Have you ever read A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken? It's a book about great love and loss and eventual conversion, and it's beautiful. When I first read the book, during my first marriage, I thought Sheldon and Davy's love was far-fetched and rooted in dreams, not reality. But Kirk and I now know what that love is like, and I'm telling you it's amazing.
You should read that book.
Anyway, Sheldon and Davy developed something they called Navigators Council meetings in their commitment to their love. This was a time for them to talk through things that were important to them, to make sure they were on the same page, and to pull into sharp perspective important aspects of their life. When Kirk and I were reading this book aloud during our cross-country road trip in June, we decided to institute these meetings in our life, too, and this past weekend was our second. (The first took place at Cheesecake Factory shortly after our honeymoon as we feasted on pasta and strawberry lemonade and determined priorities for the top eight categories of our life: spiritual, relational, intellectual, social, financial, vocational, physical, and miscellaneous.)
For this past weekend's council, Kirk surprised me with a night's stay at one of our favorite hotels, the JW Marriott in Orlando. Wow! We had already planned to cover some top agenda items over the weekend, but this was a way we could enjoy all the great perks the hotel and resort could provide at the same time. It was a fabulous, restful experience for us both, and we accomplished even more than we had planned for the weekend. That felt really good.
We checked into the hotel around noon on Saturday and headed straight for the spa that's jointly available to all JW and Ritz Carlton guests on the premises. After enjoying the men's and women's sauna and jacuzzi areas on our own, we met up at the pool for some refreshment in the water. (We didn't plan to meet there, but we must have been on the same wavelength because Kirk was already there, reading a book by the pool, when I showed up hoping I would find him there.)
We played together for a while in the Olympic-sized swimming pool and then "did our own thing," which amounts to Kirk reading a book about vocation and calling while I swam some laps, floated around the pool on my back, and fell asleep on the deck chair next to him after trying to get into a Dallas Willard book. (You should try floating in the water sometime, too. Lay flat on your back with your arms spread out at your sides and your ears fully submerged in the water. It's a great way to practice the discipline of silence because all other sounds are diffused under the water and you can only hear your most innermost thoughts and the face-to-face conversation you choose to carry with God.)
After the spa, we hung in Starbucks for a while, then went up to the room to get started on the weekend's business. Top of the list? Rework our budget and get all our info loaded in Microsoft Money. Then we ordered room service and began talking through a major financial decision we had agreed to pray separately about for the past two weeks so we could reach a decision by the end of the weekend. Having reached an agreement about that, we decided to enjoy the rest of the evening with some sweet snuggle and cuddle time. (I'll leave the details of that portion out for you!)
In the morning, we ate a healthy lunch at the Vitale Cafe, which is run by the spa, and then began working on our "Be, Do, Have" list in a quiet corner of the hotel side lobby. What is a "Be, Do, Have" list? Well, it's something that Kirk made up! Let me tell you, I am married to probably the most creative being on the face of the planet. With what seems to take no effort at all, he can think of the most special and beautiful ways to name things, commemorate moments, use space, and create order. I could write a whole blog post on the way he does things, in fact!
So one thing he did was come up with this idea for a "Be, Do, Have" list to solidify what came out of our Navigators Council weekend. The list is basically a chart with four columns and eight rows. The second, third, and fourth columns are labeled "Be," "Do," and "Have." The first column is labeled "Decision." Each of the eight rows covers a particular area of life, like spiritual or financial or physical. In the "Decision" column for each row, we crafted a statement that was sort of like a prayer about the people we were covenanting to be in that area of life. Then we filled in the other boxes in that row by asking ourselves the questions, "Who do we have to be in order to keep this promise?" "What do we have to do in order to achieve this goal?" "What will we have if we remain faithful to it?" It was a great way to discern the highest priorities in our life and be able to ensure we enact them in reality. It was also a great way to build our relationship and reinforce what we, together, are all about.
We got about halfway through the "Be, Do, Have" list at the hotel and finished the rest last night at home. On our way home from the hotel, though, we decided to stop for a tour of the Winter Park Chain of Lakes, which is a beautiful and inexpensive pontoon boat tour that takes you around three of Winter Park's lakes and through two of its canals. We've been on this tour a number of times already; it's such a relaxing way to enjoy the beautiful weather and our beautiful -- and sometimes high-brow -- little town!
In all, it was a great weekend that was not only refreshing and fun but also helped us step into this last quarter of the year (is it October already?!) with some strength to fuel our lives.