I just got back from my church's women's retreat.
I know, I was home only 18 hours from Memphis before leaving again.
And boy, did that mess with me.
My girls were in bed with me before school Friday morning begging me to stay home from the retreat.
Even the dog seemed to be pleading with his eyes.
(He was so mad that I had been gone that he chewed up
part of the welcome sign that I had made for the event.)
|Nigel chewed part of the 'w' and the 'e'. |
But I still hung it, in spite of him.
But I knew I had to go.
Not in a legalistic sense
but a very clear nudge
from the Holy Spirit.
Plus, I had all the decorations for the event.
I was having trouble with how to load,
into my already full car,
the sticks I had made with foliage colored hearts to be used as centerpieces.
I was running late,
I was getting sweaty,
I was weary to the bone
and some of the sticks snapped.
And then I did.
not just out loud
That is so. not. me.
I am usually more creative than that.
I actually looked up at the sky and asked God for forgiveness and why it was that I'd be pushed to the point of swearing while on my way to my church's women's retreat.
are to take place.
For the love of Pete!
It was so the straw that broke the camel's back
except it was the stick that broke me.
As I drove to the church to meet the other women on the retreat committee,
I repeatedly prayed for joy.
I specifically asked for joy.
I even called my husband and asked him to pray for joy.
I needed me some joy for this retreat!
When we got to our destination deep in the beautiful wooded country about an hour and a half away from home, we started to pull out all the decorations and luggage for the weekend.
I shared with the others my broken sticks that broke me story
and we chuckled.
She had written the name of each lady attending the retreat into a scripture from the bible. On the other side of the heart she wrote who we are in Christ based on the same scripture.
We hung the hearts on windows and door frames around the room.
It was some time before I sought out what was written on my heart.
There is an entire sermon series just in that one sentence.
This is what my heart said:
Here is what blows me away:
Carol wrote those hearts out the week before.
God knew IN ADVANCE my need for joy on that Friday afternoon.
He knew my prayer before I prayed it.
I felt so heard.
And I most certainly felt joy.
I wasn't the only one.
Over the weekend as the the women were directed to find their hearts, read them, pray about the verse written there,
these women came to me.
They asked me how Carol knew to write that specific verse for them.
Some asked if I prompted her.
Or if Sumita, our speaker for the weekend, prompted her.
We did not.
Carol couldn't attend the retreat due to illness so I texted her the reactions to the hearts she had written.
She said she prayed for obedience as she read each lady's name attending the retreat
and a scripture just popped out of the bible for her to write.
God prompted her!
God spoke so clearly each and every verse
for each and every one of us.
Weeks before the retreat Sumita was in Tennessee visiting friends.
While shopping she came across this canvas:
She was so drawn to it yet she left the store without it, dismissing it as "just a child's song".
God wouldn't let her forget it.
Back in Ohio, she called the store and asked if they would ship it to her.
They did for free.
She knew she was supposed to include this in the retreat somehow.
We sang it Saturday night and it was so moving.
It is really the best way I can describe the entire weekend.
Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Some of us decided to take a hike through the woods Sunday before we left,
not wanting our spiritual high to end.
"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."
Believe me, those hills were singing.
And if you were standing next to me you would have heard the applause of the trees.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
The Bible tells me so.