My eyes popped open that beautiful Sunday about 30 minutes before my alarm. I had packed the night before, taken my shower, had my outfit out for the trip to the hotel by the ocean & had made sure I would have plenty of time to get ready & make it to share the last breakfast with all who came...I felt completely rested, filled full of love, blessed beyond belief & finally for the first time ever...truly surrendered to my Father. Though I had fallen asleep late because I wanted to be completely ready, I felt a complete instauration...what is that you ask?? I love it when I get an interesting confirmation, that educates me & I can share the knowledge, this was my word of the day today...
in·stau·ra·tion/ˌɪnstɔˈreɪʃən/ Show Spelled [in-staw-rey-shuhn]
renewal; restoration; renovation; repair.
So, I was ready for whatever God had planned for me.....but was I ready for what the enemy had planned for me??? In short, no.
I got up with enough time to get ready before breakfast instead of after. As I walked over to the cafeteria, I saw several of the ladies loading cars & some walking either to their rooms or to eat breakfast too. I walked in & there were only a couple of women there. I walked over got something to drink & then my breakfast....I sat down & really saw these beautiful women I had met only a couple of days before this....amazing, sisters in Christ, all of whom struggle with the pain & frustration of being trimmed & shaped to be more like our Savior, just like I do. None of us gets out of this life without some sort of struggle.....I was in awe of the obedient, filled with the Spirit women who had prayed over me, prayed He would come down & meet me right where I was...lay His Hands on me, physically, Himself. Tell me my worth in Him & to Him...take my faith past the point of anything I could ever imagine, or explain. These women are obedient in their faith to God, to a point I had no idea existed....much less that I would understand before I knew what hit me...in a wonderful way, I must add.
After breakfast I walked over to the lobby & checked out what the plan for the day was...it was a thank you from the core team & then they shared that we all would be taking part in a ceremony with our 3x5 cards we had written what we wanted to leave here at the center & not take home with us. So we followed each other over through the building with the cafeteria in it & out the other side...where around the corner we spotted an old wooden cross. AJ explained that we didn't have to carry these things with us anymore, we prayed & then spent time alone in ourselves handing them over in prayer first...I told God everything I felt on my heart & walked over to the cross, picked up a hammer & nail, gave a last promise to God & slammed that hammer down over & over as hard as I could, grunting & all....I could feel the junk on that card being pounded out of my heart & mind....I felt light, light, light as a feather!!! As I waited for my sisters in Christ to do the same, one at a time, I looked around at the beautiful, lush, green around me, it surrounded me....I felt overjoyed at God's ability to renew with new surroundings & completely renewed!!!
When all of us had left it all at the cross, we headed back in to make sure we were all checked out & take some pictures, say a final prayer together....this was one of the MOST educational moments God used during this week.....TRULY eye opening for this old woman....
We all took each others hands & M started to share something very enlightening with us. She said "ok, so everyone turn around & put your backs towards the inside of the prayer circle. This is to create a visual reminder that God always has our backs & that we have our face towards everyone who might walk up to the circle, this way they will feel invited, instead of having our backs towards them being more uninviting..." I had NEVER thought about how it must look to non-believers, or people who were curious, but also intimidated by the "Christians." God says in John 13:35
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
So, my heart was filled with joy, I was filled with the Spirit & on fire all at the same time. My mind & mouth were going 100 miles an hour.....& there was nothing I could do. I was FULL of His joy, to the point that it was pouring out of every part of me...
The next part of my journey involved a couple hour road trip to the Gulf coast, to the whitest sands I'd never seen yet, that excited me even more. MC & Special K loaded their bags into MC's car & asked if I wanted to do the same. I accepted & then offered to ride with M, C-1, C2, miss L & little J in the suburban & let her know that I had no problem if she wanted to ride with MC & catch up on each other's lives, that I would be perfectly fine & comfy with my new sisters in Christ. It was a relatively short drive, compared to the one down from Texas. We headed to the hotel, but the rooms weren't ready, so we dropped M off at Olive Garden to meet an old friend for a lunch date. She told us her son was picking her up & they would meet us back at the hotel to check us in, then she & her son were gonna spend some much needed "mom & son" time. The rest of us, headed over to meet some of our other sisters in Christ, at Johnny Rockets to have lunch together. We all sat & giggled, shared details of our lives with each other, ate some yummy food & then headed off to meet M at the hotel. One of the rooms was ready, but the other one had another hour or so. But we all unloaded the bags onto a bellhop cart & headed upstairs to that room, we wanted to get our suits on & head to the beach.....
We started talking about who was in which room. Miss L suggested we have a snoring & non-snoring room...we all pretty much agreed to this. So we figured out it would be, C-1, C2, me & Special K in one room & Miss L, little J & M in the other. But, God definitely gifted me with a very keen discernment....one I can recognize instantly, but have ignored in the past until I had NO other choice...First C-1 & C2 disappeared into the other room, then Miss L was gone & finally little J as well. I could feel the tension rise, I could hear loud whispering....I was pretty sure I had heard my name.....the attack had started. The enemy knew which button to push to knock me off my place in God's joy....so he pushed & pushed & pushed over & over. The entire time I heard him trying to convince me that these new sisters didn't really like me, God kept reassuring me, they need rest...they are drained. But when they all came out, at the same time....I did my best not to cry, or react in a rejected way towards them.....I did my best not to be over zealous, or overbearing....all the things I know I struggle with. They could all immediately sense something was up with me I think. But only C2 asked me if I was ok, I said "yes thank you".....they were all ready to go to the beach, but in God's perfect plan, I had put my bags in MC's car & they hadn't arrived to the hotel yet. Then M & her son arrived to change & go to the beach to spend the afternoon together. I don't know if she could also sense the tension in the air or not, but M was asking who was sleeping where...C-1 stepped outside with M & when they came back in.....M said to everyone, "ok, C-1, C2, little J & Miss L are in this room, since their luggage is in here already....Special K, me & Robin are gonna be in the room next door. In fact, you & Special K can have the beds, because I'm exhausted & I need to wind down & sleep tonight." We all agreed then they left for the beach. I told them I would wait for my bags then head over with Special K & MC, it was fine if they wanted to take off.
When Special K & MC knocked on the door of the room, I opened it & turned to sit back down....immediately she knew something was up with me.....I having the worst poker face in the world, broke down sobbing..."I know I was driving them nuts, I didn't mean to stress them out...I'm just sooo excited!!!......" on & on I sobbed. When I finally calmed to an involuntary heave of my chest, Special K started to speak to me....but it wasn't her, it was my Savior...."I want to call out this spirit of rejection the enemy is using against you...he is trying to get your focus off of God & His plan for you...His path He has opened your eyes to...." I explained that God had said to me several times during the enemy's attack, that "they are empty from giving me their all..." Special K said "exactly, that is exactly it." Then I heard MC speak up behind me, "she has already had to speak this truth into me today....the hunter doesn't go after the strongest in the bunch, he goes after the weaker, younger ones...." As she was speaking & sharing this truth that God had shared with her via Special K, the door opened & in came M & her son....she was keenly aware that something was going on, by the tears & shock on our face I'm sure....she said "am I interrupting??" Special K looked up & said "nope, you're fine!!"
While M was in changing her clothes, MC spoke up & told me & Special K "everyone is exhausted, you all need some sleep...I'd like to see what I can do about getting a couple more rooms, so you can each have your own bed & get some good rest before you drive straight through to Texas tomorrow." Special K & I both argued & told her that was too much, but she insisted she had enough points added up to get us a couple rooms. When M emerged from changing, Special K stepped outside with her for a few minutes. MC took advantage of this time to line up 2 more rooms for our group. When M & Special K came back in MC told them "it's all settled, y'all have 2 more rooms. Now each of you can have your own bed & M you can have your own room to yourself, so you can unwind, get filled & some much needed rest!! Let me do this for you, I want to." We all graciously accepted her gift & then M walked up to me & said "I just want you to know, that I don't know what I walked in on, or what is going on. But I do know, that I figured out today when we were riding down here, that God refills me after these retreats through worship & a private time together on the drive home. I realized that today, I wasn't able to do that, it weighed on me." I shared with her that God had clearly told me that it wasn't me, they were drained from allowing God to work through them to fill all of us up." M said "yes, they just need God to fill them up. It has nothing to do with you."
We all headed down to get the keys to the rooms, get our bags up there & get our suits on to go see this beauty God created....so perfectly of course. As I walked up onto the high part of the deck leading to the hotel's beach, I stopped in awe.....tears of joy welled my eyes. This was more beautiful than I had imagined....as far as the eye could see. I walked across the sand, that was quite the workout, lol...then I saw the water, it was filled with seaweed, tons of it. I was reminded, not everything is how it seems....sometimes things seem not so good in our worldly minds, but if we look through God's eyes, it is just as perfect as He ever planned. I walked in, only so I could say I did, but didn't stay long. I sat on the beach & watched the tide come closer & closer to my feet...while I was sitting there, Miss L & little J walked up. I could feel the words welling up inside me, but I shoved them back down....until we started to walk back to the hotel.
To say I'm out of shape, well that's probably the biggest understatement ever....I'm not even in the realm of shape...So walking back to the hotel, I had to rest on the deck after the sand. Miss L & little J stopped with me....I finally let the words God had for me out....I told them "I know I can be overbearing...." Of course they tried to politely stop me, but I continued on in obedience..."yes I know I am. But please, I am a person who loves honesty. I prefer someone to say, I just need to step away & take a breath. Instead of whispering & then feeling uncomfortable around me. I am a very blunt person, & I can usually take the same. Please if ever in the future I am overbearing, just be honest with me." To which they both agreed & explained that they just needed to breathe in & get filled up again by God's Spirit after the retreat." We got back to the hotel & they were having a free cocktail happy hour so we headed that way & ran into C-1 & C2 who had already made it through the line for happy hour & were sitting. I walked over & shared the same sentiment with them & they agreed & shared their feelings of needing to be alone with God & be refilled...
We all had our suits on & after a drink decided to go for a swim. There were only a few kids in the pool, so we all jumped in. We laughed & carried on for a couple of hours. The girls even played chicken, that made even the other people laugh in the pool area. We decided to get changed & meet up in C-1 & C2's room to have dinner. MC ordered pizza, we all talked & laughed some more. Then went to our rooms. Special K walked MC down to her car, while I showered & then got ready for bed....I laid down to chat with my Father that night & He quietly shared with me the reason for this specific lesson. I had thought it was about rejection, but He clearly spoke to me & said "Through this trial I was showing you that even after I cleared everything that was taking your focus off me & showing you that if you abide in me you will be complete. You let the first attack take your focus off me by putting these sisters on a pedestal that they can't possibly live up to, they are flesh & will fail." I let my idol worship take my eyes off His plan & got hurt in the process....These women are just women like me, they just are farther in their obedience walk than I am, after being a vessel for God to work through, they need to be renewed too, they have to let God restore their Spirit....