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Monday, April 23, 2007

Retreat & Escape

"Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who trust in Him!" Psalm 34:8

Where have I been? Well, mostly, just doing life. Busily, tiringly, daringly, lovingly, joyfully doing my life, my wonderful, wonderful, busy life.

I have so desperately needed some extended R&R. Not rest and relaxation, although, I have desired those. Refreshment and revitalizing...

Of my spiritual life. I got to go on a Grace Women's Retreat. I had solitude and soul searching. I had fellowship and soul sharing. I had laughter, gut-gripping, side-splitting laughter. I had the proverbial kind of cheer that medicates the heart! The combined effect was soul feeding, nourishment and connection that I was so desperately craving.

I realized that I am truly so blessed to be part of such a wonderful place of grace at Grace Bible Church. These women are amazing! They don't do anything halfway. Everything Grace women do is extravagant, fun, over-the-top. That's one reason a chocolate retreat was so awesome!

I love these women I get to serve alongside. Really love them.

I knew God would be at work when my day started in typical retreat form...hectic. I had clients coming into town. Clients I was looking forward to meeting. Aggie investors who wanted to look at lots of condos. Condos mean numbered buildings and walking around and around and around. It was a gorgeous day and all went well. We even finished ahead of schedule. A wonderful, fun and surprisingly, low-stress morning.

Alas, I had missed about nine phone calls during our viewing. Yikes!

As I mentally made plans to go home, load the boys up and pack my own retreat items to be on time to meet six other women, I realized I needed to make phone calls and someone wanted to buy a condo. Yes, I said, "BUY a condo!" Sounds wonderful, right?

Well, yes. Wonderful and time consuming!

Immediately I start the phone calls, paperwork and emails.

Andrew wants to go to lunch. I now have two hours to make calls, type paperwork, scan emails and show condos...plus pack.

I politely decline. I cannot eat.

My wonderful husband begins my paperwork for me, finishes it, scans it, emails it, completes it, scans it again, emails it again, begins negotiating my deal. (Thanks, Honey!)

We go to lunch.

I show condos.

I pack.

Sort of. I forgot contact lense items, make-up and some other stuff that I already forgot that I forgot it.

I get picked up last at 4:00 or so.

I am told as I cram into a suburban with six other women to sit on it or leave it. I leave some retreat items and sit on the essential two suitcases, two pillows and two blankets. I don't consider myself high maintenance just disorganized.

We get there after only small amounts of car sickness and queasiness.

As I enter the cafeteria I see some friends who I've known for years and don't often have the chance to visit with or worship with, ladies I love. This was so great!

Then, I see Cindy Brantley, my sister, my mentor, my precious friend. We've been going on ladies' retreats together for years. Almost fifteen years. Since I lived in the dorm at A&M. We go every year...

Except this year. We missed our retreat this year, a first for me. Seeing her was a total surprise. A wonderful blessing for obeying His voice to go. Isn't that just like Our God?

Cindy introduced me to Becky Imperial. I got to pray for and reminisce about my beautiful and sweet Korean sister, Hyeong-Sook. Becky Imperial and Mary Laskowskie were both friends with Hyeong-Sook. They were both on the retreat. Miss Mary from Kingdom Kids! Miss Mary and Julia shared a special bond when Julia was in her preschool class. Miss Mary and Hyeong-Sook shared a special friendship when Hyeong-Sook was in the states. Hyeong-Sook and Julia share a special bond and friendship as well. Sometimes we wonder how everyone we love fits together and at other times, it's so obvious!

Hyeong-Sook was always asking me if I knew Mary and Tom. I did not know Mary's husband's name. Yes, Hyeong-Sook, I know Mary! What a joyful discovery to know the Mary and Tom already that ministered so sweetly to my precious Korean sister and her husband.

Another precious blessing was getting to know so many ladies even better. I love my Bible Study peeps and my GKAB gals.

These ladies bless me. I loved that cramped Suburban ride with six of them. Amy Eppes rose to "funny person status," a very important place in my life. Lisa Sledge, who is on every person's "favorite people list," just flitted around gracefully like the social butterfly she is, caring for every lady she knows. Jill Butler, well, she's been a fav for years. Jennifer Moore, the greatest, most organized person ever, is coming to my house. Yippeee for organized spaces! She's so pretty she could create her own TLC show about organization! Sweet Jenn Chalmers who loves on my kids each week is going to love that smooth porcelain doll skin one day! Crystal England allowed me to look deeply into her heart in a way that we don't get to do on a day-to-day basis. Amy Pilkington shared her many roles as wife, mother, student, worker and leader with us. Kim Nash shared the first hours of her engagement with us! Precious Pam Koch encouraged us with her powerful testimony as only one who has already walked our road could.

There are so many more ladies that gave me glimpses into their souls and invited me to see all that God has done. Thanks, ladies for all you shared with me this weekend.

I got a rare chance to pray for one of the most influential women in my life, Becky Segrest. She has impacted my life deeply, from a distance. She has traveled in and around my life for the last fifteen years as a Godly wife, mother and "older" woman. She is one who has richly shown me how to respect and highly esteem my husband. She is an encourager and teacher to younger women. She is also leaving to share Christ with Ethiopian children and their moms. Please pray for Becky and David as they prepare to depart in July. Pray for their children and grandchildren they leave behind. Pray for the worship ahead. Pray for the medical miracles, the teaching experiences and the relationships ordained to happen since before the beginning of time.

The worship was intimate, powerful, broken and joyful. The teaching was piercing, changing, inspiring and transparent.

Grace women were touched and healed physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I had the awesome privilege of witnessing it all.

I love Grace!


Kathryn Berilla said...

I am glad that you were able to get away and have such an awesome time with the Lord.

Renee Heaton said...

You look great! Refreshed and relaxed -- all with the Lord's hand!

Love ya.

Wilhelmine Mitchell said...

I am so proud of you. I recently wrote a blog on doors(not yet published) and it seems you are opening all the right doors. I love you, Hugs

Cherie said...

How wonderful are the women's retreats! Nothing like them! Thanks for the insider's view, Lisa. So glad you got to go!!

Angie Love said...

I am so glad you had a chance for renewal! What fun you must have had, I can only imagine the tears and laughter each of you shared!

lisasmith said...

Thanks to you all for reading! I got lots of refreshment...anyone want to come do laundry?

Angie, I'm so glad I found your blog! Thanks for stopping by! We were actually at Trinity Pines...the last memory of that place etched in my mind was of us canoeing in the lake and wet behinds as we worshiped the Lord!

Angie Love said...

I can't believe you were at Trinity Pines! My bottom got wet because our canoe was leaking water and I was sitting flat!
I wish I had been there with you!!
I did read your other comments. I too wish we were in our stance next to one another singing Draw Me Close, or lifting our hands in praise while we sing Sweet Mercies!
I also cannot believe that you love "How Great is Our God," amazing, yet not surprising because our God is so Great!

lisasmith said...

...and, Our God gave us such great taste! Great minds (and hearts) always think alike! Miss you, Ang!