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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Thanksgiving Weekend 2021

Another amazing Thanksgiving weekend has just passed. I always enjoy this time of the year because it provides a well-needed break and is the true kickoff of the holiday season. So much optimism and joy! As is my custom, I like to look back at the weekend and point out a highlight from each day.

Thursday – Kind of a no-brainer, right? We celebrated Thanksgiving at my parents’ house. My sister and her family plus my brother and his wife joined us for excellent food, some drinks, and games. Oh, let’s not forget the desserts either. We had pumpkin pie, cheesecake, peanut butter pie, and chocolate chip cookie bars. If you did any recent reading of this blog, you know what I chose. My fondest memory of the evening was just our conversation around the table when we ate the Thanksgiving meal.

Our family taking some time to let our food settle after Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house.

Friday – We go back to my parents’ house for Friday’s highlight where we gathered to watch the 113th Apple Cup. At the start of the game we heated up the Thanksgiving leftovers and picked our lucky spots in the basement to cheer on the Cougs. Don’t know if much luck was needed on this evening as WSU pulverized the Huskies, 40-13, to secure state bragging rights. It was so awesome to see the football team play such a complete game and put an exclamation point on the regular season. Needless to say, it was a very happy drive home for the four of us.

Sidney and I prior to watching the 2021 Apple Cup.

Saturday – Chuck E. Cheese did something pretty cool. They teamed up with Ryan Kaji of Ryan’s World fame to host a fan fest live event that extended across all of its restaurants in the country. Sloan and I showed up at our Spokane Valley location for the 10:30 a.m. free event. We watched the Ryan special on the televisions and as the story played out the Chuck E. Cheese host did interactive games and crafts with us. Sloan loved it and we were very appreciative of the free tickets they gave us after the program ended.

Sloan following along with the Ryan’s World FanFest at the Spokane Valley Chuck E. Cheese location.

Sunday – We celebrated the first Sunday of Advent by attending mass at St. Mary and then heading over to the gym for Advent Adventures Faith Time. The parish really went all out as Sloan was able to complete an Advent-themed obstacle course, make a homemade Advent wreath, create a “gingerbread” nativity scene, and so much more. We can sometimes look ahead to Christmas without proper preparation but if we take plenty of time to reflect during Advent we can be ready for Christ’s birth.

We had so much fun at the St. Mary Parish (Spokane Valley) Advent event.

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Being thankful isn’t confined to Thanksgiving nor is it limited to Thanksgiving weekend. Let us continue to be thankful during the other 361 days of the year. I hope everyone had a terrific weekend. Don’t Blink.

Continuing the Turkey Bingo Tradition

With inflation skyrocketing, there is one thing that people are focusing on this month: the price of a Thanksgiving dinner. Supposedly, 2021 is supposed to be the year that Americans will fork over a small fortune to provide a Thanksgiving meal. It goes without saying what the priciest item on the table is.

So, how do you make Thanksgiving affordable this year if you plan to serve turkey? You win one of course!

Back as a child, one of the highlights every fall was when the Knights of Columbus council at my childhood parish, St. Thomas More in north Spokane, would hold Turkey Bingo. Our entire family would arrive at the church social hall on a Sunday in November to eat popcorn, visit with friends, and try to win a turkey. It was here that I learned about the competitiveness of bingo and the agony of the words “clear your cards.”

Turkey Bingo is a popular fundraising event for Knights of Columbus councils. Council 4196 (St. Mary – Spokane Valley) is no exception.

Fast forward a couple decades to this past weekend. Once again I found myself at turkey bingo. Only this time I was bringing my own family and I was one of the Knights putting it on.

Our large supply of turkeys we gave out at our Turkey Bingo event.

On Sunday, the Knights of Columbus Council #4196 of St. Mary Catholic Parish in Spokane Valley held its annual Turkey Bingo (you can probably guess…turkey bingo events are pretty common in Catholic parishes). After I moved from Myrtle Beach I transferred from Council #5086 to #4196. What a blessing it has been to go from one awesome council to another and what a blessing it is that we are finally back to doing in-person events!

After we set up all the tables and chairs, I took this photo of our set up inside the St. Mary School gym about an hour before we opened to the public.

I had a lot of fun helping my brother knights put on the event but the best part was definitely playing bingo with Sid, Sloan, and my dad. I was given plenty of time to leave my post and enjoy the afternoon with my family. To give Sloan her first taste of bingo and see how much she was genuinely enjoying it was really cool.

Sloan and Sidney at Turkey Bingo at St. Mary Catholic Church in Spokane Valley.

My wife, on the other hand, wasn’t exactly there to “enjoy” it. She was there to win! She had her eight cards spread out in front of her and knew all the combinations she had to hit in order to score a turkey.

Sidney playing her six cards at Turkey Bingo.

Success didn’t come right away but her persistence paid off. In the second to last game, she won the “top and bottom” round to win a bird for the Resers! In addition to walking away victorious, it was an afternoon marked by sweets, 50/50 raffles, and laughs.

Sidney holds up her winning card along with the ticket voucher she was given for her turkey at the Knights of Columbus Turkey Bingo event at St. Mary Catholic Church in Spokane Valley.

To introduce my daughter and wife to one of our old family traditions and to actually now contribute my time to making the event itself function was pretty special. If there is any Catholic man out there who wants to become a Knight, please feel free to reach out to me. Now, let’s get that turkey cooking! Don’t Blink.