My wife and I attended a conference on marriage as participants and presenters, last week. The event was sponsored by Abundant Harvest Christian Center of Altadena where pastors Anthony and Michelene McFarland serve as leaders. The event is held annually, in conjunction with Valentine's Day and, therefore, is conducted in a romantic setting with dinner, speakers, workshops, games to magnify marriage and have some fun with music, dancing entertainment, along with ministry intertwined dealing with serious issues of marriage.
The romantic location this year was the Queen Mary ship (hotel) in Long Beach, California. The event provided an opportunity for my wife, Miss Ruthie, and I to share a few of the things we have learned over the fifty years we have been together with other couples and leaders who also served as presenters. Marriage is, after all, hard work and needs constant attention to make it work and keep it working. We say thanks to Abundant Harvest leaders for focusing on what is important to communities, i.e.; keeping families together. That is more important than anything for a church to focus on, including the offering, the pastor, or the building fund.
The event has been going on for twelve years. Last year the romantic dinner event was held at New Otani Hotel in Los Angeles. If you are getting the idea that this is a romantic weekend getaway, with benefits, you are right. And when is the last time you took your wife on a weekend to a hotel to spice up your relationship? You even tune up your car once a year.
The theme of this year's conference was, "The Power of Two." Pastor Anthony McFarland did a magnificent job of winding up the conference with the message of how and why working together as a team strengthens a marriage in so many ways. My wife did a great job as a presenter which included her reading from a booklet we wrote for the event entitled, SUGGESTIONS FOR A SOLID MARRIAGE, subtitled, What is in your bag of experiences? where we talked about the baggage everyone brings to a marriage , like teachings of parents, old relationships and children and how they affect the marriage. As a note: we are happy to make a copy of that booklet available to church marriage fellowship workers for the asking.
On returning home, I talked to two of our sons, one saying thanks for a business opportunity we provided him; the other for some advice given, and our adult granddaughter, who works for the family business while attending college, reporting that she had taken care of some responsibility to the business she was charged with taking care of. And if you are getting the idea that I am proud of my family, you are right. We worked hard to keep them moving in the right direction, while keeping our relationship moving in the same direction. As Pastor McFarland said to the conference, after fifty years of marriage he was sure we had something to share, why not take advantage of that wisdom.
Then we turned on the television news to see the tragic result of a bad family outcome, the death of Whitney Houston at 48 years old. That's the age of our oldest son. We all know about her mother Cissy Houston's huge influence in Whitney's life, guidance and upbringing, but does anybody know what influence Whitney's father had in her life? Do you know where your children are? And where is your marriage? Please note that the children are not the marriage and vice versa. As my wife pointed out at the conference, she had me before we had the children and, therefore, the husband is the priority, and the wife should also be the husband's priority.
Of course you can have a bad father as evidenced by the tragic life of Michael Jackson; dead at fifty. Was Joe Jackson more concerned with his children's success on the stage than success in their family function or the individual needs for each family member? I'm just asking. Michael was rich and famous. He, like Whitney, died young. Michael was rich and famous. Now he, like Whitney, is prematurely dead. For Michael and Whitney, there are no grandchildren that they will know. Like marriage, good parenting also takes hard work.
Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Black History Month! Our families are, after all is said and done, our history. How will history record your family? Good husband and wife who put their spouse first? Or abandoned your family? Ego, fame or fortune is never an excuse for not having strong marriages and strong families.