Last weekend, I spent some time away at a women's retreat with a bunch of wonderful women from our church. We went with expectant hearts, anticipatory for what God does when we take time to abide in His promises. Not surprisingly, Abide was the theme of the weekend. These were a few things I wrote down during speaker sessions:
"Not one second of this world is wasted [...] The chaos [of our lives] is not being wasted." Angela Suh "We try to convince God that our story is much better than the story he has for us [...but] we are invited into a story with a far better storyteller than ourselves." Kate Terry
During the less-than-24-hours we were at camp, we:
- drank la croix
- ate s'mores
- swung on the swings and went down slides (I know, I'm five)
- braided hair
- skipped showering
- slept to the sound of a rainstorm in bunkbeds and sleeping bags
- dodged puddles
- helped ourselves to second and third(!) cups of coffee (maybe that was just me?)
- enjoyed no cell coverage
- worshipped God
- cried some and laughed a lot
The few days leading up to the retreat were in and of themselves, a retreat from something else: social media. A friend of mine is taking a break from Instagram, and I felt convicted enough to join her in that. Why? Because the idea of doing that terrified me. It's as ridiculous as it sounds, I mean—it's just social media. But my goodness, my identity and worth are quite distinct from my online appearance, and I found myself confusing the two. I'm not abstaining from Instagram anymore, but I'm checking myself before I check my feed. If I'm lonely or seeking affirmation, I need to look elsewhere. Social media will not satisfy those desires; communion with God will. I'm not surprised that the conviction for both of these "retreats" occurred simultaneously. Rather than basking in the fickle, short-lived approval from others, I can choose freedom from that. As a child of God, I can instead bask in the presence of the Lord, abiding in His promises for me. And, I can partake in His story for me, knowing that His story for me is so much more wonderful than any I could write myself on my Instagram, or in my heart.
Fall feels like a number of transitions, one right after the other. We are now bridging into late fall, with lots of frost in the mornings, first sightings of bare trees, and darker, cozier evenings at home. Of course, there is talk of Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon too, along with early preparations for those. I do tend to be swept by the momentum of this season, if I'm not careful. I'll admit that Christmas music accompanies us throughout the day sometimes, and I've already done most of our shopping, but I do want to be intentional to savor the almost-but-not-yet. To not wish away November and it's baring of trees in favor of the glow of Thanksgiving and Christmastime. There is great beauty and contentment in this month, as well. I don't want to miss it.
We've taken to a regular "cozy hike," as we've termed it. A nearly wooded path, my favorite spot for fall color, a wagon, an eager toddler, a cozy blanket, and snacks. I look for the bright red leaves, since those are a favorite for both of us. And we also look for acorns and pinecones, treasures on the ground.
I'm typically in a rush to wish away the hot days of summer, to exchange them for cozy days, sweater season, cool mornings. I'm an optimist, and that optimism frequently couples itself with being future minded. Constantly looking forward with hope, but also sometimes looking forward with misplaced longing that can inhibit me from being present. But this past weekend, the events of both days were lovely, and being present felt easy and good.