Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pastor Ron's Sabbatical - Entry #1 - The first weeks and Marriage Conference

Greetings all, 

So, I'm entering the third week of my sabbatical, and thought I'd give periodical updates to let anyone who wants to, to know what I'm up to and how I'm doing. 

I know so many of you miss me.  : ) 

So, for those who care, I'm going to share.  : )

Week one and two have gone by fast.  Lots of stuff has gone on.  Took me a couple of days to begin to relax, and I did have a couple of loose ends to tie up work wise but I'm into a groove now.  

I've done some work around my house.  Resealed my driveway, and fixed some cracks in my garage floor.  Thinking of painting the garage floor, but haven't decided yet.  I've also fixed a long time irritant in a moving door frame on the door that goes from our mud room into the garage.  Had to reinforce the frame as it was not sitting against any other solid frame and would move when the door opened and closed, not closing properly.  
I'll soon be painting that mud room as well. : )

I read a John Grisham novel, "The Innocent Man."  A great, and sad, book about two men falsely accused of murder and how the courts often convict innocent men.  Was based on a true story, which is unusual for Grisham to do.  I couldn't put the book down. 

I'm also doing daily (well almost daily) devotions in a book entitled "Devotional Classics".  It's a great book comprised of all sorts of different topics, set into sections.  It begins with preparing the spiritual life.  I've been reading excerpts from C.S. Lewis, Jonathan Edwards, St. Augustine, and more.  Inspiring and challenging.  

This past weekend was the first away event that I did for my sabbatical.  I went with Joycegina to a "Family Life" marriage conference.  We travelled to Montebello and stayed at the Fairmont Chateau Montebello.  A wonderful place.  A quiet place.  A great place to reconnect.  The following pictures give you some idea of what the place was like.  

We've done three marriage conferences over the course of our almost 26 years of marriage.  The last one was done 7 years ago in Niagara Falls on my first sabbatical.  Each one has been different and in a different stage of our life and each one has taught us new things about our relationship.  

We highly recommend all married couples do a weekend marriage conference at different stages of their life.  It's an investment well worth the time and effort.  

So we arrived on Friday afternoon.   

This resort is nestled on the Ottawa River and is pretty much made of wood.  Nicely decorated outside.    

We loved the old look of the place.   

Our room was simple, yet elegant. 
Old and full of history.  

A nice lamp with a carving.   
Prime minister Steven Harper stayed at the Montebello as well with the Presidents of the USA and Mexico some years ago.  Pictures on the wall.  Cool.  

A view from our window.  
It's between peak seasons at the moment so the grounds are soggy with rain and it's cold out, but in the summer and winter this is an outdoor playground.  

Our hallway, which leads to a tunnel, which leads to the pool.   I like to explore hotels when I go, so off we go.  : )

Down we go.  : )  

The ceiling of the pool area.   

Now THIS is a pool.  : ) 
Has two hot tubs and a great fitness room too.   

The dining area.  This area is more for conferences that come to the place.  There are side areas where couples can eat.   

The place is set up like the spokes of a wheel, and we are now in the hub. 

The hub contains a beautiful fire place, well six fire places actually.  An amazing feat. 
Then around it is the bar, a piano, check in, and all sorts of places to just sit and drink in the ambiance.   

It's dark, but here's a panoramic from the second floor.  

A picture of the Bar.  
We spent some time there too.  : ) 

After exploring we checked into the conference and they suggested a couple of places to eat.  We went out for dinner to a great Italian place recommended by them. The "Napoleon"  

Not very busy, as it's not peek season yet, which was nice.   

We both had a Salmon Salad. 
It was amazing.   

Here's a back picture of the hotel. 
We entered here often from the parking lot.  

A look up at the chimney and the ceiling.
Amazing engineering.  

We had a Friday night session. 
Couples here are married as little as 9 months and a long as 42 years.  Was neat to see.  
We covered many different things during the sessions. 
All having to do with oneness.  
The speakers are always good and vulnerable, which helps a lot as couples navigate different elements of married life.  

After our session we sat in the lobby and enjoyed a drink.  
Was nice.   

More lobby pics.   

We had breakfast at a small place called "Le Cafe Entre Amis."

Owned by a couple for the past 14 months ish. 
Wonderful couple and amazing food.  
We had eggs Benedict.  
Was amazing.

The course allows for a bit of time to converse together as couples. 
One exercise was to write each other a love letter. 
That was a good exercise for us. 

Back in our sessions again.  
The re-wrote the curriculum and that was good too.  
We learned some new things about ourselves through it.
We also met two couples we knew there as well.  That's the first time that has happened.  

The conference has a date night built into it.   
A time to have a romantic dinner and relax and talk, etc, etc.  
We booked dinner in the hotel restaurant. 
It was a beautiful place with amazing food. 
We started with a fruit appetizer to get the pallet prepared.  : )  

Our real appetizer. 
I don't remember what I had for an appetizer. : )  

Joycegina had a salmon and seafood appetizer. 
Presentation is everything.   

Then an ice wine of sorts for a cleansing of the pallet once again.     

Our view from the restaurant. 

We both had the roast leg of lamb. 
It was amazing. 
The vegetable medley was unique.  
The tastes new.  

The after picture.  : ) 
Joycegina didn't want me to put that in, but hey, it's my blog.  : ) 

We walked around a bit and then relaxed by the fire once again.  Six of them going at once.  
The lobby was alive with music, laughter, people, and we just sat and chatted about the things we had learned through the day over a glass of porte. 
Very relaxing.   

Next morning we went back to the same place for breakfast. The dining area is small, and lots of people had heard about the place so it was full the day before. And eventually filled up again this morning. 
The day before we actually shared our table with another couple from the conference. 
Not my ideal thing to do, but it was nice to get to know them and hear their life story.  

This morning's fare was simpler. 
Oatmeal with real maple syrup and fruit and coffee.   

Again, we both had the same thing. 
We are so original. : ) 

The final morning of the conference to wrap things up.   

There was a separate male and female session this morning. 
Maybe I've been married too long, but I didn't learn too many new things in that session. : )  

I love fireplaces and fires. 

A couple of pictures of the lobby with the fireplaces.   

The conference ended at noon, but I booked an extra night just so we could relax and, well, relax.  : )  

We sat by the fire for a while, and I snapped this shot. 
 I like it.  : )  

We walked outside around the grounds.  
The Ottawa River is very high at the moment.  

Some grounds shots.   

Walking made us hungry, so we ate at "Le Bistro" in town. 
A nice relaxing more casual place.  

Had a wonderful tasting salad. 
Yes we both had the same thing...again : ) 

I had ribs, and Joycegina had fish and potato chips.  : )
Both very good.  

The meal didn't fill me up so I ordered dessert. 
Dessert is stamped on your table and explained to you.  Cool,    

Apple crisp with tea and whipped cream. 
One order, two spoons.  : ) 

We went back and enjoyed the fire again  
I really liked the atmosphere at the Montebello.  
And the smell of the fire will stay with me for a long time.  

We also enjoyed some "refreshment."  

All in all it was a great weekend to relax and reconnect. 
Again, I recommend this conference to all married couples, no matter how recent or long you have been married.  
If you want to work on things, or learn more about the other in a place that is distraction free, this is one great way to do it.  

Thanks to my church for allowing us the opportunity to do this.  We are blessed.  

Next post in a couple of weeks.  : )