A weekend in the country of Hearne, TX was very refreshing, but we're glad to be back in the city, at home. The retreat wasn't quite what Scott and I were expecting, but I think we both came away from it having benefitted from the fellowship and meeting new people.
Scott and I went into the retreat thinking that it was going to be a big camp out with an occasional devotional and maybe some singing, with mostly times of enjoying each other, exploring, and playing games. Well, our expectations were corrected. The weekend was spent mostly inside of a very large and beautiful farm house (no tents). We walked in knowing almost instantly that we had the wrong impression of what was going to happen, and we quickly realized that we wanted to go back home.
From the first meeting the night we arrived, we discovered that this weekend was going to be a very intense, emotional, and challenging weekend of DEEP inner searching and resurfacing very painful memories to "deal with them" and find out "what we wanted" from life and what we wanted to "fix". It was all done with a great intention--to build community and learn to rely on your community for strength, support, and prayer (all things I absolutely believe in)--but it was done in a way that Scott and I don't really relate/respond to well. The whole weekend felt like a big counseling session. Lots of "how do you feel", "what do you want out of life", "what was your relationship like with your parents", etc. It was very uncomfortable at times because Scott and I really didn't know anyone there; we were the only ones from our small group represented at the retreat. So.... spilling your inner soul with people you hardly know is not easy, nor enjoyable.
However, I prayed several times about what God wanted me to learn from this experience and that he would reveal to me what I was supposed to do. Well, I learned that some people have been through some REALLY hard things in life. Molestation, divorce, neglect from parents, self-hatred, to name a few. I realized how incredibly blessed I am to have had a beautiful and wonderful upbringing. How lucky I am that I was not molested by a family friend, that my parents are still very much in love, that my parents SHOW their love for me openly, and that I don't hate myself. I found myself this weekend being the listener and the comforter. Among so many broken people, I had the strength to provide love. I am not trying to say that I don't have issues too, but I felt that God was asking me to be the listener this weekend.
Scott had a similar experience. He, too, did not have any painful childhood experiences and I think, after talking to him, that he also recognized how blessed he is to have not had such a painful upbringing.
I don't understand or know why some people have to go through such awful and traumatic experiences, but I am absolutely humbled that despite so much baggage, these individuals have a clear and present relationship with our Savior, which was such a testimony to me.
Scott and I went for a walk on Saturday morning down the country road and talked, collected pine cones, and took lots of pictures of the gorgeous country side. The grasses were just yellowing, the trees just turning, and the crisp air was drifting silently around our shoulders. There was a thick, dense fog creating an eerie ambiance. It made for some incredible photographs that I will share with you below.
Scott took this photo. My favorite detail is the white flowers in front of the fence.
I loved this oak tree. The contrast with the road was intriguing.
Again, contrasting nature with civilized life.
This tree looked so lonely in the fog.
We love you all. I hope that you choose to recognize the beauty and blessings in your life.
A photo from the last day of the retreat