Another summer vacation has ended, all too soon. I enjoyed an unplugged week of relaxation in Missouri. The cabin at The Brook of Bethpage was incredible. I am excited that several couples in Southern Missouri saw the need for a free respite for pastors and worked together to create this beautiful retreat. I read through the stories in the guest book in our cabin and was moved to tears. So many pastors and their wives have slept in that gorgeous cabin, desperately seeking God's face after terrible hurt and burnout in the ministry. Many of them left renewed and refreshed. What an incredible ministry! I am touched that people saw the need to minister to pastors in such a practical way!
The retreat was created for pastors to be able to spend hours in quiet reflection and meditation. While it would be a perfect place to go as a couple to seek God's face, especially when facing a big decision, or even alone to be able to just sit and write, it was a little boring for the kids. They enjoyed reading, watching some movies, and swimming in the pool. However, we were in the middle of poison ivy season, so we were unable to do any hiking.
We drove the hour and a half over to Branson one day, did a little school shopping and watched the Noah's Ark Musical. Our four year old, Abby, loved the musical. She was excited to see the animals and hear the story of Noah. She was curious about why God was living in the big flashlights. (The spotlights were used to represent God speaking to Noah.) The older kids tolerated the show, but it was a little over dramatic for them. They have some hysterically funny impressions of the actors, however. (No offense if any of them are your relatives or friends)
Thursday was probably the kids' favorite day. We found a river a short drive from the cabin and took them swimming in the icy cold water. If we ever have the opportunity to return to the cabin, now we know where to find better hiking and outdoor activities. It was a beautiful state park, with great fishing and hiking.
I would say that Thursday was my favorite day as well. Thursday morning I was sitting in a rocking chair on the back porch having my quiet time. I was meditating in Ps. 150, 149, 148, and 147. I don't know why I randomly started reading from the back of Psalms, but as I was reading thunder began to boom in the distance. I continued to read about the God who forms the rain clouds and waters the thirsty earth as clouds rolled across the valley. I read about the God who controls the lightening as it began to flash over the hills in the distance. As the drops of rain hit the porch roof, I was captivated by the language of the Psalms and began to just sing those words back to my Creator.
Yep, it was probably a cheesy song. Most of you would have laughed at my off key voice belting out the melody over the booming thunder. But I was absolutely in God's presence Thursday morning. I enjoyed the time of worship, just me and God hanging out in the storm. I enjoyed a moment alone, to remember just how mighty a God it is that I serve.
Who blankets the heavens with the clouds
Sends down the rain to the thirsty earth
Who counts all the stars within his hands
Fixes their number and gives them names
Our God is great with mighty power
Let's sing to Him our joyful praise
Let the music begin
praise his name
Open up your mouth
give him thanks
Sing praises to the eternal one
Our Lord is great
Let's give Him praise
He binds our wounds and heals our hearts
Hears our cries and brings us peace
He raises us up and gives us strength
The Eternal One is listening
Let's sing to Him our joyful praise.
I would say that one of the other highlights of vacation was starting devotionals with our kids. We spent time every night around the dinner table talking about a Scripture and taking turns praying for each other. I loved hearing the kids' ideas and thoughts and prayers. My other favorite thing was visiting with my cousin today. It is good to rediscover family after many years of being away from home.
I am excited about what's next for The Crossroads and what's next for our family. I know that life is about to hit us hard and fast, but I am thankful to have had a week to catch my breath before the race begins. I am praying that God will use me this year in ways bigger than I can imagine for His glory and his kingdom. I am praying that our family will be guarded from evil and that we will find the time to create memories, laugh, and love each other.