Friday, October 26, 2012

Illuminations: Retreat Season

This past week Ben and I traveled to Leavenworth, Washington, for a Soma National pastors' retreat. It was a fun, relaxing, joy-filled, gratitude-inspiring, instagramming time. :) On our way over the Snoqualmie Pass, it was snowing! It was a treat to go from 70-degree East Bay weather to snow in 24 hours. The road was snowy, twisty, and two of us ended up pretty carsick. I felt bad for the guy who barfed. I managed to keep it together until we got out of the snow and on drier, straighter roads.

We stayed in the most lovely, cozy, and exceptional house. The views from our room (above collage, upper right) were spectacular. You could look up and down river, pear orchards surrounding the house and area, fall colors everywhere. Snow capped the tops of the mountains surrounding the river valley. It was breathtaking every morning to see as the clouds lifted and the sun started to break through. We were up before dark each day and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the sun come up.

The larger group gathered at another home across the river for prayer, worship, fellowship, and vision casting. The views from that side were gorgeous as well (bottom two pictures, above). I am from the Northwest so any time I visit I feel like I'm home. The colors of the deciduous trees set against the tall evergreens made me want to dance and sing. So, so amazing.

Every single pastor and pastor's wife (and one baby, Gage) were absolutely lovely. Honestly, I can't imagine a more wonderful, humble, spirit-filled, gracious and loving group of people. They are our "extended" Soma family and they truly feel like family, folks whose hearts we totally understand and feel at home with. I spent much of the past four days feeling really, really blessed. Who gets to do this? To journey with an amazing "nuclear," local Soma family plus a big bunch of crazy, fun cousins and aunts and uncles is beyond compare. God sure does love me!

Dinners out with a bunch of fun friends made for packed minivans (see Lesli, Kristi, Sarah, Dina, and baby Gage below, upper left pic). This was our last night together (Wednesday) and we went out to Mexican food then played pictionary, spoons, poker, and chatted late into the night. In the morning, I took a shower and then dried my hair looking out HUGE windows onto this view (below, upper right):

For our last meal in Leavenworth (Bavarian sweet spot in the heart of the WA Cascades), we were a little tired of heavy German food and hit up an amazing lunch spot. We were all yelping reviews after we ate there to help future Leavenworth tourists avoid the fried food and find the freshest salads and most delicious breads in town. The spot we ate lunch was on the left hand side of town in the picture above (lower left). We hit the road (no snow this time), with the two car sickies in front. The barfer drove and I sat in the passenger seat. :) On our way past Keechelus Lake, there was the MOST vibrant rainbow that stretched right over Hwy 90 and landed in the lake. You could actually see where the rainbow ended and we drove right under it! It was amazing! I took like six pictures as we drove through, and the one above (lower right) was the best. But it doesn't come close. I'll never forget it.

A few of my takeaways from the past few days:

Gratitude for our local and national Soma family. Humbled by everyone's grace and support.

God loves his church. He is jealous for it. Our enemy will do everything he can to steal our joy, destroy our hope, send us packing, or break our spirits. But the power and authority of Jesus is greater than any scheme of the devil. Resist him, and he will flee.

God is doing something really amazing both on a local and national level in his church. We have favor we shouldn't have. It's inexplicable apart from the work of the Spirit in the church and in the hearts of people. We are part of something really, really big that is going to have an impact on the hearts of the lost, for the glory of God. I have absolutely no doubt.

Our kids are learning a greater, deeper, richer experience of Jesus. Already we have kids listening for the voice of God and learning to wait on the Lord. How incredible. I truly believe that the next generation, our kids, will carry on the work we've started and all for the glory of our risen savior.

God is equipping his people and his church for a work that is far beyond their own skills, talents, or abilities. The work we have to do requires a radical dependence on God and a leaning into the Holy Spirit. Without a mighty anointing and the work of the Spirit, we are hopeless. We cannot and must not do this on our own strength.

God has given our church (national and local) leaders with hearts that are truly seeking him. I have no question in the ability of our leadership to lead us faithfully and diligently as they humble themselves before God and each other, working out their salvation with fear and trembling.

The Spirit is alive and well in our local church. We've been asking God to speak, and he is answering. People are getting dreams and visions and words from the Lord. Prophetic words are being spoken. Hope is being birthed in a new way. 

I have been ill for a reason. I have been asking God to reveal the reason and timing for my illness and though it is still unclear, my heart is turned again and again to the story of the blind man, of whom Jesus said,

When we were in WA, a group of faithful believers gathered around to pray for me and lay hands on me. As we've prayed for the past few years for God to heal me, we've also simultaneously been praying for a pouring out of the Spirit in our church and on our people. We've asked for healings and miracles and signs and wonders. And I've told God many times, "I'm happy to be a healing in our community, if your will, and for your glory and the joy of your people!" How awesome a story would that be?

Anyway, as everyone was praying for me, I felt so at peace. I had a vision of a leaf, floating down the river, and then I saw myself being carried along, downstream, floating and being carried along by the prayers of God's people and the work of his Spirit. I don't have a clear interpretation at this point, but in the moment it was enough for me to feel completely at peace, completely carried, completely trusting in God's plan and purpose for me. But I'm going to keep hoping and keep praying. I'd love to tell the story of how God healed my colitis as an evidence of his healing power and as hope for anyone needing healing! 


Jessica Johnson said...

These colors made my insta feed very happy. So glad you had such a nice, relaxing time. Hope you're feeling well!

Becky said...

Thanks friend! I know, the Fall colors completely swept me off my feet! Loved it. :)

mel @ the larson lingo said...

This post brought tears to my eyes, the words and pictures were both so beautiful. Glad you had such a wonderful time in Washington. Oh, how I wish we had fall color like this in the Bay Area......