Friday, May 14, 2010

FOCUS Retreat

I promised to write about the women's retreat from last month, so here it goes...

First of all, let me just tell you that Satan did NOT want me going on this trip!! I had so many obstacles and struggles to overcome before I was able to go...and I wasn't the only one actually. There were several of us that Satan attacked before, and even during, the retreat! BUT, Satan didn't win -- heaven gained an angel, a precious little girl was made whole again, lives were touched, and prayers were answered! We may not have prayed all night and shouted the morning in, but there was a very sweet spirit at that retreat...

I was privileged to be able to go up on Thursday afternoon with April and Angel. Teresa Smith did our devotion for that night. She shared about what FOCUS meant to/for her. ...I can't find my bookmark or I would share part of her devotion with you. :( After her devotion, we just lounged around the rest of the night...

(Peggy, Ann, Shirley, and Ruth relaxing after devotion)

Friday we had a great day of shopping around Pigeon Forge. This was the night the Retreat Committee cooked supper for everyone. We had teriyaki chicken, loaded mashed potato and salad bar. Our original plan was for baked potatoes, but we didn't get back to the cabin in time to get them done. But everything turned out well nonetheless! That night, April did our devotion. She was a spur of the moment fill in and did a fantastic job. We also did TAP sessions with our rocks [TAP = talk and pray; we write down our need(s) on the rock which is taken to the church's rock altar when we get back]. One thing I shared with my TAP group was this quote:

Have you thought about how big your God is today? Do you realize you have the Creator of the universe on your side? He's the God who spoke the world into existence. He's called the Great I Am. He's saying today, "I am everything you need. I am your strength. I am your wisdom. I am your protection. I am your provider. I am your way maker. I am your problem solver. I am your dream giver. I am your VICTORY!"

(Whitney, Jessica, and Angel chatting before evening devotion)

Saturday morning, Cheryl cooked a wonderful breakfast! We had homemade biscuits, grits, bacon, gravy, fruit, danishes....lots of YUMMY stuff!!! And after that big breakfast, I did the morning devotion. My main idea was this: FOCUS = Faith Overcomes Circumstances and Undermines Satan!! In order to FOCUS – to make the adjustment for a clear image – we have to get our concentration off the blurriness of our circumstances with our desires of 'fixing things'; we have to "turn from their own ways" like the song says, and get back to the clear image of GOD! The song I was talking about is one by Casting Crowns called "What If His People Prayed" [it's in the music player at the bottom of my blog if you want to listen to it]. My main scripture was 1 John 5:4 (MSG) that "Every God-begotten person conquers the world’s ways. The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith." Our faith doesn't come through concentrating on our problems; it comes by being engaged with God through our problems.

Later on Saturday, we all met back up at Damon's Ribs in Pigeon Forge/Sevierville for dinner together and after that we headed back to the cabin for the evenings activities. We participated in communion, had an old-fashioned foot washing, and prayed over each other's prayer cloths. This is the night that is very sacred and most important for many people. We don't take these activities lightly and God honors the humbleness we show!

Sunday was check-out day. Whitney shared a morning devotion and prayer with us before heading home. We all had a great time, even with everything Satan tried to throw at us! We laughed, talked, shopped, prayed, and enjoyed God's presence!!!

(Stephanie K. Cheryl, Teresa, and Peggy talking on the porch)

(Kayla D. and Krista - twins for the night)

(Mrs. Hazel sharing her history with and devotion to the Ladies' Ministry)

(mine and Carol Ann's room -- it had a jacuzzi tub too!!)


I AM A CHRISTIAN. I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, & mind. God has really blessed me more than I could ever imagine, but the truth is that Satan HATES me!! I face struggles & temptation every single day of my life; but no matter what happens, I still strive to do the will of God. Because I put my faith & trust in God, He has provided relief for me & my family time & time again! God never fails to comfort & remind me of His promise that “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). There have been countless times that I did not deserve God’s grace & should not have been granted mercy. But He has granted me mercy & forgiveness, as well as goodness & grace -- all for the purpose of sharing it with those I meet along the path of life. Some days are better than others, but you always have to remember to keep pressing on! Keep praising HIM & He’ll never fail to bring you through the storm.