Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Women's Retreat

Weekend before last, I received an unexpected opportunity to attend a women's retreat, offered through a church in my town. I don't go to this particular church on Sundays, but I do attend their moms group most Wednesday mornings. Being pretty new to this area (just over one year now), I've found being involved in this group of women/moms to be a big blessing. There are a variety of ages, backgrounds, beliefs, etc... but we all come together and enjoy each others' company.

I was given the opportunity to join the retreat the day before they were leaving. Talk about last minute! An opening became available because another woman had to cancel last minute, therefore creating an opening for me. A gal I know from moms group called Thursday evening, asked if I'd like to go and said Landon could come with me. I was caught off guard, because we had just returned from our CA trip and my dad's service, I had laundry to do, house to clean, food shopping to do..the list goes on and on. For those who know me well, you know I'm a planner. I like to have time to prepare for things, and know all the details beforehand. I don't like making impulse decisions, or feeling rushed. But too many things had lined up for me to have a good reason to say "no". The spot was offered free for me, I had always wanted to go on a retreat, I could bring my son...  For all these reasons and more, I decided to go. It was definitely worth the last minute scramble to get things together!

We spent 2 nights, 3 days at Camp Cascade in Lyons, OR. The location is in the mountains, surrounded by trees. There were two lodges, a large pond where you could sit on a dock and relax, picnic tables and paths for walking to the river. It was so nice to escape to a calm place for a couple days, especially after my family has been going through recent heartache and stress.

The speaker came from a church in my area. She did a fantastic job. I loved her speaking style, and related to her on several levels. I wanted to share a few things I took from her sessions.

Carol (speaker) discussed ways we all hinder our relationship with God, and to be mindful of what we allow to "get in the way". She reminded us it's our job to get out of God's way, so as to not hinder what He wants to do in our lives. I know I'm guilty of trying to take the reigns in my own life, and not always seeking God first, allowing Him to have His way. I have always been somewhat of a "control freak", and this is an area I am constantly striving to be better about. I desire God's will in my life, and know He can handle everything far better than I.... I just have to work on giving up the need to have a part in the process...and let Him take over completely. Carol explained how God uses our trials to teach us and grow us spiritually, and asked us to question what we each hold onto in our lives, that may hinder Him from using us.

Some examples she gave were:
  • Holding on to temptation
  • Saying double-minded prayers (praying to God for or about something you already have the answer to, or knowledge of what you'll do regardless. Simple example: "please don't let me be tempted by this chocolate" - but keeping it in the fridge anyway, knowing you'll eventually eat it)
  • Holding on to fear (any kind of fear. The fear of being hurt, vulnerable, intimate, etc.)
  • Holding on to unforgiveness (it keeps us tied to the ones who hurt us. Their sin is between them and God, so release them to Him and move on, otherwise it will hinder you) 
  • Holding on to dreams, desires and expectations (in an unhealthy way that leads to them as idols in our lives, or putting too many expectations on those around us to where we are constantly disappointed) 

My favorite "take away" from the sessions Carol led, is the following phrase:
"There's nothing worse than a wasted trial. What a waste to go through a trial and not see God through it, or let Him use you in it". 
- This was big for me. I believe God can use us in big ways, even when we're in the most difficult season of our lives. Although everyone would understand if I withdrew for a while, because of my dad passing away, I chose not to. It is important to me to show others that although I'm heartbroken at the loss of my dear father, I'm still going to get through this, with the help of God and family and friends. And I'm still going to give all glory to God, despite my present circumstances. It is important for the unbelievers in our lives to experience our steadfast faith and devotion to Christ, in the midst of trials. My faith in God is not subject to change when things start going downhill..... it's time to cry out to Him, get on my knees and honor Him in the good AND bad times of life. He's not going anywhere, so neither will I.

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