This past weekend we had a marriage retreat at church: The Art of Marriage by Family Life Ministries. John & I partnered up with Bro. Gary & Ms Michelle to coordinate the event. It was the first time John & I have been able to work in Marriage Ministry. It is something we have felt called to do for years and have been praying for an opportunity.
Unfortunately, the devil is alive and well! He sure has been attacking us this week – stress seems to be overwhelming… my job has taken a VERY dramatic shift, studying trying to gather last minute donations, packing for a short getaway to visit family, and we have had a hornet infestation – I’m not talking little paper-wasp or bald face hornets, these are HUGE. It is the European Hornet. This little critter I about the size of my thumb. We have had FIVE in our living-room this week. FIVE! That is terrifying to someone (me!) who is not only allergic to bees but also to antihistamines. The devil has been attacking not only in our own lives but in the lives of most of the attendees I spoke with. He has done everything he can to keep people from attending and to discourage me and John.
The Art of Marriage Weekend was more successful than I imagined it would be! We received so much good input – several people even wrote down on their evaluation forms that they would be willing to help host an event themselves. Most people wrote down that it was LIFE CHANGING. Everyone has struggles in their marriage – and everyone left with tools on how to handle the struggles and with Hope. So far, we have about 7 other couples who are very anxious to attend the next event since they were unable to make this one due to previous engagements. We are planning for the next Art of Marriage Weekend to be hosted later this summer.
We have been VERY blessed with so many generous donations to give away as door prizes – I think everyone was amazed: hotel reservations, shooting range membership, river boat cruise, fine dining, breakfast pastries, local restaurants gift certificates, theater tickets, etc. Everyone left with a very nice prize and we had two grand prizes on top of that.
On Friday night we covered two sessions and on Saturday 4 with a lunch break in the middle. We covered God’s Plan for Marriage, Conflict, Communication, Intimacy & Leaving a Lasting Legacy. The material was delivered in a very unique way to where it wasn’t lectures but engaging videos. We would give an introduction, and then play the video. The video consisted of actors giving a short performance of a marital situation and then it would cut to Life Way authors who would give very brief input and testimony. It actually reminded me a lot of a sports event: You have a few minutes of a game (the actors in their vignette) then it will cut to the commentators (the authors) and occasionally an interview with a well-known player (other Life Way ministry leaders with testimony.) This was set up to appeal to men and to couples who do not learn well with lectures. I prefer lectures, but most people don’t. The material was extremely thought provoking. Hearing the testimony and input from the authors really gave new light on the subjects.
One of the most powerful segments was the lesson on Communication. This one couple was at the brink of divorce, and a counselor told the husband that he needed see the Gospel of the Now in his situation, his marriage and his life. (I did a HORRIBLE job paraphrasing that! I tried to write down that exact quote but I was so busy taking notes that I didn’t get it every word written down!) I loved the message in the quote. The Gospel of the Now. We have to strive to see Jesus in EVERY aspect of our life. If we remember that 1) I live in a fallen world 2) I am a wretched sinner 3) Sin separates me from God 4) Jesus is a great savior who forgives me for so much and is SO patient with me in my shortcomings.
That changes perspective on EVERYTHING.
I can forgive my husband when he has a living-in-the-flesh moment and says some words that come out a little harsh – because I am a wretched sinner and Jesus is a great savior. He has forgiven me of SO MUCH.
I can remember that I am not a slave to my emotions, but acknowledge then in a godly way when the stress of life gets overwhelming – because I am a wretched sinner and Jesus is a great savior. He has forgiven me of SO MUCH.
I can forgive the friend who lashes out harshly in false judgment – because I am a wretched sinner and Jesus is a great savior. He has forgiven me of SO MUCH.
I am so excited about the Marriage Ministry. We had 13 couples attend this event. Most are excited to join in a bible study based on the material covered. Everyone seems SO HUNGRY for God’s Word and for what He says about marriage. It’s beautiful. I’m so excited to see the work God is doing in all our lives.