A Super Smoothie for the Soul
By Deb Keenan
I am a Women’s Retreat Junkie. Let’s just start right there. I confess, right here in front of these witnesses, that I love Women’s Retreats. PCJH introduced me to them over a decade ago, and what can I say? I. Am. Hooked. They’ve been vital to my spiritual growth. Allow me to use a metaphor: You know when you order a smoothie and they ask if you want an extra ingredient? They smoothie makers often ask if you want “bee pollen” or “wheatgrass” or some other (weird-sounding) healthy ingredient to super-charge the healthiness of your concoction. That “super ingredient” takes your smoothie to a whole new level of healthiness ‘n well-being. In my experience, women’s retreats are that super ingredient. It boosts my faith and the vitality of my walk with Christ in an undeniable and powerful way. It takes my faith up a notch. A BIG notch.
Allow me to use yet another culinary reference (last one: I promise):
The ‘ingredients’ of a PCJH Women’s Retreat are as follows:
– A dynamic group of women of several ages and backgrounds (think ages 30’s to 70’s from allllll walks of life)
– A gorgeous setting where women can truly unwind (more about that below).
– Bible-based teaching that knocks your socks off in terms of impacting how you lead your life.
– A solid portion of great cuisine, plenty of laughs (I’m talking the hearty laughs that double you over with tears), skits, hikes, journaling, and solo time to reflect.
You mix these ingredients together, and you, My Friend, have a Wonderful Weekend of Women connecting, growing, and recharging. (I warned you: I am HUGE fan of these retreats!)
Allow me to give you a few more specifics:
September 28th-30th, 25 women descended upon Lakeside Lodge in Pinedale. It was a trek to get there as the road through Bondurant was closed due to the fires. So, after five+ hours of commuting and carpooling through Kemmerer, the women trickled into the Lodge for some evening fellowship and worship. Chris Welch, our wise and wonderful teacher and Karee Miller (The One ‘n Only Songbird we all adore here in the Valley) kicked off the weekend with passion and purpose.
Saturday, we awoke in cabins along the lake. Imagine a hot cup of coffee warming your hands…rocking chairs…. aspens ablaze in their Fall glory of yellow ‘n gold, and the gorgeous waters of Fremont Lake stretching out before you. (Are you jealous yet?!) A gourmet breakfast fueled our bodies and then Chris nourished our souls. Through the Book of Joshua, we began to grasp that the Lord desires for us to be free and fearless. We’re reminded that it’s important to, “Pay attention to what you’re paying attention to,” as Chris explained. She connected the science of the brain with The One who designed it. She wove together the science and its Author. We listened and learned. We were curious and challenged.
Next, there was invitation from Chris that scared many of us: For one hour, we were to be silent. No talking. Nada. (Did I mention that there are over two dozen fully-caffeinated women together in one place?!) In that hour, we were to carve out physical and emotional space to read Psalm 23 and slowly digest each morsel of these famous words. “Ask the Lord for a verse/a word/a phrase that He has specifically for YOU,” Chris instructed. “And then write. Don’t censor yourself. Just write what He reveals through His Word.”
And so, our tribe of women disbanded, and we dove into Psalm 23. Some found quiet nooks in the Lodge. Others retreated to their cabins or a rock along the lake. We pondered, prayed, digested, and wrote. We experienced what Our Lord promised us in 1 Timothy: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit…and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The exercise was powerful, and the sharing we did together was equally as poignant. Many of us truly experienced that words “lept off the page” as The Lord faithfully and specifically breathed instruction and assurance into our souls. It was amazing!
I also wanted to note that, this weekend, we had free time. You heard me right: FREE time. Many mamas on this retreat (Yours Truly included) relished this aspect of the retreat because, well, ‘free time’ is hard to come by with young kiddos. What a delight: we had space to explore and rejuvenate. On that brisk Saturday afternoon, we were a beautiful blend of women connecting with Our Creator through Creation. Women hiked ‘n biked. Some grouped together while others peeled off to be alone. A few napped and retreated to their cabins. Still others fished and paddled. And let me tell ‘ya: The Lord did a mighty work when He created The Wind River Mountains and Fremont Lake. We were all in awe of our surroundings.
Saturday evening and Sunday brought more worship. More tears (some shed over silly skits and other tears fell for painful, poignant matters) …and there were more connections as the Lord wove women together through The Holy Spirit.…more delicious feasts (the food was seriously delicious). More goodness, more learning, more realizing that pride stops progress, and that gratitude to God is the #1 ingredient – the secret sauce, if you will, in rewiring our brains for the joy-soaked life The Lord intends for each of us.
We ended our retreat Sunday morning with communion. It was a very deep, rich time as we partnered with Christ and our Sisters in the Faith in realigning our lives with His. Chris Welch reminded us that, on the night Our Savior was to die, He chose to be in community. He broke bread with the disciples. He intentionally decided to be with his tribe of 12 broken, beautiful souls – that motley crew of disciples.
And so, we are reminded that God himself is a community: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. Gathering together is important to God, and the women at the retreat certainly can attest to the refreshment and recharging we each received. Yes, community matters. This walk of faith is not intended to be a solo sport. Nope. It’s meant to be a team sport as we journey together.
So, to all women reading this, come next year to this retreat. To the men reading this, encourage the women you love to consider joining us. To those of you reading this who are members, non-members, sporadic attenders, or just acquainted with the PCJH Family, this retreat is indeed FOR YOU.
A HUGE “Thank you!” to Pastor Tammy Mitchell, Robyn Jones and Kathy Robertson for organizing every last detail from a long list to logistics to chocolates on our pillows. You invested so much of yourselves, and this retreat was such a gift to each of us ladies.
And, if you are reading this and want to know more about my experience as a “Retreat Junkie,” well, you just holler. 😊 – Deb Keenan email@example.com 690-6867.