Monday, April 7, 2008

Ladies Retreat

Windmills, sprouting tulips, Dutch letters, quaint shops, Smokey Row Coffee...PELLA! We had a Ladies Retreat at the Royal Amsterdam Hotel and it was amazing! The little things I enjoyed: trying Cheese Burger Chowder at Smokey Row (Thanks, Abby!), buying my first "rubber" headband, a little gift bag from Renee on my bed, finding the coolest inexpensive shop of jewelry made in third world countries, Dutch pastries for breakfast, windmills and wooden shoes, quiet and charming Main Street shops, time with the girls... The interesting memories: finding out how many of my friends have wet their pants and more...recently, seeing poor Tessha's feet with 2,000 blisters (cute shoes though), trying my best to break up a "fight" and calm the poor girl, and so many more memories!
It was so refreshing to come away from the hectic yet sometimes mundane routine of life and be refreshed with the friendship of great girls and the amazing message of God's Word. Judie Colyer from Ankeny E-Free came and spoke to us. She's an amazing gal that I've known since college, but continue to be amazed at her passion to share Christ's love with others. (Like the picture??? Cody says I have wayyyy too much time on my hands!)
I was challenged in so many areas of my life. I am a DAUGHTER of God! I've been adopted by a Heavenly Father who is full of grace, love, and mercy. I love Romans 8:32 that says God gave up His only Son and will graciously give us all things! I've been freed from my former "father"--the father of lies! My life in Christ is LIVING! I have power to defeat sin, to change my ways, to live for Christ! I am a disciple of my LORD! I love the term "followers of Christ." God is calling us to share Christ with others! That's an area that I've been lacking in. What's the cost: rejection? ridicule? Don't I trust my Heavenly Father to empower me to be a witness? I do love Christ and I pray that God would be pleased to use me to share Christ with others!
One particularly challenging lesson came for me right during the retreat. We had 2 ladies with mental challenges join us . On Friday, I really fought those feelings of rejection, pride, selfishness. I wanted to have fun with the girls, not reach out. I outwardly showed concern by making sure someone was taking care of them and befriending them, but inwardly, I just hoped I could just stay clear. (gasp...too transparent into my sinful head!) However, on Saturday, those girls found their seats right at my table. That was ok; I could "love" them for the morning. But God was working on my heart. It doesn't come naturally for me to converse with handicapped people--it never has. But that doesn't excuse me from sharing the love of Christ with them. Christ says, "When you are weak, I AM STRONG." As I sat there and confessed my pride and selfishness, all while trying to soak up everything Judie was saying, one of the girls leaned over and asked the time. Immediately, she flew into a panic and stood up. She was started to get angry. God just lifted me right up out of my seat and helped me lead this girl out of the room. It turns out, her handicapped boyfriend only gets to call her at 10:00 and it was 5 minutes until 10:00. Her friend Brandi had turned off the phone, and the call was going to be missed. I tried to calm Sandi and then tried to sneak back into the session to demand that Brandi give me the phone. She reluctantly handed it over. I'm not sure of Sandi's mental capacity. She kept telling me that the palm reader said God wrote on her hand that she should be with Brian. (I was so angry at that palm reader for bringing MY God into her evil doings!) I explained to Sandi that God had a plan for her life, not the lines on her hand. We were able to get the phone call. Sandi immediately shoved the phone up to my ear. I had to laugh--after all that intensity, talk to the boy, don't give the phone to me! All that wordy story is just to say--God totally worked on my heart to fill it with compassion, knock down my pride, and show me that His strength is sufficient when I submit to being willing to love EVERYONE as Christ does!
The retreat has really shaken up our ladies' hearts. I'm so excited for what God is going to do at Willow Creek! As my good friend Lydia says whenever she's overwhelmed with gratitude, "I could just kiss all you ladies!" That's how I feel as I'm so proud of the godly ladies God has placed at Willow Creek who are now even more on fire to share the love of Christ with others!
Here are a few pictures of the fun & fellowship we had!


Alisa said...

That sounds really...really fun! Thank you for sharing all of your thoughts & photos!