Friends For Life

When you get a text message notification from your parish priest, it is natural to tense up a bit. Did something bad happen? Did I do something wrong? Is he summoning me to confession? Those thoughts quickly ran through my head a few months ago when Sidney and I received a text from Fr. Jeff Lewis, our pastor at St. Mary Catholic Church in Spokane Valley. But before my thoughts could get too out of control, I simply ripped the band-aid off and opened the text.

Hey, good afternoon. So, do you two still want to be mentors to an engaged couple?

You bet!!

By saying “yes” to Fr. Jeff, we would end up meeting this very special couple.


Nearly seven years ago, Sidney and I wrapped up our Pre-Cana program with our sponsor couple, Tim and Kathy McCormick. The McCormicks embody what a beautiful, fruitful marriage is all about and they provided us invaluable guidance as we prepared to get married in the Catholic Church.

The experience with Tim and Kathy was inspiring and faith filled. Beyond instilling in us the magnitude and beauty of marriage in the Church, it was also the beginning of a special relationship that Sidney and I hold extremely dear with them to this day.

I have always hoped that Sid and I would get the chance to give back and help prepare a couple for the sacrament of marriage in the same loving way that the McCormicks did for us.

Sidney and I with our sponsor couple, Tim and Kathy McCormick.


In early April, we had the blessing of meeting Kailey and Corbin, a young engaged couple who will enter into holy matrimony in August. Fr. Jeff placed his trust in Sid and I to serve as their sponsor couple. With our pastor’s vote of confidence came our promise that we would do our best to help prepare Kailey and Corbin for their lifelong commitment. Over the course of six different lessons, my wife and I vowed to give an honest perspective on the joys and challenges of marriage.

Before we jumped headfirst into the heavy stuff, we invited Kailey and Corbin over to the house for dinner. Over pizza and wine we got to know each other. It was immediately apparent that we were in the presence of a very mature and humble couple. The evening was delightful and a seed was planted for future growth!

The marriage prep program we did was the Beloved series presented by Formed, a Catholic digital content apostolate. As I mentioned, this particular program had six different lessons, all delivered via video. The weekly lessons explained holy matrimony through its relevance, history, self-sacrifice, reliance on the Cross, and sacramental bond that it establishes. Each of these themes would address certain specific aspects of marriage such as conflict management, hardships, children/family planning, past baggage, traditions, sexual intimacy, and more.

The marriage prep program that we did with Kailey and Corbin was called “Beloved.”

Kailey and Corbin would watch the video together while Sid and I would watch the video together as well. After we had viewed that particular week’s video with our respective partner, Sid and I would send reflection questions to Kailey and Corbin to consider. The four of us would then gather and discuss the questions. These discussions were always deep, honest, and thoughtful. Although these conversations were designed to primarily benefit Kailey and Corbin, I can unequivocally say that they were such a blessing to Sid and I as well.

Our fruitful meetings didn’t always take place on the same day of the week nor at the same location. Although most did occur at our home, we also incorporated one lesson into a couple’s date night in Post Falls and another lesson we did entirely over Facetime. But perhaps the final lesson was the best of all. We met at a Mexican deli for dinner and a special guest joined us—Fr. Jeff!

What a joy the evening was. Fr. Jeff sat at the head of the table but basically allowed the four of us to navigate the lesson ourselves, waiting to offer his incredible insight and guidance as we came to an end of a discussion question. As we concluded that final lesson, we asked Fr. Jeff what themes he usually preaches about during his wedding homilies. He told us that he underscores the value that God places on marriage. Not only was marriage instituted very, very early on with the creation of Eve, but it went from important to sacramental by Jesus Christ himself. Jesus didn’t just sanctify marriage with his teachings, he did it with his actions as well. Christ’s death on the cross is the ultimate model of self-sacrificial love, the same self-sacrificial love that we must embrace and give in marriage.

After our final marriage prep lesson, the five of us, Fr. Jeff included, took this picture inside De Leon’s Foods.


During that final lesson, Sid and I gave a resounding recommendation to Fr. Jeff that Kailey and Corbin are ready for marriage. On all levels—including spiritual and emotional—those two are ready to be joined as one. They are an impressive couple who will no doubt accept God’s grace throughout the course of their marriage and enjoy many years of happiness together.

What makes that positive outlook even more exciting, at least from the perspective of Sid and I, is that we plan to be part of those many blissful years. Just in the same way that we have a special relationship with our own sponsor couple, all signs point to a similar bond with Kailey and Corbin. We grew close during our marriage prep sessions and as Kailey mentioned in a Facebook post, that time together has resulted in us becoming “friends for life.”

It is an understatement to say that we are excited to be part of Kailey and Corbin’s special day when they are married this August in Hawaii. It will be a joyous and holy occasion.

Corbin and Kailey with Fr. Jeff at the end of their marriage prep program. What a blessing it was to get to know them!


There is only one final thing to say and that is thank you. We extend our gratitude to Fr. Jeff for allowing us to be a sponsor couple and to Kailey and Corbin for letting us mentor them. As we stood outside the deli, Kailey explained that Pre-Cana has been her favorite part of the wedding planning/preparation process.  But for any good that our time together did for Kailey and Corbin, it did just as much for Sid and I. To dive deeper into the awesomeness of what makes a marriage rooted in the Church so holy made us appreciate our own vows even more. What a blessing that we were able to come to this realization while journeying with the future Mr. and Mrs. Schafer. Thanks be to God!

Please pray for Kailey and Corbin as they inch closer and closer to their wedding date. Don’t Blink.

The Best Way to Prepare for Marriage

Last night was bittersweet. Over a special evening that included a delicious dinner and fabulous fellowship, Sidney and I completed our Pre-Cana classes. It was sweet in the fact that we finished a major step in the process that will lead to our wedding at St. Andrew Catholic Church on June 11. It was bitter because it marked the end of our formal relationship with Tim and Kathy McCormick, our incredible sponsor couple.

Sidney and I with our sponsor couple, Tim and Kathy McCormick, last night.

Sidney and I with our sponsor couple, Tim and Kathy McCormick, last night.

The Catholic Church, along with other churches as well, require that engaged couples go through marriage prep before tying the knot in a church-sanctioned ceremony. For Catholics, a main portion of this preparation is Pre-Cana, or, in non-Catholic terms, marriage counseling. At some churches, the priest or a parish employee will administer the counseling. At St. Andrew, married couples provide it.

For six weeks, Sidney and I went to the McCormick’s home for counseling sessions. These meetings were structured by a Pre-Cana workbook that Sidney and I each received. We would read the material and answer questions corresponding to the chapters we would cover that week. We would then sit down at Tim and Kathy’s kitchen table and go over the material. Topics we discussed ranged from prayer to problem solving to sexuality to money to traditions to family planning. To have the opportunity to discuss these prominent aspects of marriage with such a strong and seasoned couple was invaluable.

A look at my Pre-Cana workbook I used these past six weeks.

A look at my Pre-Cana workbook I used these past six weeks.

But we got so much more out of the past six weeks besides the scripted lessons. Each time we arrived at the household, Tim and Kathy warmly welcomed us. They set out snacks on the table. They discussed our days with us. Sid would talk to Kathy about classroom issues (both work at schools) and Tim and I would talk sports. We would swap stories. We would all give updates on our own families. It was such an enjoyable time as both Sid and I looked forward to each Tuesday evening.

Sitting down with a proven, fruitful couple that has been married for over three decades was a wonderful experience for Sid and I. While we both have parents that have also lived out beautiful marriages of similar lengths, it is different when the couple isn’t your blood. You just observe different things and ask different questions. Along with the examples that my mom and dad and Sid’s mom and dad have set for us, the McCormicks will be the other powerful marriage that we look to for inspiration and guidance once we begin our own journey.

Tim and Kathy made us these tags that they placed at our spots at the kitchen table.

Tim and Kathy made us these tags that they placed at our spots at the kitchen table.

I started this post talking about the incredibly nice evening we shared last night. To be technical, our counseling actually ended last week. However, Tim and Kathy wanted to have us over for an evening that wasn’t tied to book chapters and discussion questions. The couple rolled out the red carpet for us as not only did they cook a wonderful meal but they also took great care in setting the table. We talked casually and freely about several topics, including the lighter parts of our wedding such as the rehearsal dinner and honeymoon. It was the perfect way to end our six weeks together.

This was how the McCormick's set the table for us last night.

This was how the McCormick’s set the table for us last night.

To those engaged couples who might have two or three different options when it comes to fulfilling their Pre-Cana requirements, I strongly encourage electing to work with a sponsor couple. You will get a lot out of it. Sidney and I can’t thank Tim and Kathy enough. We respect both of you greatly and admire how you have let God play such a large role in your marriage. Know that a wedding invite will be coming your way as we can’t wait to introduce you to our parents. Don’t Blink.

Mid-November Thursday Rundown

Today is significant because it marks the two week countdown until Thanksgiving. Today is also a big deal because it is the Thursday Rundown. As I like to say, let’s get started!

Underwhelming Trump – I have to lead off the rundown by getting this off my chest: my admiration for Donald Trump is starting to wane a little bit. Four months ago, I wrote a post that was complimentary of the campaign he was running. Fast forward to the present and while I still respect what he has done, it has become apparent to me that major substance is lacking. I have watched all the GOP debates and it really seems like he says the same things over and over. He bypasses on the details. He drifts into irrelevancy when he talks about past business deals. Each debate I have watched I have paid close attention to Trump and each time I came away underwhelmed. However, more power to the guy for still leading the polls!

Fritos Chili Pizza One Year Later – As it is the one year anniversary of when I ordered the Papa John’s Fritos Chili Pizza, I thought I would just state my opinion that I am not surprised that 365 days later no other pizza franchises have followed suit with their own version of it. Despite good intentions, the pizza just didn’t work. Sure the taste itself wasn’t spectacular but the worst part about the experiment was eating a slice the next day. Soggy chips that are then refrigerated never turn out good.

Me holding the Fritos Chili Pizza from Papa John's.

Me holding the Fritos Chili Pizza from Papa John’s.

Two Interesting Documentaries – Sidney bought me an Apple TV for my birthday. Lately I have taken full advantage of the device, watching movies and documentaries. When it comes to the latter, I want to share the names of two decent ones I watched this week. I got a thrill entering the world of sleep paralysis with “The Nightmare.” The film interviews numerous folks who suffer from sleep paralysis while depicting their horrors as they share their experiences. As someone who has had sleep paralysis experiences before, I found it very interesting.

Ever wonder if you have a long lost twin? The documentary I watched last night, “Twinsies,” tells the story of two twin girls who were adopted out of Asia. One went to France and one went to the United States. The French girl happened to see her American twin, who she had no idea existed, on a YouTube video. The two connected and started to Skype. The documentary chronicles the DNA tests that ensued, the endless questions that were raised, and the reunion that took place in Europe.

Another Great Graphic – Last week I shared the stellar Halloween graphic that was made for our Coastal Carolina University social media accounts. This week I want to show off the Veterans Day graphic that was created. Once again, our graphics team did a phenomenal job. Thank you Ron for designing this, it was very well-received by our #CCUSocialMedia audience.

This fabulous Veterans Day graphic was made by designer Ron Walker.

This fabulous Veterans Day graphic was made by designer Ron Walker.

Wedding Update #12 – We are in the process of trying to choose the venue for our rehearsal dinner. Sidney and I want to get our restaurant selected so we can make a reservation and beat out the swarm of engaged couples that will sprout up over the holidays. Best way to make a quality decision? Treat yourself to dinner at each prospective location! Last Friday we ate at Sea Captain’s House, a Myrtle Beach favorite that is on our short list. After we ate we were able to ask questions. To all my Myrtle Beach readers, Sidney and I would LOVE suggestions on other good places to consider. Keep in mind that we want a restaurant that isn’t too far from St. Andrew Catholic Church.

Also, we had our fourth Pre-Cana meeting on Tuesday. We only have one meeting left but that will be on hold next week. Why? Well, our sponsor couple is graciously having us over solely for dinner! The books will be put away as they prepare a meal for the four of us. Sid and I love our sponsor couple!


Have a great Thursday night! As always, thank you for reading. Don’t Blink.

The Thursday Rundown Before Halloween

It is the Thursday Rundown before Halloween! Unfortunately, none of the topics tonight have anything to do with October 31. Hope you still enjoy…

Apple Fries – This past weekend, Sidney and I went to an Oktoberfest celebration in Myrtle Beach. It was what you would expect with music, vendors, and good beer. But there was one anomaly. A certain tent was set up selling an item called apple fries. Once you saw a person walking off with an order you immediately understood what they were. I went to go get some for Sidney and I. Each serving is made to order meaning the wait can be a little long. Once I put my order in, it took about 15 minutes. But it was worth it! After the lady took the freshly deep fried apple strips and shook them in sugar and cinnamon, she asked if I would like whipped cream, caramel, or both. Was that even a question? She poured hot caramel in a compartment on the serving tray and then sprayed whipped cream on top of it. Sidney and I then sat on the curb and enjoyed.

These were the apple fries we enjoyed last Saturday.

These were the apple fries we enjoyed last Saturday.

Newest Social Circle – My mom texted me earlier this week and told me that the Social Circle she had just watched was her favorite of all-time. With that type of recommendation, don’t you just have to watch it? I got to focus on the creativity of our students for this latest segment. Make sure you watch the full two minutes though, the ending is silly. Click here to watch.

I enjoyed filming this Social Circle segment.

I enjoyed filming this Social Circle segment.

Joe Moglia Speaks – This week our Wall College of Business here at CCU held an annual event called Wall Connections. Each year, guest speakers come and speak to the business students about a certain theme. One of the speakers this year was no other than head football coach Joe Moglia. For those who don’t know, Coach Moglia is a legendary business icon who served as the CEO of TD Ameritrade. The multi-millionaire left his high profile job to get back to coaching football and eventually ended up here at CCU. Since I have arrived at Coastal, I have heard him talk about football over and over. Don’t think it gets boring though, he is an extremely talented and engaging speaker. With that said though, it was extremely interesting on Tuesday to hear him talk about his life story and his career in business. He has a way of thinking and a way of living that makes it so obvious on why he has been so successful.

A photo I took of Joe Moglia speaking at Wall Connections on Tuesday.

A photo I took of Joe Moglia speaking at Wall Connections on Tuesday.

Food For Thought – Every now and then I like to share a quote from my Life’s Little Instructions calendar. I thought the advice for Wednesday was right on. First off, deferring satisfaction builds discipline. It also helps you to grow and test your limits. But what I like the most about deferring satisfaction is rewarding yourself with it (whatever it might be) later down the road after you have proven that you are strong enough to go without.

Some good food for thought.

Some good food for thought.

Wedding Update #11 – Last night, Sidney and I attended our third Pre-Cana meeting. The past two weeks we talked mostly about family and where our influences came from. At this latest meeting, we touched on different subjects. Sex, money, and communication were prominently discussed! Don’t think it was awkward or difficult, though. As I have said before, our sponsor couple is absolutely incredible and obviously these issues are critical to a strong marriage so it is very important to talk about.


I ask that you all have safe Halloweens. Watch out for Count Brentula and reward trick-or-treaters with the immediate satisfaction of premium candy (they can wait a few years before deferring to it). Don’t Blink.