I went on a women’s retreat this weekend. I know that I’ll be processing this for days, but I do my best “thought organizing” when I write it down. So this is for me, for my amazing friends and family who HELPed me out and for YOU, if you’ve ever pondered a retreat.
First of all, the retreat I went on is called Christ Renews His Parish, affectionately known as CRHP (Pronounced chirp—I know, don’t try and figure it out, just go with it). It is a retreat held twice a year with a men’s weekend and a women’s weekend. The Hubs and I did this retreat about 16 years ago in Tallahassee and the friends we made during that time and process were and ARE some of our absolute nearest, dearest and with the passing of time you might as well add in oldest (love you all–just keeping it real). It was a game changer in my faith life and proved to be a lifesaver when the rubber hit the road a few years later.
Fast forward a few lifetimes and the Hubs has had a yearning to do this retreat again to form a new Catholic community and friends and our neighboring parish had been offering this for a couple of years. However, with a few speed bumps and timing it wasn’t the right time. Two years later, NOW our OWN parish is starting this retreat program next fall (much to our excitment!) and they needed some people to go through the retreat in order to be on the initial presenting team. Of course, this coincided with the men’s retreat about 2 weeks later (followed by the women’s weekend). The Hubs offered us right on up. Yes, God’s timing does not often look like ours and sometimes when He wants you to do something he not only opens the doors but pushes you through–this is usually because you aren’t exactly listening very well. Or so I’ve heard. Ok, fine, it was me….I was ignoring God and my sweet Hubby just let God deal with me.
I was completely hesitant to attend the weekend. I knew the gist of what to expect but it is a weekend that blows you away and fills you to overflowing with the Holy Spirit and our prior experience was phenomenal, however, I also know that God used that time to prepare me for one of the darkest seasons of my life–a season that I would have never survived had it not been for my spiritual growth during that time. I shared my reservations with some friends, had a few discussions with Jesus, meditated on the decision (which I already KNEW was irrevocable—some things God just does not budge from. trust me. This is a painful lesson I continue to relearn) and we finally came to a consensus that I would go into the weekend with ZERO expectations and just let God lead. Easy peasy, right? Right. Pfft.
The morning of the retreat I woke early to have coffee and quiet time and then pay the bills, make the Hubs a list for the weekend, finish packing, wash the dishes, clean the kitchen and text all the kids. I actually arrived on time–miracle #1 for the weekend. I knew not one single soul on the retreat. Armed with my Feti (faux Yeti)-to keep my water cold, Grove chapstick and Burt’s Bees cuticle cream at least I would be hydrated and work on those wrinkly hands and jagged cuticles! I can’t and won’t go into detail about the weekend because if you are even remotely considering this you should go in blind, expect nothing but KNOW that you will be utterly blown away by the Holy Spirit in ways that you can’t imagine and the scripture verse,
Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”
truly takes on a whole new meaning when you hand over your precious weekend time, unplug from the world and hand over your body, mind and spirit to God. He will fill you up, pour you out and fill you up again, to the point where you stop wondering how it is even possible to be so utterly content and loved and let the tears flow and the love take whatever form He desires and settle in for the ride. I mean, there is chocolate so He gets IT!
From 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. and again from 7 a.m. until 230 p.m. the following day God had me right where He wanted me. I made new friends who are certain to be additional lifelong and precious Sisters in Christ, had heart scars ripped open and repaired to better than new, ate my weight in amazing food—thankfully these calories don’t count on retreat weekends–(seriously, even my new 91 year old friend who is diabetic and ate desserts with no blood sugar issues resulting, wholeheartedly agreed), enjoyed Reconciliation with my favorite confession priest, Mass like never before, and a love and refreshment in my soul that I didn’t even know I was in need of. Jesus Christ was in the house and He rocked it.
I have every faith that in the weeks and months ahead, God will continue to do a tremendous work in me (and the Hubs as he goes through his formation process) and He has assured me that He is absolutely preparing me/us once again, but that He is in control and as always His plans for me/us are for good and not evil with the promise of hope and a future beyond my/our wildest imagination. (Jer 29:11–if you didn’t already know IS my/our Scripture verse for our family, my email and the TRUTH that has proved itself time and again); Jesus does not play. I mean He does, but not about His promises.
I have no idea what God has in store for me, for my marriage, for our family, but we are about to find out. I will continue to process this weekend in the days to come and have already begun to see where He is planning to make a few housekeeping changes in my heart (starting with a get out of bed a little earlier and no snooze button—the NERVE!) and though I know it’s not going to be easy I know I won’t be alone.