Legacy Retreat 2k16

Monday, May 23, 2016

Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD. 2 Chronicles 34.27

WOW! It's Sunday night, technically Monday morning, and this afternoon I came home from a retreat! It was through Legacy's, the young adult ministry of Saint Thomas, annual retreat. I am a regular at the weekly meetings. We're on a bit of hiatus as our leaders, Ron and Laura have relocated in another state (miss you). We will have new coordinators, but it will resume in the fall :)

Ron and Laura flew in from Pennsylvania for the weekend and I am so grateful for all their work and effort, thank you. :)

I think this was the best retreat of my adult life, but in the most subtle and quiet way. . . .  really, what a blessing this weekend was.

We met at the church as normal, at 5pm to carpool to our cabin in Ellijay (North GA). It was literally the best cabin ever that (during free time) I day dreamt of renting it myself! It was three levels, very spacious, a beautiful view, perfect layout for lounging, and with some awesome amenities like a pool and foosball table and everyone's favorite: hot tub *cue sunglasses emoji* Pretty much we could not have asked for a better location (yay @ Laura's eye).

The retreat theme was Bible Bootcamp and the focus was the Bible. We did it a bit different than usual this time and our sessions consisted of a lecture video (more interesting than it sounds promise!), a workbook to follow along with, and then a discussion. The program is called "Unlocking the mystery of the Bible." The workbook focused in on the 14 narrative books of the bible and how they come together to tell Jesus' story. Apart from the workbook, we had a super helpful and detailed timeline of these events, along how they compared to secular history, who was the world super power, etc.

I really enjoyed for a number of reasons. The main one is that I think I am a detailed person when it comes to learning. Example, if I learn how to do a problem on the calculator I am not comfortable with the material until I know what it is the calculator is doing, or there are people who can cut corners in writing a paper with just a little knowledge of the topic but I have to take my sweet time reading the material to even come up with a thesis. This isn't always a quality I like about myself, but anyways. I think there is a desire in my heart to dive into the Bible and get to know God through his word. But it's not uncommon for people to struggle with reading, I think we all agree it isn't the simplest "book." So what better way to read it than to understand the overarching story as a way to understand how it all fits and comes together. It is such a valuable tool and we kept all our materials and I definitely intend to take advantage of it. I really recommend it if you want to begin to read the Bible and just don't know where to start or how to get through it.

When I arrived on Friday evening, I just had a feeling in every fiber of my body that something was stirring, something was different. I can only describe it as knowing that this was the beginning of a transition in my life. It was the beginning of the conversion of my heart. I am speaking of it very factually and without a doubt because it will be of no use to me if I write with "I think" and "I hope". I will believe in it (positive thinking :) ).  I think I am just a warm person and in the last three of four years I have not allowed myself to build a strong and intimate relationship with God. When I got there on Friday I just knew it was time and this was the moment. I prayed all weekend for God to soften my heart and to help me tear down my walls. I prayed for vulnerability and for my own silence to listen to God. And of course one of the ultimate goals is to live a Christ like life and I know it won't be one bit of easy. I want to give all of myself to Him and follow His will for my life. I know I will struggle . . . but I am tired, so tired, of living a life without a real and passionate relationship with God. And I am not writing all this as a way to be "Holier than thou", but because I AM SO RELIEVED. I am exhausted.. . so exhausted of mediocrity. I feel free. I am praying that with the coming days, months, that I just arm myself with all necessary tools to succeed and have faith in my own strength.

I can't even say if reaching this point on Friday was hard or easy, because I felt it came so random (for me anyways, not God) but I felt Him calling and I didn't fight. I just prayed. Which believe it or not (believe it) I rarely do. I have pride, guilt, shame, an endless list really, that prevents me from building that relationship I know I yearn for deep within. Every routine of this retreat was extra ordinary for me. When we did a Rosary for night prayer, I think for me it was the most beautiful in such a long time, I did not want it to end (how often does that happen?). I really took advantage of journaling (I normally would have day dreamed half the time) and expressed myself and listened intently.

I think community was a very big word for me this retreat. I just felt it as a personal recurring theme. I am thankful for every single person on that retreat and if you're reading this, please know that each and every one of you contributed in a special way this weekend and it in no way would have been the same without you. I also want to thank (is this my acceptance speech, what's going on?) every person that continuously or often prays for me. Even when I have been the furthest I can be from God, I always feel His presence and know that all good things are by Him. And to know that there are people who are praying for me, not matter what, overwhelms me. Really so thankful, because no matter where I've been I have such a strong community behind me and I always have. I have never felt abandoned or alone, and again I'm thankful. This is a lot, but I really just feel this in my heart to share.

To be honest, I am not sure if I am happy or not (and this is hard for me to share publicly when I don't even know the answer, which probably then answers the question) but I have not felt joy in a long time. Whether it is true or not or makes sense or not, since high school, I have always associated the word "joy" as a as a state that can only be reached when you are with God and following his path for you. Happiness, for me, is only a temporary emotion. Where as joy, is a semi-permanent state of your heart and you can be other emotions during, but regardless of them, your heart will be full of Joy because you know God is with you and has a plan.

Like I said earlier, the tools we were provided for included a timeline. On the timeline you saw the shifts in the main characters of God's story, whether they were the patriarchs, kings, prophets, ruling nations, judges, just characters and entities. There was constant shifting (okay by hundreds of years but their scale is small on my pamphlet ;P) and it is how I am visualizing these moments in my life and those to come.

The only "fear" I have is sounding too cheesy or eye roll worthy. . . . but if really that is the worse that can happen to me (as opposed to all the treasures of heaven). . . . .. . . . I'll take my chances.

Thank you.

 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16

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