Matt and Liz served their first Marriage Encounter in February and have signed up to serve on the December 9~10th M.E.!
The weekend was better than we’d hoped for – and we already had high hopes going into it!
If Pam and Steve gave us good feedback, it definitely wasn’t just down to me and Liz – a healthy slice of that credit needs to go to them as amazing teachers.
We talk about lots of things as a couple. Inevitably, that runs into some miscommunications too…which is why we find ourselves laughing so much when stand up comedians joke about the differences between men and women, and we see ourselves in their routines. What we both enjoyed so much about Engaged Encounter (2014) and Marriage Encounter (2016) was the content had us ask questions of one another we might not ordinarily ask – not because they were awkward/uncomfortable – but because they might not be on our radar. The classes were a great way to learn more about one another, and a commitment to continual learning is a promise we’ve made to one another.
What pushed us to volunteer?
Two things at our 2016 ME:
- Sermon on the amount. We are grateful for what ME has done for our relationship, and the organization MUST be sustained long-term. We have the time to help, we feel we owe a duty to give back, and the sermon was a call to action.
- The age gap between the lead couples and the average attendee. Whilst our team brought wonderful wisdom, we felt we weren’t able to relate to some of the sharing.
We were not prepared for the pouring of heartfelt thanks. Affirmation isn’t why we chose to volunteer (and it isn’t why we will volunteer again); so it actually came as quite a shock. Almost a day later…we’re still trying to process it, to be honest.
We decided to become a team couple after our weekend retreat in September, 2016. I have always been interested in helping married couples (even before I found Seth!) but I wasn’t sure how to do this. After having a wonderful and revitalizing weekend through Marriage Encounter and after my husband expressed an interest in volunteering as well we signed up!
Our first weekend (though shortened due to childcare issues) was very rewarding. Seth and I worked very hard on our talks so it was great to see that it connected with some of the couples there. More importantly, we heard that most of the couples at the retreat also walked away feeling revitalized in their marriage. What a gift to be a part of!
The Lord blesses us each with gifts, Saint Paul instructed the Corinthians in his first letter, and offers them to us for our use in building His kingdom. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit,” Paul writes, “and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but the same God who inspires them all in every one.” In service and in evangelizing, many gifts are needed, all of them with equal dignity and worth.
I think about this often, especially in terms of ministry – including Marriage Encounter. Not too long after Marcia and I became a team couple for MN Marriage Encounter, our dear friend Mary Jackson asked us to join the board of directors for the organization. Then, as now, the board consisted of good friends and dedicated people looking to offer their unique gifts for the success of our combined effort to strengthen marriages and families in our communities. Over nearly 16 years – most of those as President Couple – Marcia and I have had the joy and blessing of working with a number of faithful servants of the Lord, and benefited from their gifts.
And thankfully, the board has the privilege of supporting an entire community of gifted people! Later in 1 Corinthians, Paul writes about the specific gifts within the kingdom: “And God has appointed in the Church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues.” Who are team couples but teachers and healers? Mary and Sandy are certainly workers of miracles, keeping the organization afloat through stormy times. What blessings we have!
We board members bring gifts of administration and helping, but we get so much back from our efforts. As always, the board could use more members, more friends to bring their specific gifts to further our mission and serve the Lord. For those who might be discerning about how and where to put their gifts to use, please consider coming to a board meeting soon and spend a little time with us.
May the Lord bless your families, and thank you for the blessings your service has already brought so many others.
Your brother in Christ,
Minnesotans love to pay it forward— and that includes people in St. Paul, too. Last year, Minnesotans gave 18 million dollars their favorite schools and nonprofits in just 24 hours on Give to the Max Day. This year, Minnesota Marriage Encounter need your help to raise the bar and make a difference.
Visit Give to the Max on November 17 to support the Minnesota organizations you care about!
Marriage Encounter began in 1952 in Barcelona Spain, Fr Gabriel Calvo was struck with two moving experiences that sparked the Marriage Encounter program. On one hand, Fr Calvo had couples coming to him with their problems, conflicts and tensions with each other and their families. On the other hand, and at about the same time, Calvo came in contact with a group of young couples who deeply impressed him with the evidence of what marriage could be. Their marriages were a picture of mutual trust and conjugal unity, based on a profound spiritual understanding of the meaning of marriage. This is exactly what the other couples were desperately seeking and could not find. Calvo sought the cooperation of these couples in a program of help for those couples who were struggling to make their marriages and family life better. Fr. Calvo makes it very clear in his writings that he did not want the program to have denominational lines. (more…)
A Marriage Encounter consists of a series of presentations given by two facilitator couples. The twelve talks center on various aspects of your marriage relationship. You will listen to presentations along with the other attending couples. After each talk you will be given questions pertaining to the presentation. You will then begin your Personal Reflection (PR) time by separating and writing on the questions given relating to the topic. After your PR time you will be reunited with your spouse, in the privacy of your room, to begin your Couple Dialogue (CD). You will exchange notebooks, read what the other has written and discuss your responses. Please keep in mind there is no group sharing on a Marriage Encounter, only between the two of you in the privacy of your own room.
The program follows a format that enables you, as a couple, to focus solely on your own relationship. The program progresses from Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon, so it’s important to attend the entire weekend to receive its full benefit – and to maximize precious time alone together!
It’s really nobody’s fault. After the honeymoon, jobs demand your attention, bills need to be paid, kids arrive, and the busy-ness of today’s world begins to melt away the candy apple shine of a married couple’s “coupleness.”
Eventually the busy-ness assumes a priority status, shoving your unique “coupleness” farther and farther down the list of priorities until married life becomes merely a whirlwind of “must do” demands.
But nothing is more important than making time to share yourself with your spouse every single day.
A very special blog article in the words of Tricia Lott Willford express the gift she received on a very special weekend that kept her precious and unique marital relationship alive and growing.
Thank you for sharing with all of us, Tricia.
After 6 years of dating, Josh and Bree got married last Saturday. It was a gorgeous Fall day with all the excitement of their wedding ceremony taking place in a beautiful cathedral nestled in the confines of a revered college campus.
The gathered well wishers – including 235 friends and family and a jaunty priest sporting a delightful sense of humor – were mightily honored to share Josh and Bree’s first precious moments of marriage with them.
And share them they did. They laughed, they cried, they clapped, they gasped – and that was during the processional! (more…)