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Retreat To Refresh

Retreat To Refresh—March 20, 2018

Al– Wow! Eighteen years went by really fast. It seems like yesterday that it was February, 2000 when Lisa and I reluctantly attended our first White’s Ferry Road Marriage Retreat in Lake DeGray, Arkansas. It was only the second WFR retreat and the first time at this beautiful location. Lisa and I were not feeling as beautiful as our setting, however, as we were only about two months in to our marriage makeover. We were raw, wounded and in the early stages of healing from an affair and 15 years of ignored pain and past mistakes. For me it was especially hard because I had no leadership role at all. I was used to being up front and teaching, but this year I was a listener and a learner. I had to soak up wisdom from others and be still and let God heal me and our marriage.

It would only take two years before Lisa and I were participating again by sharing our growth and healing with the retreat. We also hosted the Not-So-Newlywed-Game that has become a staple for the retreat. It was fun for me to laugh and celebrate and help others relax in this intimate setting. We fell in love with the retreat and the setting and eventually became a host couple for the event that we still help lead every year. We recently enjoyed our 19th year and are looking forward to our 20th gathering next year.

This year the theme was Refresh and it marked a changing of the name of the event from WFR Marriage Retreat to WFR Marriage Refresh. The name fits a larger strategy of our marriage ministry at WFR, as we are adding in different layers of groups, teaching and materials for the different needs of couples in our church and in our community. An amazing couple, whose marriage was saved only by the miraculous work of God, is heading up this transition. They currently head our Re-engage ministry that meets on Thursday nights and helps marriages, especially those in crisis. They realized as couples work through their process in Re-engage that they needed more as they grew closer as couples.

Lisa and I spoke about desperate forgiveness, which is the theme of our new book that we are currently working on for release next year. Forgiveness is the key ingredient for any relationship that is in crisis and it includes more than just marriage. When forgiveness is not extended and/or received, then bitterness immediately begins to set up in a person’s heart. The Hebrew writer said in Hebrews 12:4-5, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. The only way any of us can live in peace with others is to do so with grace and forgiveness being present. Bitterness never just harms the bitter person, but always works to defile any and everybody around!

We were blessed by many other testimonies and presentations and our marriage was refreshed by being with our forever family and fellow refreshers. We will be heading back up to beautiful Lake Degray, AR on February 15-17, 2019 for our 20th anniversary of WFR Marriage Refresh if anyone is interested in joining us. We will fill up, so inquire about signing up by visiting wfrchurch.org and contacting the church office to get more info.

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