Yes, it was another wonderful weekend as I spent time again at The Wilds of New England for a ladies' retreat. The saddest thing was that I forgot my camera and so had to make do with just a few snaps using the Kindle. Still, it was such a fantastic time that I have many snapshots filed away in my memory!
(I'll add in a few pictures from last week as well, and maybe one or two from a previous year.)
This time, four ladies went from our church. We ended up in the same cabin with three friends.
Last year I had been in this same cabin with my friend Kristina and her friend Missy, both from MA, and two ladies from ME. This year, Kristina talked her mom, Gina, into coming along. Gina is a dear friend of mine, a friend of many years' standing, and it was a joy to spend a little bit of extra time with her. In fact, as I think about it, I would have to say that friends old and new were a big part of this weekend for me.
"Rest" was the theme of this retreat and something I needed badly. Our speaker, Jen Cox, based her messages in Matthew 11:28-30:
"Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
"Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
"For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."
Just think ... getting into the yoke with Jesus and letting Him take the lead, plus learning to know Him well, will bring rest to our souls. These were messages I needed to hear.
As always at The Wilds of New England, the setting was beautiful, the music honoring to God, the fun time hilarious, and the food delicious.
Of course I spent some enjoyable time in Cool Beans, the coffee shop.
Coffee for the cooler parts of the day, and Italian cream soda for the sunny hours, were on my agenda. Such a nice thing happened as I made my way down from the cabin area toward Cool Beans in the early morning, Bible and prayer journal in hand. A lady fell into step with me and explained that she was going to get coffee before getting ready for the day. We were among the first in line, and as we waited for our coffee to be prepared she noted my prayer journal and commented that she would like to have something similar to help make her prayer life more effective. I opened the journal and quickly showed her how it is organized. Well, her coffee arrived and she went over to a small table on the far side of the room. In a few minutes my coffee also appeared and I sat down at the end of a long table which was right at hand, and opened my Bible. (I thought about joining my new acquaintance, but decided against it in case she was planning to use this for her quiet time.)
And now it really gets interesting. This chance conversation in a coffee line was actually a divine appointment. As I sat sipping my coffee and looking at Proverbs 17, a large group of chattering ladies entered the shop and got in line. In that instant I knew they would be occupying the long table where I sat at the end. (I had been awake half the night listening to loud, idle chatter in the adjoining cabin and was in no frame of mind to hear more of it.) I decided to move to a quieter corner and chose a small table next to my new acquaintance.
|This is an older photo of the fireplace in Cool Beans. There's now a moose head in the middle with a deer on either side.|
The moment I did, she spoke up and asked if I would allow her to copy down some of the headings and other information from my journal, to use in making one of her own. Of course I said yes and invited her to join me at my table. After a bit, she looked up from her copying and said something like, "This is of the Lord. I saw you open your Bible and didn't want to interrupt you. But when you got up and moved to this table, I said, 'Okay, Lord, I'm asking her!'"
|The conversation starter ...|
And so my new friend now has some helpful information to assist her in her prayer life! I also opened my tablet and showed her how to find my blog, as there is much more information here in my prayer journal posts. My only regret is that I did not ask for her address or at least her email, so she can let me know how it goes.
Yet another "friend moment" came when I took my seat in a Q and A session and someone came up from behind and hugged me, saying, "I know you." It was a dear friend and pastor's wife from Maine. As I had prayed for this lady the day before (it was my day to pray for her family), I had wondered if I might see her at the retreat. And here she was!
My most surprising "friend moment", though, really begins 34 years ago, in 1982. In a small town in New Hampshire, a young Christian couple lived around the corner from the local hospital. In the ICU, a young man lay comatose, his deeply concerned parents at his bedside. They spent every day there talking, praying, and playing Christian music in hopes that he would respond. When the young mom around the corner learned of this, she began a ministry to that hurting older couple, often bringing them lunch, always praying for them, serving in whatever way she could. There was to be no "happy ending" in the storybook sense, for the young man (who was my brother) did not recover -- yet, there was a truly happy ending for him in that he is in heaven, completely well.
From that day to the present, this dear woman (now a grandmother, living in another state) has sent a note to my parents every year in early October, the time of my brother's homegoing. When my mother died, I let her know and the notes continued to my dad. Recently, I sent this dear lady an update on how my dad is doing, and she sent me such a nice reply ... words that the Lord used to encourage my heart. So imagine my surprise then, at the retreat, when my daughter pointed across the room and said, "I think that is Mrs. _."
She was right, and before the retreat was over we had been able to talk and share a hug. At last I could share my appreciation in person for her years of ministry to my parents. And as I think about it now, I realize that this lady personifies the word I have chosen as my word for 2016 -- faithfulness. She has been faithful to serve others, faithful in praying, faithful in remembering. All, of course, because God is faithful.
Throughout the weekend I had many other moments with friends, some of them at meals. I would be remiss if I didn't share some of the pretty decorations in the dining hall.
|A look at part of the table decor. That's a votive in a glass holder tucked into the hurricane with acorns and other fall trims. And isn't the mini white pumpkin cute?|
The meals were delicious, too. Saturday's breakfast was cheesy scrambled eggs, sausages, and peach slices; lunch was make-your-own sandwiches and chips. Friday's supper was pot roast, roasted potatoes (including some purple ones!); broccoli, breadsticks and for dessert, pumpkin chocolate chip muffin tops. Saturday's supper was sweet and sour pork, rice, green beans, rolls, and caramel apple cheesecake.
|Window sill decor -- flowers, leaves and pine cones, plus a floating candle in a goblet|
Just a wonderful, wonderful weekend! So thankful for all of God's rich blessings!