Pardues 3Okay, so I broke the rules and skipped a week. Sorry about that. That’s what “island time” will do to you (and being without cellular service for a week). It was all good as I’ll explain.

My wife, Jeanann and I Pardues 2have just returned from a wonderful trip to the British Virgin Islands. We sailed on a catamaran with 3 other couples who are good friends and captain Ricki Lee. With so much to do at home, work and other responsibilities, it was only after strong encouragement by our friends and host couple, the Platilleros, that we decided to go. The fact that it was out of our box made it all the better. What does that have to do with wellness? Everything as you will see!

We departed on Friday the 31st and drove to Atlanta with the Plats. Awoke the next morning and had a nice flight to Saint Thomas, then a not so nice bumpy diesel fuel-odored ferry ride to Soper’s Hole in Tortola, passed through customs, and took a short cab ride to where our boat, Liberty Choice, was docked.Pardues 5 She was a 50 foot catamaran with 4 small cabins for couples, an even smaller one for the captain, a living space, a kitchen,  and plenty of deck space. The trip lasted a week and took us on a tour of the BVI seeing old haunts of Black Beard the pirate and the caves which inspired Robert Louise Stephenson to write treasure Island. The sailing combined with the beautiful surroundings was exhilarating.

So where does wellness come in (otherwise this is like inviting friends over and ambushing them with vacation slides)? After I explain, I hope you agree that it was all about wellness. The trip was sponsored by Winshape, a nonprofit arm of Chick-Fil-A.  It originated from the vision of Bubba Cathy to strengthen marriages throughout the world. Couples gather for a week of relaxing togetherness in one of the most beautiful parts of creation. Videos and workbooks developed by FamilyLife marriage ministry stimulate thought and discussion. We were on “Island time” which means don’t worry/be happy. Screen time was limited to 30 minutes of DVD nightly. Jeanann and I had plenty of time to be together and grow closer as we prepare for an empty nest in a couple of years. A couple of concrete steps: we renewed a commitment to pray together daily and to be more diligent about planning dates. Pardues 4The Platilleros served us beautifully, preparing 3 daily meals and even cleaning up!  What an example of servant leadership! One of the most meaningful times was a renewal of vows in a small chapel perched on a hillside overlooking the Caribbean.     (The Platilleros —->)

The men were urged to meditate on Ephesians 5:25. “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her……” Wellness is so often defined in self-centered terms. What can I do for me? And also in physical terms: How can I make my body healthier or more beautiful? But I would argue that the essence of wellness is in self-giving demonstrated most perfectly by Jesus Christ. Pardues 1He showed the way and husbands are urged to imitate Him in how we love our wives. How much poor health do we bring onto ourselves by being domineering, selfish, petty and mean spirited with our wives?  How much joy, peace and contentment overflow when we destroy the idol of our own “needs” by self-sacrificial love. Well, I’ve got a lot to learn and a lot of growing to do! That’s the true beauty of a trip like this. It gives time for prayerful contemplation in order to clear away the cobwebs of selfishness and thus escape the chains of self in the glorious beauty of God’s creation. It was also a time to reflect with dear friends, see their example and ask for accountability as we seek to follow Christ.