Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Retreat Reflections

 Waterfall on the property.

I was privileged to be able to again attend a women's retreat in the mountains of North Carolina a couple of weekends ago. This particular ministry offers retreats at no charge, including lodging and three wonderful home-cooked meals a day. Each attendee provides their own towels and bedding, paper products and a dessert. In addition, this year each group was asked to bring a case of some kind of food- our group provided a case of apples. A love offering is also taken at some point during the retreat and donations are accepted year-round, since it is a faith-based ministry.

It is such a blessing that anyone can attend regardless of their financial situations. Those who are able to pay make it possible for those who cannot. How awesome is this!
 One of the lodges.

At last year's retreat, I was very overwhelmed with all that was going on to the point that I really could not focus on the Lord. Going into this year, my prayer was that I could simply focus on the Lord and hear His voice throughout the weekend. My simple heartfelt prayer was answered!

At this year's retreat, several of the ladies in charge shared their stories of how they came to be at Living Waters. The common thread running through each of their stories was faith. These are ladies who have lived their lives by faith depending on God and God has honored that!  Their stories greatly inspired me to continue to allow God to grow my faith through various life circumstances.
The barn where all the sessions were held.

A verse that was quoted at nearly every session and then was handed out to all of us printed on a pink sheet of paper was Song of Solomon 4:7: "You are all fair and lovely, and there is no blemish in thee." My NIV Bible says it a bit different: "All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you." No flaw, beautiful, fair and lovely- that is what God sees in me! I love that!

The main theme of the weekend for me was "Prevailing in Prayer".  I received a lot of insight on prayer and what it means to prevail in prayer and pray effectively. Not all of this was from the main sessions but also through special prayer times and the Holy Spirit speaking to me. Since returning home, I've begun to put these techniques into practice while developing my own prayer life. I am still learning, of course, but even just in the past week, my prayer times have become very sweet times with God.

The main speaker for the weekend talked a lot about "knowing your enemy."

Ephesians 6: 12 says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." 

She stated that too many times we give our enemies the wrong names such as John, Jim, Mary or Sue rather than recognizing that Satan is our enemy not people. When you improperly diagnose your enemy; you will always lose the battle. But victory comes when we prevail in prayer against the right enemy. Flesh is not our enemy unless it's your own flesh. God did not create us to wrestle and struggle against flesh and blood since people are not our real enemies. Satan is the real enemy and who we are really in battle against, not our spouse, coworker or friend or family member.

Some other  quotes that stood out:

"Talk to the Lord. Ask Him what's going on with people, your husband, yourself."

"It's time to cry out {to Jesus} in authority and power not in desperation or whining. It's time to take your position. It's time to run him {the devil} out of your life. It's time  to run him out of your family. It's time to run him out of your home."

"Life with Jesus is walking in righteousness, peace and joy."

The praise and worship music was very good this year. I really enjoyed it! I wasn't familiar with all of the songs but many of the lyrics were so powerful so I wrote snippets down so I wouldn't forget. Here are two that I didn't want to forget. I think they might have been from the same song!

" See the way He holds the stars in His hands,
  See the way He holds my heart.
  God is a lover looking for a lover so He fashioned me."

"You call me worthy; You see beauty. You see who I'll be."
 Rachel's House- a newer lodge.  Inside is a lovely and rustic log cabin style. So nice to to sit and relax in the sitting area around the fireplace!

A highlight of the weekend was making a new friend who also grinds her own wheat and is very interested in health and nutrition. Some of the ladies from my group heard us talking about some home remedies and remarked that we were "speaking the same language." :-) I really don't know many people in real life with similar interests in nutrition so it was a real treat to get to know Charleen. We were able to share our resources for some hard-to-find ingredients. She shared where she gets her sucanat at a good price and I'm excited to try ordering from there.

What I love the very most about retreats (this year and other years) is spending a whole weekend with a group of wonderful ladies from my church. Our group numbered 13 this year! I am blessed to be a part of a group of such sweet Godly ladies who truly follow the Lord. And they're really fun to be with, too! We all stayed together in a house just down the road from the main property.  It is so rare that we get to hang out together. Sharing our dreams, struggles and experiences is really encouraging and knits us together as the body of Christ.

 We could hear the falls from our bedroom windows.
The weekend was wonderful, draining, tiring and refreshing all at the same time! I am so grateful that I was able to attend!


Ramble with Carole said...

Mary Ann, I absolutely LOVE our times away. It is everything which adds to the awesomeness of the weekend. I love having time with all of the ladies in our Church. Well truthfully, I wish we could get ALL of the ladies - but maybe one day. But it is so special to spend that one on one time with everyone and to be able to share what God is doing in each of our lives. To be able to get some alone time with God in such a beautiful place. I truly enjoyed each one of our speakers this year. It was so nice to learn more about each ones testimony as well. I liked how they so simply said - Jesus came to reveal the face of the Father, We are to reveal the face of Jesus to the World. But my all time favorite quote from the weekend would be from one of our own ladies -- You can see with your eyes closed and be blinded with your eyes open-- Roll on next year!!! However I am excited to live out each moment between here and then!!!

gail said...

i tried leaving a comment the other day and it wouldn't let me, so i'm back again to tell you your retreat sounds perfect! love that waterfall and the grounds and lodging look amazing. that is so cool that you met a kindred spirit too. so glad you got to go and that the Lord met you there.

Mary Ann said...

Thanks! It's a really great place to go!

Mary Ann said...


Thanks for sharing your insight from this year's retreat. I had forgotten that quote about seeing with your eyes closed. Very powerful!

We have a lot of new teaching and insight to live out before next year's retreat rolls around. Should keep us all busy!