Thursday, March 10, 2011

Retreat Encouragement

I got back from an absolutely wonderful women's retreat with my church this last weekend. I've been to several now, and this was hands down my favorite year. Life has been so fast-paced lately I had been drooling for weeks over the thought of some time away, and although I am STILL exhausted from talking and giggling until 2am both nights, this answered my needs in that quarter :)

The factor that took this retreat over the top, though, was our speaker Dawn Smith Jordan. 
This woman has been through some of the most horrific ordeals I can imagine (her sister was kidnapped and brutally murdered at 17), undergone deep struggle over forgiveness and trusting God's plan, emerging with one of the most genuinely sweet spirits I have ever met. She always seemed ready to burst with joy, and so encouraged me!

It is funny though (in kind of an evil way), how the enemy lies in wait at the bottom of the mountain. After a weekend of rejoicing in my ability to trust in God's plan and forgiving/ feeling peace with some hard issues going on right now, one of those very issues I had thought resolved attempted to re-initiate the evening I returned home (please don't be worried- my husband and children are amazing and were not involved with this!) In all honesty it was very discouraging. I had planned on sharing my retreat notes to encourage Paul, and instead found myself sobbing on his shoulder. 

But the amazing thing is those notes, and my memories, are still here. The enemy wasn't in control of this situation, God was. I had just spent an entire weekend preparing my heart to endure this storm. Praise God for His sovereignty!!! I wanted to share some (quasi) quotes from my notes that have helped my heart to heal both then and now.  I truly am so thankful God brought Dawn from east to west coast last weekend.

Theme Verse:
Proverbs 3: 5&6 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
Lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Don't look forward to "what if's": God is telling me to look back! He's brought me through before, He will do it again!
Be sisters in Christ! Use the resources God has given us and stick together through the storms of life!
Don't be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.
"As long as God has given me breath, I will speak the testimony God has given me"
~ Dawn's mother while dying of cancer; on speaking about the murder of her daughter.
Proverbs 31 Women smile at the future {umm... that's impossible without God!}
The Forgiveness Process 
{I am so thankful she shared this}
1: Acknowledge the offense-- It happened! Don't "stuff it down".
2: Place judgment-- This was wrong and it hurt me! They deserve my anger! They deserve to be punished!
3: Transfer the judgement to the cross of Christ-- Forgiveness is handing over justice to God and moving on. God is just. Set them free and set yourself free.
"Resentment turns into a resemblance of the one who hurt you, but grace is the beautiful fragrance released as they crush you under their heel." 
{Am I filled with the sweet aroma of grace, ready to be released anytime?}
Forgiveness does not remove the pain they caused- it didn't give back Dawn's sister- but healing can start.
The past might be a part of who you are, but praise God He's not done with you yet.
The mercy God shows to us is the motivation for the mercy we show others.
Don't compare yourself to others, you have no idea what their journey is all about.
Our background influences who we are, but we have a lot of control over who we will become.
We control our attitude or our attitude controls us.
"There is no pit so deep that God's depths are not greater still!"
{Am I clinging to my hurts because the are my "identity"? Or, in reality, because they get me attention?}
Lyrics by Dawn's singer/song-writer daughter:
"Dance in the rain, look up at the sky.
Let go of the pain, believe you can fly."
Don't wait for the storm (trial) to pass, it may never pass. Learn to dance in the rain. Enjoy the moment.
Sometimes you don't really know what to do, and there's nothing you can do. It's then you just have to be, and trust that God will get you through it.
"Sometimes He lets the wind and waves go wild and holds His child. 
Sometimes He calms the storm, and sometimes He calms His child".
"When you have accomplished your daily tasks, go to sleep in peace. God is awake." ~Victor Hugo
{I love this quote. I have no reason to lie awake at night- I don't need to be in control of everything! God always is!!!}

Thanks for sticking with me, I know that was long! My heart was so filled with these words though, I wanted to make them available to anyone who might also need them.
Praising God for His magnificent promises!!!


Connie said...

Thanks for posting that Ashley, I'm encouraged all over again!

Amanda MacCollin said...

Looks like it was so wonderful!! Wish I could have been there! :) Love you sissy!!