I absolutely LOVE retreats! They are so refreshing and encouraging, and with the busy lives many of us lead it is an awesome time to just “Be still” and grow in a deeper relationship with the Lord. I wasn’t able to go last year because it was at St. Simon’s Island a few weeks before I was due to have Jase, & obviously I wasn’t about to go 5 hours away from home. This year I debated whether or not to go because I knew Jonathan had to work & I wasn’t sure what do do with Jase. Sweet Dianne, who is heading up our women’s ministry, asked me if I would teach so I told her I would pray about it. I asked Jonathan if he thought I should go and he said yes, so I continued praying about it to get confirmation for myself. God made it abundantly clear that I was to go on the retreat & that HE would work out all the details.
I asked if I could bring Jase and they gladly agreed. I was so thankful & knew that we would make sure he was never a distraction. Me, my mom, & my oldest sister Tammie all signed up to go and share a room. I so wish my sister-in-law Ragan and sister Stephanie could have come too.
Several of the leaders and teachers gathered each week to pray over this retreat, along with praying daily. We knew God was going to do something big in the lives of all these ladies. The theme of the retreat was “It Is Well With My Soul.”
I didn’t know how much we really needed this when we first signed up, but God knew. Michael’s passing just a few weeks before left all of us heartbroken, and mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. We desperately needed to get away to rejuvenate, and it was more therapeutic than I could have imagined. Of course…isn’t that how God works?
I will tell you that any time I am teaching spiritual warfare comes in a mighty way beforehand. It almost makes me want to say “no,” but I know God protects (no weapon formed against us shall prosper) and blesses obedience. Disobedience is way scarier than anything the enemy could throw our way. Jon & I argued almost daily before the retreat over nothing really (and we don’t typically have many disagreements). Actually, it was probably my crappy attitude. I was just in such a deep sadness and funk from grieving my brother. I didn’t feel prepared to teach & so I just had to do my best to prepare and study and trust God to take care of it. It was a rough couple weeks leading up to the retreat, so it made me that much more excited to get there.
We left on Sunday after church. Jase slept on the way down, & we stopped at Cracker Barrel for a break in the drive. He tore up his vegetable plate & of course made BFFs with the waitresses.
The resort was a Christian retreat center in St. Simon’s Island. It was absolutely beautiful and so very peaceful and serene. Tammie took most of the pictures and did such a beautiful job.
Jase was PUMPED to be out of the car!
Our first night, Jase stayed awake pretty much the whole night. He NEVER does that! He would catnap for about 15 minutes, then wake up again. He wasn’t crying or anything…in fact, he was LAUGHING. I couldn’t help but laugh back. I let him sleep on my chest for a little while, but it was killing my back. I had to teach the next morning, so it’s only natural the night before he would decide to stay up and party, right? My mom felt bad and knew I had to teach, so she held him for a couple hours the next morning so I could sleep for a little while. Once again, just gotta trust God to provide and speak through me. I’m just the vessel anyway, but thankfully I brought a double Spark to keep that vessel mentally focused & energized to teach. And of course gotta love a little confirmation from God at 4:30 in the morning when the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” (the theme of the retreat) played on Jase’s cd.
We started each session with praise & worship and prayer/devotion. There were 4 lessons overall & we divided up into small groups after the lessons to discuss and share. Here was my lovely small group. Loved getting to know those ladies better!
The teachings were powerful & it was so cool to see how they all intertwined (even though the teachers did not prepare together). I absolutely LOVED hearing the other teachers share what the Lord had laid on their heart, and every message was one I desperately needed to hear. God is so faithful!
The first lesson was on guarding your heart. Man, do we not all need this lesson as a daily reminder? There is so much filth in the world trying to infiltrate our hearts and minds, trying to steal our joy and take captive what belongs to the Lord. The enemy knows if he can just get into our heart, he can do some damage. This lesson focused on how to guard our speech, our eyes, and our path.
The second lesson was on delighting in the Lord. What a great reminder to pause from the business of our lives to truly DELIGHT in the Lord, His promises, and his blessings. She shared several Scriptures about making it a point to delight in the Lord daily, despite our circumstances, so others will see our joy and be drawn to the Lord in us.
The third lesson was about being only satisfied in the Lord. This was my lesson, and if I can somehow access the notes I will post a copy. (My computer crashed a few weeks ago- part of the reason I haven’t been blogging. FUN TIMES around here, people.) It was about being satisfied in Christ alone and not looking to anything else to fulfill else- even “good” things like ministry, relationships, successful careers, beauty, etc. It focused on how to allow the Lord to fill the void in our lives, to satisfy our deepest desires, and allow God to change our hearts so HIS desires become our desires. We do this through thankfulness, and a thankful attitude leads to contentment, no matter our circumstances. That is what God desires for and from us.
And the fourth lesson was about our identity in Christ. Carey is one of my FAVORITE teachers & I always love hearing anything she has to share. She has been such a mentor to me on this topic over the last few months and I am so thankful for what she has taught me about solidifying who I am in Christ. This is the root of so many of our struggles in our walks with the Lord and in our faith- we do not truly understand who we are IN CHRIST. God is still hashing this one out with me. Her lesson talked about how we are complete in Christ and we are accepted by Him. We cannot do anything to make God love us more or love us less.
There was a lot of free time each day, so we enjoyed walking around the shops, checking out the pier, and going on walks around the resort between Jase’s naps. We also went to a few craft stores to start prepping for Jase’s 1st birthday party. Loved, loved spending quality time with all of the ladies, but especially with my mom and sister.
They also had a little dance party one evening, an ice cream social, and Alicia (who is my esthetician) made a coconut oil sugar scrub for everyone one night. She also had a painting session where everyone painted their monogram & chevron. It was Jase’s bed time so I took him back to the room and stayed with him there, but I love that such special planning goes into every detail of the retreat. They even had sweet little gifts to take home and the cutest table decorations set up. It was perfect!
We got to talk about memories with Michael and I think it was very healing for us. I am SO, SO thankful for my mom and my sisters. Loved the memories with Tammie; she is such a wonderful Aunt to baby Jase. And of course I love ANY time I get to spend with my mom. The older I get, the more I cherish our time together. They are both AWESOME women & I’m so thankful for their love and the influence they’ve had in my life.
One of my favorite parts of the trip (besides the lessons, I love that part and honestly was HUNGRY for more) was spending time in the prayer chapel and going on walks with Jase.
It was such a wonderful, refreshing time. I’m thankful for what the Lord revealed to me and the work he did in the lives of so many ladies. I truly felt like I walked away from the retreat claiming “It is well with my soul.” God is good!