My Unique Retreat

As long as I can remember I have always enjoyed being outdoors. Growing up there was a HUGE city park down the street from my house. It had a creek running through it with walking paths. Some of my earliest memories are going on walks and bike rides through “Bidwell Park”. As I entered High school and my faith in God grew, my desire to have outdoor “dates with Jesus” grew. It started in my backyard where I would fill up my backpack with my bible, journal, snack, and then find a corner of my yard to read and pray.

Fast forward to 2017. Now I am the 34-year-old mother of two young children living in Spain. I still crave 1:1 time with Jesus in nature. The challenge is finding when and where to do that. I had read about Velvet Ashes’ retreat and was super excited. The retreat being online held so many flexible options for people to experience it! My first vision was to participate in the retreat with other ladies in my town, but that was not going to happen for this retreat. If not with other women, with who? My prayer was, “Jesus, thank you so much for this gift. I am so excited about meeting with you through these videos and materials. Be my retreat planner.”

The requirements I had for the retreat were the following: 1) It could not take place at my home (too many distractions). 2) A place surrounded by nature. 3) Occur between 9am-6pm. (I was still breastfeeding and had not spent a night away, and I was not wanting to do that).

I talked to my husband about my desire to do this retreat but was stumped about when and where. He suggested that we make a weekend of it. That we find a place “out in nature” and go away for the weekend. He would entertain the kids in the morning while I did my thing. I could retreat more during their naps or simply nap with them. We’d have meals together. He’d also do all the cooking! How could I say no to that?

It all seemed perfect! We found a campground with cabins near the beach! Yet I still had my concerns. With the kids coming along doesn’t that equal more work than fun? Yes, packing us up and planning the food for the weekend was work. It always is. For our family, the first night we are somewhere new one of the kids has a rough night sleeping. The first night I always think, “Why are we putting ourselves through this?”

As planned, Saturday and Sunday morning my husband took the girls to the beach, leaving the cabin to myself and Jesus. The time was so sweet.

Typically, after going on a retreat you experience a spiritual high. Having my family with me, I experienced little “jolts of reality” when I’d rejoin the family throughout the weekend. The first night, my four-year-old daughter, pushed her 17-month-old little sister down stairs. I was so mad. It was one stair, but still!! Safety! Then I felt guilty. “Giving grace to yourself” was a theme of the morning that I realized I needed to apply to myself that night. Not wait till I got back home.

From my husband’s perspective, he said he enjoyed getting to spend the time together as a family. He is a quality time guy. For him it was more fun to have us all together for the weekend then I gone for one night. Plus, he was not looking forward to a night with a baby who woke up wanting “Mama’s milk!”

The 2017 retreat bible passage was 1 Kings 18 &19. In chapter 19 Elijah is worn out, he is done. 1 Kings 19:7 says, “The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” Like Elijah, God says the same to us, “This journey is too much for you.” God is an extravagant provider. He wants to spend time with you. He wants to fill you with spiritual food. We are all uniquely made. Each person can retreat in a manner that is best for them and their families at this specific moment.

I encourage you to talk to God about the 2018 retreat. Don’t say no because your life looks different than it has in the past.

Are you in a new country? Has your family increased with new children? Have your kids left home? Do you have close Christian friends? Are you spiritually isolated? Is your house full? Does your calendar have no blank space?

God is creative, and can provide the retreat which you need.  While the answer for to how to retreat might not come instantly, it will come. Just ask.

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  1. Spring March 1, 2018

    This is a neat way to retreat Julia. My first retreat was in my house and I did regret it! It was distracting. Last year I went to a hotel by myself. The problem is I end up wanting to do the full retreat before I check out at 11am, and it doesn’t work out the way I’d like. I love how you gave yourself permission to do things differently.

    1. Julia Thielman March 3, 2018

      Oh Spring I agree about trying different things and seeing what works. Living overseas we have labeled those ¨Learning experiences¨ but I feel that term can apply to all parts of life wherever you live.

  2. Andrea March 3, 2018

    I so appreciate how you show up to make the effort to make time with God a priority. We have been studying what it means to give oneself self care, as opposed to self comfort, the kind of care that fills and heals rather than numbs you, and this really fits the bill. You are so creative about doing what it takes to take care of yourself, and what a supportive spouse to make it all happen for you. Wonderful!

  3. Elizabeth March 4, 2018

    Thanks for this encouragement. The last two years the retreat has really helped refill me spiritually. This year is lots of new with a baby and living back in the us with a new job. This has encouraged me to find a way, even if it looks different!

    1. Julia March 11, 2018

      Elizabeth, I am excited to see how you are able to retreat this year. Another time I ¨retreated¨over the span of a week. Monday- Friday during my children´s afternoon nap I would go through the materials. I was pleasantly surprised how Friday afternoon I finished the materials 10 minutes before the girls woke up.

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