Cate Cooke, a minister's wife from Reading, writes:
As a wife and mother life can be very busy, add in to that the job of supporting my husband in pastoral ministry as well as the numerous add-ons that entails and life accelerates to 100mph without much let-up.
My husband does not go to many conferences and the few times that we have gone together the joy of being 'away' has been neutered by the expectations of the conference itself. Well, imagine a conference that your children refer to as the "marriage refreshment conference"! If you have no idea what I can possibly be talking about then imagine a conference with nice rooms, lovely food, a no 'must' timetable, grace, refreshment, laughter, praise, and you have some idea about why we go this particular conference every year; and "yes" it is good for our marriage, as any real rest away from the job may be!
There is God on the menu at all times - the opportunity to delve deeper with Him, to be challenged by Him, to relax with Him, to revel in Him and His wonderful grace, and to talk with his people without any expectations placed on you. (I have even been known to sit in my room watching a film, thanking God for the amazing space that enables me to relax without feeling guilty!!) One of the best things, though, is that it does not much matter whether you come on your own, with a spouse or with members of your church team - there is no one God cannot touch and refresh at this conference. Actually the conferences are put together so well, with so much practical thoughtfulness, that there has never been a seminar slot which I have not wanted to go to: Prayer; Holiness; Stress; Time Management; Marriage; Parenting; Coping with Disappointment; the list goes on... The conference speakers have been inspired by God to speak His word with truthfulness and insight and have all been very challenging and helpful.
The only real way to decide whether I am telling you the truth is to attend, and experience ‘pastoral refreshment’ for yourself (don’t forget to bring your favourite film!).
Cate Cooke (wife & mother), Reading.