H.I.M.'s "Irony of Intimacy" Conference

Arriving home close to midnight on Sunday, Feb. 27, I was made aware of how blessed (and spoiled) I am to have Paul.  He didnt come home with me, but rather flew to Charlottesville, Virginia, to spend a day with Lisa and return our second car to Bedford (which had been on loan first to Julie during her fall internship in Northern Virginia, and then to Lisa after her car died).  It was snowing when I returned, and the 6" of snow in our driveway looked a bit overwhelming when I realized that I was there alone. Paul always shovels and makes sure those things are taken care of.   Before taking it on, I checked the weather and found that rain and warmer temps would be arriving through the night, so I pretended it wasn’t there and sloshed through to the house dragging suitcases and mementos from the Princess run.  Continuing in the established pattern of touching home base only briefly, I did laundry, repacked, and drove to Glenville, New York (just outside of Albany), to spend a couple of days with my very dear friend Helen Challener, who had just moved into a new home and whose husband was on a 2-week business trip to India.  My gamble on not shoveling paid off; I had no problems driving out of our driveway Monday morning, thanks to rain which melted the already fallen snow and ice.  Sometimes procrastination is a good thing.

My days with Helen passed altogether too quickly as we poked around thrift stores, walked her dog Penny, visited with a wonderful “I want to be like her when I grow up friend of Helens named Betty,  and laughed and talked endlessly.  It was a total blast and I’m so thankful we were able to shoehorn the visit in between conferences.

Helen and her dog Penny are getting settled in their new house.
Helen and I spent an inspiring evening with her dear friend, Betty.
The following weekend, March 4-6, was our annual H.I.M. marriage getaway conference.  Returning to the beautiful Viking Hotel in Newport, Rhode Island, we had a sell out crowd of 100 couples.  At our H.I.M. Board’s insistence, Paul and I spoke for this conference and we felt very, very met by God.  We love teaching on the subject of “The Irony of Intimacy because we’re constantly reminded that at the very heart of intimacy is sacrificial love.  It's so easy to forget that in this culture, which is so steeped in entitlement and approved-of selfishness.

From start to finish, the weekend exceeded our expectations.  We are so blessed to have a phenomenally creative and hard-working team around us.  Doug and Julie Macrae knocked it out of the park again with their generous goodie bags and the wonderful decorations, which created an ambience of romance and delight. Jim and Sue Martis handled registrations, the book table, and served as the liaisons for the hotel.  They covered every detail masterfully.  Guy and Barbara Steele, who are pivotal in every conference, were not with us physically due to a conflict in schedule, but they were with us in “form: all the forms, handouts, and printed material were once again produced by them.  We really missed having them at the conference (it’s the first one theyve missed in the 7.5 years of H.I.M.’s existence) but were thankful for their partnership behind the scenes.  The Tiptons, Musacchios, Ploskers, Hendricks, and Franks also helped in a variety of ways, underscoring the power of teamwork.

Did I mention that Paul baked over 200 of his world famous chocolate chip cookies for the conference?  Two cookies were nicely packaged and placed in each of the goodie bags.  What a guy!!!

From the moment our guests arrived and were greeted by a warmly welcoming registration team, to our final prayer Sunday early afternoon, there was a palpable sense of God’s presence and love.
We loved how special you made us feel.  Love was in the air, the moment we walked in with heart balloons floating in the air, chocolate at every moment, and a special gift bag full of treats.  Thanks!  We feel so rejuvenated.”  (Evaluation from a couple married 15 years)
Danny and Rayna Oertli lead vital worship and then blessed us with a fabulous concert Saturday night, which featured many songs from Danny’s new CD which will be released in May. Though they can perform, when they lead worship, they are only about helping us meet God through song.  How thankful we are for the humble ways they use their gifts.
This has been a wonderful, refreshing weekend.  Were inspired to press on and love each other well.  Rayna and Danny were awesome, as were all the speakers.  Thank you for your transparency and encouragement, Friesens.  (Couple married 3 years)
Workshops were varied and capably taught by a great team of teachers.  Many positive comments were expressed on the evaluations about the workshops.
We found the conference extremely helpful.  We're leaving with a lot of great resources on ways to improve our marriage. (Comment from couple married 20 years) 
The Macraes, as always, spared no expense in creating a welcoming ambience in the meeting room.

It was a treat to hear a number of new songs that Danny has just finished recording in Nashville for his next CD.

The audience was very, very responsive and engaged all weekend.

We couldn’t have asked for a better response to the weekend.  God was so faithful to meet us in unbelievable ways.  Several have written that their marriage was turned around this weekend.  The Body of Christ expanded by at least one, as the long-suffering prayers of a faithful wife were answered when her husband decided to follow Jesus.

Wow!  That kind of stuff is accomplished not by great decorations or teaching or a well planned conference, but by the Spirit of God and we are humbled by His grace.

That night after the conference, North Shore Community Baptist Church hosted a family concert featuring Danny, and about 200 people showed up.  Ryan and Kelly Plosker worked hard to pull of this great evening and it was a wonderful night of celebration of all that is good in the body of Christ.  It was a fitting exclamation point on the end of an amazing weekend.

Danny and Rayna lead worship before performing a concert at North Shore Community Baptist Church on Sunday night, March 6.