NEXT PHASE: ROUND TWO

I let the anniversary slip by without mentioning it, but not on purpose. I just wasn’t paying attention. We drove away from Johnson City, TN on May 10, 2016. On May 10, 2017 we were back in the States, Chelmsford to be specific, on the threshold of our second year in this adventure we’ve been calling our Next Phase (but not our Last Phase). If you’ve been coming along with us, you know that Round One found us on the West Coast of America and in Mexico, England, Ireland, France, Armenia, Australia, briefly back to Oregon, India, New Zealand, Chile, Uruguay and Spain. What a great year! Now we’re looking forward to England (again), Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Norway (maybe) and points south still to be determined. Oh, and East Asia.

Tuesday we moved from Chelmsford to Truro, Massachusetts, just below Provincetown. Joy’s back in classes again. She’s also attending an encaustics conference. She’s going to be so smart!

Sunday I preached for the three morning worship services of Crossway Christian Church in Nashua, New Hampshire, where Ron Kastens is the lead pastor and Adam Tomlinson, whom you met in an earlier post, is the pastor of the home campus called The Pond. (Not every church has its own pond. This one is beautiful.) Recent sermons there have dealt with some pretty tough personal issues. My assignment was to speak about the death of a child. For the first time in years, I told our story in a sermon. The timing was almost painfully appropriate, since it was Memorial Day weekend, 23 years after our son Lane took his life–on Memorial Day weekend. I had to admire the church for facing up squarely to this delicate but often sidestepped topic.

Clydesdale at home in  Merrimack, New Hampshire

The next day Adam rewarded me with a special a treat. I’m not certain how much Joy appreciated my being gone since it was packing day, but she encouraged me to go, “since you’re pretty useless” in all things domestic anyway, especially in packing for a move. Actually, this gave Adam and me a rare chance to talk shop. Our destination? Naturally for a couple of pastors, the Budweiser brewery in Merrimack, New Hampshire. And not, as you would think, for the beer!

The Hat with the Clydesdales’ wagon

It was to see the majestic Clydesdales and delivery wagon, Bud’s iconic symbols, up close and personal. When he extended the invitation Adam didn’t know I come from a long line of horsemen. My dad, who could have been the model for “The Horse Whisperer,” owned horses for most of my 18 years at home. I can’t remember when I first began riding, but I knew it was before the first grade. To this day they are my favorite animals. I have long felt guilty that our children were not given the privilege I had of growing up with them. My work—and my wallet—didn’t give us that opportunity. So here’s my apology, Kim and Candy. If I had it to do over, somehow you’d have a horse!

I’ve mentioned in earlier posts how rewarding it has been to reconnect with old friends and the offspring of old friends during this Next Phase. Before we left Chelmsford we spent a delightful evening with Kathi and Michael Fournier and their offspring Aaron, Andrew and Emma in Bedford. It was Lezlee Knowles who brought us together. Lezlee and her husband Jeff were students at Milligan College back in the last century when I was a professor there. We’ve remained friends for a lifetime.

The Fournier family (from the left): Andrew, Emma, Michael, Kathi and Aaron

At a Milligan homecoming many years ago their daughter Kathi, an adult but not yet married, as I recall, joined us for dinner. That was the last time I’d seen her—until last week. What fun Joy and I had getting acquainted with all the Fourniers and talking about Kathi’s parents behind their backs. How strange it was to hear them referred to as grandparents; they’re still young friends to us! One of the unacknowledged benefits of living a long time is reconnecting with your old friends…and their children…and their children’s children. Counting Lezlee’s and Jeff’s parents, we’ve now enjoyed this family for four generations. You can’t find any better!

Our peripatetic lifestyle has afforded many joyful moments. There’s also a little pain in the mix, though, as when we have to say goodbye. That was true when we left the Tomlinsons and Closes and Fourniers and… The most recent was when we left our home in Chelmsford. Suzette Sutton, our solicitous, gracious landlady has quickly became our friend. On a recent blog post she called herself a “Velcro wannabe.” We’ve erased the “wannabe.” We’ve also adopted the Tomlinsons as “Associate” Velcro children.  They can’t be full-fledged members because they are both from functional families. A requisite for membership in the large Lawson Velcro family is that you must have come from a dysfunctional family first, as I did. Joy’s not really qualified, but since she chose to marry me, she’s in, my family’s dysfunction covering us both.

Modern version of old Tiffany lamps

Joy and I spent a happy day at the Paradise City Art Show in Northampton, MA. It was one of the biggest and finest displays of creativity we’ve seen anywhere. It served as a kind of primer for her, since our reason for moving on to Truro, as I mentioned above, is so she could attend an art conference and take a class to further her skills in her chosen medium, encaustics (painting with hot wax). Here’s our new home:

Our Cape Cod Airbnb 

And here’s our new home’s very own treehouse. This is even better than my usual doghouse:

Our own tree house Cape Cod

As for Joy’s conference and classes, next week I’ll let you know how much she learned.