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.

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Sometimes, I make the Enemy’s job too easy.

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I am a planner.  I will create an agenda for my day, week, or month.  Whether I write it down on paper, schedule it on my phone, or make mental notes… it is very, very rare that I don’t have a plan.  My husband would probably disagree with me on that.  Because, I also have an issue with my planning.  When my planning goes awry, I throw in the towel.

Usually my plans are built upon each other, I must accomplish task 1 in order to move onto task 2.  If task 1 can’t be completed then tasks 2-? are unaccomplished.  I’ve tried altering my planning methodology, but it never seems like I can find the right fit.  This isn’t just about planning out my day either.  It can refer to my financial budget planning, my school schedule planning, blog writing, volunteering, errand days, and traveling.

When my life is going according to plan, I am very happy.  When my life is not going according to plan, I am very unhappy.  There is no middle ground for me, it is a pendulum that I swing on.   I am either completely knocking my agenda out of the ballpark… or I have thrown in the towel and will start fresh another day.  This is NOT something I enjoy or that I am totally okay with.  Hardly.  Uncompleted tasks irritate me.  For example…

About one year ago, I purchased some gorgeous dark stained bamboo rods.  My goal was to use them to make new drapery rods for our living room.  However, I didn’t have the money yet to buy the hardware we would need to mount them.  So, for one year they sat in a closet. Totally in the way.   Finally, after doing some internet searches for a more economical way to mount them… EUREEKA… a solution was found.  I purchased the materials needed   My husband was on vacation and I asked him to mount the rods to the wall.

He was worried that he’d go through the process of mounting them, and they would just sit there.  No drapes.  Why?  Because I need custom drapes for them.  I am entirely capable of making the drapes, but he worried it wouldn’t get done.  His worries are not unfounded, since it took me 2 years to finally make the drapes for our bathroom despite having all the supplies on hand.  I hadn’t made the drapes yet because I knew it would be a process… I can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to DIY projects.  I hadn’t decided on how I wanted them to hang (pockets, tabs, ties) and so the project was on hold.

Ultimately he hung the rods, and it’s been about 3 weeks.  No drapes, even though I had assured him the only reason I hadn’t made the drapes was because the rods were not installed.  I needed accurate measurements before I could purchase the material.  I found the material I wanted, but it was a bit more expensive than I had anticipated.  Project put on hold.  I created a plan to save up the additional money.  Then spring pictures, two field trips, some unexpected expenses came about.  My budget was now completely thwarted by life events outside of my control.  I know my husband is probably thinking “I told you so”and I will beat myself up for not getting it done yet.  I’m irritated each time I look at those barren rods.

My husband would probably argue that I plan too liberally, not accounting for unexpected expenses and that I need to budget more conservatively.  I would argue that isn’t the case at all, but rather this is the very area the enemy knows he gets to me.  It is my trigger point, the thing that gets me the most frustrated, where I will scramble and give up my time with God to make up for lost time, hold by my tithe because I need to make up the shortage of funds… and where I will beat myself up the most.  I don’t like to fail.  When my planning doesn’t work out, I feel like a failure.

Many years ago, I was talking to a neighbor about a particular situation that had me frustrated.  I stated that I was a “ducks in a row person”.  She replied:

“Gena, when your ducks are in a row they are easier to shoot.”

I’ve clung to that statement ever since, as that was the moment my eyes were opened to the fact that I have been making it too easy on the enemy to steal my joy, derail my obedience, and frankly to make me miserable and irritable.

It was another friend, who has a lot in common with me personality wise, who said:

“Gena, the world doesn’t think or work like us.”

I remind myself of that statement often because those are the things that lead to much of my frustration.  I believe in giving people plenty of notice, but the world doesn’t work like me.  I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt, and assuming the best of people.  But, the world doesn’t work like that.  I think people should go the speed limit, not get in the 10 items or less line with 20 items, etc.

When I expect the world is going to work in the same space of reason and logic as I do, I’m going to be let down.  It’s just another way that I am making the enemy’s job too easy.  He knows that when he fouls up my planning by interrupting logic and reason, I get annoyed and sometimes angry.

Over the years, I have learned to be a lot more relaxed about things not going my way.  I still plan, but I am not beating myself up when I have to divert from those plans for a time.  I’ve worked hard to stand in obedience before worrying about tasks that are not getting done.  If I have a choice between only getting in 15min of bible study today or getting the dishes done before hubby gets home… the scriptures will win.

I’m not allowing myself to get annoyed by the interruption in my day because a child is sick in the nurses office and I need to pick her up.  Or, that I was just getting ready to mop the floors when the neighborhood kids show up to play.  I’ve learned that while procrastination is bad, flexibility is good.  I’m not allowing my triggers to get set off as much as they used to, and I hope that will continue to improve each day.

A few days ago, I got the itch to get new cushions for 2 Ikea chairs in our home, long over due replacements.  The nearest Ikea was two hours away and the cushions were $40 each.  My budget wasn’t that high.  Locally, I could find comparable cushions… but they were $60 or more each.  I was going to put that project on the back burner, until I came across two cushions that were perfect in color and only $8 each!  They were a little too short, but I had the idea that I could make head rests myself.  After buying the cushions, I ran across the street to Hobby Lobby and found the perfect fabric.  That night while watching tv with my husband, I knocked out the cutting and pinning.  Then, while he was taking a tv break, I sewed the fabric, stuffed it with the padding, and hand stitched the rest while we finished our show.    Before bed, the project was completed.

My husband made a comment about how I actually finished the project in the same day, with total exuberance. It was like he was seeing a brand new woman.  I smiled and pointed out that in order to do so, I put all my other plans for the day aside (the kitchen sink was pretty full).  I also pointed out that I had all the materials that I needed on hand, and I really just wanted to get it done.  Because he was sitting WITH me as I worked on the project, he realized how long “simple” DIY projects can really take.

What I realized is that even though my plans for that day were changed, by the blessing of finding those cushions, the world didn’t end.  My husband was more impressed that I completed the project than concerned about the dishes in the sink.  The enemy didn’t win that day, because I wasn’t beating myself up for what I didn’t get done.  I was satisfied but what I had gotten done.

Sometimes, I hold on so tight to my plans and ideas, that one of two things happen…

  1.  The enemy wins because the derailing will cause me to be frustrated, irritable, and angry.
  2.  I miss out on the blessing that could be found in the derailment.  How many times have I been giving Satan the credit for ruining my plans… when it was really God who had a better plan or blessing in store for me that day?

Sometimes, I make the Enemy’s job too easy.   Sometimes, I give him too much credit.

Bridging the Way – Fellowship & Small Groups

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One of the things we can struggle with in ministry service is creating a ministry that is balanced between social activities and discipleship opportunities.  This struggle is not unique to women’s ministry, but it does seem to impact women’s ministry more.

In speaking with women’s ministry leaders across the country, I’ve seen the struggle played out in many different ways.   The women’s ministry team may be divided, some wanting social events, and others wanting more studies and workshops.   The church may want less fellowship, and more small groups.  Even the women in the congregation want more of one thing, and others would prefer something else.

We seemingly keep coming to the same place…. and all or nothing stance.  Either we have a women’s ministry that is all studies, workshops, mentoring and discipleship… or a calendar of events that is centered around relational fellowship events. 

Can’t we have both?

Can’t we have a fellowship event that turns the women’s gaze toward Christ?

Can’t we have a small groups that encourage building relationships?

Do we have to chose one or the other, or could we not have the best of both worlds?

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In church leadership, most of our Pastors and Elders have been raised in the church.  They understand how we do things as a church, and there is an expectation that others will fall right into that line.  However, when you haven’t been raised in a church… it’s not the same.  You won’t automatically thrust yourself into a small group setting.   You will need time to build confidence in yourself, get to know people in the church to build relationships, and to ultimately find the small group that you feel best suits you.

Social Fellowship Events are the bridge to making this happen.  It provides an environment for women to meet each other, and set the foundations for future relationships.  It also serves as a great avenue for sharing information about the women’s ministry and church with the larger body of women.

Historically, women had many opportunities to gather with each other as a community.   They would work along side each other in the fields and in the market place.  As times changed and people became more transient, they moved away from the from their close knit families and communities.  When the Industrial Revolution took men from the home, and brought in modern conveniences, women spent more time IN the home than gathering the public spaces.  They became more detached from community with every passing generation.  Even today, in 2015, despite the endless social media communities… women are complaining more about being alone than ever.

We miss community and fellowship.

While “women’s ministry” was present even in the Old Testament days, it looked very different than what we see today.  Because, in the OT and NT (and early church) women’s ministry was active in the daily lives, as we lived together and worshiped together daily.   In more modern times, we created women’s ministry programs that would fill the community void, but lost purpose.  We allowed women’s ministry to become more of a social club atmosphere.

The good news is that women’s ministries around the country are trying to take it back to it’s roots.  Doing life together, ministering to each other, building relationships and community are all in addition to deeper scriptural study and knowledge.

In order to do this, we need to find the balance between the activities that are warm and inviting, and the ones that are deeper and challenging.

A women’s ministry team should be looking at the vision of the church, and then asking how each and every activity they propose to do supports that mission.

It is being more intentional and purposeful over the planning choices that we make, clear communication with the Pastoral Team, and in submission to God’s will for the ministry over your own.