Randy and I just got back from an incredible marriage seminar at WinShape Retreat Center in Rome, GA for pastors and their wives. WinShape is on the campus of Berry College , the world’s largest University. This was such a special treat for us in several ways. First of all, I don’t care how great one’s marriage is or how long one has been married…..it is ALWAYS good to be refreshed and have time set aside to focus on nothing but your marriage relationship. This three day conference, called Galatians 6:6, is taught through an organization called Intimate Encounters , founded by Dr. David and Teresa Ferguson. We sat under amazing teaching by a man named Dr. John Kai Vining. Our desire was to be refreshed ourselves but to also become more equipped in helping others. We indeed were refreshed & strengthened and by God’s grace will we be able to digest what we’ve learned and pass it on to others.
The other reason this conference was so special is that my Dad went to Berry College as a 13 year old boy. His father died when he was nine years old so he went to Berry as a teenager and worked his way through high school and college on the dairy farm. My Grandmother was a “house mother” in one of the boys dorms. The above picture is the original dairy farm built in 1932. Six years ago it was renovated by the Win Shape Foundation (Truett Cathy – Chick-fil-A) to be a marriage enrichment seminar in the Fall/Winter and a summer camp for boys and girls in the summer. What was so very cool is that Randy and I had every meal in the beautifully renovated barn where my Dad spent many years milking cows in order to pay his way through college. It made me miss my Dad tremendously but it was a neat thing. It will be four years October 18th that my Dad passed away.
The Mill at Berry is such a quaint little spot. It serves as sweet nostalgia for my Mother because it’s where my Dad first kissed her! I called my Mom on my cell phone after I snapped this picture and said, “Oh Mom, this place is just magical. I love it! And I’m standing where you and Dad first kissed.” She was quiet for a minute and I wondered if I had brought up something that would cause pain instead of encouragement. Finally she said, “Well, it’s where DAD first kissed me but I actually kissed him first and his face turned blood red under the moonlight!” The story had always been told the other way around until now…..we both laughed and relived a few more great memories that had taken place on that campus. She told me how one of Dad’s teacher at Berry college offered to loan him the money to attend any college (post grad) he wanted to attend pending he would pay her back. She had only done this for one other student before. Dad took her up on it and he borrowed the money and he paid her back two years later. It was divine provisions like this that allowed my Dad to get a great start in life and then it was his memory and appreciation of these special provisions that drew his heart to do the same for others. And I pray the cycle continues with me, his daughter.