Is Personal Retreat Worth It?

by Joan C Webb on March 16, 2012

I stay on the right side of this log cabin duplex

It’s Friday! I drive back down to the valley tomorrow. I’ve been here at Strawberry Retreat Center near Pine, Arizona since Tuesday. This is my home-away-from-home; the inspiring place where I’ve written several books. Yet I haven’t been here in awhile. This time I came without a specific agenda. Just wanted (okay I needed!) to retreat and just be and listen.

And I have—imperfectly. I wish I could stay longer. Right now, I’m sipping chai tea and looking back over excerpts of the journal notes I’ve jotted while here.

Tuesday Evening: 

I made it. Been waiting for this. I’m so tired. Since I got here a few hours ago I “worked” on getting the speaker agreement out, had the extended coaching call, answered business emails, didn’t blog (although it’s due), didn’t Twitter or Facebook. Actually I’m really tired of doing all that. My stomach hurts. I want to actually “start” my retreat–to feel R&R. 

So many good things happening, Lord. TY! And I said “no” to 2 writing assignments and a speaking opportunity. You asked me to do that. But it’s hard. Jesus, what do you want me to do in this next life phase? . . . 

Wednesday Morning:

Hi Lord! You are Beauty—and Light. I am grateful. 

I started reading The Hunger Games, but I can’t get into it. Maybe later. There are many ugly, cruel things on this Earth: prison-making, joy-robbing things. You’re not the author of all that. You still love, work and care in the midst of the bad and hurtful. I appreciate You. 

I just read (again) a chapter in Buchanon’s The Rest of God: “Busyness kills the heart. Busyness makes us not care about what we care about.” I know this. Busyness can lead to burnout and burnout murders the soul and makes us not care about what we care about. I’m reminded of this as I’m propped up with pillows in bed surrounded by books. BOOKS! I love books and reading…yet busynesss, overwhelm, burnout, compassion fatigue can make me not care about what I care about: books and reading. Sad. 

What do I really want to do with and in this next phase of my life?

We’ve talked about it before, haven’t we, Lord? To work less, reach more, and love with abandon (or without fear.) TY for the hope, Lord. Really. . . . 

Wednesday Night:

Today is the day I would have been teaching the writing classes. But instead I lolly-gagged and read an entire book: Bo’s Cafe. Nice. Tomorrow I’ll lay off Twitter and Facebook completely. 

Lord, show me. . .  [Well, Joan, you said that you wouldn't take on more until you get help.] I know, I did. say that, didn’t I? . . . 

Thursday Morning: 

G’ Morning, Lord! Thank you for being here for me when I woke up. And reminding me of Your Spirit’s power. You are active. You are God. You are good. I praise You. I choose to do so. Your Spirit within me praises You. … I believe Your love. Yet still I don’t always “feel” it. I know it, though. Please help my feeling and my knowing to merge into the total person that I am. That You created me to be. The soul of Joan. Will I find this merging in silence, margin, space and rest? . . . 

“Don’t break [God's] heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.” Ephesians 4:30 The Message . . . 

[Joan, you hesitant to voice what I show you in My Word.] Yes, I don’t want to do it wrong or push people away. [It is only by My Spirit that people will "get" it and understand it anyway. Joan, I've ordained that you speak it out. Know it, learn it, and speak it out. I'll do the rest.] . . . 

Let’s talk a walk, Lord.

Friday Morning: 

G’ Morning, Lord! In response to my Q about whether to get up now or sleep some more, you said, “Do whatever your want to do , Joan.” TY for that, Lord. 

I read Francine River’s book, “and the Shofar Blew” until 5:00 am. It’s 9:00 am now. I’ll take a nap later.

“Keep company with God, get in on the best. Open up before God, keep nothing back, he’ll do whatever needs to be done. He’ll validate your life the clear light of day…Quiet down before God. Be prayerful before him. Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top.” Psalm 37:4-7 The Message . . . 

Amazing how it all flows together, Lord. This retreat. My need. The message of these novels. Your Word. Be still and know that I am God.  Ps 46:10 Being away with you is definitely worth it. :-)  

And that’s the end of my journal excerpts. When have you enjoyed a personal retreat? What was it like?

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy Horning March 16, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Thank you for opening your journal entries and sharing your heart. I am so blessed! My questions mirror so many of yours. I am longning for a retreat like you’ve just taken. I have actually been to the Strawberry Retreat Center twice before. I love it there and have heard and seen the Lord work both times. I wrote about one in a blog post one experience.
Thank you again for ministering this day to my weary soul.

Joan C. Webb March 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Thanks for sharing your blog post with me, Cathy. I read it and nodded. I hope you get another personal retreat real soon–to refresh your “weary soul.”
We’ll always have some of our questions and our secrets (at least in some imperfect, human way) until we see Jesus face-to-face. Still He delights in freeing us in the midst of them. Good news. :-)

Joan C. Webb March 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm

By the way, I meant to write “Let’s TAKE a walk, Lord.” instead of “Let’s TALK a walk.” However, come to thing of it, either works. They merge! :-)

Lois Hudson March 17, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Thanks for this “mini-retreat” for the rest of us. Inspiring and motivating. During a 14-year period when I cared for my bed-bound mother-in-law, I learned to take daily mini-retreats as a matter of survival (she’s been gone for years now). I’ve never taken an “away” retreat, but have tried to take periodic retreats in my library – away from the work desk!

Joan C. Webb March 17, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Hi Lois! I love that: taking daily mini-retreats… In fact, I told my coaches group just this week that I’m grateful to get-away on this extended personal retreat AND that I want to learn better how to take personal, refreshing mini-retreats throughout a full regular schedule. You put words to my thoughts. Thx.

Susan Gaddis March 20, 2012 at 10:51 am

Joan, this was a great article. I read Buchanan’s book a few years ago on a Sabbatical, and it really influenced how I spend my “Sabbath.” However, I know I need more than one day a week. I love the personal retreat idea and really, really need to work some into my life. I tend to be a work-a-holic.

Once a year the writer’s group I belong to (the Word Divas–4 of us) take a 3 day retreat to just write and encourage one another. It has really helped me grow. But the personal retreat idea is different–I need personal retreat in a different way than I need a writer’s retreat. Thanks for helping me grasp that.

Joan C. Webb March 20, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Ah Susan! It would be fun to sit down and chat. I think we might have a few things in common!
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and encouragement AND thx for sharing this blog post on Twitter. :-)
I’m grateful that my personal retreat journal musings blurted in this blog helped you move closer to having more and little-bit-longer retreats. What’s the date of your next one? I’d love to hear how it goes. Keep in touch when it is convenient.
Relief-blessings to you tonight,

Susan Gaddis March 21, 2012 at 12:49 am

Thanks Joan,
We are taking a week off right after Easter and I plan to grab a few days in there for a personal retreat to just read, pray, and muse. My spirit craves it. Plus, I will have just gotten back from the Christian’s Writer’s Retreat at Mt. Hermon and will have lots to think on. But the musing with the Lord is where it all starts.

Joan C. Webb March 21, 2012 at 1:15 am

That sounds delightful, Susan! Enjoy “musing with the Lord” during your after-Easter break!

Catherine Martin March 21, 2012 at 10:49 am

I loved reading about your personal retreat with the Lord. I LOVE LOVE these times and think they are absolutely essential. I can’t wait for my next retreat with the Lord which is this weekend in Riverside where instead of being the speaker, I’ll be the listener. Anne Graham Lotz is speaking and I’m so excited to draw near to the Lord and live in His Word nonstop for a couple of days. People often said that DL Moody loved to sit in the audience and drink in the Word from other Bible-preaching preachers. I love those kinds of retreats, but I also love the solitude retreats like what you experienced. I’ll have to check out Strawberry Retreat Center. Sounds and looks incredible – thanks for including those pictures. We do need to be intentional and often step away, and “be still, and know” that He is God (Psalm 46:10). Thank you for your ministry my friend!!
In His Love,

Joan C Webb March 28, 2012 at 1:22 am

Hi Catherine! Thx for your affirming and encouraging words. I’m smiling thinking of your last weekend.
And yes, yes, I do believe you’d love it at Strawberry Retreat Center where you can have a private personal retreat. Maybe some day when you come to AZ, you can sneak up there for a few days. :-)
Thanks for your thanks.
Grateful for your ministry, as well.
Relief-blessings to you,

Marcia Neilsen April 17, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Sounds like there are many of us out there! I have to remind myself that “doing” takes second place behind “being.” I can reverse those two components so easily. In the past God has created down time for me when I wasn’t wise enough to do it myself. Don’t you think we want to “do everything as to the Lord” and that many of us put out 110%+. We don’t realize that we don’t HAVE to do EVERYTHING, but those things we are called to do, should be done well-as unto Him? Exhale…Breathe…

Joan C. Webb April 18, 2012 at 9:54 am

Hi Marcia! It sounds like you identify. And yes, there are a lot of us over-doers in the age of overchoice and over-everything. I love that “doing” flows naturally out of “being”. Yet this culture seems to shout that in order to for me to “be all that I can be” that I must do it all—bigger, better, faster, and NOW.

And you’re right, we don’t have to do EVERYTHING. :-)
In my talks (and in The Relief of Imperfection book) I have a chart that clarifies the difference between “trying too hard to make it all just right” and “partnering with God for excellence.”
Thank you for stopping by and leaving your valuable comments.

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