Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sacred Marriage conference

Here's something to file under the "Isn't God awesome?" category...

Just before Niels and I got engaged, we attended a FamilyLife marriage conference. (FamilyLife is the publisher of Generation Ex). We had a great time, and it was a fabulous way to start our marriage.

Our goal was to attend a marriage conference of some sort every year. While we didn't get to a conference during our first year of marriage, we were able to get away together on our Alaskan cruise for the one week my health was good in our first year!

A few weeks ago, we saw an ad for a marriage conference through our church. Of course, with Daniel, it's a bit harder to get away. So we were trying to decide if we were ready to be away from Daniel for two days. (I wasn't!)

I've been a bit under the weather the last week or so, partly fighting off a cold, definitely struggling with head stuff (killer headache, vision issues, nausea, dizzy, etc.). So I have been doing a lot of sleeping and resting when Niels is home. On Saturday, Niels noticed that Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage, and my favorite Zondervan author was flying into Ohio, according to his Facebook status. He suggested I call him.

I was still feeling under the weather, so I napped instead. The next day, Sunday, I slept most of the morning and into the early afternoon. When I woke up, I checked Facebook and looked up Gary's schedule. I saw that he was doing a Sacred Marriage conference about 40 minutes away from us. Usually, he does these conferences over the weekend. This one was Sunday and Monday. Most marriage conferences are at a hotel, requiring parents to find someone to care for their child overnight. This one was at a church, and offered free childcare! The first session started in 90 minutes!

I called Gary to let him know we were coming while we scrambled to get dressed and packed up (not so easy when you have a toddler!). Gary called us when we were about 10 minutes away and told us childcare was full, but that he would talk to someone. Niels and I wondered if we would have to sit in the back or tag team. But when we walked into the church, we were warmly greeted and happy to discover that Daniel had a place with the friendly nursery workers.

Ten years ago, when I first read Sacred Marriage, I was single and not so keen on the idea of marriage. I read it, along with 20 or so other marriage books, as a judge for the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association's Gold Medallion awards. Most marriage books tend to rehash the same things over and over. Sacred Marriage's subtitle is "What if the purpose of marriage is to make us holy more than to make us happy?" The idea of marriage as a spiritual discipline intrigued me, and by the time I finished the book, I really wanted to get married. That's when I started praying in earnest for my future husband!

When I started working at Zondervan, I campaigned hard to be Gary's marketing director, and my proudest achievement there was showing the rest of Z what a treasure we had in Gary. I sat in on part of one of Gary's marriage conferences when I was working at Z, and quickly added a new line to my bucket list: attend a Sacred Marriage conference with my husband.

Niels and I had a great time at the conference. After 15 months of parenthood, it was wonderful to have that time to ourselves to remind us of the importance of our relationship as husband and wife. It was also very good to revisit Gary's insight as a married person.

Monday afternoon, Niels, Daniel and I met up with Gary at a Starbucks so I could introduce Gary to the men in my life. We had fun catching up and sharing our story with him. Of course, being around Gary made me miss my old life and ability to write, but also gave me renewed gratitude for the life God has given me instead.

Now I've got my eye on this one for our next conference! Wonder if FamilyLife offers an author discount?

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