After dating long-distance for only four months, David proposed to me on Christmas morning, in his Atlanta townhouse in 2016. We knew it would be a short engagement since I didn’t want or need a wedding. We are over 40, both divorcees, and our four boys are grown. So I started making plans to move from our hometown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, – where we both grew up – to Atlanta right away. Before we eloped alone to Montego Bay, Jamaica on June 29th 2017, I was convinced that we needed pre-marital counseling. Although God had confirmed our union, we wanted to be sure to develop a strong foundation from the beginning.
Being fairly new to Atlanta, since David had not yet connected to a church, I began a pre-marital counseling search. During my online search, I found The Heart Of Marriage Retreat. David and I looked over pictures from past retreats, read the testimonials, looked over the weekend agenda, and we thought it would be good for us to attend, although it would be ‘post-marital’.
Having a lot of experience with planning a number of large events, including corporate and even family weddings, I am very particular about event details. Since I have yet to meet anyone with my level of OCD, I am usually disappointed with the lack of detail, ignorance or just plain laziness in most events. Therefore, I don’t have very high expectations when I attend most events, and this one was no different. On the contrary, The Heart Of Marriage retreat was absolutely excellent! It was completely above and beyond our expectations! Not only was everything done in excellence, but each workshop, each speaker, each activity, the meals, the worship, was incredibly amazing! My husband and I felt genuine love from the marriage retreat staff, as well as the facilitators and the participants. As a result, we knew that our own marital bond was strengthened that weekend, as we were forever changed by the candidness, testimonies, laughter, tears, transparency and conviction.
This retreat provided what we didn’t know our marriage needed, and gave us the ‘pre-marital/post-marital’ guidance that changed us forever. So much so, that as the retreat came to a close, we wanted more. When they announced that Ben Hill would continue marriage ministry discussions and meetings, we signed up via email right away. It drew us to consider Ben Hill as a church home, and after attending Sunday services for one month, we felt as though the Spirit of the Lord called us to become part of the Ben Hill family. Since then, we have been active in the marriage ministry, usher board and the missions ministry. We are grateful for what God is still doing in our marriage as a result of the Marriage Retreat. Our prayer is that God will continue to reveal his purpose for us at Ben Hill, as well as in the world.
We are excited and looking forward to what’s in store for us at this year’s upcoming Heart Of Marriage Retreat. We are certainly looking forward to connecting more with each other, as well as with the other couples from last year and seeing new faces. I have invited every married couple we know, even from other states. We have an expectation that God will move again, even greater and exceed what He has done last year. And as a result, couples will be healed, repair and restore, connect deeper, and be changed forever.
Today…..David and I are closer than ever. We just purchased a house to accommodate visits from our boys ages: 19, 21, 23, & 25.