Do you have an image for grace? A picture in your mind illustrating its depth, its warmth, its strength.
This weekend is our women’s retreat. It felt more like a conference. But regardless of the title, this weekend will always invoke images of smiling faces, wonderful music, an outpouring of love, and a snippet of God’s grace.
“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9 [Read it.]
I’m going to tell you the truth. I did NOT want to go to the retreat this weekend.
I was tired and stretched to capacity after an extremely hard week. I have looming deadlines, studying to complete, a running schedule to maintain, and I felt compelled to Write 31 Days.
I don’t usually participate in local “retreats.” I always feel shorted by staying in town.
How can you retreat when you stay at home?
I miss the element of walking away from the norm, basking in the newness of the host location, trading in my daily expectations for bumping around in my own head.
It’s not beyond me to attend a retreat and not participate in a single activity. I’m my own host.
I sit. I knit.
I write. I plan.
I do, absolutely nothing, at times.
I’ve gone days without talking to a soul and it recharges my battery. It gives me clarity. It allows me to come home refreshed.
So, when our women’s ministry hosts our annual retreat locally I feel shorted.
No bags to pack.
No days of escape.
No place to hide.
I missed the separation.
As a result, I don’t usually attend. But this year I signed up. I told the ladies in my bible study I’d attend. And even though I was exhausted Friday, I went.
And I’m glad I did.
Day 1: Dancing and Tacos
I went last night, not in a hurry to arrive when the doors opened, and not in a rush to leave when the doors closed. I caught up with sisters I haven’t seen in a while. I asked about children who have grown up and moved on.
I danced. I ate tacos. I merely was.
I answered questions. I listened.
I hugged. I sweated.
I enjoyed my sisters.
Day 2: Dancing and Fellowship
I woke early. I did my morning quiet time, sipping coffee. I was going but a part of me wanted to sleep in.
I’m a people person but people drain me. I’m loud and boisterous yet it takes me days to recover from these types of gatherings.
After the night of dancing, me, myself, and I made a pact. lol I gave myself permission to skip any sessions if I needed space. I planned to create my own retreat, within the retreat. 😉
So, I packed a bag with a sweater I’m knitting and my journal. Then I headed to the church. Y’all I had a wonderful time.
Did I miss not leaving town? YES.
Did I have moments of wanting to return home? YES.
Did I cut out of a session? YES. (I held the lobby down!) And I’d do it again.
I fellowshipped, drank coffee. It was like my soul was nourished by God’s presence through His daughters and sons. It is amazing how God shows up.
I’m a person who loves the little things.
For example, I decided after the busy morning sessions to sit in our church lobby and knit. I made it to the lobby and a friend said, “Do you want a cup of coffee?”
Of course, I said, “YES.”
I sat down and started talking to a woman unfamiliar to me and we had so much in common. We talked for at least 45 minutes. Then I talked with others.
Then another friend said, “Hey, I was coming to meet with you.” She gave me some refreshments and fruit. Then I had another round of conversations.
It wasn’t as quiet as I thought. But I had an experience I’ll treasure.
I’m amazed at His care for me. I’m thankful for His presence through others.
Then I attended the last session because I told the facilitator I would. I walked in the room and found out it was a collage making class from an art therapist. Now, I love crafting, but I don’t do paper crafts. Give me yarn and fabric, and I got you. However, I shy away from scrapbooking, card making, and such. But I told her I’d attend. Again, I’m so glad I did.
I loved the experience. My collage is above.
God’s power meets us exactly where we need Him. I wanted to hide and He exposed me using the love of His beautiful daughters.
We are elements of God on earth. We have the ability to show love to others. We have the privilege of representing the King of Kings.
I still love retreats. I love packing a bag. I love weekends of “checking out.”
In the end, I stayed at home and had an opportunity to recognize this new season in my life, the women God has placed in my life, the role I serve in my faith family.
And I am so thankful.
How has God’s grace showed up in your life? Think about the little things. Think about the big things. And if you have time, write it down in a journal.
How does experiencing His grace help you engage life’s ups and downs?
We’ll keep moving ahead. As always, I pray this post finds you well and you’ll join me again.