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December 2007
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February 2008

Reflections on a Marriages Restored Conference

Couples and God. As I struggled how to begin this post I came back to that. Not too exciting of an intro, but that really is the essence of Marriages Restored.

I fiddle with videos. Ann does a production schedule. We review notes and write new notes. We were fortunate to have a real chef cook a great lunch (thanks John) on Saturday. Bruce and Heather and William and Crissie volunteered to do childcare. Pam helped check folks in and visited with a woman who walked in needing to talk to someone. Teri helped with a little of everything. All so the couples might connect with one another and with God.

The stories of couples and the stories of God. We had three stories this time. Mark and Ronda (get the h out of there she jokes) told their story of growing apart to the point of divorce seeming to be the best option. Al and Vicki (no e) shared about Al's often and loud anger and Vicki trying to deny it really mattered as much as it did. Ann and I shared about the infidelity that had us at the cusp of the lawyer's office.

The turning point for each was an encounter or encounters with God. Couples and God. How do I say that without it being cliche or cheesy or kitschy?

The scene we show at the end on Friday night comes from Shawshank Redemption. Andy DeFrane broke out of prison after 19 years. He had used a small rock hammer to dig his way through a wall and to an old cast iron pipe carrying the solids and fluids and stench from the bathrooms. He cracks the pipe and crawls 500 yards to freedom. He lifts up his arms in worship as the rain and lightening dances. Morgan Freeman narrates the scene. He says, "Andy crawled through 500 yards of fowl-smelling shit that I just can't imagine. Or maybe I don't want to." Sometimes stuff just is what it is.

Couples heal and encounter God throughout that 500 yard journey. Some say it is too hard and go back to prison.

On Saturday, 21 couples were spread around the room sharing from their hearts. There was more tension for some than others. The buzz from those couples is a wonderful sound. It makes me smile.

The end of the time is always a mixed emotion. By us sharing openly we give many permission to share in the same way. I am thrilled at that. I am also tired. I am sad. For many couples I won't know what happens now. Did the time spent really matter? I suppose that's not up to me.

I'm called to share my story and to provide some direction for couples to have some meaningful, scarily honest conversations. In sharing my story I reconnect with my wife and God. A couple and God.