Retreats…

Come Apart Before You Fall Apart!

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

blog4For speakers, this is the time of year known as ‘retreat season’ and I am so privileged to spend many of my spring weekends speaking at a variety of conferences and retreats from Maine down to Maryland this year.

Venues vary. Occasionally, smaller retreats will be held at a center that was once a grand country estate, eventually given to or bought by a Christian organization many years ago. Both this month and last I stayed at such places – “Rolling Ridge” in Massachusetts and “Liebenzell” in New Jersey. Faithful staff continue to serve their guests, even while trying to maintain/upgrade the once-elegant homes and acreage. I so appreciate their faithfulness. And what a service they provide by offering cozy surroundings, good food, and peaceful rest in the midst of a culture that often screams for the big, shiny and fancy! Fortunately, I have several more of such favorite sanctuaries, especially here in New England.

blog2Whilst there I usually awaken quite early in the morning and explore, eventually ending up in the Library with my first cup of coffee. There I always peruse volumes of incredible writings I have yet to discover, often leaving a donation of one of my own books as a ‘calling card.’

A few weeks ago I opened the front door of such a place and was greeted with these words “Come away to a quiet place and rest awhile.”  “Come” happens to be the very first word on the very first day of my new 40-day devotional which will be published next month (“Live These Words” – click here for more information). This book-of-my-heart encourages us to find ways to balance the ‘being’ and ‘doing’ in our lives.

blog6This invitation to “Come” is extended to everyone, but Jesus especially target the “weary and burdened” (Matthew 11.28). If we respond to Christ by entering His presence, the take-away favor is incredible – rest!

It is only in the silence that we hear the voice of God speaking directly to our souls. Perhaps He will reveal areas that need change or healing.  Perhaps He will plant the seed of a dream you never thought attainable. Most probably He will whisper words of love and affirmation and encouragement in your ear. And you will be strengthened for what is ahead.

I don’t know whether or not you will have an opportunity to “come apart awhile” in the next few months – to retreat or spend some quiet time with God in a set-apart place, either with others or alone. But I hope you will! Even if you can’t swing an organized retreat, be creative in finding your own sweet spot for at least one whole day.

blog5Today I am writing this in a guest house named “Ebenezer” – which is taken from the story found in I Samuel 7.12. There Samuel decided to place a stone of remembrance of what God had done. He called it “Ebenezer” which means “the Lord has helped us to this point.” While I was having my morning prayers here in the Library, the sun rose and I now hear the voices of the women beginning to stir and wander down for breakfast.

Soon we will gather for our final session. All weekend we have explored the theme: “BREATHE – Finding Space for God in Your Full Life.” Friday night we arrived exhausted and stressed as we looked at “Tight Spaces.” On Saturday we studied the essential discipline of “Quiet Spaces” and later that evening found healing from “Dark Spaces.” For our send off charge I will speak on “Living Spaces” with the text/promise from II Peter 1.3 “God’s divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”

blog7It’s always hard to re-enter our crazy Real Life after being away for a whole weekend, but God promises us that we already have “everything we need” to live the life He has called us to live. With Him. And for His glory. To touch a broken world. With hope, grace and mercy. We leave filled, so that we might pour out into the lives of others.

I love what I do. I pray God will continue to open doors and give me strength to walk through them with life-giving WORDs from Him.

under the mercy, Cindy

P.S. I’d love to lead a retreat for you and your group. Check out other pages on this website for themes, schedule and endorsements and contact me by phone 860.529.7175 or email cindy@encouragingwords.net

finalfinalfrontcoverLTWIf you live anywhere near Hartford, Connecticut, I hope you will plan to join me for “A Celebration of Words” at the Mark Twain House and Museum on Tuesday, May 20th from 7-8:30 pm. This is my Book Launch for “Live These Words” and we are going to have a fabulous time! Free, but space is limited and you need to Register by clicking on THIS LINK.

 

copyright 2014 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

EncouragingWords.net

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