I wake up first thing in the morning probably because of the freezing temperatures and the sun shining through every window, so I run back to the cabin and get in the shower. The organizers have scheduled a morning praying hike.
As I join the group I’m disappointed to find out the hike is more like a small walk around the block, still, I figure it will be a good time to meet someone new.The neighborhood is gorgeous, nested in the middle of Idyllwild. The architecture is simply breathtaking.
Suddenly a blue bird catches my attention. I’ve been dreaming about blue birds for a couple of weeks. It surprises me how close it lets me get. Everyone is heading back to camp, I decide to keep on walking.
I hold back the impulse to start jogging for exercise as I want to take in the sights. The singing of the birds soothes me (by the way, I don’t normally like small birds. They eat worms and bugs, and to me they are as dirty as a rats). But in here they create an almost magical atmosphere.
As I look into the creek, a cross shines through the lens of my camera. Another blue bird (or the same) comes to meet me. I take many pictures in an effort to journal what is happening because otherwise I might forget, when the mind begins to doubt even memory fails us.
Suddenly, I come across a man. He’s squatting and I fear he might be hurt, but I hesitate because I fear he could hurt me. Then he turns around and gives me a gentle “shhh.” He points towards the woods. No more than 20 feet from us, a deer looks poignantly at the man. “I’m communing with it,” he says.
I walk away so I don’t disturb the man or scare away the deer. However I stay at a safe distance and take this picture.
For the next 10 minutes, I stand with them. Neither of them move and I focus on the silence of the moment. I decide to head back to camp as breakfast is about to be served.
By the time I show up, the dinning hall is buzzing with activity. Some women are already enjoying their hearty breakfast as I search for a spot to seat. I find one at the table of last night’s apples-to-apples gals. It feels serendipitous even though they all attend a different campus several miles away from my home.
In what it feels like a God appointment, God is answering one of my most secret prayers. I asked God for godly women who could be my mentors and friends. To be clear the women in my life are amazing, starting with my mother, who is fabulous. And I have the friendship of several strong Christian women.
Yet, what I asked is for women who’ve walked the path God has laid out for me. Perhaps not the same, but with similar vision and inspiration. One of them, has participated in more than 10 mission trips with Amor and is encouraging me to join her during Memorial Day weekend (I’m actually getting ready for we leave this Saturday, stay tunned for an update).
After breakfast we begin with the next sessions. Both speakers captivate us with their honesty, courage and wisdom. I start noticing again women being stirred inside by the Holy Spirit as they hear convicting words of love and healing. I yearn to be broken again.
After the conferences we go onto our body building exercises, a combination of prayer, self-reflection, art, journaling and counseling. I choose to get out of my comfort zone and I meet with a friend from my life-group to make a collage. (I guess neither of us realized we were coming to the retreat, but I’m glad we catch up with each other). The experience of two artistically challenged women trying to glue pictures on paper is entertaining. We have fun, and I actually enjoy the creative process.
I bless you with deep heart identity as God’s very own child, securely loved in his family, calling him “Abba, Father.” I bless you with the settled assurance He has a future and a hope for you for your best interests and His ultimate glory. I bless you with the deep knowledge that your Abba nows what you need and has all the resources of the universe to meet your needs. I bless you with confidence that you lack nothing you need in any way. I bless you with certainty that you are an heir with your brother Jesus to all your Father’s treasures. I bless you in the name of Jesus!
I don’t even know what I was supposed to do with the prayer, the prayer has spoken to every cell in my body. As I seat in contemplation, I hear the singing of birds. My blue birds are everywhere. God’s presence in the midst of it all is unequivocal.
The speakers, during the weekend also speak on the subjects of healing, forgiveness, knowledge of self, surrender, leadership, commitment, and the valiant pursuit of our God given dreams.
It is surreal to listen to them, as for every word is a confirmation of the words being spoken into my spirit. That’s why having a tribe is so important. The more connected you are the more you’ll find how much fears and dreams are shared. You’ll find just how much alike is our struggle and how we all can help each other grow.
Right before the last conference of the day, during worship I begin journaling; writing, in prayer, in communion. My joy now unable to be contained finds its outlet in my eyes. It takes on the liquid form coming from my tears, coming from my pen.
His purpose is opening in front of my eyes. there is no need to keep running away. Let yourself be caught. His purpose for my life is that I would be His. To have children, a loving American husband and to grow in their love. In him I find where I belong and He gave me a physical and spiritual family to call my own and with His love healed the one I came from. I might talk too much and speak too loud—He loves me. I might cry too much—He loves me. He made me spunky “Fabispunk” and loves the way I use it to connect to His creation. There is no fear. I’m called to be the building hands, the writing hands, the reaching hands. My emotions linger at the end of my fingers. Numbness that call them into action. Your will be done. Thank you.
Right after we go into the hardest session of the conference. It is tough to listen about forgiveness and about our pasts. When it is finished, we are encouraged to participate in an exercise to revisit that painful past.
Oh the temptation, the whole weekend, I’ve been wanting to experience brokeness again; sweet, sweet, pain. Don’t get me wrong. I believe it’s important to connect with our pasts, to confront it, to let ourselves be vulnerable and to let God heal those areas. In fact one of the best feelings in my life has been the gentle touch of the hand of God putting my pieces together after being completely broken.
But pain can be so addictive, it can also be so paralyzing, at least for me it is. I know at least this time it’s not for me.
At God’s prompting I get up from my seat and I opt out. I want to dwell on God’s Joy for just a little bit longer, on His Peace. How wise of Him, for I would need to draw from His strength on the weeks to come.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve for the joy of Lord is your strength.” Nehemia 8:10 (NIV)
Late at night, I begin laughing uninhibited with my new girlfriends, the women of Newbreak. We play games, and seat by the fireplace under the moon light (I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the name of my friend seating next to me is Joy), I eat the mostly healthy leftovers snacks left on the big conference room, we talk about nothing, we simply enjoy in each other’s company.
I finally get to sleep in my bunk. The staff took care of the leaky toilet. Like a bunch of Tweens at a slumber party, my roommates and I keep each other awake, sharing life stories, making silly jokes, laughing really loud, and annoying the heck out of each other. Joy.