A family retreat... is it possible that those two words function in the same sentence, you ask? Last year, we had our very first retreat, and it was in St Francisville, LA. We had 19 families (complete with 43 children; 9 of whom were under that age of 1 year), and this year we traveled a bit further because the retreat was extended from 4 days to 8 days. It was a 14 hour drive for our LC crew ( minus 3 hours for us New Orlean-ians), and I want to give a shout-out to may AWESOME kiddoes for doing a fantastic job during that drive (both ways)! Aside from one child getting car-sick in the first our, it was COMPLETELY uneventful! Those kids survived it, and they did so without a DVD player (bc we don't have one, not because we're martyrs)!
There were 10 familes and around 25 children (one of whom was 5 weeks old)...
So what happens with our children? The children basically have their own mini-retreat going on simultaneously headed up by different adults each day while the other adults experience Scripture study, talks on prayer and the spiritual life given by different retreatants, and couple prayer and dialogue. That all takes place in the morning and evening sessions, but the entirety of the afternoon is dedicated to "family time" where we spend time together as families. This year involved many hikes, rock-hopping, swimming, creek-exploring, Biltmore sight-seeing, etc. Here's a few pics captured from those precious times...
Chimney Rock North Carolina - we decided to hike the stairs up to it... no we weren't on anything, we just wanted a challenge. ALL the kids made it like champs... even Jacob the 2 1/2 yr old.
Is it possible? You think? There was a grocery store (for all us who had to continue to go to the store to buy milk and diapers), a wash-a-teria, and the retreat center was just like a Motel, with 2 queen beds in every room, towel service, and a HUGE porch covered with rocking chairs, and of course, complete with a full few of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My parents came on the retreat, too, which meant that we had Therese sleeping in their room every night, Jacob and John Paul in a bed, and Micah in a pac-n-play. So going to bed a night was hysterical with Jacob and John Paul leg wrestling (Jacob discovered new-found freedom not sleeping in a pac-n-play for the first time) and Micah would call out to them like a dog in the night... howwwl. After a few rounds of shh-ings by David we would eventually fall asleep... around 10:30. All the early risers with hang in a common room and drink coffee before morning prayer (complete with much sought after Community Coffee- sorry Maxwell House, you just don't cut it). It went beautifully! Much better than we ever expected.
A few things that I have decided to share with you about what God did for our marriage just in case your vocations/marriages may be in a similar place:
A retreat (a week-long especially) gives you time to evaluate your life and its details in a way that also give you a chance to work on a CHANGE to it (as opposed to simply seeing the problem then going home as a shorter retreat might do).
David and I came to 3 huge realizations (from our couple dialogue and couple prayer). I share it with you because it applies to you, it will change everything by the grace of God.
1) I have been focused on what God is NOT doing and being disappointed and resentful because of it.
2) David has been carrying our marriage when it comes to addressing walls between. I was a comfortable with complacency, and I relied on his sensitivity to certain situations and relied on him to bring up any problems that needed discussing. I imagine many marriages have one spouse who does a lot of the grunt work when it comes to the relationship dynamic, and I imagine that it's a lonely place. Since returning home, we've BOTH made a point of tackling walls AS SOON AS they come about. It's been helpful so far...
3) GOD has revealed to us that two things that HE desires for our marriage and for our family are JOY and AWE (yes we asked Him directly and waited in silence for His answer... it's part of the formation materials... I suggest trying it out!).
I hope this has given my readers (whoever/wherever you are) something to chew on. God is faithful and the fruits and graces of this retreat have been EVIDENT!!
God be praised!!