Personal Retreat, Part 3

personalretreat.pngA bit ago, I wrote two pieces about Letitia Suk’s book Getaways with God.  In simple terms, the book is about planning a personal retreat with God.  Letitia Suk has done this for many years, and uses the book to identify the reason why we should make an intentional effort to breakaway for private time with God.  Additionally, she blesses the readers with suggested retreat schedules and purposes that can be tailored to our individual needs.

The timing of reading Getaways with God was perfect, as I had already planned a trip where I would be arriving extra early.  I decided it was the perfect time to try out a personal retreat.  I have to admit the first couple of hours was awkward.   Being in a home that is bustling with energy from barking dogs, squealing kids, meals that need to be made, emails to send, calls to field, etc.; I rarely find myself in a space that is simply empty.  Void of distractions.  I was tempted to touch my phone, and reach out to someone.  I knew that in this room states away from home… no one would be dropping by for coffee.

I got settled in my space, wandered around for a bit almost lost in the silence and stillness.  I decided to grab a bite to eat before it got dark, bringing it back to my flat as to not lose a second.  I set the tone by playing worship songs, and I was very intentional.  Today was not the time to learn a new song, but to lean into my favorites.  I wanted songs where the words flowed freely from my lips and I wasn’t tripping up over lyrics.  What seemed so difficult at first became so much easier, to the point that by the time my personal retreat was officially over… I longed for it to continue.

For the retreat, I selected Psalm 5:3 as the foundation for my time.

“Every day I lay out my life on your altar and watch for fire to descend.” 

This scripture meant a few things to me, in this space:

  •  Every day, I want my life to be an offering to God, for His glory and His purposes.
  •  Every day, I want to be willing to sacrifice my fleshy desires for He that sacrificed His son for me.
  • Every day, I want His burning fire to consume my sin, burning away the impurities and leaving only what is pure, noble, and good.
  • Every day, I want to watch for the pillar of fire that walks before me, guiding me and protecting me.

The scriptures tell us that before we can lay our offerings on the altar, we must be reconciled to those who have issues with us (Matt 5:23,24).  I needed to know if there was any offense that I had not apologized for.  But, I also knew there were some people that I needed to forgive with the same grace and mercy that the Lord has forgiven me. (Col. 3:13).  It was clear to me that before I could lay out my life on His altar, I had some things I needed to attend to.  The purpose of this retreat would revolve around forgiveness.

Forgiveness, what a beautiful place to begin.

After listening to the songs, my heart softened, I prayed that the Lord would show me an iniquity in my heart and give me His eyes towards those who are apart of my life.  I was shocked by what I learned about my life and my self.   I grabbed my journal and begin writing the names of people I needed to forgive, and what I needed to forgive them for.  I was surprised by the names on the list when I was done.

I learned that there were people I verbally forgave, but my heart was still hard.

I learned that there was someone I didn’t even realize I was angry with.

I learned from the issues I needed to forgive, that there were some patterns repeating in our family.   I’ve heard them referred to as “Generational Curses”, but I didn’t think they applied to my family.  But here they were, repeated patterns going back several generations.  I realized in this moment how much history shapes present, and how much I needed God to break these strongholds.

It all came to the head of love.  The moment when you realize how much you need God’s love, to fill the voids of absent love.  How much you desire God’s approval to fill the void of absent approval.  How much you want God’s validation to fill the void of absent validation.

I didn’t realize how much I needed to be reminded FOR MYSELF… that I am…

an image bearer.   (Gen 1:27)

cherished.  (Isa 49:15)

seen as wonderful, and have a purpose.  (Jer 29:11)

loved, with a love that is everlasting.  (Jer 31:3)

loved, sacrificially.   (Rom 5:8)

redeemed by a high price.  (1 Pet, 1:18,19)

a new creation, in Him.  (2 Cor 5:17)

a child of God, himself.  Adopted, chosen.  (1 John 3:1)

and called to do His will on Earth, a high calling, a commissioned call.  (2 Cor 5:20)

I needed to love myself, as much as the Lord loves me.  In loving me, He has forgiven great sins in my life.  How can I not do the same for others, to love as I have been loved?  To forgive as I have been forgiven?

I realized that I have been living wounded.  The day I gave my life to the Lord, my wounds tried to heal.  However, I realized I had allowed myself to essentially pick at the healing scabs… keeping the wounds open and fresh.  Living in hurt, instead of living in the freedom of the Cross.

I had allowed myself to live in the lies others had told me, that I had even told myself.  Believing the world and fickle people over the promises of God.  These are the bonds I need to break.

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Remember how I said a few paragraphs back that I didn’t want my retreat to end.  Well, in many ways it didn’t.  Through various means the Lord continued to reveal things to me during the several day long conference.  I’ll write more about those things later.

Conference Time!

tgcconferencepic It’s almost time for my annual conference trip to The Gospel Coalition Conference.  I gain so much from these conferences, it is one of the biggest “pour in” moments of my year.  Every bit of leadership juice I pour out throughout the year is replenished here.

I learn a lot from not only the conference main sessions, but also the workshops that I attend.  I even learn a TON from the exhibition hall, connecting to resources and ministries that I can share through my work in the Women’s Ministry Council.

The first thing I do in order to prep for the conference is the purchase a new journal and colorful pens.  (Yes, I still hand write my notes… and science says it’s the best way to remember what you learn.)  I love using the colorful pens to help me quickly differentiate between sessions and workshops.

I am also excited because this year I added extra time on my trip, and I’m going to have a 24 hour personal retreat.  I have decided, finally, that my retreat is going to be one of personal reflection with God.  Laying down the burdens on my heart, forgiving, surrendering to His will for my life, seeking direction and clarity, and really just letting the Holy Spirit speak into my life.  I want to purge so that my spirit is fresh for the conference and the truths the Lord will speak into my life.getawaywithGod1

So, this is my last blog post until after the conference.  When I get back, I’ll let you know how the retreat went.  Then I’ll start my post conference posts sharing what I’ve learned.

Getaway with God Part 2 of 3

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It’s been really exciting planning my first Getaway with God, the idea of a personal retreat sounds just like the thing I need right now.  Sometimes we just need a moment to get our head on straight, focus back to where it should be, and I can’t wait.

I must admit some of the planning aspect has been easy since I am tacking this on to an existing trip.  So answering the when and where questions were a bit of a no brainer.  In fact, I think if I had to plan it from scratch verses adding it to an existing trip… it may have been harder.  My focus in planning, now, has been the details.

Am I going to lock myself in my space for the day and just really concentrate on God?  Do I want to venture out to enjoy His creation?  And where will I do that when I am staying in a major city?  I do have access to a small kitchen, so I could stop by a store and load up on snacks and meals to munch on, or I could go for a quick bite or order in.  So many options!

Since my retreat isn’t off in a quiet location, I had to veer off from the book a little bit.  I need to get my hands on a map of the area, locating a local park perhaps.  I know there is a zoo in fairly close proximity, and that could be interesting.  I can’t think of a time I have ever gone to a zoo completely on my own.  But what an opportunity to see such variety in God’s created animals.   I can also use the map to find places to eat that are near by and figure out what will work in my budget.  I’ve decided that being my first personal retreat, I won’t be fasting (at least from food).

In the book there is a sample schedule for the 24 Hour Retreat, and I think that will really helpful to follow for my first retreat.  It also helped me to figure out what I would need to pack.

My largest hurdle is determining what type of retreat this will be, especially knowing that following the retreat is going to be a fast paced conference weekend.  On the one hand, I think a Restorative Retreat would be a beautiful way to prepare myself for the conference.  I would be able to rest up, prep my heart for what God would reveal to it during the conference, and set my mind into the right mode to learn.

A Listening Retreat could be a great way to put a cap on some things that have been weighing me down before the Lord reveals new things to me at the conference.  I have some lingering questions regarding certain situations that I would love to address.  Perhaps getting away and being alone with God is exactly what I need to find that peace.

I also have the ministry that I work with, and having a solid 24 hours to dedicate to Goal Setting would be wonderful.  My only caveat with this option is that I’m not sure I can do too much goal setting without the rest of my team there.  So perhaps this is a different retreat for another day.

What does this all mean?   It means my biggest priority right now is to be in prayer and covet the prayers of those closest to me about WHY I am going on this retreat and what God would have me do with this time.