Monday, January 14, 2008

Good Monday morning! Well, I am back from my retreat, refueled and ready for this new year and all its thrills and challenges. If you have never been on a ladies retreat (of any kind), I definitely encourage you to do so. The energy and encouragement just washes over you the entire time you are together. There is time for reflection, learning, laughing, laughing, laughing, eating, hugging, getting to know new friends, laughing, strengthening old friendships, laughing and eating. Oh did I say those already? Yes, you can't get a group of women together without having wonderful food and too much of it! And, you laugh so much your cheeks begin to ache.
This picture of young girls you have seen before - it is on my silk page for my memory book. It is one of my favorite pictures. It just represents so much hope, joy and love to me. They are holding on to each other, picturing their dreams, their hearts filled with the joy of that moment. It is a moment they will have to reflect on and give them strength their entire lives. That is what a ladies retreat is like -that special moment.

I am going to share a few pictures and tell you a little about our wonderful weekend since I don't have any stitching to share today. Although it was a relaxing and refueling weekend in many ways, it was also very busy.

The first picture shows our group starting to relax and enjoy our time together the first night we arrived. We had three groups here singing a round of songs you might guess, one of the groups was singing "This Train".

This next picture is one I took when the sun was rising the next morning. I was sitting outside in the fire pit area, reading my Bible and listening to all the beautiful sounds of nature. You know how much I love trees and the sunlight peeking through the trees that morning was so beautiful - definitely, a God thing for sure.
This is a picture of one of the woodpeckers that were in the very tops of the trees gathering their breakfast. There was a lot of rat-a-tap-tap going on along with the songs of other birds as they twitted to and fro. A very peaceful start to my day.

We had various speakers to enlighten and encourage us. The topics for our retreat were: Running the Marathon, Overcoming Obstacles, and With a Little Help From My Friends. Everything we studied, practiced, shared; had to do with the marathon of life, the potholes we face, and how God places friends in our path to share and uplift us as we go along life's path.

During our talk about "potholes" (ie. obstacles in our life), we reflected on what gives us joy and contentment and then what our obstacles to that were . We wrote these "potholes in our lives" down on pieces of paper and then threw them into the fire as a symbol of releasing them from our lives - or at least a promise to ourselves to make the effort to do so. After we burned those nasty obstacles, we rejoiced. The day couldn't have been more beautiful and all of the joyful spirits of these ladies just floated up to the clouds with song. I just know God was smiling.

We had, of course, several talks from speakers, life lessons and exercises in faith while we were there. I will just point out a couple. Here is a picture of a paper quilt we put together. This quilt was made by each person getting a piece of construction paper. We then paired off with someone we knew and were given markers and crayons to express our partner on our quilt block; traits we admired, things that encouraged us, etc. Once completed, each couple stood and explained all the pictures and words on their paper quilt block that expressed their friend. We laughed and we cried and we learned so much! Then all the quilt blocks were pieced together so we could peruse them over the rest of the weekend. We then got to bring home the block that was done for us. It is so enlightening to learn what others see in us. It definitely helped me to know if some of the goals I have in my life are on track.

This next picture shows a group of us all knotted together. This was an exercise where we held the hands of two different people from a large circle of friends - they could not be the people next to had to reach across the circle. By the time you all had both of your hands holding on to two different people, you were in the biggest knot imaginable! The object is to then get out of the knot and back into the open circle without letting go of any ones hand. We laughed so hard. There were three groups of us doing this exercise and each of the other groups were able to complete this task twice while my group was desperately working toward our goal, but stumped. Well, we never were able to undo that knot! Afterward, we reflected on what this exercise showed us about leadership, knowledge, trust, etc.

Here is a picture of our group of retreat women - I don't think they will mind me showing you their warm, inviting faces. I don't know all these women well, but each and every one of them lift me up in some way and that is such a blessing.
Here are many of us gathered around the fire the second night, relaxing and making somores; mmmm, those toasty, tasty marshmallow delights!

I must admit to you that I am one of those who doesn't stand out in a crowd and don't want to. Probably why I always have my camera with me snapping, snapping, snapping behind the scenes. When we have exercises where you have to stand before other people, I just cringe inside, but always try to is so out of my comfort zone. However, each retreat I attend whether it be a church retreat or a sewing retreat; helps me just a bit more to open up my heart to others. We have all had those horrific experiences in our lives that build those "safety walls" and I am no different, but each time I take a row of bricks off that safety wall by opening up and trusting friends - I am blessed. It is a work in progress.


Barbara said...

It sounds like you had a fabulous time at your retreat. I've really enjoyed reading about your experiences and I can feel the excitement and joy in your words. We all need to be refueled from time to time.

Allison Ann Aller said...

A blessed experience...thanks for the account.
Your posts are always uplifting, Julie. I sure appreciate them.

Stacy said...

It was way fun! So glad I got to go!!

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