If you’ve heard me speak almost anywhere over the last 15 years, you’ve probably heard me make joshing reference to my family’s “summers in the Hamptons” – Hampton Inns, that is. It’s kind of an inside joke with us, remembering the thousands of miles we logged in the early years of ADF, using school break time to pack up the children and spend three months getting to know and better understand our Ministry Friends all over the country.
Now, if that sounds like “See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet,” well … you had to be there. These were the days that convinced me that my wife, Paula, is a saint. Twelve weeks is a long time for a family to live out of suitcases, hitting half a dozen towns and cities a day, cramming six people into one hotel room, eating more McDonald’s than anyone should in a lifetime.
But Paula made a great adventure of it … juggling children, untangling maps, fishing around in the trunk for somebody’s lost sandal, helping me work out the last draft of some remarks … and somehow still managing to look fresh, relaxed, and cheerful for all the new Ministry Friends we were meeting. She had to be thinking, along those long, rolling miles of freeway, “This isn’t what I signed up for. I married a lawyer. He was going to be home every night at 6. Our summer vacations were going to be at the beach.”
Instead, she got “summers in the Hamptons” and offered her sweetest smile for the well-meaning folks who’d unwittingly ask, “Are you enjoying your vacation?”
Now, looking back, Paula would be the first to tell you it was worth it – every long mile. Out of those road trips and face-to-face encounters came a deeper understanding of what the people who support ADF really care about. And the enduring relationships forged in those days laid the personal and financial groundwork for an alliance that is transforming our nation’s legal system.
If you’re one of the Ministry Friends who opened your heart and your home to us in those early days, I hope you know how fondly we remember your warm hospitality and your willingness not just to believe in, but to commit to, the vision of ADF.
If you weren’t one of those we had the privilege of meeting back then, well … stay tuned. After a several-year pause, Paula and I are making plans for a whole new summer swing through the country this year, trying on the old itinerary for size. Maybe this summer will bring us to your state, your community … even your doorstep.
For if it’s one thing I’ve learned as the leader of ADF, it’s that the road to victory leads right past the homes of caring Ministry Friends like you.