One of the highlights of my year came and went last weekend with our Women's Retreat at Clifton Baptist Church (where Josh and I are members). Once again, I was overjoyed by the time away, to take time to be quiet and focus on Christ, to grow together with my sisters in Christ, and to enjoy fellowship with them. And once again, even though I took my camera, I barely remembered to use it. Not every good moment at a retreat is a good photo op as well, you know? The best things of all, are the quiet moments of reflection, and you can't exactly take pictures of those times. (Note: This picture looks crooked because the camera was up on a hill near where we hiked).
I really tried to be intentional with my time at the retreat. First, I printed off some good discussion questions from GirlTalk to promote edifying conversation in the car ride (a little over an hour to the retreat center) with the girls in my car pool. It was great! I felt like I grew a lot in my understanding of these friends during our trip there. Another thing I tried to do was sit with a variety of people during meals and worship time so I could get to know a range of women. I have been at Clifton long enough, I guess, that I knew almost everybody at the retreat this year! Even though I stayed up kind of late Friday night, I still rose early on Saturday to enjoy that early morning quiet in the pretty lodge we were sleeping in. To aid my reflection time, I brought along this Personal Retreat I downloaded from GirlTalk. I had brought these questions with me last year, and was very glad I'd taken the time to reflect on my priorities. This year was even better, because I'd managed to get up so early, that no one else at the retreat was up yet -- not even the girls making breakfast for us all. I had plenty of time to read my Bible, work through the Personal Retreat, and write a note of appreciation for our speaker before the coffee was ready. I am so thankful for God's grace to enable me to rise early that morning!
At lunch, that day, one of my favorite ladies, Doris Stam, led those of us huddled around a round table with our soup and sandwiches in a conversation where we each shared where we lived when we were 6, how we heated our house, and when we first began to warm towards the Lord. It was a great time of sharing! I always love to hear how friends have come to Christ.
Our speaker was a lady I respect greatly, Gretchen Wright. She has been a friend to me here at Clifton, and impacts the younger women with her genuine and open life. She spoke to us about being rooted in Christ from Colossians -- which was just amazing. Her teaching was profound, and yet very practical and applicable. She suggested we filter life through 3 thoughts -- God's sovereignty, glory and grace, which was SO HELPFUL! I'm still chewing on these thoughts. When her talks get uploaded to our church's website, I'll be sure to put up the link.
I was WIPED OUT when I got back from the retreat, but overflowing with joy in Christ. The Lord used this time to convict me of areas of sin, and grow my affections for Christ. What a weekend!