Of Merriment and Marriage

Not long after returning from New Orleans (about 12 hours later!), we spent the day counseling. The painful stories of so many are more than balanced out by the transformation we often witness when a couple submits themselves to the “nothing if impossible” power of God, but still, we’re so aware that the enemy is working overtime to destroy marriages and families. An unmarried young twenty-something woman, whose parents had divorced almost two decades ago, recently asked us, “When do kids stop paying for their parent’s choice to divorce?” Interactions like that only increase our passion to keep fighting for marriages. How grateful we are for the opportunities to do just that!

January 16th found us just over the border in New Hampshire at Community Chapel, doing a one-day marriage seminar. From the moment we stepped foot in the church, we felt connected with this very warm and welcoming group. Mary DiLoreto, the church admin, had done a great job organizing and arranging the day, which went like clockwork. Her efforts were appreciated by all, for sure, but especially by us and by senior pastor Geoff DeFranca. It’s so relaxing to speak when things are so well prepared. Those attending the conference were very engaged and responsive, and at the end, Pastor Geoff said, “This was the most formative marriage conference I’ve ever attended.” In a very meaningful gesture, he asked the conferees to encircle us and pray for us. And before we left, they invited us for a return visit in January of 2011. We are looking forward to an ongoing partnership with them in the years to come.

We went straight from there to Boxborough, MA, to join a group of very enthusiastic families attending H.I.M.’s Mid-Winter Family Getaway. The setting was ideal as the Holiday Inn rooms are built around a beautiful pool-centered atrium. We learned when our kids were growing up that an indoor pool was all that was needed for a great time during the winter months, and this site provided just that. Though pool fun dominated the time schedule, we had some great program moments as well. Brian and Heather Dietz lead worship and had full participation with family camp favorites such as “The Butterfly Song”, “I am Somebody”, and “The Sprinkler Song.” Paul lead family devotions at each meeting, and Ryan and Kelly Plosker added some creative and fun family activities throughout the weekend. They also took care of the kids during a “Parenting Q and A” session lead by us. It was a great time of fun, fellowship, and encouragement. Snow fell Sunday night as it did in 2009, adding that magical “snow globe” touch to an already memorable weekend. It’d be hard to improve on the overall experience!

Some of the kids reached new heights at the Mid-Winter Family Getaway pool party.

Everyone seemed to have a great, wet time.

From the kids singing “The Butterfly Song”...

...to the adults, under coercion, doing the “Sprinkler Song” (with a little help from their kids).

The special election held on the 19th to fill Senator Kennedy’s seat was a pretty big deal. Against all odds. The little engine that could. It would take a miracle. It’ll never happen. In an election that caught the attention of the nation (and at least some of the world), we have renewed hope that all is not a fait accompli. We admire Scott Brown as a person and as a politician; he ran a clean campaign on his merits and his agenda, hopefully sending a message to all future campaigners that contrary to conventional wisdom and common practice, voters are more moved by positive campaigning than mud slinging. Now we pray that he will be a man of standing for Massachusetts and for America. That night, for the first time ever, we attended a victory celebration—and at the Park Plaza Hotel, the shock and awe was euphoric and hope came bubbling over.

Doug and Julie Macrae and Paul and I celebrated Scott Brown’s stunning victory with a bursting-at-the-seams crowd at the Park Plaza Hotel.

More counseling...and then a return engagement to Grace Chapel to speak at Mom to Mom. They invited us to speak on one of our favorite topics, “Making Wise Media Choices,” and armed with new statistics, we challenged the young moms to be proactive and protective in making decisions regarding media for themselves as well as for their kids. Pretty staggering statistic that the average kid in America now watches/listens to/ interacts with 63 hours of some form of media weekly. Paraphrasing John Ortberg (The Life You’ve Always Wanted), “it’s not just the corrupt nature of what’s on television that harms us, it’s what it keeps us from doing!” So true.

Nineteen couples attended our Engagement Matters Weekend January 23-24, held at Doug and Julie Macrae’s Weston home. Thirty-eight eager, energetic, hopeful, dreamy people—who either are convinced or are on the way to becoming convinced that marriage will be an added benefit to their life—showed up. As usual, the group was very diverse: from just out of high school to well into a professional life; from California, New York, and Pennsylvania; from physicians to performers; from seven years of being together to two months of dating. Lots of great interaction, great questions, great moments of insight. We loved every moment of it and were so thankful for such a dynamic, well-attended weekend. Our last Engagement Matters to be offered during this school year in Weston will be held March 27-28, but we’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be having our first “on the road” Engagement Matters Weekend in Sacramento, California, March 19-20. The Remix of Bayside of South Sacramento (BOSS) will be hosting the Friday night/Saturday conference, so get the word out if you live in that area!

The room was packed with very engaged—or pre-engaged :) —couples all day Saturday and Sunday.

A small part of the Engagement Matters group was still around when we remembered to take a picture.

Counseling has filled in the days this week and we’re now enroute to Seattle, where we’ll spend the next 10 days ministering in a variety of locations. This weekend we’ll be back with the Moses Lake Alliance Church, doing their marriage conference for the third time in four years. We love Kent and Staci Copley who host the event and are so looking forward to hanging out with them and their daughters, Tori and Britni, until Thursday. Each day we’ll have the opportunity to minister with different groups from their church. Next weekend, we’ll start at Overlake Church, speaking at a couples’ night, and then spend Saturday and Sunday at South Beach Christian Center in Grayland, Washington, speaking on marriage and family. In between, we’ll reconnect with many dear friends and ministry partners.

So we’re off and running! Or flying, as it were. Thanks for your support, your interest, your prayers. We are grateful.