This past October, our family was blessed to attend a 3 day family retreat with other families from church at Moose River Outpost in Jackman, Maine. This precious ministry run by family not only hosted us with kindness, but fed us three meals a day, provided cabins that were LOVELY (this was not "outdoor camping") complete with hot clean showers and beds and most importantly- an endless supply of coffee with a quaint little coffee shop equipped with ping pong, games, music etc.; a parent's dream---it was like a "child friendly" *tarbucks!
It was amazing to see the Lord at work in our families while there! We met for a family devotional every evening and usually spent the rest of the time together either in the coffee shop, hunting or skeet shooting (yep-we were in Maine!) The main reason behind this retreat was truly to spend time together has a family. We generally did all of these things together-men, women and children. It was wonderful!
There are two events that stood out in our precious weekend together though. The first was an evening of communion together as families. In a dimly lit cozy space with worship music gently playing in the background, each family knelt before a hand carved bench surrounded by the other families. The husband spoke over his family, presenting prayer requests and praises and then gently knelt and broke bread with his own family. Oh, how the Spirit moved...no formalities, just us... before our most precious God, remembering and honoring our most precious Jesus, being led in communion by our husband's, all the while being silently prayed for by the surrounding families. My heart was overwhelmed. The tears streamed down so many faces, hearts were touched and softened by our Jesus. The Lord showed us the gifts before us, precious little ones He's entrusted to our care and spouses He has blessed us with whom we tend to take for granted, showing us truth, our own flawed natures, made right only by HIM. It was overwhelming with His love. Now, I do have a little side note on this--as the six of us knelt there, Daddy was holding the wee one and as he went to break a piece of bread off for each of us, baby decided he wanted to grab the entire loaf of bread (meant for all of the families) and tried to eat it (and gave Daddy a bit of a fight)! I can only assume our precious Lord got a good chuckle out of that!
The second event was a church service held together that Sunday morning in the quaint coffee shop. Again, a cozy environment, chairs casually set up, that same bench humbly placed before us where a husband and wife spoke on the gifts of family, where children went up and shared pictures drawn over the weekend of their families and where we worshipped in song to our Lord. I was so blessed by this! It was just worship, it was just us praising our Lord, reading His word. It wasn't formal, worried about who was in nursery, who was getting snack, who was sitting where, minds wandering off to duties to care for for the next day, week. Our focus was on our Lord, worshipping together as a family with our church family, all pretenses gone, just rejoicing in our Lord. Please don't get me wrong, I know that there needs to be order in churches, especially the large ones-things would not be able to run smoothly if there wasn't order and I believe the message and worship would be lost in a possible chaotic situation. For example, our church at home is a small 150 or so member church, but while we're here in the South for the winter our church is at 2700+, a huge difference! And we love them both, each having its own strengths and weaknesses. All we desire is to be where the Lord would have us and that we would feel His Spirit moving there. So, I say only how much I was blessed by this small intimate service at the retreat where there were no added responsibilities other than to love our Lord with our family. It was just the right time :)
What inspired me to write about this was a message the Lord laid upon many of the mamas' hearts while there- Simplicity...
One mama shared about the Lord speaking to her, asking her "are you fulfilling your purpose?" Her life was hectic with "life stuff"-jobs, school, home etc. and the burden had become heavy upon their lives...and He showed them the way...they stepped out in faith, into an unknown and with uncertainties they stepped into a place filled with Him...and He led them faithfully.
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.
Deuteronomy 7:8-10 (in Context) Deuteronomy 7 (Whole Chapter)
My own heart...Simplify. As I mentioned in my last post of being organizationally challenged, I tend to run around like a chicken missing its head, not sure which way to go, half finishing things, becoming overwhelmed instead of focusing on one task at a time (have I mentioned my hubby is the exact opposite of this-do you feel his pain?! ) Thus, being at the retreat, having only necessities and being without tv, phones, computers etc. I could focus only on what was needed to be done and spending precious time with our Lord and this beautiful family I'm honored to be wife and mama to. So many distractions in our everyday lives make us think we don't have enough time for this or that, especially devotional time or play time with the kids or quiet time with hubby. The Lord gives us enough time to accomplish the things He needs done and there is a season for everything (including dreams to follow, hobbies, and even ministries.) We need to first seek Him and He will show us His way (devotional link) and that is where we find peace and joy in what we're doing (even if that's lots of laundry, meals and dishes-praise the Lord!)
So, for now...here I am on His path to simplify, which to my life translates into learning to organize, plan and set priorities and follow through, which will also honor my husband and children. This is not a natural gifting I have and it requires determination, commitment and most importantly relying on the strength of the Lord. I have to go outside of my comfort zone and not worry or fear failure. If I never try, I've already failed and that great saying, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail." When all is said and done though, this is me trusting in my Jesus, as we should with all things.
Psalm 119:105[ n Nun ] Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Psalm 119:104-106 (in Context) Psalm 119 (Whole Chapter)
Though this may seem like just a natural move to making our lives better and more efficient, you now see the importance and walk with the Lord this one little life thing is to me and praise the Lord, this is part of my testimony.
"While all Christians are unique individuals with their own strengths and spiritual gifts, we are also all part of something greater than any of us individually--the body of Christ."
He uses all things in my and your life to His glory. We need to honor Him in the big... and the small.
May you be blessed in your own journey and I thank you for being on this one with me :) God bless you!