28 women, 14 beds, 5 meals, 1 house, 1 baby. This past weekend, we had our mens and womens retreat. The men stayed at our house in Raleigh while the women traveled to a beach house in Holden Beach, NC. As you can expect when you have 28 women and 1 baby in a house with 14 beds – it was CRAZY!! But so, so, so good.
The Lord did some amazing things in the hearts and lives of the women who attended, and without doubt, Satan didn’t want that to happen. The weekend started off with multiple cars getting lost on the way there, 1 car with 4 girls getting into a car accident which prevented those girls from coming, and almost running out of food the first night. There are multiple other hiccups throughout the whole weekend, but the girls had amazing attitudes and the Lord worked regardless.
This weekend reminded me again and again of why I love what the Lord has called us to do. One girl shared with Jenny (one of our staff women) about something horrific that happened in her past that she has NEVER shared with anyone else (and she even said that Emerson being there had something to do with her opening up – isn’t it like the Lord to use even Emerson to play a part in the weekend?!?). One girl opened up about how much pain she has been in since her mom passed away in January. One girl shared with me about things in her past have led to her inability to trust people and have forced her to distance herself from both God and others. Two girls who do not have a relationship with the Lord engaged in spiritual conversations and are seriously considering making a decision to surrender their lives to Christ. We saw the Lord changing girls’ lives right in front of our eyes. God used the good, the bad, and the ugly to produce laughter, tears, and growth. Praise the Lord that he brought each of those 24 girls to the retreat and touched all of them in really different, authentic ways!
Oh, and lest I forget, it was also lots and lots (and LOTS) of fun!! Dance parties, game playing, laughter, eating, walking on the beach, bowling, playing laser tag, and just having a good ole’ time!
And another highlight for me was…OUR TEAM OF STAFF WOMEN!! Major shout-out to Jenny, Samantha, and Kai for their hard work, dedication to the Lord, willingness to be real and share their stories, and just being loads of fun. I slept in a room with the three of them and Emerson and while Emerson is usually a great sleeper, she wasn’t feeling it the first night. She woke up and cried literally every 10-15 minutes or so for hours upon hours and while she eventually went longer between the waking up and crying, it was not a restful night for any of us. They had a great attitude by saying that we were a team, we would do this together with no sleep, and affirming me in saying that I did all that I could. And they still loved on Emerson instead of being bitter. They helped out with Emerson when I was speaking to the girls and she wasn’t going to sleep right away, they pitched in with all the meals though I was technically in charge of that area, and they served the Lord selflessly the whole weekend. I love having fun with them and am so excited for more time together serving the Lord!!