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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Review: A Weekend to Remember by Family Life

"Love like you mean it" is the slogan for Family Life's weekend marriage seminar called A Weekend to Remember, WtR. Every year, couples from my church go to this conference. As a family with 3 children, finances and housesitters don't come easy. But this year we started supporting a friend of mine going on staff with Family Life, Brian Winkler, go to his website and support him here, and we received hugely discounted passes to a WtR conference. So we committed. We are glad we did. If nothing else, we were glad to get away, eat at a nice restaurant, and enjoy a beautiful and unusually warm Connecticut autumn weekend.

We don't consider our marriage in trouble or on the rocks, but, we reasoned, we aren't perfect and could always use encouragement and reminders on things we may have neglected. We did get good refreshers on communication, expectations, and spiritual communion with each other and our kids.

One of the spiritual disciplines I am weakest at is prayer. I go to prayer groups because I am so bad at it, not because I'm good at it. We were encouraged to be spiritually intimate by praying together. The seminar speakers talked about many dimensions of intimacy, emotional and physical, but the spiritual dimension is where I paid more attention. In the past, we have tried praying together before going to sleep at night, but I was usually guilty of going to sleep while my dear wife prayed. I'm not a prayer warrior, I'm a prayer sluggard. My best prayer posture is in motion. I pray through the Lord's prayer on my bike ride. So we decided we'd pray together on the evening dog walk.

The most stimulating part of the conference for me was the session for men. The speakers focused on our jobs as husbands and fathers. I was struck by the overwhelming disappointment in the room with our fathers. When the speaker, Raymond Causey, asked the room to call out the words they associate with their fathers, none I heard were good. Raymond admitted his own failings as a father, but pointed us to the goal of being like our perfect Father. One thing I came home with is to attempt to pray with my children, not just for them. I've succeeded this year in getting the kids to read through the New Testament this year, one chapter a day. We will try the Old Testament next, with 2 chapters a day. I'm satisfied that they now associate eating breakfast with getting their souls nourished as well. I have always prayed before dinner and I always pray for them when I kiss them good night. But I never pray with them. So since WtR, when I tuck them in, I pray for them and ask them to pray with me for something. I suggest people to pray for or events. They have done so, at my request.

At least for 3 days, the Weekend to Remember has resulted in positive spiritual change in our family. I hope people who come and comment here ask me, months and years from now if we are sustaining. Please ask.

We went to a couple great restaurants suggested by Chef Ben of The Inside Soup, that I hope to review this week, Tapas West Hartford and Shish Kabob Afghanistan of West Hartford.

8 comments:

Limdeswein said...

So, do you still recommend the conference?

John Umland said...

I sure do.
God is good
jpu

John Umland said...

Let me enhance that answer. My wife and I still pray together when we walk the dog and I still give the kids things to pray aloud about with me at bedtime.
God is good
jpu

Nikki Watson said...

Hi. I'm wondering if your reccomend the WtR for estranged couples. My husband and I have been separated for 2 years. We had decided to try and reconcile. Do you think this conference can mend a broken family?

John Umland said...

At the end of the conference we were at, some couples had reconciled. I think this happens frequently at these conferences. It may only be a beginning on a path to recovery, but it sounds like a new beginning is what you could use. Go for it. I'm praying for you Nikki.
God is good
jpu

Nikki Watson said...

John,
Thank you for your encouragement. Please keep my family in your prayers. We really have a lot riding on this conference. We have been broken for such a long time. We are in desperate need of a miracle. I do know God is able. We are truly looking for a new beginning.
Thank you for your review of the conference. I have scoured the web looking for unbiased reviews. My hope is renewed for my husband and I.
Praying for your family as well,
Nikki W.

Brian said...

I recognize that I am a little biased, as I am on staff with FamilyLife, but I thought perhaps some brief testimonies of couples who have attended a Weekend to Remember would be helpful;

"We were already in isolation. WTR was a break it or make it weekend for us. We signed our divorce papers and had been contemplating on turning it in. WTR has given us the tools and resources we need to turn our lives around as partners in Christ, and as a family walking with Christ as well. We are excited to apply these tools to our relationship to see what God has planned for us. WTR has truly restored hope for our future together."
U.S. Navy
Married 5 ½ years

"In February my husband left our home and said he would only return if I left! After counseling with our Pastor, he returned to our home but not our bedroom. In April we attended our first FamilyLife conference in Grapevine. In less than 48 hours I got a new husband with a new heart. It was his idea to return for a tune-up this year. My sister called the conference “obedience school “ for husbands, but it is much more. It gives couples the information to fight the battle with each other, not against each other."
Homemaker
Married 20 years

"This conference showed me how to achieve oneness with my wife, and how this can be one of the best and most beneficial accomplishments in life."
Married 7 years

Our facebook page has hundreds of testimonies as well... Praying that God will show Himself strong in your situation!

John Umland said...

Thanks Brian!