Friday, August 29, 2008

Men's Retreat (Week late post)

I know I only have female readers (or at least, no guys ever post comments - other than myself, of course). But, a blessing is a blessing, and perhaps the female readers would be interested in hearing how Men's Retreat was this weekend? I'll take your silence as a "yes." [EDIT: I wanted to post this the very next day (Monday), but for some reason it's taking me all week to type a little at a time for this post! - probably doesn't help that I'm going into a lot of detail....loooong post!]

The theme for the retreat was "Obtaining Integrity Amidst Our Sin".

Since I think in chronological terms, let me break it down that way....

Steve and I were driving up together, so Wendy dropped me off at work so she could have the car for the weekend. Steve picked me up around 5:30 and we got some BK for din-din on the way up the mountain. Check-in time was 5-7, and we arrived at 7:05; so we were probably the last people to check in. We barely had time to throw our stuff in our room and get down to the campfire circle as worship was starting at 7:15...and Steve and I were to start speaking at 7:45!!

Oh, background on that for those who don't know....Last year at retreat (obviously our first with Vanguard) Steve and I shared some personal struggles, etc. (I'm being intentionally vague) at a group session that radically changed us for this past year. A month or two before retreat, the men's ministry leader, Scott, asked us if we would speak at the opening session. Apparently, all of the church leadership were really impressed and moved by our sharing last year and felt we would be a good kick-off for this year's retreat! I had no idea.

So, back to our timeline....Steve and I hadn't really felt like we had time to decompress from work, but we stepped away briefly before as worship was starting and prayed together, asking God to speak to the men's hearts, since we didn't feel like our words were much. So, we shared, and then another surprise: Scott asked all the men to surround us, lay on hands, and pray over us. It was pretty incredible.

All of that wrapped up by 8:45, and then everyone headed over to a gym for Rec time! There were two options: Basketball or Dodgeball. On the first Monday night of each month, the men's ministry has a BYOM (Bring Your Own Meat) where we grill up dinner and then do something fun. Often that has included dodgeball...which has been tremendous fun....and exhausting! When you get 20-40 men (half on each side) with 15-20 balls going nuts trying to bean everybody, it's chaotic and a lot of fun. We did that for 2.5 hours!

Needless to say, we were all very tired and sore the next morning. I didin't get to sleep until a little after 1 am, but still got myself up at 6:00 so I could have a nice devotion time watching the sun rise before 7:00 am breakfast. The morning plan was to have the 60-70 men break up into 3 groups and rotate to the three different break-out sessions. All three were very impacting and meaningful. (I'd go so far as to say better than last year's sessions)

Lunch was some half-decent tacos. Then after lunch....more Rec time! The plan was to choose Volleyball or Ultimate Frisbee. I chose volleyball (like I did last year), and I don't think the Ultimate Frisbee happened, because I thought I noticed guys playing horseshoes and kickball instead....not sure, I was pretty focused. I think volleyball is a sport that I apparently really enjoy, and wouldn't mind doing more regularly. (And I'm pretty decent at it too!)

Rec time was supposed to be 1:30 - 5:00, but at 3:00ish we got sent indoors by high winds and rain! At the tail-end of our volleyball session, we noticed funnel clouds forming, and later found out that tornadoes had been spotted in the area! So a lot of guys opted for naps or other such relaxing. I did a little reading, some crosswords, and my pushups. I was 100% convinced I wasn't going to be able to complete my set for the day since I was reeeeeally sore from dodgeball and volleyball and lack of sleep. Somehow, I forced myself to do it. (I also took longer breaks in between each set) I was pretty fried at the end though; for some reason I seem to be really insistent on pushing my body past it's limits with this pushup program....Wendy can attest to the times I've groaned and screamed and collapsed at some of my sessions. I've even had to take advil the next morning on a couple occasions when my muscles/joints hurt so much. But I digress.......

Dinner was some mediorcre meat (pot roast and pork)....I don't think I ate much. Then more worship and sharing around the campfire. We wrapped up around 10pm, and many guys opted to hang out, talk, play games, etc. But I opted to read a little bit and hit the sack early (If you can call 11pm early).

Sunday I got up early again for Devos....after breakfast we had our "God Stroll" time. I took off, and headed for the hills. I had a nice little hike, and made sure I was not with in visual/audible range of anyone. Good time, but when I got back to the lodge for our communion was deserted! No one at the lodge, no one at the campfire circle, no one in the dining area.....fortunately a camp staff person pointed me in the right direction. I was a little late getting back I guess, and the group had gone to a little outdoor chapel area in a part of the camp I hadn't been to yet.

They had already started when I got there. The tradition for Sunday morning communion at men's retreat is to take a piece of bread and "shot" of wine to someone and share something with them about how they impacted you this weekend, or some other sort of encouragement. Apparently, a couple people had been looking for me (since I was late) and I got approached by four guys in a row! So that was neat. Then I had time to grab some bread and wine, and go share with a couple guys too.

After that, a little prayer, a couple announcements then: go home! It was kinda cool being done early. Steve and I loaded up and left around 11:00. Originally, Steve was just going to drop me off at home, but I realized that Kelly (our pastor) would just be starting his sermon around 11:45, so I had him drop me off at church. Wendy was surprised when I sat next to her about half way through his sermon. It was cool, because even though I felt a bit drained from the weekend, I still was able to plug into the worship time after the sermon and really enjoyed it.

I'll share more of what God's been speaking to me at, and since, the retreat in a separate post since I'm reaching the limit for a novella here. I'd like to try and get more readers, but this post might be too daunting for first time readers? So, enjoy: Wendy, Jeri, Jenny, Kristen! (And maybe 1 or 2 lurkers?) =)