Last weekend was our much anticipated marriage retreat, and I must say, except for one major downfall, I think it was a success. This may be totally selfish, but I had an absolute blast having the privilege of planning and leading it. The major downfall was that Todd got deathly ill at 5 a.m. on Saturday, and by lunchtime was bedridden...and slept for 18 hours straight. Yep, he pretty much missed most of the retreat, because Friday night was basically just a time to arrive, hang out and relax a bit before we really got into the 'real' stuff on Saturday. Sunday we had one final session, but mostly that was a wrap-up time, because we had to eat lunch, clean up and head home. So, I'm not going to dwell on what a disappointment it was for me personally (and yes, it was huge), but as they say, "the show must go on..." and thanks to God's faithful hand guiding all through the planning stages, we had invited another lead couple along who is very experienced in marriage ministry that we are great friends with and have worked with before. I was eternally grateful to have them there to jump in on the discussions, offering their seasoned and wise input, especially since Todd was missing and I alone, obviously, had only a one-sided perspective to put forth. I was also grateful to have them graciously offer to do couple-to-couple ministry as needed, since again, I was feeling a little lacking on my own!
Anyway, we had planned to have all the teaching done by a video conference called "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" by Mark Gungor. This guy is amazingly funny while at the same time being very profound in the practical teaching and advice he gives. If you are looking for some really fun and 'tell-it-like-it-is' marriage teaching, I highly recommend this. I can't tell you how much we all enjoyed this series. I'll post a video below, but if you'd like to know any more you can contact me, or check out their website www.laughyourway.com.
In addition to the videos, we had planned some couple games, including a round of 'The Newlywed Game' - with questions like "where was your first kiss?" and "what one item of your husband's would you love to throw out?" and lots of other fun ones. Let's just say there was LOTS of laughing, some blushing and an occasional high-five! We also did a few other games, had times of worship, and had several activities for the couples to do on their own during the Saturday evening "Date Night". All of the couples attending have small children, so my hope was that the weekend would give them many things to talk about, and provide some time to do it. In a later post I will include some of the games we did, and links to some of the resources I used in planning the weekend, in case anyone would like to tap into them for any marriage events you might be planning, or just for you and your sweetie to do together.
On a final note, I have to say that God truly has me in a season of learning what a joy it is to be a servant leader. I had planned to make all the food for the weekend, mainly because I really, really wanted the couples to be able to come and not have any responsibilities to worry about for the whole time. Being a mom myself, I know what a huge blessing it can be to just get away and not have to "do". That was my goal for the weekend; in addition to getting lots of great information about how to have a better marriage, I wanted the couples to be able to rest and refresh. As I got up before everyone else in the morning, and stayed up later prepping food and cleaning up, I actually really enjoyed the quiet and the opportunity to serve. There were many times when my own babies were taking everything I possibly had to give, and I was so grateful for any reprieve. I know from experience the value I placed on help whenever it came. And I feel that God has been gently reminding my heart that when I can, now it's my turn to give to others. There was a time that I would have felt frustration or even resentment to 'miss out' on something (be it a worship session, a meeting or even extra sleep) to take care of babies - even my own sometimes! But now, I feel that God is showing me what an important part of 'spiritual mothering' this is...that pouring into those I lead doesn't always come in the form of teaching or speaking, but in the form of serving. Joyfully. And it's been a new and very rewarding season for me. But enough about that...here's a picture of the wonderful group of people that we had the privilege of serving this weekend.
Oh, and take a few minutes to enjoy hearing some of "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage"!!