Marriage Conference on the Gold Coast

Maybe this is why it’s called the “gold coast.”  The setting sun reflects the glory of God as we drink it in.

We had barely caught our breath after “Worth It” and counseling before we flew to the west coast to speak for Grace Bible Church in Arroyo Grande (on the “gold coast” of California, just a bit south of San Luis Obispo.) Two families from this church, who are Campus by the Sea family campers (Darrel and Cindy Kullman and Paul and Sherry Masters), convinced their senior pastor, Joe Bubar, to invite us to do a marriage conference.  We’re so glad they did!  It was a great experience, from beginning to end.

From the moment we landed at SLO airport, God blessed us in many unexpected ways.  The woman awaiting our arrival introduced herself by saying, “I don’t know if you remember me or not, but I worked at CBS in 1989 and I taught your daughters how to swim.”  :)  We hadn’t seen Jenny Reid Geil since Tim and Krista Zavala’s wedding not long after that summer, but we definitely remembered her.  It was a gift to reconnect with her, to meet her husband, Erik, and to catch up with each other’s lives.  It was such a huge encouragement to us to see God’s work in the lives of so many over the years!

The next blessing was being delivered to our accommodations, which we had been told would be the guest house of some members of the church.  What an understatement!  The beautiful “villa” was at the highest developed peak overlooking Pismo Beach and was definitely 5-star.  Owners Dan and Jennifer Thompson built the guest house with a commitment to using it to bless others, and they succeeded with us!  It was so lovely that had we no schedule to keep, we’d likely still be there.  :)  What a gift!

The conference was kicked off with a Friday night dessert session and we enjoyed speaking to a packed room full of very responsive couples.  We were extremely impressed that three of the pastors and their wives were in attendance, including senior pastor Joe Bubar and his wife, Charlotte, who had only days before returned from a missions trip to Albania.  What great modeling for their congregation!  And what great support for us.  The evening went really well and we returned to the “villa” exhausted but content.

We were at it first thing Saturday morning, and you know I was tired when I passed on the opportunity to do a little tag sale-ing before our 8:30 am start.  :)  Instead of collecting “things” I collected a few more “zzzz’s,” which served us both well for the long day ahead.  Long, but so, so good.  We had great interaction, thoughtful questions, and positive feedback throughout the day.  We truly felt met by God.

Darrel and Cindy Kullman along with Associate Pastor Brian Farone and his wife, Teri, did a great job of putting the conference together.  It was well organized and everything they did made what we do easy.  We loved the spirit of the people: very open, responsive, engaged.  A great reflection of their church leadership.

Coffee break during Saturday’s all-day seminar.

The conferees return to their seats after that coffee break, refreshed and ready for more “food” of a different kind.

That evening, Paul and Sherri Masters hosted a phenomenal dinner for the Bubars, Kullmans, and us.  Paul barbecued some halibut, salmon, and ling cod he had caught fishing in Alaska, and that, combined with rich fellowship and a beyond-description sunset as the full moon rose made for a truly unforgettable evening.  We were filled to overflowing in all ways.  An added bonus was having the Kullman and the Masters children there.  We were so heartened by their hearts for the Lord and their positive contribution to the evening.

Darrel and Cindy Kullman have 5 sons, ages 4 to 18, and all are using their talents to honor the Lord.

Paul and Sherri Masters and their two children (and their dog!) extended warm hospitality and delicious food that evening.

Sunset Saturday night—it seemed to last forever.  And while it was painting an inimitable skyscape . . .

. . . the full moon was rising.  Majesty!

After the sun had set, guitars and s’mores came out around the campfire, adding an exclamation point at the end of a great night.

Back to the villa we went for a solid night’s sleep before teaching a very large Sunday School class on parenting Sunday morning.  Another former CBS staffer (Christi Weakly) came up to reintroduce herself to me; we hadn’t seen her since 1987!  Another surprise blessing from the Lord.

It was our joy to be part of the congregation after teaching SS and hear Pastor Joe preach.  His message was solid and the whole worship experience was good for the soul.  It was really interesting to hear part of Joe and Charlotte’s story.  They both have long, faithful heritages and their three adult sons are serving the Lord around the country.  Charlotte’s father is The Reverend Paul Thom, formerly of Park Street Church in downtown Boston.  In his early 90’s now, Paul is still active in the church and in prayer and visitation ministry.  Gotta love a man like that!

Paul and I had a few moments with Joe and Charlotte Bubar after church on Sunday.

After a quick lunch with Erik and Jenny Geil, and a 5-mile run on the beach, we took our “villa” hosts, Dan and Jennifer, to dinner at a gorgeous restaurant overlooking the ocean—at sunset.  We had a blast getting to know them and their hearts over a fantastic seafood dinner.  It would be hard to imagine a lovelier evening.

Dinner with Dan and Jennifer Thompson—wonderful in every way.
We took Monday as a “holiday” in anticipation of our upcoming 35th wedding anniversary (April 24) and walked the beach, had Bali’s frozen yogurt, poked around downtown SLO, had bbq tri-tip sandwiches for dinner, and went to see Soul Surfer.  It was as close to a date as we’ve had in a while and it sure was a lot of fun.  Back to the villa for our final night.  After cleaning and packing, we took the train to Irvine for the next chapter of this trip.  Stay tuned!