What a day! Rich and I were determined to get a longer bike ride in so we started at 7 a.m. and headed west. My intention was to visit my parents in Hudsonville, about 17 miles away, and then bike back by 11 a.m. That was not to be. It started to rain as soon within a 1/2 mile so we went back to get windbreakers. At about 7 miles into our ride it was pouring. We stopped at a cafe for breakfast. After the heavy rain stopped we got back on the road, and forged ahead. The rain was persistent. At 9 a.m. we reached Jenison, noted that the Village Bike Shop wasn't open (my brakes needed adjusting) so we peddled another mile to our sister Jeanne's place on Crystal Lake. She was surprised to see us, and pulled out a pile of towels. We stripped down almost to our birthday suits, which was appropriate because we both celebrated our birthdays in early July. I put some things in the clothes dryer and Rich used a hair dryer to work on the shoes which were sloshing with water. After about an hour we suited up and proceeded to Hudsonville - another 6 miles. Had an enjoyable visit with my parents, and by the time we were ready to head home the skies were clear and the sun shining. We did accomplish the longer ride - this was the first time this summer we cycled more than 35 miles in a day - but we took more and longer breaks than we had planned.
I have to revel in that accomplishment for a couple reasons. First, I've been afraid of riding in the rain - anticipated slipping and slidding and feeling out of control. But, that was not the case. We took it easy, but felt very secure most of the time. I had to replace my back tire yesterday because of blowout, and got a new style of tire that is supposed to be good on wet pavement. I think it was! We did it!
Second, it feels more and more certain that "Yes, we are 'in' for the east stage." A few months ago that was not the case. Although we signed up to ride, Rich suddenly became very sick in early April with discitis and staph infection. He was hospitalized from April 9 until May 23, and
on IV antibiotics for 55 days - until May 30th. He needed therapy to help him learn how to get out of bed, how to get into a chair, to walk, etc. People all over the country were praying for his healing, but not too many were expecting that he'd be well enough to bike at all this summer, much less participate in the Sea to Sea tour. But God is so good, beyond anything we can imagine. Rich is off all the pain medications - and he was on a LOT of them, for a long time - and sleeping very well at night. There were some nights a couple weeks ago that he hardly slept. The doctor said it was probably withdrawal from the fentanyl pain patch that we finally discontinued.
And to top it off, he started a new job on July 1. While flat on his back in April, Church of the Servant extended a 'call' for Rich to be the developing pastor of the the first prison congregation in the state of Michigan. This coming week we'll go to Iowa so he can 'shadow' a pastor of a prison congregation in Fort Dodge. We are very thankful for prayer support from many friends and family. And, we are grateful for the contributions made toward our commitment to raise $8,000 for Sea to Sea '08. Every little bit helps - $8, $80, $800. We're sort of stuck on the eights. On August 8, 2008, we're celebrating a total of 80 years of marriage - Rich for 40 years to me, and I for 40 years to him. We know we are blessed and privileged. Please continue to pray with us that we don't take these things for granted, don't live as if we're entitled to them, and that, in as much as possible, our lifestyles don't cause others to live in poverty.