Sunday, July 31, 2011


I know of two ways to use the word RETREAT. One being the experience of going to a quieter place, a solace, a time of renewal and refocusing. My "mental picture dictionary" for this one pulls up our teenagers on a spiritual high after a weekend of being fed God's word and bonding with their peers.

The second being a more drastic escape, running for the hills to get away from immediate danger. Here I picture a war Sargent on his horse, holding up his sword and crying with urgency "RETREAT" as he gallops with his remaining infantry out of harms way.

Before last weekend I did not really think about how closely related the two definitions really are. RRL and I screamed "RETREAT" for ourselves and headed for the "hills" to try to escape the pressures of life that seemed to have the advantage. In some ways we were losing the battle. Really, though, all we were seeking was solitude, quiet and some spiritual renewal. I now link "head for the hills" and "I lift my eyes to the hills (Psalm 121)" closely together.

Actually, we didn't seek-out the "retreat".  We were led to it and it was given as a very sweet gift.  At what couldn't have come at a better time for us, RRL and I had the awesome opportunity to be part of a unique experience at a Minister's Support Network Retreat.  and OH MY was it a "retreat" in every sense of the word.  It is designed as a sabbatical for ministers, even those of us whose ministry doesn't meet the classic definition.

The very logistics nightmare that it took for us to actually leave 6 children home, was indicator enough of just how much we could use a break.  We stayed up late the night before typing 8 pages of notes, instructions, meals plans and schedules for our little crew.  Laying out clothes.  Cleaning.  Grocery shopping.  In my simple mind I thought "I sure hope this is worth it".  Oh how I must make God chuckle.  He knew we needed this escape together.

While we "escaped" we were fed, encouraged, and prepared for battle.  We left equipped, full of purpose and hope, and rejuevenated.  We listened while mentors and peers shared pieces of their ministry journeys.  We had the opportunity to tell a piece of ours.  We got to ask questions, study the Word, sing, and LAUGH.  A lot.  We enjoyed early morning runs, more food than we could possibly eat (but we sure tried) and made life-long friends in a matter of four short days.  From these sweet friends we learned that the best way to walk a hard road is TOGETHER.  Transparently.  Crying and laughing along the way.  And in all, pointing each other to a source of energy that does NOT run out.  Along the way, we were gently guided to these conclusions by three host couples who lived it out, right in front of us.  Thanks for sharing your hearts, friends.

The thing about a "retreat" that makes it different from completely going "AWOL" is that we came back.  And not back with our tail between our legs, but back with a new energy to face the very things we needed a break from.  After our short retreat, we didn't come back to a change in circumstance at all.  In fact, we came back to one of the most difficult weeks we had faced as a party-of-eight.  But the Lord knew that.  He knew EXACTLY what we would face when we returned.  And I believe that is the very reason we went.  I love how He goes before us!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to our sweet family and friends that made this weekend possible on the homefront.  And thank you to those who gave of their talents to make a weekend of restoration like this possible.  Some of whom we have come to love dearly, some of whom we won't ever even know by name.  But all who helped us "retreat". 

Thank you,


Alecia said...

AMEN! Thank you for sharing this page! Love listening to your words of wisdom and encouragement. We feel so very blessed to have been able to be a part of that weekend with all of you as well! God is so good in that way!

mindy said...

You articulated it so well, Allison. What a blessing it was! I am so very thankful for our new friendships. We're praying for you and Ricky! Hope everyone is feeling better and that this week is lots calmer for your party of eight!