Divert Daily, Withdraw Weekly, Abandon Annually
It was an honour to join the team for the Manitoba Women's Retreat at the beautiful Elkhorn Resort and Spa this past spring. I enjoy sharing my story, speaking hope and casting a vision of restoration by giving permission for others to dream, grow in faith, hope and love. Retreats are a wonderful way to spend some unhurried time together with newfound friends sharing authentically from my heart to theirs. I thought to post some highlights of my time with this fabulous bunch of women. Cheryl Dahl (Retreat team photographer), caught me hamming it up in front of their welcome sign.
We need to lighten up. There is darkness all around.
The theme for this retreat was on Hope. No matter where we are in life, we can all use more hope- for our own lives, our families, communities and our world starving for hope. As I was asked to speak on the topic of "Hope", I incorporated that into my personal faith story (Friday night), Hope for the heart (Saturday morning), Hope for the family (Saturday evening), led an optional Prayer Walk Saturday afternoon and then Sunday morning spoke on Hope for the World.
Over the past 22 years serving, sharing my faith and hosting or speaking at events, I have witnessed many teams coming together for a common goal. I encourage everyone to consider volunteering and serving in their community. This is how we grow, sharpen our gifts and talents and strengthen community bonds. Retreat teams have a special place in my heart because I know how much work, prayers and love is poured into events such as these. Grateful for this team which included many long-standing servant hearts who have volunteered for many decades including Grace Elke who reached out to me a year ago to book me for their 30+ year annual retreat! The team extended to the worship leader Joan who has led the retreat ladies for many years creating a beautiful bond with the intergenerational group of repeat retreaters and newbies alike. Kudos to all those techie people and all the creative hands put together to help execute an incredible weekend experience. Great retreats have phenomenal teams.
Where would retreats be without some fun and games? What a creative bunch! The team put out a challenge to the groups who could take pictures around the resort with the word "Hope" in it. Here are some of the creative means of doing just that. Rocks, wood, baby hands, shadows- the winners truly deserved all accolades for their determination to bring hope into the spotlight!
I have spoken at many wonderful women's events, retreats, but I have yet to encounter such a creative bunch as these gals. Each of the 4 sessions, they changed up the centrepieces, i.e.: a potted keepsake succulent plant to take home, a candy rose made out of Jolly Ranchers, a candle/ lantern with wooden pieces with hope written in many languages, a hope bookmark- Incredible. Oh, and did I mention the candy/snack bar available to the retreat ladies throughout the weekend? So nummy, so tempting, so good:)
Food, Fun, Fellowship, Faith
If we don't take the time to find rest for our soul on a daily, weekly, monthly, annual basis, we rob ourselves of not only self-care- but soul care. A time where we quiet the soul to actually heart the still voice of wisdom speak to us personally.
At the Hope retreat, I shared about having "Childlike faith" no matter what our age is. As we grow up, many of us lose the ability to be creative, spontaneous, inquisitive/ curious, playful. Our very soul aches for that childlike wonderment to explore. Retreats are a great way to help us get out of our routines and discover something new as we explore. During Saturday's free time (which was a blissful 6 hours to either nap, visit the spa, take in a breakout session) or take me up on one of the following suggestions to grow in their own personal practice of prayer & meditation:
Practice "A.C.T.S". Prayers Regularly: Adoration (Praising), Confession, Thanksgiving,(Gratitude) Supplication (Asking). By remembering this acronym, we can remember to pray as Jesus instructed his followers to pray in the famous "Lord's Prayer". (Matthew 6:9-13)
Creative Expression: Check out “Praise Moves”- dance or simply move & stretch to worship music OR consider Journaling/ Colouring/ Painting or other artistic expressions in silence or with worship music. We were created to move and love God with our entire being.
If you are stuck and need more than a weekend getaway...
Disclaimer: I am not a professional counsellor or pastor, but simply a woman on a journey to restoration. I know my limits- and although I know deeply that the Holy Spirit is the only perfect counsellor that our soul is crying out for, I also recommend professional counseling or therapists as many times, we also need to see skilled practitioners who can help navigate the journey to restoration. More often than not, we are unable to connect with God deeply and find hope and healing because of past wounds or trauma that affects us: mind, body, spirit. Unless it is addressed, the callouses of the soul continue to compound. I have been the recipient of such grace into my life over the years and am grateful for all the professionals, care givers, spiritual parents and lay leaders who have led well with their own form of of healing. For suggested reading, or to help point you in the right direction for professional care, feel free to reach out and I can recommend resources for you.