Building "Fit" Families

Robb and Ruth Brandt have turned their empty nest into a retreat for mentoring couples.

What to do when the nest is finally empty?

Pack away all that marriage and parenting experience, never to be accessed again?

Or try something brand new? A ministry that imparts that knowledge and relates those experiences—good and bad—to the next generation of couples?

For Robb and Ruth Brandt, retiring from their medical careers certainly didn't mean retiring from active ministry. In fact, over the past dozen years they've thrown life into overdrive with a simple ministry idea: bring younger, Christian couples into their home for a weekend and mentor them. Help them refocus their marriages and parenting. Feed them. House them for two nights.

It all adds up to something the Brandts call Family Fitness Retreats. They say the idea has worked wonders in families while being intensely fulfilling for the two of them as leaders.

"After the children grow up, there's a diversity of attitudes—'I'm going to go play golf,' or just, 'I'm glad that's over,'" Robb says. "But in the context of the kingdom, it's such a waste to have made all those mistakes raising children and then not pass on what you've learned."

A perfect match

Robb and Ruth were born on the same day: September 16, 1935 (Robb delights in pointing out that he is two hours older). They met in seventh grade and have been "madly in love" ever since. Robb was a surgeon, retiring early because of lingering knee injuries from a car accident. He still does medical consulting for hospitals around the United States. Ruth was a registered nurse. They have four adult children and 10 grandchildren. And they've also experienced a parent's worst nightmare, having lost an 8-year-old son in an accident in 1969.

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May 25

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