Friday, May 14, 2010

Retreat Memories

Last weekend I went to a retreat with gals from my church. I didn’t realize how much I needed time away from the pressures of everyday life. And I didn’t know how much a change of pace and time spent together these ladies would bless my life.

Our retreat was held less than an hour from home this year to allow ladies who can’t go away for longer retreats to join us. We drove through beautiful rural areas and enjoyed the gorgeous drive along the Molalla River. The retreat center is in a rustic setting on the banks of the river. All of our activities were in the main lodge – eating, sleeping, fun, laughter and meetings together with our guest speaker.

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The sign near the entrance to the lodge welcomed us and set the tone for our weekend.

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As we stepped inside the lodge we were greeted by some of the leaders of our church women’s ministry group. Each of us received handmade nametags, printed information about our weekend schedule and little ‘goodie’ packets – cute little clipboards filled with pretty paper and a pen, a handmade bookmark, a package of tissues and notes for the sessions with our speaker. We quickly went upstairs, claimed a bed and settled in – we were ready for our weekend to begin. Beautiful walking trails outdoors called to us and it wasn’t long before some of us decided to explore our surroundings. I decided to start on the Wilderness Trail so I could enjoy the walk and capture some of the beauty to share.

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I love wild Dogwood trees (they are different than the ones in garden centers) and I wasn’t disappointed to find them along the trail.

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Imagine my surprise when I found this fun swing in the woods.

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A sign overhead reminded me that I needed to move on – there was more to see. So much more!

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It was as if the forest was calling me to explore!

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I hadn’t gone far when I found a real treasure – a Trillium – in bloom.

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Just around the next bend in the trail I found another unexpected treat – a place for quiet rest and reflection high above the river.

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Farther on the trail meanders close to civilization. It didn’t take long to realize that I wasn’t alone. Chickens! Watching me! The trail circled around behind the home of the retreat center director. Imagine my delight to discover these creatures – and a beautiful garden and small orchard nearby.

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Another twist or two of the trail and I was headed back toward the lodge. Not far from from the lodge is a big covered athletic area so outdoor activities can continue in the Oregon rain.

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Isn’t this a cute little cabin? There are a few of them scattered along the banks of the river.

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Nearby the camp ‘greeter’ was waiting – friendly and very well-mannered.

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A gentle pat on his head and suddenly I had a tour guide! And what a nice guide he was!

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A bit farther we came to a pretty spot just steps away from the riverbank.

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My guide led me down a few steps to the beach – along the fast-moving water of the river.

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He knew exactly where he was going and he made sure I wasn't far away.

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The afternoon shadows began to close in on the river and it was time to head back to the lodge but before I left the riverside there was time for just one more look back.

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My time away together with friends – new and old – was such a treasure to my heart. We were able to spend time getting better acquainted, laughing and chatting, lifting our voices in worship and learning new things together. Our guest speaker shared on the subject of stress, learning to say no and the importance of building strong relationships. What she taught was something that was needed in the life of every lady who attended – none of us are exempt from stress and the pressures of living. I came away determined to make changes in the way I handle the demands of life and committed to build stronger relationships with those who are dear to my heart. And I’m working on learning to say ‘no’. To the right things – and ‘yes’ to the most important!

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2 comments:

  1. I could certainly use a retreat like this. The setting is beautiful, but just sharing with other women would be divine. What a gift you were given.

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  2. Oh, That is a beautiful place, Adrienne. I'm so glad you had a wonderful time.

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