Sunday, August 19, 2007
This past weekend I was able to attend a Women's Retreat with a bunch of the ladies from Garden City Church. It was held at the Surf Air Resort in Marcoola Beach - which is about a 2 hour drive north of Brisbane. It was a really great conference. The guest speaker was Patsy Cameneti and she was amazing. The entire theme of the conference was "Awake". I wish I could explain everything that happened during the conference, but there's no way I'd be able to get it all in one post... So I'll break it down as best as I can:
6:00pm - Arrived at the Resort in Marcoola Beach after a two hour drive.
7:30pm - First session...
To be honest, Friday wasn't the greatest day for me. It started out with some issues with class and also trying to get a ride to the Retreat. It got to the point where I really didn't want to go anymore. I wanted to call up the person who was driving me and tell her just to forget it. And I was extremely homesick. But I went. It would be good for me. So we got to the resort, checked in, met our roommates (Bogna, Marika, Juanita, Deanne and Maria and me), ate a little something and went down to the first session. Throughout the entire meeting I was constantly thinking about how homesick I was... how I wish I was home. How close I was to the beach and that my house was right across the water. It was consistently entering my mind how homesick I was. I believe that this homesickness was triggered by two things: 1) Skype wasn't working when I left school, so I wasn't able to talk/see anybody before I left for 3 days, and 2) I was packing a suitcase... I saw my suitcase - which I hadn't really seen since I first arrived... and it reminded me of home and made me want to pack them all up and go home. Worship, and most of the speaking, was tainted by the overwhelming feeling that I had. I did get a bit out of it, however. Patsy had a GREAT analogy of how we need to "plug into God". She said that Christianity is like vaccuming (it's a women's conference... so we got a lot of cleaning and shopping analogies). She went on to explain how she caught her daughter vaccuming once with headphones on blasting music - her daughter had failed to notice that the plug for the vaccum had popped out of the outlet and she wasn't getting any power to the vaccum. She continued to vaccum but wasn't getting anything done. Patsy used this by saying that when we're feeling like Christianity is too hard - when we're pushing and pushing and trying so hard to be "Christian" and nothing's happening that we need to go back to the source and plug back into God. Once we're truly plugged into God we will find that Christianity is easy. God's energy flows through us.
After the meeting we were offered individual prayer... I chose to accept this offer because I couldn't be homesick the entire weekend. I needed it gone. So Louise and Lyn (two leaders of the conference) prayed for me and told me they'd adopt me. Patsy also prayed for me. She gave me such a refreshing perspective by saying that home is in the will of God... we are in the world and not of it... our home is heaven... we're just going through until we get home... that this experience is NOT about school, but it's about what God has planned for me. She prayed that God would show me the reason of me coming here. And she told me that I need to TRUST God.
After lots of tears and some really good hugs Maria (my Norwegian friend) and I went up to Lyn's room where we met a few other people, ate some fabulous desserts and even watched some AFL (Aussie Rules Football - with Lyn's husband Laurie).
I told you it was going to be long... I'll try to shorten it up a bit more. :)
9:00am - Second session...
Great word from this session that I took away and hope to live by each week is this: Our goal for Sunday's are not just to get to church (because we ALL do that... we rush rush rush to get to church and when we're there that's it! there are somedays where we just go through the motions)... Our goal is not just to get to church... It's to GET TO GOD. We need to be purposeful and bold in the presence of God; be there to OBTAIN something.
10:30am - Morning tea and coffee (AWESOME muffins)
11:15am - Third session...
Great word from this session: Jesus' death on the cross is NOT casual. Forgiveness is NOT casual. THANK the Lord for the cross. It's great that we can go back to Him and ask forgiveness and that he will not dismiss us, but we cannot expect to go back to Him time after time just because we can.
12:30pm - Lunch
1:30pm - Free Time... Maria and I took a walk on the beach. YAY PACIFIC OCEAN!!! Here's a few pictures:
6:30pm - Fourth session...
This session was awesome. During worship, God held my hand. It was pretty cool... never had an experience like that before. I was deep in worship, battling with things in my head, wanting to get close to God, wanting Him to draw near. I held out my hands in front of me like I was holding a pair of hands, God's hands. I felt a peace flow over me... my body just relaxed. And all of a sudden a physical hand held my hand and squeezed it tightly... holding firm for a minute. I kept my eyes closed. The hand let go when the song was finished. When I opened my eyes no one was there to acknowledge the gesture. Everyone was turned around. Nor did I ask anyone who squeezed my hand. I know it was God... I wanted so much for Him to hold my hands, for Him to draw near... and He did. It might have been through someone else, but I know that it was God.
The speaking was based on the story of Deborah and how we are not to let our weakness define us. We are to let go of the problem or situation that binds us and hold onto the promise of God. Patsy also talked about the woman's role of influence. That women are there to be a support system, to be influential. That all of the greats had an influence in their life and women can be a great influence to their children, to their spouses etc.
10:00am - Fifth session...
Like our clothes in the morning... strength is something that we put on. We are to draw on God's faithfulness and get our eyes of our own unfaithfulness.
To close we had a 'prayer tunnel'. It was really cool. All of the leaders stood at the front and each person walked through and received prayer.
After the session everyone was on their way.
Traffic was horrible CAUSE IT WAS RAINING (praise the Lord!)... took us 3.5 hours to get back. But it was a nice drive... :)
All in all... it was a really great weekend. I'm really glad that I was able to go.
And I really hope that what I got out of this weekend lives in me and isn't fleeting.