Weekend to Remember

Hello friends. If you are married or hope to be, you probably recognize that the marriage license doesn’t come with a user’s manual. There are countless books available on the art of marriage. A quick search of Amazon claims over 70,000 results. So how does one stand a chance to choose a book that will meet your needs and help you develop a strong, lasting marriage?

Truth is, you will probably read through dozens of books and then become discouraged.

My wife, Kris, and I attended a marriage retreat this weekend that I can wholeheartedly recommend. It has been created by Family Life. Their Weekend to Remember has been presented for decades. The event begins on a Friday night, continues Saturday until 4:00, and finishes Sunday at noon. Saturday night is purposely left free to provide a “date night” for each couple. In our opinion, the second time through was much more meaningful than the first.

Don’t get me wrong, we learned a lot and grew stronger in our marriage after that first weekend. But the second time through the material was so much more meaningful. Full confession, I was feeling pretty low on the “happily married” scale when I attended the first weekend. That “depression” allowed me to only take in the most fundamental information I needed for change to begin.

The speakers mention very early Friday night that each of us may be thinking, “I sure hope my spouse is listening today.” Truth is I needed to say to myself, “I sure hope I am listing today.” Both parties need to be involved in a change for the better. If not, there will likely be a change for the worse.

The program is Bible-centered. As they say, the Bible is our “user manual for life” in general. And much is said about healthy and unhealthy marriage relationships. Whether you have a God-centered life or not, the principles hold and are time-tested.

I will end with a quote from a wife, married 10 years, who attends the Weekend to Remember each year with her husband.

It’s a time to refresh, a time to regroup, and a time to remember why we got married. It’s easy for us to forget what our marriage looks like through the year, but we come here each year because we owe [it] to God, ourselves, and our children’s lives.


Enjoying Spring?

Greetings all. I hope you are having a good Spring so far. I realize that some of you are in more Northern climes where spring is often a surprise. My childhood home was in a northwest suburb of Milwaukee, WI. I clearly remember running outside in shorts and a T-shirt because we had a 50-degree day. Notice I said “a” 50-degree day. And, of course, summer is a week in August.

I am now in South Carolina. Instead of waiting for June to plant, I am blessed to plant in April. Today, I bought a flat of baby vegetable plants. Just the basics: tomatoes (a couple varieties), peppers (green and sweet banana), Zucchini, and Yellow Crookneck squash.

None of the patio pots that were used last year had been cleaned out, so now the motivation was sitting at my feet. Let’s get some new homes ready for you babies. Out comes the gardening tool kit. My tool of choice is shown to the left. After an extensive search, including a reverse image search, I could not find the name of it. The best name I can give it is a short handle potato rake. But it has always been the tool of choice for cleaning out old roots.

As I pulled the last large pot towards me, I noticed it didn’t look like the others. The soil was mounded up on one lip of the pot. The only growth of weeds in the pot was near the opposite lip. Hmm, fire ants. The nemesis of the south. Since 1930 when the red fire ant was imported in the cargo of ships from South America, they have been the bane of every gardener and picnicker down here. I truly hope none of you have found yourself like the picture here.

So what to do? I carefully used my short handle potato rake to get the living plants out of the pot. I then realized how stupid I was and put work gloves on. Carefully, I began to work the soil around and under the ant hill. The looser the soil became, the more agitated the ants became. It did not take long before it was clear I should leave well enough alone and move on. A battle strategy can be considered later.

There were still several planters to attend to, but they had good, live plants in them. Last spring, I was fortunate to obtain a number of Blueberry plants along with a few thorn-less Blackberries and Muscadine grapes. The Blueberry plants were put in rows behind my big garden. (It is in horrible disrepair.) Perhaps 20% of the Blueberry plants survived the winter and will be transplanted soon, I hope.

The Blackberries and grapes had grown out of control last year and left meter-long runners that resulted in an intertangled mess. I have little pruning experience but my pear tree can attest that pruning encourages new and denser growth. I carefully decided to leave at least two new buds on each stem and then… snip, snip. Time will tell if I was right.

I hope in some small way your spring, whether it has started for you yet or not, will be productive and safe. But most of all, I hope it is fun. Enjoy the changing seasons and consider whether all the beauty around you, coming and going year after year, came to be what it is by accident.

Oh, and what is that short handle potato rake really called?