I’ve taken several vacations by myself, but New Year’s Day marked my first personal retreat. And it was time. Actually, it was way overdue.
At the end of last year, I was exhausted in every way, and had chosen RENEW as my word/theme for the year. I really wanted to cling to that word, but needed a catalyst to help get me there. So, I used some hotel points to get away. I knew if I stayed home I’d find too many distractions.
Rome, Georgia, ended up being the destination. And I was able to check in early and check out late, to maximize my stay. I had my computer, a few books, and a ready heart. (And, of course, a change of clothes.) I’d already been collecting resources that I wanted to work through, but as I predicted, ending up following a few rabbit trails, too.
My original intent was just to spend the night and fit in all my retreat activities into that 24 hour period. But I was tired and kept stumbling upon new resources so I ended up extending the retreat through the weekend, at home. Being able to focus at the hotel proved to be a great starting point, though. It gave me the energy and determination to keep up the work . . . but there may have been a pedicure and couple Netflix breaks. I mean, come on, we’re talking about 72 hours here. I’m not a monk.
These are the primary resources that I spent time with:
- Isaiah 43
- Jesus Calling devotional, days 12/8 and 12/27
- Luke 1, based on a TD Jakes’ message earlier that month and my notes from it
- The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson
- Experiencing God by Henry and Richard Blackaby, Claude King
- The Five Minute Journal
- This Rick Warren blog post
- Christine Caine’s Catalyst 2015 message
They are awesome, and I’d recommend any of them. They greatly enhanced my retreat, and I believe, came to me at just the right time.
There are also a few (hopefully) regular practices that came out of this weekend, which I believe will help to keep me RENEWed during the year. The first is The Five Minute Journal, mentioned above. I hate journaling, but this one was recommended on a podcast I listen to, and it sounded like something I could do. It’s just a couple bullet points to answer each morning and evening, and there is an introduction that shows the reasoning and science behind the questions. So far, even in my most groggy morning state, I’ve been able to keep up.
The second is meditation. I’ve tried it before, and failed miserably. My mind is constantly going 90 miles an hour! But like journaling, I know the benefits and want to reap them. I need to be able to clear my mind and listen in silence. That will do me a world of good. And meditation is one of those things that kept popping up around me in various ways at the end of the year, so I knew it was time to try again. The blog post mentioned above by Rick Warren also speaks in-depth to the practice. (Funny note: I have a book called The Will Power Instinct that I started several years ago. But the first chapter says that you have to be able to meditate for 10 minutes to continue the book in order to get the most out of it—so, yep, I’ve never finished. Maybe this is the year!)
The third is, well, to borrow another Rick Warren-ism, purposeful relaxation. The second half of that blog post was what I actually went online to find, and strangely, it was paired with meditation. I’d heard him speak on the topic before at a conference, and couldn’t remember exactly how it was phrased. I love the way he puts it: divert daily, withdraw weekly and abandon annually. Honestly, it’s going to be hard. I’m a multi-tasker. But for me, one of the best ways to do this is to unplug for a while. I’m usually connected even when I travel, so there is usually a nagging feeling that something needs my attention. It’s going to be a hard lesson to learn, and hard to fit into life when there is always something pressing. However, as he notes, if Jesus felt the need to do it, I should too. So, I’m trying to weave more of this into my life.
And that’s it! That was my personal retreat. It was wonderful. Another lesson that came from this time was just how valuable it was, and that this is something I should continue however I can. I usually try and fit books and articles and podcasts into the busyness, but having this dedicated time for it, with a specific purpose in mind, was well, RENEWing.
The reality of life hit me hard just after my personal retreat. Of course it did. Of. Course. It. Did. And it was frustrating because I wanted to keep the good vibes going. Life was interrupting my zen! But I realized that I wouldn’t have been prepared for it without this retreat. So, it’s already served me well in ways I couldn’t predict, and I guess that’s just another reason I should continue.
First one down, hopefully many more to go.
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