As the end part of our trip last week, the Lord allowed us to attend a Family Encouragement Weekend Conference (FEW Conference) in Fairfax, Virginia. Wow! Our friends, the Wilkes Team did an outstanding job hosting it, and there

Jenny & Titus were nearly two hundred people there; somewhere around thirty-five families gathered together to encourage each other to continue to “fight the good fight  of faith”  and to be a light for Jesus Christ in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation. It was an amazing time of encouragement, inspiration, blessing, and challenge as we fellowshipped with one another, prayed together, sat under the teaching of godly men, and sought the Lord’s will as individual families. The schedule went somewhat as follows:

We arrived back at the Wilkes’ on Thursday afternoon, so we were able to help wrap up some of the things that still needed to be done. We had a lot of fun along A hive of "busy bees" setting up for the next three days :) the way, too! Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” We certainly saw that to be true once again as we worked together as members of the family of God! That evening, we went to the school where the conference was to be held, and got things ready there: setting up chairs and tables, working on the sound system, preparing the registration table, and “scoping out” other things for consideration.

On Friday, we started the day with a Wisdom Search together – what a blessed time of meditation on the Word and sharing with brothers and sisters in Christ! We then hit the ground running with the remaining preparation, and it was a joy toDaniel, working on lunch - Mmmm! see the spirit of cooperation and teamwork in every person!  Finally, at noon, the last dish was finished, the final water balloons were filled, the obstacle course was set up, and the grill was going for the cookout: now things REALLY got started. 🙂 Over one hundred people attended the cookout at the Wilkes’ home, and it was a great kick-off to the rest of the weekend!

_MG_0036Immediately following lunch, everyone went outside and was assigned to different teams for the family-building obstacle course. Each team was_MG_0070 composed of several families, and each father explained the directions and led his family through the beginning of the course. Laughter was prevalent as we followed our fathers blindfolded through a rocky path, played a mini croquet_MG_0081 game while holding a cup of water in our hand, carried a cup of popcorn on _MG_0064our feet (and then dumped it, hands-free, into a bucket), tried to catch water balloons, and accomplished various other tasks. 🙂

That evening, everyone went over to the school and heard the first few of a chain of inspiring, convicting, and life-changing sessions. Our attention was brought to important truths dealing with why there is still hope for a Godly family, the heart of fatherhood, and how to protect your family in the area of medicine. AfterMr. Staddon encouraging families that and a brief clean-up, the Wilkes, Staddon, and Neely Teams headed back to the Wilkes’ house for a few more hours of fellowship before it was decided (by the adults at least :)) to “hit the hay.” 🙂

Saturday opened with another Wisdom Search with all three families; this time focusing on Proverbs 8. By the time we all loaded up, headed for Happy Hannah & Tiny Titus - great friends! :)the school again, we had been both spiritually and physically nourished (thanks to the great cooking of Daniel and other members of the Wilkes Team :)) and now possessed the stamina needed for an unbelievable day. During the bloc of time before lunch, we heard meaningful lessons on courtship, marriage oneness, and family harmony. While Man-talk (Herman & Michael) the mothers prepared lunch and the fathers met for a time of prayer, all of the young people entered wholeheartedly into Discipleship Soccer and Canadian Dodge Ball.   What an encouragement to see the older ones taking the time and energy required to invest into the lives of the younger children! We came in worn out and very warm, but filled with joy and ready to do full justice to the wonderful meal! During the rest of the afternoon, we saw an amazing chalk Josh & Jenny: "The Impact of Older Siblings on the Family"drawing, gave praise to the Lord through song, and heard more encouraging testimonies on the impact of older siblings on the family, harmony in relationships, and the blessings that come when we die to self and operate under authority. At the end of the day, those staying with the Wilkes were to be found playing volley ball, discussing how the Lord hadFun time worked, eating, and doing anything else the combined brains of 33 people could come up with! 🙂 A special memory of the  evening was when each father prayed a blessing over the 27 young people present. What a treasure to see the hearts and desires of our leaders portrayed as they prayed over us and laid vision for the future!

Saturday night, a few of the more adventurous ones stayed up until after 2:30 a.m. working on… can you guess?? Answer: THIS BLOG!! 🙂 Anyway, somehow we all got enough rest in the remaining 4 hours of the night to sustain the activities Just three families!! :)of the next day – Sunday. Again at the school for the morning worship service, we were challenged by a message from the life of Joseph. Though this day marked the end of our journey, and shortly afterward we were on our way home, we carried with us new inspiration and excitement for how the Lord wants to use our family for His divine purposes. Though the hard part of what we heard and learned was still to come – the APPLICATION of it all – God is faithful and we can accomplish anything through His power alone. We praise God for all that He taught us throughout the week, and we look forward to seeing how He will use what we heard in our lives in the coming days.

To God be the glory – GREAT things HE hath done!