One of my favorite weekends of the entire year has come and gone. The Inspire Heart Retreat always seems to rush past me in a blur of emotion and activity. It drew to an end way before I was ready to let the messages and the images from those sweet days leave my thoughts.
I have spent any quiet moments that I could claim today just sitting and reflecting. I let the images from this weekend run through my mind like an old film reel. I closed my eyes and remembered the feelings and let them sink deep into my heart. The presence of the Holy Spirit was palpable throughout our praise and worship time. It engulfed me. With a heart full and hands raised, I closed my eyes and let my voice join in with the sound of over two hundred women raising their voices to praise our Savior.
Our speaker, Nicole Johnson, delivered messages that were like a balm to the aches in my heart! My eyes were continually brimming with tears of laughter, tears of brokenness, and tears of healing. Her authenticity was refreshing. Her willingness to join into our little community and minister was inspiring. Her ability to point out our need for God's healing and His love in the broken and hurting areas of our lives was just simply beautiful. I could feel my Father calling out to me through her words.
The entire weekend was just enveloped in Christ's love, grace, and mercy. I got teary eyed as I moved throughout the weekend and caught glimpses of His pure love in action. Going though the foyer, I glanced out the glass of the front doors and saw two friends huddled close and deep in conversation. On my way down the stairs I watched a group of ladies sitting cozily in arm chairs sipping coffee and sharing their lives. In the kitchen I saw our speaker bowed in prayer over a tearful woman. During one of the messages I looked to my left and saw a woman protectively place an arm around the shoulders of her friend as she wept. I watched friends taking selfies to capture cherished moments together. I witnesssed women giggling with each other over a meal. I saw strangers becoming friends during a game. I saw women standing in unity during an ice breaker game and realizing that we have so much more in common than we think. I listened to women talk about staying up late into the night with friends and sharing their hearts.
Everywehere I looked this weekend, I saw examples of the kind of real, authentic connections that we all long for. I saw women showing each other Christ's love, mercy, and grace. The walls that we, as women, tend to put up were crumbling because of all of the love shown in that place. That kind of love only comes because of the presence of the Holy Spirit. He knit our hearts together all weekend long. He forged new friendship and strengthened old ones. He filled our hearts with love and He reminded us that when our focus is on Him, we can be vessels of love. He healed broken hearts, broken lives, and broken relationships. He encouraged and strengthened us. He gave us faith in the power of our supernatural sisterhood.
Nichole Johnson used her last message of the weekend to talk a little bit about the separation anxiety that she gets as these types of events come to a close. That resonated deeply with me. I hated to see our Heart Retreat weekend come to a close. I knew that the moment that I stepped back into the busyness of real life, I would miss that sense of being enveloped in such a loving community of women. I would miss those intimate times spent engulfed in Christ's presence. And I would miss the times that I simultaneously spilled tears of laughter, brokenness, and healing.
This morning was a little bittersweet when I woke up in my own bed. I was so grateful to be back at home with my family. It was wonderful to wake up to my husband and my boys and to jump back into the frenzy of everyday life. However, I wasn't quite ready to let go of the beauty of the weekend, so I sat down and I journaled.
I wrote down some of the things I learned about myself and my Savior this weekend. I acknowledged the areas where I felt the Holy Spirit's stirring. I poured out my brokenness and described how He administered healing. I confirmed some of the decisions that I had made. I put all of those beautiful memories down on paper so that I could reflect on them and store them away like the treasures they are. I didn't want to forget. I wanted to hold onto those sweet memories as long as possible so I wrote every single one of them down.
I built myself a little memorial with words. My journal is now a place where I can go to remember the work that Christ did in my life this weekend. I can look there and let those feelings be stirred any time I need a little rekindling. I can return to it when I need the encouragement that these memories will provide. I can go there and be reminded of His love when I am discouraged or hurting or just apathetic.
When we have those types of beautiful encounters with one another and with God, we need to be able to go back and look at them and remember. All throughout the Old Testament, men of God built alters to remind themselves of the work that God did. Often they returned to these alters to worship God for what He had done in their lives, to remember, and to be encouraged.
I challenge you to do the same. Build a little alter with your words. Create a way to remember the work God did in your life this weekend. Create a way to hang onto those sweet memories. While they are still fresh in your minds and in your hearts, I encourage you to write them down. Process through the events, the memories, and the feelings from those precious times with God and with His daughters. Recall the sense of peace and love you felt when you rested in His presence. Tuck them away like the little treasures they are and pull them out when you need encouragement. When real life is roaring around you, let them be a reminder to you of a time when you felt totally engulfed in God's love!
Love and blessings,