In my post on November 7th, I mentioned that there was a venture in the works that we were really excited about. I didn't want to go into detail at that point, because things had yet to "gel" completely. Well, it's finally time to share the details. First, some background...
This past Labor Day weekend, Brad and I attended a retreat in Nashville, Tennessee, for bereaved parents. You can read more about it here, if you'd like. It was an amazing experience, and one we've often talked about duplicating here in Arkansas. Well, God has worked in an amazing way to put us together with two other bereaved couples who have the same passion. The "While We're Waiting" Weekend is the result of that God-given desire.
The “While We’re Waiting” Weekend is a retreat designed specifically for couples who have faced the death of a child. It is meant to be an opportunity for couples to spend some relaxed, unhurried time with other couples who understand the devastation of losing a child, to learn from each other, encourage each other, and to discover that we are not alone. Though we will certainly shed some tears together, our intention is not to spend an entire weekend rehearsing our pain. We hope to laugh together as well as cry together, and gain perspective together. We'll deal with many practical aspects of losing a child and not solely the emotion of it. Our goal is to facilitate times together that are positive, helpful, and healing; and to discuss how we can face the time "while we're waiting" to be reunited with our children with joy and hope.
What will we do at this retreat? We’ll share our stories with each other and pray for each other. We’ll enjoy the beauty of nature, and sit in rockers on the porch sipping coffee. We’ll have large group time, couple time, and time for the men and women to share separately. Our time together will be relaxed and informal, but structured.
What will we talk about? Here are a few of the topics:
• Seeing how our faith in God can help us survive the devastation of our loss
• Understanding how husbands and wives can help each other through the grief process, even though we may grieve differently
• Dealing with the hurt caused by strained friendships and family relationships
• Allowing grief to release its grip on us
• Finding meaning and purpose in our loss, and joy in spite of our loss
• Determining how we’re going to live while we’re waiting to be reunited with our child in Heaven
The "While We're Waiting" Weekend will be April 1-3, 2011, and it will be held in the brand new lodge at Family Farm in Glen Rose, Arkansas, about 45 minutes southwest of Little Rock. Brad and I will be the primary facilitators. We are not professional grief counselors or marriage counselors, just parents who have experienced the devastating grief of losing a child. We have found that sharing these experiences with other bereaved, but believing, parents has been a valuable part of our healing process.
The cost per couple will be $150, which will include Friday and Saturday night lodging at Family Farm, as well as meals and snacks from Friday night dinner through Sunday breakfast. Registration is limited to the first nine couples who submit a $50 non-refundable deposit with a registration application. If you think you'd like to come, or you know someone who might be interested, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll send you some additional information and the registration application. Some spots are already filled, so please let us know soon if you would like to attend. Lord willing, this will become a semi-annual event, taking place in the fall and spring of each year.
We are really excited about how God is working in this event, and how He is already bringing a phenomenal group of couples together to participate. We are intentionally keeping the group small (a total of 12 couples) in order to encourage intimacy and the building of life-long friendships. I know that one of the best things about the retreat we attended was the feeling of "safety" as we shared quality time with other couples who "got" us. What an encouragement that was! That is what we hope to provide through the "While We're Waiting" Weekend.
This verse pretty much sums it up...“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:11-13 (NIV)