I spent the past few days at The Rock Church’s Women’s Retreat, and I mentioned this on Facebook: “Saying I had an amazing weekend would be a huge understatement.” I don’t even know how to explain the amount of spiritual growth I experienced, or the touching friendships I made in such a short amount of time. I have been to a few other retreats at Calvary Chapel Murrieta Hot Springs, all at very different stages of my life. This was the very first time I ever went by myself. I was scared at first, wondering how it would be not knowing who my roommates were, or if I would have someone to sit with during meals or during sessions. After awhile I actually found this to be a huge blessing. It is always fun to attend these retreats with a friend, but I know from personal experience that I tend to stay inside my little comfortable bubble. There are times where I won’t put myself out there too much to meet new friends or foster new relationships. This past weekend I made a goal to sit at a different table for meals and a different spot every session. I met over a couple dozen ladies this way, and was able to chat one-on-one on a whole different level than I could have had I been with other friends. At first I thought, maybe it would be a good thing to isolate myself (have more alone time with God) but this year’s theme was “The Gathering” and the weekend’s Scripture was Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
The retreat’s focus was connecting with our fellow sisters in Christ, not separating from each other, especially in times of need. Every woman who attended came with an expectation to be renewed and refreshed, many with a huge burden (physically, emotionally, spiritually) and desire of healing. Sometimes that requires us to be open and vulnerable, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do. I have been going through a very tough season of life the past year and a half, and I had been praying often for friends that would keep me accountable and for ones who would pray for me during the trials. I have been struggling through strongholds such as anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment and doubt of my faith. I wrote about that here: Overcoming Strongholds in Your Life. There is such an irony in that concept because it reminded me of how much I’ve lost my focus on the true Stronghold (Psalm 18:2 – my life verse). There have been so many changes in my life recently and my main prayer this weekend was for wisdom and clarity for what God wanted me to do in the future. Thankfully due to the experiences and conversations with new friends at the retreat, that prayer was answered.
I am truly thankful for all the speakers, and here are a few of the things I gleaned from these remarkable ladies:
Amy Mundo – I loved how she talked about how and why we tend to isolate ourselves, especially due to fears and insecurity. She outlined the importance of community, and how we need to surround ourselves with those will encourage us and strengthen our faith, especially in those dark seasons of our life.
Tamera Jones & Carissa Mayer: I loved hearing this Mother/Daughter team speak at the retreat. Tamera and Carissa also talked about the importance of encouraging one another, especially in mother/daughter relationships. They have a relationship I would love to have with my own mom, who has been a Christian long before I was born. It made me a little bit sad that my mom didn’t come to the retreat. She originally wanted to go but that would have meant we would have brought the baby, and I know the experience with a baby is like night and day. I am so thankful that she stayed behind to help watch all of my kids and I look forward to bringing her along on a future retreat when my kids are older.
Tracey Preciado – I was SO SO excited to hear Tracey speak. I have attended The Rock Church on and off since 2005 and this was the first time I learned that Tracey and her husband Pastor Marcus were part of the original church plant when The Rock was at SDSU. I’ve been seeing Pastor Marcus speak and open up service at Point Loma more often in the past year and I would always admire his love for Jesus and his love for his wife and their 4 kids. I ran into the whole family at a Nintendo Event a few weeks ago and that day I realized that was not a coincidence – I knew that there was so much wisdom I could learn from Pastor Marcus and Tracey. Tracey shared her testimony about her childhood and her experiences with her family in regards to addiction and abandonment. She shared so many things I needed to hear. Upon meeting her for the first time, I could have never imagined even a quarter of the things she had to go through to get to where she is today. I am so amazed at this woman’s life and her faith in God. I had a chance to talk to her on a couple occasions after her session and I was so greatly encouraged by her. “What are you going to let God do trough you?” is what I will remember the most from her session.
Again, I am so thankful for all these speakers who were so open, honest and vulnerable when sharing their stories. Some people expect that women in leadership should constantly look like they have it all together, but when in reality, the ability to show emotion (and cry when necessary) even when it’s hard shows true strength.
I am also extremely grateful for the ladies I met during this weekend. Like I mentioned above, I attended this year by myself. Although I did know a couple ladies in attendance, for the most part I spent a lot of time being a nomad – which was actually an awesome experience for me. I’d like to take some time to thank those people:
Heidi, Marta, Kathleen and Jessica – I am so thankful that God put these 4 ladies as my roommates, because he knew exactly who I needed to be with. Heidi and Marta are my new Mama Bears. They both had so much wisdom and godly advice for me, and already so much love for me and my family – whom they have never met! Kathleen, Jessica and I discovered right away we knew a mutual friend (Eric). They both are graduates of Impact 195 and you can just sense how much they have grown in their faith from attending. I also had the privilege of witnessing Jessica get baptized! I thank these four women for praying with and over me the past weekend!
Shariza – GIRRL!! The story of how I met Shariza is by far my favorite of the weekend. We bumped into each other at the bookstore after checkout and we spent a good 5 minutes trying to figure out how her friend knew me. We found out we had long list of mutual friends. Long story short, I knew this was definitely a divine appointment and I’m SO INCREDIBLY BUMMED that we met at the end of the retreat. We were seriously together for probably about 10 minutes total and I feel like I’ve already known her forever. I know I will see her soon though – as I have been praying for a life group and guess who hosts one? HER. God is good.
So the wisdom and clarity I have been praying so hard for was truly answered this weekend. It came through prayer, godly conversation, all the speakers and it seemed to completely solidify after Nova’s session. She constantly reminded us to “Stay the Course, You are Training for Reigning” and ultimately all that we do is for the glory of God’s Kingdom. So often I have wanted to give up, but I know it truly takes a village and a strong community to help you get to where you need to be.
Last few Thank You’s before I close:
To the Rock Church staff: Thank you for putting on such an amazing retreat and for touching 500+ ladies this weekend with your ministry. There have been so many lives changed and we all know this is such a great ripple effect to impact the people we connect with after we left. Thank you for all you do!
To my MOM: I love you so much, thank you for always supporting me and my family, for watching the kids as I was taking the time to be refreshed. I am thankful that God made you to be my mom, and pray that we can both continue to help each other grow in our faith.
To all my mentors and sisters in Christ: Thank you for walking alongside me through this current valley, and for praying over me and my family. You all have been a huge blessing in my life and I hope to always be here for you when you are in time of need. Thank you and I love you!
Lastly, thank you to God, my Heavenly Father for always working things out in Your own way and timing. Like a child during a tantrum, I have cried, kicked and screamed out “WHY?” many times yet you have shown me how much you really love me and how much you have blessed me in my life. I live and breathe because of You, and want to show the world how you transform lives, even the most broken. I can’t wait for the next Women’s Retreat! Enjoy more photos below.