I've always loved couples' retreats! I enjoy going away with Wes, and I enjoy hearing preaching on the husband/wife relationship and the home. This conference was great, for many reasons, but the main one is that it actually gave us a chance to "retreat!" You know how you go to these things, and you have a couple of evening sessions, have dinner, go to your room, collapse into bed, then get up early for breakfast and a couple more sessions? We didn't do that! We arrived at 11 AM, had two afternoon sessions with lunch and some games included, then were dismissed for the night at about 4:30. We had instructions to go have fun. So that's what we did!
Wes had been up since 4:30 AM to take a family from our church to the airport for their holiday, so he was pretty tired by late afternoon. We went back to our room for him to rest a bit, then about 7:00 we walked about 7 blocks to a nice restaurant and had a leisurely dinner together. It was a delicious meal, and we even got a free dessert, thanks to our waitress having an accident in the kitchen with our order! She was very gracious about it - she was actually an excellent waitress - and we assured her it was ok to wait for our food a little longer. It was worth the wait! We each had steak, which is my favorite thing to order when we got out.
After dinner we walked back to our room (in the rain, and we had left the umbrella in the car!) and just plain old relaxed. It was such an unexpected, enforced break for us that it was like we just stopped everything and focused on each other. It. Was. Wonderful. I hope all future couple's retreats allow for this kind of time. Our first session today wasn't until noon, which allowed us to sleep in this morning and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. Another unexpected luxury! LOL
The first session yesterday focused on building a marriage without regrets. Pastor Conner spoke about several of his personal friends who passed away this year from various illnesses or accidents, and what their spouses might say to us had they been there. At the end of the message, he had us reach out and take our spouse's hand, and imagine what it would be like to reach out and that hand not be there. I don't want to imagine that! He had reminded us during the message that (1) marriage is a gift; (2) marriage is a goal - it doesn't "just happen" and has no automatic pilot; and (3) marriage takes grace - extending grace to our spouses. The Lord used several things in this message to convict my heart, and by His grace, I plan to make some changes on purpose to make our already strong marriage even better.
The second session was about having FUN together! Pastor Conner pointed out that joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, and that we should have joy in our marriage. Laughter is healthy; a merry heart doeth good like a medicine. What drew you to your spouse to start with? Did you have fun together? Have fun again! See your spouse as who he (or she) is - the most wonderful person in the world. Oh, yes, he really is! LOL And have joy in the physical union that God has ordained for marriage; enjoy it and work on it. This session closed with the pastoral directive to go have fun! So that's what we did! Who are we to ignore the Pastor?! ;)
Today's sessions were taught by Pastor Russell Mackay, the host pastor for the retreat. These sessions were about planning, making time for the priorities. He used an illustration that really stuck with me on prioritizing. He handed each person a paper with 23 common responsibilities on it, such as going to work, having a conversation with your spouse, reading your Bible, getting 8 hours of sleep, or taking your child to the emergency room. We were supposed to order these responsibilities from most important to least important. As you can see from just these few examples, all of these things take top priority at some time or another. There is no way to place more importance on one thing over another! When your child is hurt, getting him to the ER right away is top priority at that moment - it's not even time to read your Bible at that point! Do you see what he was trying to show us? We need to schedule in the things that are our responsibilities as Christians, spouses, parents, employees, and citizens. Each one has its place of importance. This helped me with my own struggles of late to prioritize my time and responsibilities. I really enjoyed the two sessions today, because I love making schedules and things like that . . . even though I rarely stick to them! I do like to play with them though! And that's what Pastor Mackay did - handed out forms and had us schedule our responsibilities. Lots of comments floated around during these sessions!
Well, this was probably more than you wanted to hear about a retreat that you didn't attend! Which reminds me, I've had several real-life comments lately about my blog from various friends. Thank you, all you real-life people who are reading, for your kind words; I do appreciate them. But it scares me that people who really know me are reading! LOL It keeps me on my toes! So y'all can just skip this post, since you were there - oops, too late - you've already read it! Can you tell I'm tired? Talk to you later!