I should have written about my beach retreat earlier, but things have been pretty crazy with the comings and goings of my children :)
I went to Seaside for my annual 3 day prayer retreat last week. Just me and Scout and Jesus. Friends let me stay at their beach house--they have a Sheltie, so Scout felt right at home. I took a pile of books (I always like to re-read some of my favorites, plus new stuff), my book-binding machine and journal-making supplies, my Bible and camera and lots of juice. Greg drove over on Thursday night to join me--and celebrate his 54th birthday! It was a very lovely getaway.
I always try to review the previous year, asking the Lord to show me how I've grown, what I still need to work on, how I've gotten to know Him better, etc. The theme for this past year seemed to be transition. One daughter got married, another moved from LA to Portland, I started an online business and Greg changed jobs! Those were all very positive changes, but left me with the definite sense that life is a wild and rushing river and not a peaceful lake.
In the category of "How did I get to know God better," I felt like I learned to trust Him more. There were several factors that contributed to this: The book, True-Faced (by John Lynch) which opened my eyes to the truth that God wants us to trust Him more than He wants us to strive to please Him. If that statement rattles your cage, then read the book. It's good theology and it radically changed the way I approach God.
The Shack (William P. Young) was another huge influence on me spiritually. The book's emphasis on the utter goodness of God made me look at the "great sadnesses" in my life with a different perspective. I repented of my tendency to judge God for the hard things in my life and I chose to trust Him--that He really would work good from anything He allowed to touch me or my loved ones. (Including pets). For more on how my faith developed this past year, read the post, "Faith, hope and my spazzy little dog."
I felt like I even approached my retreat differently this year. In the past, there was a striving in my heart to connect with God--kind of a sense that if I fasted long enough, prayed and worshiped hard enough, abstained from TV and other pleasures enough, that He'd be pleased and would speak to me. This year, I just came to enjoy Him. I was able to "Cease striving and know that He is God." And I came away with the sense that I had pleased the Lord just by desiring fellowship with Him. I felt like He was as sorry as I was to see our time together end!
During those 3 days, I also reconnected with a friend in Tillamook, hit thrift stores looking for old books, made 10 new journals with my binding machine, and took Scout for lots of windy walks on the beach.
No great revelations this year. Just the profound sense that "I am my Beloved's and He is Mine . . . His banner over me is love."