Dear Friends in Christ,
Hello! This letter is being written by both Peter and Debbie Herbeck. We are grateful for this opportunity to let you know about a new book we have written that is now available for purchase!
In Lessons from the School of Love: Cultivating a Christ-Centered Marriage, we share the insights, lessons, and practical wisdom we’ve learned throughout the past thirty-six years of marriage. If we could invite you into our home, you would see many photos and hear countless stories that reflect an ordinary family who has earnestly, yet often imperfectly, tried to love God and each other in simple-yet-significant ways. You also would see a family that has witnessed the extraordinary love of God.
Fatima’s Sr. Lucia wrote, “The decisive battle between the kingdom of Christ and Satan will be over marriage and the family.” We speak with Catholics of all ages and stages of life who are concerned, fearful, and often overwhelmed by the current state of the world. They feel inadequate when it comes to creating a family culture that welcomes Christ’s love and answers the call to discipleship. People need authentic—not perfect—witnesses to marital love and family life. They need to believe that nothing is impossible for those who put their trust in the Lord. Our hope is that this book—which helps couples draw closer to each other by drawing closer to Christ and inviting Him into a substantial role in their family life—can help meet this need.
Our book title was inspired by the homily at our eldest daughter’s wedding. In it, the priest remarked that many couples choose this reading for the ceremony:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Cor 13:4–8 NIV).
He reflected, “Love never fails, isn’t that wonderful?” He continued, “Actually, human love fails all the time! You are entering the Lord’s school, and He’s going to teach you how to love one another. You can have confidence because the Teacher is with you, and his grace is with you.”
In this School of Love, we must learn to die to ourselves—something most of us don’t know how to do well yet. But that’s OK—because we are still learning. We are a work in progress, and the Lord is teaching us.
This book begins with the stories of our families of origin and takes readers through our married life together. Readers will discover how we learned to say, “Please forgive me,” and to honor each other with our speech (even when fighting). It describes how we discovered the infinite value of the hidden tasks that make up much of early family life, navigated the teen years, built family traditions and routines that included the Lord as a part of both the everyday and special moments of life, kept lines of communication open during busy seasons of work and parenting, and currently support and love our now-grown children and grandchildren.
There were times of struggles and uncertainty in our marriage and family life—when it was hard to see beyond the week, let alone believe that God would bring good out of it all. Writing the book has helped us live in deeper gratitude for God’s goodness and in hope for our family’s future generations.
We’ve received questions about this book’s intended audience. It can help a young couple get their marriage off to a solid start. It also can help couples in the thick of parenting, and couples like ourselves, who are enjoying the blessings of grandchildren. All can benefit from the discussions of self-sacrificial love and the call to greater communication and putting Christ at the center of their life together. It may even help college-age children intentionally consider what they want for their own marriages and families one day.
Writing this book definitely helped us learn to communicate on an even greater level. We have such different temperaments and ways of doing things! There were some humorous conversations when we realized we had very different versions of the same memory. In some ways, writing the book together was a small analogy of our married life together—dedication to a purpose, perseverance and diligence, and complementarity.
At the end of the book, we have provided discussion questions that provide readers with opportunities to deepen their communication. As we say in the book, “Three’s not a crowd!” We hope couples can take this section to prayer and, with the Lord’s grace and guidance, find ways to help their unique families walk more closely with the Lord and build or strengthen a heritage that honors and reflects Him.
Please know you are in our prayers!
Peter & Debbie Herbeck
This letter originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ March 2023 newsletter.