Joining up with Kelly and ALLLLLL for a quick-ish little post. And prayers for Kelly and her family as they mourn their dear friend. Life is short y’all. We all know it and yet, we are often blindsided by the reminder. So take a minute today and be glad.
This is the day that the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it! Psalm 118:24
About a month ago we received an email invitation from our friend and marriage counselor extraordinaire to come to his Marriage Conference, “Unveiled”. The location was only an hour away, however, when I read the email I thought, “that’s nice, but December……”. Hubby read it and said, “Let’s go”, made the hotel reservations and had me make the conference reservations. The timing was on the back end of Thanksgiving and by the grace of God, my mom was still in town and gracious enough to stay with the kids and taxi them to school et al. So, yup. Right smack in Advent and the crazy, busy month of December the skies parted and our schedule opened and so we went. As you do when things go down like that.
The conference was given by the JPII Healing Center and is only one of the many retreats they host; based in Tallahassee they also travel to put on various conferences/retreats for priests, religious and lay people and I strongly, STRONGLY suggest that if you see there is one near you……make your reservation ASAP, you won’t be sorry. Heck, several people flew in from around the country to come!! So just check the website and see what’s going on!
Our retreat was marriage centered (but we had singles, datings, divorced as well) but quite frankly, it contained truths every heart needs to hear. Bob has a way of peeling away the burnt and charred layers of your heart to encourage new growth and healing from within. It was time of talking, listening, and experiencing visual interpretation of the Trinity and our different relationships in life; it was an incredibly powerful and moving experience that resonated deep, deep in my core.
Here are my takeaways from the long weekend:
- Married people, listen up, take the time away. Beg, borrow, steal. Do what you have to do. Your marriage needs it. Your soul needs it. It needs to be long enough to disconnect from life, to breathe, to fully relax and to just BE together. Fully focused. No distractions. And yes, I know there are seasons in life that just don’t allow for this time away, so make the time together: after the kids are in bed, during naptime, dinner dates, whatever it takes. The time is there. Reallocate it.
- Deep discussions are the portal to the heart. Listening with an open mind, an open heart to REALLY hear what your spouse needs…..crucial. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day which is important in survival—but the long term, needs depth.
- The ocean is a soothing balm to the soul. Always and forever, amen. Long walks on the beach, combing the sand for sea glass and cool shells while the sand squishes between your toes and the waves crash down and race up the shore to tickly your feet—yes, good stuff. No beach? I’m sorry. Get outside and find your own soothing balm because God is good EVERYWHERE!!
- Regular meals are a farce. Coffee for breakfast. Biscuit for a snack. Nice lunch. No dinner. Whatever. Eat when we are hungry. With no hangry teenagers about, there is no reason to worry, meals will occur when necessary. I have no idea how to roll this into regular life. All I can say is, it is FANtastic!!
- Marriage is worth fighting for. Going in to the retreat, we were in a good place. Granted we sure have our baggage, as all humans do, but overall a good place. In our life, in our marriage, in our family. Perfect? No. Not by a long shot. But good. This retreat showed me that all may be well, but marriage always needs tending and when we take a good long look at it and each other there are always areas that need a little TLC.
- Prayer is essential. You may not be a FAITH person and truly, I have no answer to that. I only know that I’ve been down that road before and between the two I KNOW that this God-road is filled with a peace, hope and strength that is beyond comprehension and nowhere to be found on the faithless road. Bring that faith and prayer into your marriage and you have a foundation of ROCK that is undeniable. Faith looks different for everyone and if you but dip your toe into that road you will be forever changed.
- Reconciliation and renewal. Reconciling past hurts or areas that we might not even realize are in contention is but one more layer of concrete in that foundation. Taking those to Christ adds the steel reinforcement. Renewing your marriage vows whether in private, at church or a retreat along with 150 of your newest friends, is powerful. Intentional, reflective and if you have some marriage under your belt already, those vows will strike a chord in a way that resonates to your every fiber. Do it.
OK, so that is the gist of the weekend. So find yourself some time with your honey this weekend. Snuggle, walk, if you can get away a bit do it. Take some time this Advent to focus on your own domestic church. It might not be easy, or maybe it will. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.