- Four score and 20 years ago (minus the 4 score, so really 1 score ago) Tim and I were teaching a marriage class in our home called Intimate Encounters. We loved the material, and we were blessed to have our church send us out to Austin a couple of times for training with the authors. We loved them, and believed the Lord was leading us to partner with them in some way, but we didn't know what it would look like or how it would come about so we prayed and waited....
- Four score and almost 8 years ago (minus the 4 score - hmm - right about the time we started this blog) we were led to sell our house and go on the road, and during that time we knew we were to inquire of the Lord what type of vision He wanted to give us for marriage ministry. Check out my 10/26/2010 update where we felt the Lord shifting our eyes and our hearts towards marriage ministry to pastors, but we didn't know how or what that looked like, so we prayed and waited...
- Four score and 7 years ago (minus the 4 score - this is the last time I'll use that annoying reference!) we returned from our RV trip and started praying about getting back involved with marriage classes at our church, but we felt led towards a more comprehensive marriage ministry (in addition to anything with pastors that the Lord would want us to do). We didn't know how or what that looked like, so we prayed and waited...
#2 started happening right away when we returned from our RV trip, with a local pastor approaching us and asking us to care for he and his wife. We spent the rest of the year of 2011 meeting regularly with this anointed couple and saw God show up in powerful ways. This couple took that time and allowed the Lord to multiply it and now they care for each other and others in powerful ways!! But then, we went back to praying and waiting over all 3 of the things I listed above...
#3 started happening last spring. Finally, April of 2017, our pastor asked Tim and I out to lunch and asked us to start a marriage ministry at our church called re|engage. On May 17, 2017, we met with 6 pastors at our church along with our dear friends, the Perrella's to discuss the vision of marriage ministry for our church. That night, we watched our youngest walk across the stage and receive his high school diploma. Coincidence? I don't think so! God's timing was perfect, because any time you do marriage ministry, it takes you away from your kids - it just does - so while we were chomping at the bit all those years I'm so glad we waited on God's timing. Honestly, there were times we even thought of leaving our church and going elsewhere to places we knew were already doing what we wanted to do. But God knew we needed to stay right where we were, and so we never had a peace about leaving. So glad we didn't! We put out the request for facilitators for the marriage ministry, and we had 86 people (43 couples) go through our facilitator training last summer, and then we started out our first night in September with over 200 participants signed up!! It's been amazing!
So what about #1? That's been a 20 year (or so) wait. Honestly, I think we had almost given up on it, but the desire never left. Well, long story short, in November we came in contact with the author of Intimate Encounters and he invited us to contact his daughter, Terri, who was heading up a training at Winshape (Chick-fil-a's retreat center) to see if we could help her. She said yes! We were just going to be table leaders, but we ended up presenting when one of the presenters fell ill with a bad cold. It was such an honor and encouragement to see the beginning of a fulfillment of something God had laid on our hearts so long ago, and also an incredible introduction to the Winshape Foundation! Since that time, opportunities have been coming out of the woodwork this year!! Here are some of them:
- We were invited back to Winshape before we even left in November for a host couple training in January of this year. This means we can now be available to be a host couple for their marriage conferences and their marriage adventures.
- We were then invited to a Pastor's Retreat with someone who partners with Winshape to be a host couple for their retreat the week immediately following the Host Couple training. It was so great to see God restore and heal these hurting ministers, and to see Him further the vision of #2 He gave us.
- We were then invited back to Winshape to be a host couple for their Courageous Marriage Conference in March. Loved it!
- We were invited to facilitate 7 local senior pastor couples in a type of Life Group. We have been meeting every other week since then, and are just blown away at all God is doing there! Another fulfillment of #2!
- Terri, with Intimate Encounters, invited us to be a host couple for their Galatians 6:6 retreat to pastors at Winshape. Now God was mixing #1 and #2 together!! That's just crazy talk!
- Winshape invited us to be a host couple for another of their marriage conferences, which happened to directly follow the Galatians 6:6 retreat. How cool is that?
- One of the directors of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) pastors invited us to travel with them and 4 other pastor couples to New York for an Emotionally Healthy Discipleship training that they want us to then be involved with training other pastors in. So, more of #2, thank you very much!
- We have been invited to participate in a sailing Marriage Adventure with Winshape so that we can in turn host a sailing adventure in the future. It will be a week long trip in the Abacos Islands near the Bahamas. Can't wait!
- We go back to Winshape as small group leaders for their host couple training.
- Guess where we'll be? Back at Winshape, but I honestly don't remember why - host couple for a marriage conference or small group leader for a host couple training? Does it matter? We are just so happy to partner with them!
So, those are the words I wanted to share as I posted all those pictures in my last update. I hope it is an encouragement to those of you who are waiting on the Lord in areas You've felt His leading on but haven't seen any fulfillment in them. We waited 7 years, 8 years, and around 20 years. It's DEFINITELY been worth the wait! We thank God for speaking to us and then giving us the privilege to partner with Him in places He is working. Reminds me of Eph 2:10 For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. How cool is that? OK, I think I'm done with my words now (until next time...)!