~2 Corinthians 12:9NLT
The first thought that comes to mind in describing our Quiet Retreat in January is Paul's exclamation in 2 Corinthians 12:9: "So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me." But I also have to admit that at the time, I was not so boastful about the "thorn in my flesh" that attacked throughout the week prior, as I sat down to write the material, and continued through to the end of our retreat. I was right there with Paul, wrestling and begging God to take it away! Instead, we were left with the visual of me, head in hands with the sickest migraine I can ever remember. And, them, packing my things and me into my car and driving me home, a two hour round trip! (Thank you ladies for your Christlike compassion and care for me!)
Today, I marvel at the incredible work that was taking place in the spiritual realm. He was releasing the oppressed, setting captives free, exchanging ashes for beauty right there in our midst.
What can God accomplish among eight women in twenty-four hours? Following are the responses to that question from women who attended:
"inspired me to look at the positive in life instead of dwelling on the past"..."gave me peace"..."gave me an appreciation for silence"..."showed me I don't have to 'do it all'"..."made me take a good look at myself"..."helped me to connect with others"... "gave me rest"..."helped me to relax"..."allowed silent reflection through study"..."allowed me to look at the darkness of my childhood"..."helped me to trust God to guide my life"... "reminded me that there IS a time for everything"..."gave me hope"
"Hope for Tomorrow, Grace for Today" was the theme for our weekend. I put together five stations for directed study and reflection through scripture and prayer. The meat of these stations began at Station One, "Your Life Line": creating a timeline divided into the decades of life. The following stations, then, helped to process the ups and downs of life; to see evidences of God's grace in the past, to renew our hope for the future. The women pointed to these stations as a highlight of their time with the Lord. One commented,
"It gave me time to really look deep into my soul. To learn to look to God for guidance. To put my trust in Him instead of myself and others."
When asked what they would say to YOU in recommending the Quiet Retreat, these were their responses:"It renewed my faith in knowing that God is always there. He knows my plan. I just need to be quiet and God will speak to me! I need to listen!"
"I was looking for a deeper relationship with Christ and this retreat definitely gave me what I was looking for! It is very inspirational. Every woman needs to do this!"
"It is a powerful and meaningful experience--just you and God!"
"Come as you are. Plan to relax and spend time with the Lord."
"I so want to be where women are longing to grow. That's what this weekend was about!"
Several of these ladies did not realize that a "Quiet Retreat" meant "no talking"! This really humored me...and it surprised them, to discover this after they arrived! But, in the end, the real surprise was that they loved the silence and were craving more. My prayer is that this retreat has created an appetite for silence and seeking in their daily walk with Jesus.
As for me, the weekend changed my appetite in the physical realm. I see God's grace in the midst of my weakness. I see my sickness as an answer to countless prayers for regaining balance in my life. It is so rare for me to vomit, and, not to gross you out, but this was some violent purging that took place in my body. In retrospect, it truly was a purging on quite another level. It has given me a fresh start; to physically begin a new path in this new year. I have purged old habits of unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. God is renewing my strength. His grace truly is enough for me!
Following are photos from our weekend...
|Station Five: Grace for Today. A time of personal communion with the Lord.|
|The Chapel at Sts. Peter & Paul Retreat Center|