Miracles Not a Few!

A bemused expression flickered across the faces of the first family to arrive as they pulled into the empty parking lot.

Petitioning our Commander in Chief. It was July 8, the long-awaited day. For the first time in history, West Virginia would be home to a Family Encouragement Weekend! Six o’clock was starting time; 4:30 was dinner time; and the doors had opened at 3:00. Many hands made light work!Since 3:00, a thousand last-minute preparations were made. The church was ready. The chalk easel was set up. A feast was prepared in the kitchen.

Eventually four o’clock rolled around and we still  had no one. Major Mike made a run to another church on the same road to check and see if attendees had parked there instead by mistake. He returned alone.

Now, of the many invited, the ones to RSVP seemed to be those of a dependable nature—Surely there had been a major mistake on the directions! Or was there? Whether the answer to that question was yes Communications! or no, we were convinced, (partly from our own experience attending family conferences) that this was a time of intense spiritual warfare. We knew that somewhere out there the families were fighting: fighting the clock, fighting the enemy, fighting their own human nature to be able to come. Four fifteen. . . . Four twenty. . . . A miracle was about to happen.

But already we had seen many miracles:

The supply wagon. A mere two weeks and two days before, a location had been provided. Without internet, we began making the invitations by phone, once reaching four different very-busy pastors within the space of about  ". . . But the servants knew" (John 2). an hour. Jonathan took careful notes to make a site map during the first trip to the church, Michael agreed to help on registration, and James tackled design projects on the schedule, hotel locations, and The wild wonderful Wilkes Suite. maps, while Esther, David, and Mom thought through every detail concerning the menu, orchestra and guest arrangements. During Robert and Kendalyn’s visit, Robert solved our internet connection problem—without the service fee! (Later, after his return to Chicago, the dreaded problem did resurface but the Lord intervened and it was taken care of by a couple of diligent non-professionals 🙂 ) Wise advice from the Wilkes Team poured in and the Neely Team found a way to print the name tags for three cents each. At about the same time a $500 check from another church came as a surprise gift. God was clearly at work!

Reinforcements now appearing!Forty pounds of hamburger :)The Neely Team sang the family fun song!

Good weather was another miracle enabling the young people to have an encouraging outdoor activity time. And truly, at that late notice, every single RSVP was a miracle but the list of families grew; by ten, by two; some from Parkersburg and Morgantown, then Maryland, North Carolina and New Hampshire!


Lieutenant Matthew . . .Yes, many miracles and one solid week of work had  brought us to this day and we didn’t expect the Lord to stop working. Yes, no one who waits on Him is confounded. . . . That evening, in direct answer to prayer, the house was full!

. . . choosing teams.Despite the short notice that there would be a West Virginia  FEW at all, a total of nearly 100 people came to affirm the importance of the family and learn how to build strong family relationships.

Dave Stelzl challenged us to be proactive and creative in the area of entrepeneurship.The parents shared about morning devotions.Your family can picture Christ to the world.


  1. Esther Staddon July 14, 2011 at 6:42 am #

    It is awesome to be in the service of the King and watch Him work things out!

  2. Daniel Staddon July 14, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    I still can’t believe it actually happened! Only God could work out all those details. Praise the Lord and lets keeping praying for each family that was able to attend!

  3. Michael July 14, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    Did you notice? All the families poured in as soon as I left the registration table and went downstairs to eat – LOL! Who told them what was under my fingernails?!?! 🙂

  4. Donald July 15, 2011 at 4:55 am #

    Interesting observation Major Michael 🙂 Thanks for being willing to help me through the logistical maze of the registration table and helping coordinate the stuffing of the family envelopes. That was a great operation. I should make it clear by the way that attendance numbers aren’t important. (That’s one reason we call it a FEW conference:) ) In this case the numbers coincided with the timing to show God’s hand at work and that is the reason I mentioned it.
    And speaking of numbers, our family was recounting a few other miracles this morning. Everyone bringing complementary dishes (and the right quantities 🙂 ) enabled meal preparation to flow unexpectedly well.
    Another thing is that, since it was shortly after July Fourth, hot dog bun prices went from about $2.40 to 30 cents a bag. And remember when we decided we needed a few more wastebaskets, they went on sale at the Dollar General? I didn’t mention those details in the post but the Lord will use that kind of “happening” to encourage us as we seek to encourage others. That’s just the way it works and we were grateful to God for the opportunity it was to cooperate with Him.
    Thank you to everyone who made a contribution in some large or small way during the weekend. Thank you Joshua for helping on the song-leading. Thank you especially to every one who prepared the way in prayer.
    It isn’t too early to begin praying for the VA FEW! May God be free to do His work in His way. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of any family whose heart is perfect toward Him! (See II Chronicles 16:9.)

  5. Matthew July 21, 2011 at 4:48 am #

    What a wonderful conference! The Lord truly showed himself marvelously strong in so many different ways. Praise His Name!

  6. Mural Catalog May 21, 2014 at 2:27 am #

    Hey! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after checking through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
    Nonetheless, I’m definitely delighted I found it and
    I’ll be bookmarking and checking back often!


  1. Virginia FEW Conference « Lenspiration - August 19, 2011

    […] This weekend I’m in Culpeper attending the Virginia Family Encouragement Weekend, thanks to the warm and energetic leadership and hospitality of the Wilkesteam! I don’t have any pictures from this event yet, but here’s a favorite from the last FEW, in West Virginia. […]

  2. Virginia FEW Conference - Lenspiration - August 10, 2015

    […] This weekend I’m in Culpeper attending the Virginia Family Encouragement Weekend, thanks to the warm and energetic leadership and hospitality of the Wilkesteam! I don’t have any pictures from this event yet, but here’s a favorite from the last FEW, in West Virginia. […]

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