For the past 3 years, some of my college chums and I have gotten together over Labor Day weekend for a retreat. It started out as a giddy, kid-free, Chick-fil-A filled road trip get together for four of us and has blossomed into a time of laughter, tears, memories, recipes, advice, encouragement, wind in our sails, and sweet spiritual communion with six of us this year. And we hope to keep going and growing!
We made arrangements with hubs and caregivers for a collective total of 22 kids, then packed and traveled by plane or car to a peaceful, rustic full-log cabin in northern Michigan. We leisurely shopped a quaint lakeshore town, wandered lazily through the farmer’s market, walked and talked barefoot on the beach, and even did a short photo shoot to remember our precious time together.
I asked my dear friend Heidi, who–like us– had also recently moved her family of 6 a thousand miles away from where they used to call “home”, if she would put together a devotional for us and asked her if it could be something about finding where you belonged, bloom where you’re planted, that sort of thing.
She came up with what she titled “Deep Roots” and led us on a journey with a different character in the Bible for each of the three glorious days we got to spend together.
We started off with our stammering friend, Moses. Remembering how he was just having a normal day when all of a sudden his calling was changed at the burning bush. God started out by reminding Moses that He always has been and will always be the all-powerful I AM. When Moses doubted being able to carry out a radical new call, afraid that he wasn’t good enough or able to carry out his new mission, God reminded Moses who made him, kind of an “I brought you into this world…” parenting moment, as I imagine it. Oh Moses! Oh me! How often I turn away from the truth that I am fearfully and wonderfully made for a very specific reason by the one who created us all! God firmly admonishes Moses proving that in God’s strength he’s up to the task, that he’s sending him equipped with signs and wonders, a proven track record, and even giving him a support system and friend in his brother Aaron, then sending him off to do a great work. I love how Moses was just doing his regular thing, and when God changed his call and Moses finally came to grips with the fact that this was really happening, he left well. In an orderly fashion. And he took his family with him. This was not a solo mission but a family affair.
Next we watched as Joshua put up the Memorial Stones. As the Israelites were crossing the Jordan, Joshua had instructed one person from each of the 12 tribes to get a stone from the middle of the river (talk about a once in a lifetime chance to do this!) After they miraculously crossed the Jordan, God wanted Joshua to lead the people in a time of remembrance, to scrapbook the moment in 3-D so that everyone would have something tangible to return to/pass down in the family to remember this amazing story of God’s delivering His people. This story of remembrance, intentionality and symbolism challenged us to be intentional, contemplative, and thoughtful in our own lives and families to make sure we are making room for times of remembrance, “setting up stones” to commemorate milestones, intentionally remember God’s goodness and rescue in our lives, and wielding stories of God’s goodness and grace so that our children are familiar with God’s goodness, and not surprised by it when it is poured out on them too.
We ended our time together looking at the rich heritage of Timothy, as he received a beautiful, albeit bittersweet letter from his imprisoned friend and mentor, Paul. Paul waxes nostalgic and he remembers Timothy, reminds him of his amazing familial heritage of faith passed on to him from the females in his family, his original call to be a pastor, and some reminders to look back when it looks like going forward is going to be bumpy. The importance for us to take time remember. That our “girl’s weekends” aren’t just fluffy, fun, but deep, important, life-changing, necessary, and life-giving for each of us. How we need to be “Paul” sometimes too–the ones reminding others of God’s goodness in our lives, encouraging and lifting the spirits of others who might be growing in their faith.
So much depth to that weekend! So much laughter, sweet authentic tears, precious words and history among us. I’m so thankful that God has provided me with wise friends to walk this journey of life with, no matter how far apart from each other we live on this giant piece of terra, we’re so close in spirit. I loved remembering, and I look forward to sharing and listening to each of our “call to action” that God has set on each of our hearts at next year’s reunion!