Wine country is just gorgeous. I love my state...it is so diverse in it's topography and I just adore that about it. Wine country is certainly no let down. My pictures don't do it justice. If you ever have the opportunity, go! Even if you don't drink wine...
We had a wonderful time at the Marriage Retreat in Napa. The whole weekend we kept saying to each other, "We're in Napa...weird". Neither of us had ever been there, so it was such a treat for our first visit be together. There are few things I love more than experiencing new places and things with my husband.
Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling 100% on Sunday when we were going to stick around and visit some wineries, so we didn't get to enjoy that part of Napa quite as much as we would have liked (I know, totally lame), but I DID enjoy some wine at dinner on Saturday. More on that in a moment.
The retreat itself was a great opportunity for us to get away and just be together, focusing on our marriage and gaining tools to help us as we move forward. We take this thing very seriously and are always hungry for ways to help us protect our marriage against all that this world wants to throw at us to destroy it. We came away with several nuggets of wisdom, but one of my favorites was this idea that conflict in marriage needs a re-framing...rather than thinking of it as me vs. you, think of it as us vs. the problem. You are on the same team in your marriage...don't fall prey to the lies of the enemy that you are fighting one another. Fight the problem TOGETHER. Seems obvious enough, but it's so easy to forget that...stay on guard and be vigilant to protect against the insidious lie that you are alone in whatever issues arise. You are a TEAM. And you have to protect that team at all costs. Good stuff.
A few other wisdom nuggets:
- Often, the thing that irritates you most about your spouse is the thing that you need the most. The example that the speakers gave was that in the early days of their marriage and their work in ministry, he would go full steam ahead and spend a lot of time outside of the home working to advance the Kingdom (not in and of itself a bad thing) and she would be bothered that he wasn't home very often. One day as he was venting to God about how she was slowing him and the Kingdom work down, God smacked him and said, "If it weren't for her 'slowing you down' you'd already be burned out". I thought that was awesome...whenever I get really irritated by something that Mr. Ford does/doesn't do, I'm going to start thinking about it in terms of what God could be telling me it is that I need. Isn't it amazing how the Lord knows just exactly what we need and gives us people (oftentimes our spouse) to provide that thing? He orchestrates every detail...
- Here's a pithy one, but underneath the pithiness, it's just beautiful: The look of her dreams is far more important than the look of her jeans. AND Be less concerned with what he is earning than with what he is learning. In other words, fall in love with their dreams and they will ALWAYS be the most attractive person in the world to you; fall in love with how they are growing and the ebb and flow of life will be a much easier ride. Beautiful, no?
|Psyched for our date night.|
And the most useful tool we came away with was what they called The Dream Spouse List, meant to help communicate expectations. Basically, you ask your spouse what the 5 things you could do that would make you their absolute perfect dream spouse and then rate them and weight (out of 100%) them in priority order. And then share the lists with one another and begin working on those items. The trick though is to re-evaluate every quarter or anytime there is a major life change, because as you begin intentionally doing the things on the list, other things may come up. You can take some items off, or leave them on, even if your spouse is doing really well with those, just as a reminder that "this is really important to me and you're doing a great job with it, but keep it up". The other thing is grace...if it's not on the list, offer grace to let those things slide. That thing doesn't matter...yet. Add it to the list the next time you re-evaluate, but don't hold them accountable for it if it's not one the list.
I think ultimately, in all things, grace must abound. That's the gospel after all, and as far as I can tell, marriage is meant to be a mirror of the gospel to your spouse. Cover yourself and your spouse and your marriage in grace and the Lord will bless it. Grace, grace, and more grace.
Aside from the marriage wisdom nuggets, we met some younger couples that we are hopeful can blossom into deeper friendships and we also had the opportunity to reconnect with some old friends which we are hopeful will lead to another mentoring relationship. We also had the opportunity to have a nice date night out which was probably my very favorite part of the weekend.
Mr. Ford and I have always loved going out to eat and we are huge foodies. Some of our earliest dates were 3 hour long dinners where we took our time, slowly enjoying each course and talking. Oh, the talking. It's been awhile since we've been able to do that, so it was such a joy to intentionally spend literally hours over dinner and drinks and conversation with one another. I never tire of hearing Mr. Ford's thoughts and it means the world to me that he is so intentional in making sure I know he feels the same about me. We learned new things about each other, encouraged one another, and reconnected on our vision for our life together. What a gift to be married to a man who desires to partner with me in my life calling and I with his...that our life callings seem to match up and fit together so perfectly. It's like Someone knew what they were doing when they brought us together.
|My plate was a work of art.|
And the food was spectacular...as was the wine. Only in Napa can you have wine on tap. Yes, my Riesling was a blend that the sommelier of the restaurant created himself and was stored in the barrel on the premises and poured straight from the barrel. Don't tell me Jesus doesn't love me...holy cow, that was some good stuff and it went so well with my snapper and Chardonnay mussel emulsion. Shut. Up. Amen, thank you Jesus! And Mr. Ford's Zinfindel and pork chops with a whiskey apple mustard sauce was nothing to pooh-pooh either. We left fat and happy. :)
So many gifts in our lives...we are consistently humbled and amazed by the Lord's goodness to us and we were reminded yet again of His faithfulness this weekend.