Legacy of Hearts and Roses

Another H.I.M. Marriage Conference is history . . . and is now part of the legacy we’re committed to building as we continue to invest in marriages in New England.

And what a weekend it was!

A 9" snowfall three days before the start of the conference gave us momentary pause, but God blessed us with beautiful, clear weather February 12-14, allowing all to travel safely and easily to Newport, Rhode Island, for the conference. The Hyatt Regency Hotel on Goat Island provided a luxurious getaway location that invited all to disconnect from the cares of jobs, children, and life in general, and to reconnect with their spouse.

From the moment our guests arrived, they were wrapped up in love. Guy and Barbara Steele and Richard and Kit Hendricks warmly welcomed each guest with smiles, a goodie bag, and two of Paul Friesen’s World Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies. :) Can you improve on that???

The Hendricks and the Steeles made sure everyone felt warmly welcomed to the conference.

After settling in to their rooms and having dinner, conferees entered a beautifully decorated ballroom at 8 pm on Friday evening for session one. Dozens of red roses adorned the tables and were accented with heart-shaped votive candles and helium balloons. Doug and Julie Macrae’s signature was all over the room as they once again transformed the space into something thematically affirming and lovely. Chocolates, red hots, and conversation hearts were scattered on each table—edible centerpieces are always enjoyed and consumed! One guest commented, “The room made my husband and I feel so cared for the moment we walked into the room!”

Worship was lead by Danny and Rayna Oertli, who have become H.I.M. marriage conference favorites. As always, their music ministered to souls and brought us in worship to Jesus. It is such a joy and a privilege to partner with them in this strategic ministry.

Bob and Carol Kraning, veteran family ministers from Yorba Linda, California, returned to partner with us. Though no strangers to the H.I.M. family, it’s been a number of years since the Kranings were with us and it was a delight to have them back. Now 52-years married and still going strong, their messages on “The Legacy of Love” were powerful and credible. Bob and Carol are wise, approachable, great communicators, and speak from a “long journey in the same direction.” A number of attendees commented that they had never known anyone who had been married for 52 years. The Kranings spoke truth about God’s design for marriage and they challenged us to build “hedges of protection” around our marriages. Practical, humorous, and real would describe their style and they were appreciated by all.

Bob and Carol Kraning taught powerfully about God’s design for marriage.

Workshops were also offered at two different times so couples could tailor the weekend to specifically speak into their season of life. Ryan and Kelly Plosker presented a very popular session on “Living the Legacy Everyday” which challenged couples to choose to honor their spouse practically and daily. They also did a workshop for young marrieds to help them set their course towards God’s heart. Eric and Joylynn Mello from South Shore Baptist Church received rave reviews on their workshop dealing with finances and stewardship principles. Bob and Carol Kraning lead an interactive seminar on the empty nest years, while Doug and Julie Macrae delighted and inspired folks with their “Super Bowl” workshop. Danny and Rayna’s workshop on the unexpected twists and turns in life was deeply appreciated by all who attended. Debuting for the first time at one of our H.I.M.-sponsored marriage conferences, Paul and I did a workshop on parenting and it was packed out.

Ryan and Kelly Plosker taught on “Living the Legacy Everyday”

Eric and Joylnn Mello teach on making wise financial decisions.

As important as content and instruction are to a getaway weekend, we place an equally high value on providing time for couples to reconnect outside of scheduled programming. Five hours on Saturday afternoon were unprogrammed and couples were free to spend it as they wished. The beautiful weather made it inviting to enjoy the natural beauty of Newport, from poking around the waterfront town to walking the Cliff Walk. Some toured mansions, some shopped, some geocached. Some chose to catch up on much needed sleep and grabbed an all too rare nap. The freedom of the afternoon is as important as the structured times of teaching.

Many enjoyed watching the ice sculpture artists at work in Newport on Saturday afternoon.

A delicious banquet was served Saturday night, followed by a teaching session with Bob and Carol. The grand finale was an Oertli and Oertli concert, which was deeply appreciated by all. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day.

Sunday’s breakfast was followed by workshops, which lead into the final large group session. Paul masterfully emceed and his quick wit and on his feet humor kept laughter ringing in the ballroom as it had all weekend. He handed out dozens of Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards in honor of many couples who took the time to write a tribute to their mate and showed several hilarious video clips. Can I say that he does a great job of working a crowd??

Paul and I taught the final Sunday morning session.

As Danny sang “Will you marry me again?” to close the conference, couples throughout the room exchanged words with one another. Some prayed together, some confessed, some made commitments to make changes, some just sat and held each other. It was a holy moment as couples vowed to keep working at making theirs a “sacred” marriage.

Within an hour, the roses and balloons were on their way to many different homes, the tables were cleared of candy and papers, the book table was packed away, and the ballroom was stripped of all semblance of the “Legacy of Love” marriage conference.

But by God’s grace, each couple was driving home in a different place than they were when they came. Hopefully all left with a renewed vision for the potent ways God could use their marriage to change the world and with great hope that they aren’t alone as they face a world strewn with land mines with regards to marriage.

Some think that marriage conferences are only for people who are really struggling in their marriage. We believe they’re for people who want their marriage to be all that God has designed them to be.

Paul and I stand with Bob and Carol Kraning and Rayna and Danny Oertli at the end of the conference.

The phenomenal team that made it happen. Every one in this picture made a unique and important contribution to making this one of the best conferences ever and we are so blessed by them!

The Saturday sunset was spectacular and put an exclamation point on the end of a really great weekend.

The hearts and roses are gone . . . but the legacy is being built. May the next generation experience God more fully and with more credibility as they see His power and love in this generation!