Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Being Made Into Gems

This past weekend I attended the women's retreat with my church, and it was just what I needed.  I got very little sleep, ate more than I should have, and the car ride on the way to the retreat took twice as long as it should have.  But I got to hang out with some of my best friends, cried more than I have in awhile, and learned some great truths about God from the speaker.

me and my wonderful roomies! (thanks for the picture, Kristina!)

First, the speaker.  Her name is Arlita Winston and she shared from her 75 years worth of life stories. Growing up, she and her family were missionaries in Asia, and had to flee twice during war time and Communist take over.  She shared about her relationships with various people in her life and what God has taught her through those.  The overall theme of the retreat was how each of us is being formed into heavenly treasures through the various hardships we face in life.

I missed out on probably about half of each session because Jonah would act up, or I was putting him down for bed.  But God uses whatever time we're given to teach us what He wants us to hear.  There are a few lessons that I want to remember in particular:

 Jonah keeping himself somewhat entertained during a session

* We need to relinquish our plans to God.  I know I've heard this probably hundreds of times in my life, but it always seems to be applicable.  Arlita talked about I Chronicles 16 when the Ark of the Covenant is being brought back to the temple, and one of the people carrying it is struck dead because he reached out to prevent it from falling.  David questions God as to why He would do that, and God makes it clear that David did not seek Him for His plan- which was for the priests to carry the Ark.  How often do I go about my life making plans without ever seeking Him?

* God forms who we are by the various pressures, heat, and irritations in our lives.  It could be an aggravating relationship with someone close to us, sickness, or day-to-day frustrations.  We can respond with fear, anger, and bitterness.  But we must remember that God wants us to complete the work He has given us (Colossians 4:17), even in that time of hardship.  Knowing God's character is our inoculation to fear, and the irritations in our lives are being used to make us more Christlike, just as Paul dealt with the "thorn in his flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7).

Jonah happy in the stroller

Through all of these things, God is making us into diamonds, silver and gold, and pearls.  We learn that God is bigger than our circumstances, and that He chose us just as we are.  And that He is shaping us to be more like Jesus.  There were many more lessons and scripture that Arlita covered, but these were some of the ones that stuck out to me.

Aside from the speaker, I got some much needed girl time.  I roomed with 3 of my best friends (and Jonah of course!), and we laughed over ridiculous things, talked about life, went on a hike, and 3 of us went for a run/walk through the Pennsylvania country roads.  On the drive down Kristina and I got off the highway (maybe??), and got a little turned around, but we finally made it!  Thankfully we were able to laugh through it, even with a fussing Jonah in the backseat.

post run/walk picture.  Jess pushed Jonah the whole way!

Jonah was a fuss-bucket for much of the trip, but there were so many women who asked to hold him and gladly took him when he was screaming so that I could listen for awhile and eat my meals.  Just thinking about it makes me tear up- what a blessing to have that kind of fellowship with other women!

I was happy to get home to these two 

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