Saturday Stories: A Retreat Away to Oceanside

Oceanside California

Last weekend our church pastors took all the missional community (MC) leaders away to a retreat in Oceanside, California. Jeff and I had little expectations going into the weekend but we're excited to see some place new. We barely had time to really think about the weekend before we were packed in the car with 3 other friends and driving down the 405 South.

I wanted to share some photos of the weekend and a bit about what God taught me while I was there. First, I freaking LOVE my church family. They are some of my truest bestest (is that a word?) friends and every minute I get to spend with them gives me so much life. We arrived late on Friday to a room full of people singing worship and sipping on wine. The sounds of the ocean poured through the open deck door and mixed with the melodies of the songs. It was bliss. 

We were blessed to stay at a house that was literally on the water. It reminded me of the glass houses along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and it was the perfect setting to catch up and RELAX.

We spent the majority of the weekend catching up on where everyone was at with their MC and in their personal life. With 30 people, it took us 4 sessions to get through each group and each leader. It was so encouraging to hear about the struggles and triumphs of each group. As I get older, I appreciate more and more that sweet feeling that accompanies the words, "me too." I can get so caught up in thinking no one deals with the same challenges that I do but I am constantly proved wrong. Everyone was in the thick of some serious prayer need, whether it was with their job or their living situation or with a relationship or with their child. We got to listen and pray in groups over each MC and person and CAN I JUST SAY we were pretty much all crying the whole time. They were good tears though...broken, empathetic, and joyful tears. 

When we weren't sharing or praying, we were eating and drinking, hot-tubbing, writing notes to each other or just laying around. There was laughter and stories and gazing out at the sea.

This was seriously true rest.

We even popped out for some vanilla lavender lattes at the near by coffee shop which we could walk to from the beach house. 

For me this weekend was about being present. It's a newer theme in my life I am starting to press into more and more. I am always worrying about what is next or thinking about what I need to accomplish instead of just being wherever I am - looking and listening and just doing nothing. I feel like my life - no, I KNOW my life will pass me by if I don't start to simply ENJOY it more. It sounds so cliché but I really tried to just BE PRESENT AND ENJOY the weekend. I soaked in the sun, the sea and the gorgeous people around me. 

God is so good. He is good in providing people to reflect His love and his friendship. He is good in reminding us of how much He cares about even the smallest issues of our hearts all the way to the monumental struggles that often cripple us. He showed up in that beach house and brought me to a closer realization of how close He wants to be to me. He wants to be there in the crying fits on the couch and on my walks along the beach late at night. He wants to be on the bed as I listen to Rhapsody in Blue and imagine going to red carpet premieres with a tuxedo Jesus at my side. I know - it sounds crazy - but that's how I am thinking of Him lately. He wants to be with me as I rest and play and work all the time. He is there in the photos, there in the living room and beside me at my desk. His truth and faithfulness to me is something I feel more and more each day. 

If you are stuck or feeling the anxiousness of the every day, stop and take in where you are. Maybe it's a roommate you are grateful for or the pillows on your bed, but let those small things remind of you of how God loves you. Eat a bit slower, talk a little longer, and just look at the people in your life who make you happy. The best things for us, Joy, Peace, Comfort, etc. can only be provided by God. And he uses even the smallest of things to guide us there if only we would let Him. I am letting Him in more. I am soaking in the rich abundant life I have - even in the chaos and mess. It is so good. 


~ A ~