It’s not everyday you get a stellar idea.
It’s not everyday you share this idea with your preacher and he excitedly proclaims, “Let’s run with it!”
This was the brainchild of my friend Mary. She and her husband, Michael, were about to celebrate their tenth anniversary. They desired to renew their vows. Mary decided if they wanted to, perhaps other couples would as well.
She approached Jady Koch, minister of St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church (www.stfrancisinthefields.org ) with the idea. Between the two of them, an entire conference, complete with speakers, vow renewal service, dinner, and dancing was born. Oh, and did I mention there was cake???
(Huge thanks go to Hope Thompson, Cake Creator Extraordinaire, who somehow survived teaching our boys invaluable lessons in Home Ec at Christian Academy of Louisville. You’re our hero, Hope!)
The First Annual Love and Marriage Project (L.A.M.P.) went off without a hitch on June 25th. John and I attended, along with about sixty others—one couple married less than a year, two couples married fifty-plus years! (We will celebrate our thirty-second anniversary on Bastille Day, July 14th, Lord willing.)
The conference portion was held from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. We were blessed with two fabulous speakers: Marta and Rob McKinnon. (www.mckinnoncompany.com ) Marta is a marriage and family counselor, while Rob coaches CEO’s and their executive teams to be the best version of themselves possible. They’ve just celebrated their thirtieth anniversary.
The sixteen-page handout we received is invaluable.(You can download it via St. Francis’ website. You can also listen to their three different talks by going to the website, clicking on “media”, then “sermons/classes”, then scroll down to 6/25/16. Part 1 is Develop Deep Friendship, Part 2 is Manage Conflict and Part 3 is Grow with God. These are all three extremely beneficial.)
Marta and Rob gifted us with not only their experiences of their own marriage (They were quite candid!), but also with several excellent resources:
All of the principles Marta and Rob taught us are Biblically based. We began with Scripture and then worked thru’ different practices and tools. I loved how they always referred to the Bible. Bravo.
Sprinkled throughout the handout are excellent quotes from various authors. My two favorites are:
#1 – “It’s my job to love and respect Billy. It’s God’s job to make him good.” Ruth Bell Graham
Ruth’s quote was in the section on remembering. We were asked to look back over the years of our marriages and to choose happy memories to relive. This came from the principle, “I accept you the way you are.”
Scripture for this is: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7
Any of you out there thinking you can change your spouse, think again. A few elbows were dug into some ribs on this teensy-weensy topic!!! The remembering practice helps you grow your fondness and appreciation for each other, giving your marriage a positive boost.
Likewise, when we worship the Lord, we’re remembering His goodness and mercy toward us. God’s faithfulness will keep us in awe every single time. What a sweet parallel.
Enter Tim Keller for my 2nd favorite quote: “The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” Allow that to soak in for a minute…and repeat… Powerful.
Marta and Rob credit the Lord with helping them thru’ their hard times. They reminded us of the triangle illustration which shows the husband and wife growing closer, the closer they grow their relationship to God.
When asked, “What makes a Christian marriage distinct?” Marta and Rob agreed the Lord must be the center point of your marriage. “If He’s not at the center of your marriage, “ they warned, “…couples tend to look elsewhere for other people or other things to fill that void. That’s where real trouble can develop.”
One more of many pearls we gleaned is a petite three-letter word: “Bid…” This comes from the principle “I believe you are valuable.”
The Scripture for this is: “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
The practice is “Turning Toward One Another”.
“Bid” is defined as “the fundamental unit of emotional communication.” Rob and Marta said, “Every bid needs (and gets) a response. Good or bad…
For example, “Turning Toward” is when you answer your spouse whether it’s a simple “uh-huh” or a long response.
“Turning Away” occurs when you’re pre-occupied, or ignoring, even interrupting your spouse. Novel idea: Lifteth thou faceth uppeth from the cell phoneth.
“Turning Against” is when you’re critical or demeaning. Obviously, this is not desirable!
Note: No response is still a response! To which you can utter, “Bid!” which should cue the silent one to wake up and smell the coffee.
I confess John said, “Bid” not once, not twice, but three times Saturday afternoon after the conference. Busted! A great tool, nonetheless…
Following the conference, we had free time in the afternoon until 4:30. Right at 4:30, John and I, along with all attendees, returned to St. Francis for a lovely church service complete with worship, sermon by Jady, communion, the reading of Scripture, and, drum roll: the renewing of our vows!
Even tho’ Jady was preaching from the pulpit, his lovely wife, Liza, joined him as he led all of us thru’ our vows. Several of us shed a few tears it was so beautiful and emotional. We closed by singing Holy, Holy, Holy.
Following the church service, we were blessed with a delicious dinner and dancing at Louisville Country Club. One couple started the dancing before our meal was served! They’ve been married fifty-two years. They did the twist all the way down to the floor (I kept saying, “Oh my knees!”) They defined the bee’s knees.
Following dinner, our melt-in-your-mouth lemon-flavored wedding cake was served for dessert. We thoroughly enjoyed the entire day and evening. It simply couldn’t have been any better.
Here are some of our fun-n-mighty-fine tablemates:
Thanks again to Michael and Mary Young, Jady and Liza Koch, Marta and Rob McKinnon, the folks at St. Francis, and the great staff at Louisville Country Club. As many before us, including C.S. Lewis have said, “And a good time was had by all.”
Begin your research NOW on how you, too, can renew your vows. Don’t wait for a milestone, just do it!
‘Til next time!