was another beautiful day. Since Mondays are my hiking days, the family decided to join me on a hike and have a picnic at FDR State Park afterwards. We did one of the easy hikes, around the campgrounds at FDR, which was great. I loved seeing my kids take the lead on the trail, and find walking sticks to use. Even Liam was tromping over the roots and rocks, stumbling every so often. He and I had a great time looking at leaves, climbing over some fallen trees, and just being together.  The kids played on the playground after the picnic lunch, and we returned home for some quiet time.

Molly’s first trimester has been marked with extreme tiredness, which is understandable considering the 3 kids she already juggles. So she took a nap, and I found myself in my hammock outside dozing off. When I woke up 2 hours later, Tai and Bronwyn wanted to go swimming, so we went over to Kenny and Terri Townsend’s house for a couple of hours of swimming. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard recently as when Bronwyn and I played a game where she was in an inner-tube and I spun her around and occasionally bonked Tai as he splashed around.

There are those moments in our lives where we take mental snapshots because we know they are extraordinary times. I am so aware that these times with my family will be fleeting as they get older and will no longer want to hang out with me on my off-days. But weekends like this one remind me of how precious time with our families are.

Thank you, God, for the blessing of my wife, my children, and my church family. They are constant reminders of you and your love. Thank you for these moments with these people I love. Make me always aware of the grace that surrounds such moments and help me see more of them all around me. Amen.