Our 1st annual Refresh women's retreat was held this weekend at the Olford Center in a serene area off Riverdale. Who knew it was even there? As the ladies came in to register, there was a sense of excitement and anticipation. Lots of greetings, hugs, and catching up with each other. (Even Martha and Stacy were hugging!) We were given a goody bag and room key and went off to find our hotel-like accommodations (Yay for not sleeping in a bunk bed in a dormitory-like setting).
One of the things that made this weekend special was that all age ranges were represented, but only one person of the opposite sex was allowed. And quite frankly, every lady wanted her turn with him.
After registration and checking out our sleeping arrangements, we went to dinner. Jane and Penny prepared the most delicious meals. Great food at dinner, breakfast, and lunch and even better fellowship around the tables.
Lisa Newman introduced our Friday night speaker, Christie Smith. Christie encouraged us to learn to give thanks in and for every situation. The message was well-received because she has walked the walk. Even though she has been diagnosed with a very painful and sometimes debilitating auto-immune disease, she radiates and speaks gratitude. She reminded us that "gratitude precedes the miracle," gratitude is never invisible or silent, gratitude begins where my sense of entitlement ends, and grateful people can find a blessing in any circumstance.
Saturday, Beth Ann Lampley shared with us about her ministry opportunities at MissionFirst and Kanakuk Kamp. She told us how she had ministered to an area only 10 miles from where she had lived, but an area where everything was different, from race to economy to age to behavior. She had the opportunity to intentionally love on people and speak Truth into their lives...to make a difference. She also told us that it takes everybody, all different roles, to make a difference...people on the front lines and people in the offices. (It reminded me of how the entire body of Christ is necessary. The hand, the foot, the head. We're all so necessary and the church needs everyone to use the spiritual gifts they have been given.)
Later Saturday, Diane McNeil spoke. She began by telling us that we all have a life journey, and each one's is different. We can't live each other's life. We all have a story and a calling. Hers began with God telling her to pray for Israel. And through the years, God called her to help bridge the gap between Christians and Jews. As she told us her life story, we realized that things had happened that could only be from God. She left us hungry to hear more of her story, but hungry, too, to discover the story and calling God has for our lives.
Friday and Saturday, we got to know ladies we had not known, we prayed and discussed what we had heard in small groups, and we played games with the intent of finding out things about each other. Let's just say that game time made us realize the slogan of the weekend needed to be, "What's told at the retreat stays at the retreat!" But seriously, we truly realized first-hand that "a merry heart does good like a medicine." (Prov. 17:22) The present-day paraphrase of this verse is that laughter is good for the soul. We all left at noon Saturday with very healthy souls!