Sunday, November 15, 2009

Restoration for the Body, Refreshment for the Soul, And A Lot of Snacks

The castle in Franklin, PA.

I never expected that a 24 hour retreat, (which we managed to stretch into a longer getaway by departing for it at the crack of nine), would have such an impact on my entire being.

Although, that being said, I knew that I needed it.

I'm not one to ask or expect miracles, although I experience them often. Truly. I have a keen ability to see God's hand in my life, and in the lives of other's, both in times of crisis, and times of beauty. If only I would actually anticipate them. The logical and rational side of me has a nasty habit of upstaging the divine and must be fired from the show.

So, void of anticipation, I never figured that this retreat would be a place where God would show up in a mighty way. Sure, He'd be there, but like, "miracle be there"? Nah.

The mini-weekend started with a pedicure, a gift from a new gal pal - one whom I envision growing old with - only, we will never look it 'cause we be doin' what we be doin' with our skin. Joining us in the party-calade was a friend whom I met a year ago in October, knowing instantly that we'd be tight should George be offered the position and we take it. And then, there was a new gal - well, new to me. Who I have come to simply adore. And her husband is mighty cute, too. And the two of them together? So cute that you just want lock them in a room together and then stand outside and serenade them with a little Marvin Gaye.

The conversation failed to cease for our 2 hour drive which also included a wonderful lunch. And we weren't just lingering at the surface. No time for that. It was all about how we met our spouses, and past boyfriends, and what we wanted to bring home from the retreat. Although I never once shared what I was hoping to receive, because, well, go back up to the 4th paragraph and reread it. I just couldn't come right out and share what I really wanted God to do in my life over that short period of time. How could He possibly reveal to me in a mere 24 hours what I have been yearning to figure out over these past few months, and yet have failed to actually ask Him to reveal? Despite my inner wrestling, there was a released laughter that one feels when they are anticipating a great trip and then, actually get to take it.

Seriously. It was darn near perfect.

And we weren't even there yet.

Upon arrival, we unloaded and then perused the town a bit, ate a not so highly acclaimed dinner, (where for the first time EVER, I could not finish an order of buffalo wings, not because of the serving size, but because they were just disgusting), and then settled in back at The Castle for Session One.

Session One was an indicator that the weekend was going to be powerful.

The speaker, the music, the people, the munchies, the location, the atmosphere - everything was aligned. My room-mate even had the wisdom to bring along her coffee-maker, as the princesses that we are couldn't risk having sub-par retreat coffee should God be planning to do a number on us. We had to be ready.

It was Saturday when it happened.

The speaker began her second address to us, and upon hearing one word, my pen starting flying. I was taking notes, yes, but not only notes on her sermon. No, God had other ideas and was letting me know them quickly. I soon realized as I scribbled, that He was showing me how all my years of posts, and stories, and ideas, and beliefs were truly linked together for the means of a larger piece of writing. Dare I utter . . . book. It was as if all the puzzle pieces, which I knew should be connected somehow, were finally coming together, only I wasn't the one moving and arranging the pieces. I seriously couldn't stop writing and wrote all through her sermon and our 45 minute reflection time that followed.

The release I felt was enormous. And the enormity of the project itself lost its ominous, overwhelming hold over my confidence. The chrysalis that was my brain-freeze was suddenly, without warning cracked open and new words, full of life, began to spill onto the pages of my journal.

God won. And my insecurity about tackling such a big project died that day, while sitting on the couch with my pen and my journal. It is fitting that God worked in me when I had no computer to aid me - just the journal and pen - as for years, THIS is how I communicated with God. It's funny how God went all old-school on me, taking me back to a former spiritual discipline in order to open my eyes to the truth He was now inspiring me to share.

I have several pages of scribbled notes to muddle through, and no, I won't be sharing the concept of my work on this blog. It's in the infancy stage - and I can't fully communicate it yet. But it has indeed been birthed. That is the miracle.

Riki, Marlene, Kerri: You were there. Your personal faith is so beautiful, and motivating and convicting. And your friendship? Life-changing for me.

Here's to more times of rich fellowship, the celebration of God's revelatory promptings, and growing together for many years to come.

Although my skin won't show it!


Riki said...

I have been to several type of "retreats" in my life and always leave thinking they changed me a bit (they did. No doubt about it). This weekend was what my soul had been longing for. So many times I witnessed God showing up and being a force to reckon with.

To sit beside you and see your face and your hands breaking thru something was truly a gift. I could almost feel the electricity coming from you.

God put some amazing women in my car on Friday and we will never be the same. I am open and willing for where he leads me to next.

Much love to you my sister in Christ. Off to work on the book jacket for your new novel.


Cuppa Jo said...

I think you said it best.

"I am open and willing for where he leads me to next."

He has done a new work in you, too.

All of us.

I failed to mention that as I was was furiously writing, Kerri was using her reflection time to sit at the piano tinkling the ivories and singing. Here we were, two women, using the reflection time to sit with God while He placed His hand on our individual passions.

It was the perfect background music.

Amy said...

That is AWESOME!

Marlene Luciano-Kerr said...

Thank you, Joline, for your beautiful words, for sharing your gift of writing with us, for your willingness to be a vessel... This last weekend was a turning point for all of us, I think... How sweet that we have this in common and can be accountable to each other... i have a sense that we have just hit the tip of the iceberg. I am, like Riki, willing to go where He leads me next. It'll be an honor to do it along side you amazing women!

Anonymous said...

Praise God! I am soo excited to see how God works through you.


Susan said...

Amazing! I have to say, I am so disappointed that I couldn't go but it's awesome to hear that everyone was so touched! I'll be praying for you're continued visions and can't wait to see that finished product!