Let It Begin! {JR #2}


Here’s a go for a recap of our preparations and first night of the Journey Reunion!

Northwoods Conference Center (NWCC)

This place is stunningly beautiful in all seasons of the year…especially fall!

We arrived on Tuesday evening, ate chicken fajitas on the dock with the staff, got settled into our rooms, and loosened our stiff joints with invigorating volleyball…the first of many games to be played. :)


Wednesday: It was so nice to have a whole day to set up and prepare – everything was a “calm busy”.

Benj cleaning windows 

Abbie vacuuming the lobby
There was LOTS of cleaning to be done, centerpieces to put together for the dining room tables, bouquet for the podium, and this and thats. :)

Can't you just smell the coffee? :)
I loved how these centerpieces turned out = rustic elegance. :)

We even managed to squeeze in time to get our annual family pictures. Might as well take advantage of such a beautiful location while we’re there, right? We know from experience that it’s much more efficient to have someone else behind the camera, instead of using a tripod, running back and forth to check the pictures, etc., so we were grateful that Chad Paine helped us pose and snapped the pictures for us! Sorry, you don’t get to see any of them, yet. :)

Mr. Grizzly was our lobby greeter. :)

Thursday: The cleaning crew worked hard to finish up all the last details, we set up the registration table, and people began arriving!!


Ready with name tags and schedules!
By the way, John-Clay did an AMAZING job designing the website, name tags, schedules, and all our promotional materials!! Everything looked classy, professional, and fun. :) Thanks, J-C! We’ll definitely “hire” you again next time. ;)

Reuniting with old friends and meeting new ones...
It was rewarding for us to see the excitement on people’s faces as they arrived, so happy to be there! Several had stories of miracles God worked that allowed them to come. He is so good!! What a blessing to reunite with old friends.

Mr. Norvell preaching
After so much anticipation over the last months, weeks, and days, it’s hard to explain how thrilling it was for the Journey Reunion to BEGIN! =)
That evening, Bob Norvell preached for our first session of the weekend. His message was a fitting exhortation on evaluating whether we have active revelation of God in our lives, and to be Samuels (and Samuelas :) in this world.

"Praise the Lord together singing Alleluia!"
God worked in special ways to allow the Fortune family to be there. They served in many capacities throughout the Reunion, including ministering to us in song.

Prayer time with Dr. Gothard
Dr. Gothard, who began the Journey to the Heart ministry five years ago, led everyone in an hour of prayer. WOW! It was a precious time with the Lord and each other as we all knelt and communed with God.

We could sense immediately from this first night, a beautiful spirit of unity that lasted throughout the conference. This special group had invested their time and money to get away and seek God.

Everyone wanted to be there.
Everyone wanted to go deeper.
Everyone wanted to seek God with all their heart.

And as He promised, He richly rewarded us! (Hebrews 11:6)


Photo by Maggie

“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in
the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
Jude 1:20-21

More to follow! :)

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Will You Come?


The candlelit table was set.

Soft, peaceful music played in the background.

Hours and hours had been spent creating a banquet-worthy dinner, complete with red velvet cake.

Lovely flowers, strings of hearts, and chocolate kisses spoke with a smile of what this evening was all about…



A week in advance, we had gone door-to-door inviting couples from our neighborhood to an exquisite Valentine dinner.

Most declined because of other obligations, but one couple confirmed their attendance, and a few others were hopeful. What a special time we were going to have serving dinner to our parents and neighbors!

Red Velvet Cake  Martha Washington Balls 

However, as we made last minute preparations, the number of expected guests suddenly dwindled from three couples to only one! Hmmm. Well, we were still excited they were coming, especially since they had never accepted our invitations before.

First Course

With the sun setting, food ready, lights dimmed, and growing anticipation, we waited for the promised company to arrive.


And we waited.


and waited…


and waited.


At first we thought that maybe they were still getting ready, or had accidentally gotten the dates mixed up. But, when the time to be “fashionably late” came and went, we knew they weren’t coming.

Didn’t they know all the effort we had spent preparing this special evening for them? Didn’t they know how much we wanted to bless them with a glimpse of God’s love?

As we sat, looking at our beautiful, vacant table, feeling somewhat amused, surprised, and very disappointed, a poignant lesson stirred our hearts.


GOD has invited me to His banquet of Love.

Did you know the Greek word for love (agape) actually means love feast?

How many times have I turned down His invitation for intimate fellowship because of other “obligations”?

Don’t I know what it personally cost Him to be able to invite me to this feast of fellowship with Himself?

Don’t I know what riches of His love He has prepared and longs to share with me?

Don’t I know how much I need to come and dwell in His presence?


“He has brought me to His banquet hall,

And His banner over me is love.”

Song of Solomon 2:4

May I never count anything more valuable than fellowship with my Savior.

He is worthy!

Don’t keep Him waiting.


P.S. The evening wasn’t all lost, however. Benjamin came up with the brilliant idea of serving us ladies the meal we had prepared. Thanks, guys! ;)

Girl time! :)

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My New Favorite…



A delightful question popped into my head the other day, and the more I ask it, the more I like it.

There are endless possibilities for answers to this question!  In fact, each day you should discover a different answer.

If you’re like me, sometimes you find yourself getting “stuck in a rut” of praising the Lord in general terms and not really thinking about what you are praising Him for and why.

Our God is a very personal God. Every day He reveals Himself to us in specific ways. Every day He gives us another reason to love Him more.

My new favorite question challenges me to pay more attention and think a little deeper about my Lord. I want to have a fresh answer to this question always on the tip of my tongue, but that will only happen if He is continually the abiding place of my heart.

leaf 01 black edges

Sooo….let me ask you!

“What do you love about Jesus today?”

I’m sure you can think of lots of things to love Him for off the top of your head, but tell me something that YOU especially love about Him today!

Then, ask yourself the question tomorrow….and the next day….and see what new treasures of love you find in Jesus!

P.S. Go ahead and pop this question to the next person you see, too! It makes for an inspiring conversation. :)

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