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INSIDE STORY: Finding quiet time in our busy lives

WATONGA, Okla. — As I type this, the bright red lights on the alarm clock by my bed reveal that it’s 12:43 a.m. I am tired but not sleepy. I blame the caffeine in the Diet Dr Pepper that I drank a couple of hours ago.
I am relaxed and feeling peaceful as the heater fan by the door makes a humming noise. Tamie, my beautiful bride of 17 years, sleeps silently beside me.
It is early Sunday, and we have enjoyed a refreshing retreat at Roman Nose State Lodge with 28 other couples from our church.
I have learned, once again, what a difference time with God and fellow Christians can make.
We left our three children with a baby-sitter and drove to this western Oklahoma resort Friday afternoon. Along with my luggage, I packed a few bags of stress from an exhausting week.

My family seemed to run nonstop all week, starting Sunday with morning and evening worship, a 90-minute outreach team meeting and our boys’ Leadership Training for Christ practice.
Then on Monday night, my son Keaton, 9, and daughter Kendall, 7, dressed in mice costumes and performed in a musical at their elementary school. On Tuesday and Thursday nights, my son Brady, 13, played in four middle school basketball games.
Of course, we had Bible classes Wednesday night, not to mention a Thursday meeting at church concerning ministry to children.
And, did I mention that it was press week at The Christian Chronicle — which is a mildly frantic time as we prepare to send the paper to the printer?
Deadline details were still racing through my mind as we joined other couples at the retreat. At the same time, I worried about how our children were doing, since we rarely leave them overnight.
My stress seemed to melt away, though, as the retreat opened with a mixer game called “Couples Jeopardy.”
We went around the room trying to find couples who met certain criteria: For example, Russell and Audrey Warrington honeymooned in Vegas, which earned us 400 points. Mark and Jamie Keitz have gone on a mission trip together, which was worth 600 points. Brent and Mary Keck both could name the fruits of the Spirit without looking, which was worth 1,000 points. We missed out on an additional 1,000 points because we couldn’t find a couple who had bungee jumped together.
In all, Tamie and I wracked up 6,600 points, only about half as many as the winning couple, Brent and Jill Nichols. Despite our losing effort, we had fun interacting with couples and talking with several we had seen from across our crowded church auditorium but never really met.
As the game gave way to God’s word, our speaker, Alan Martin, focused on how husbands and wives can fulfill their commitments to each other. Among the ways he suggested we can honor our spouses: By giving preference to one another; by treating him/her like a cherished treasure; by taking our spouse’s needs seriously; by being faithful to him/her; and by bringing out the glory in our mate. I can’t summarize all the excellent advice he gave in a single paragraph, but I am confident his Bible-based tips will help me and Tamie grow to love and respect each other more.
Equally inspiring, Alan and his wife, Linda, who grew up in the same neighborhood in Cape Town, South Africa, shared “their story” — how they met, what attracted them to each other, how they overcame difficult times and how they live out their wedding vows.
Marriage is a journey, one that often includes ups and downs, peaks and valleys.
The journey of our life together as husband and wife is “our story.” As family minister Randy Roper pointed out at the retreat, our stories can serve as powerful tools, offering inspiration, support, understanding and wisdom to everyone who hears them.
Tamie and I were among the couples blessed to tell our story at the retreat. We recalled how we met as journalism majors at Oklahoma Christian University when she showed up late for a crowded newspaper class and I offered her my seat.
We remembered the uncertain early months of our marriage when my first job — as a reporter at a small newspaper — paid $225 a week.
We remembered a time when we were immature in our faith and would slip into Sunday worship and rush out quickly when it was over.
That was before the congregation that became our home reached out to us, showered us with opportunities to serve and helped us develop our faith.
One of the best aspects of the retreat was the quiet time it afforded. In our couple devotional time, Tamie and I read the Bible together, prayed and reflected on our marriage — all without interruptions from deadlines, smiling children or ringing telephones. Back home, we hope to make this a more regular part of our routine.
Along with quiet time, the retreat offered free time — six whole hours of it Saturday afternoon. Since we don’t golf or fish in 30-degree weather, we napped, drove into town to buy drinks at Sonic and shopped for a bit. When we got back, we wrote encouraging notes to other couples at the retreat, as they did for us.
But most of all, we relaxed and just drank in our time together — with just us.
Did somebody say something about stress? What stress?
When we return home, we’ll stand up and join other couples at church in publicly recommitting our marriages to God’s will. Then we’ll strive to live out that promise in the hustle and bustle of our lives.

Bobby Ross Jr. is Managing Editor of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].

Filed under: Inside Story

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