Thursday, October 4, 2012

Doing life together

Time away isn't always this much fun. I'm feeling refreshed and renewed by our WPPR retreat to Cedar Springs in Sumas, WA.

Two of us on a garden path
Three of us went on our first retreat in 1993 and our fourth and final accountability partner joined us that winter. I found our first "program" for that retreat 19 year ago, the record of what each individual wanted to work on within the group. Astonishing! While we've made good progress in those areas, we currently continue to work on them.

We stayed in the Ranch House, a sprawling 6-bedroom, 3-bath accommodation with beds for 12, plus a crib and more foam mattresses tucked in closets. Lots of room. We walked woodland trails, paddled the ponds, and sat on benches and swings, admiring the beautiful flowerbeds in Cedar Spring's lavish landscaping. (Little put-put trucks moved to and fro, disgorging young people who weeded and watered.)

Each of us loves to decorate, so we were surprised by the retro furniture and pictures. "Look! Granny decor from the 1970s!" we exclaimed. Over three days, we settled in and found our comfy spots on sofas and armchairs, around the dining table, and flopped on our beds.

We're all good cooks. As we unpacked kitchen supplies, we noted that few groups would have hauled along so much food. The counter, cupboards, and fridge filled with salads, cheeses, breads, sliced meats, salmon, rice, and snacks. Avocados and tomatoes lined the window sill. We didn't even think of going to a restaurant, feasting in-house on paninis, bagels and lox, poached salmon, hot cereal and fruit, etc. Mousetraps were everywhere and someone saw a mouse run across the dining table, so we packed away everything at night. No big deal. We've been through so much together that few things scare us anymore.

We love God and eagerly share what he is teaching us. We ask for feedback so we can follow God better. Again, each of us presented "what God is doing in our lives," receiving encouragement and correction. I learned enough to work for weeks.

Paddling the pond
Information shared is confidential, entrusted to the group. We don't always like what we hear back, nor are we always comfortable with other viewpoints. However, after so many years, we love and trust each other. No one will ride a hobby-horse through another's heart. God often uses a question, a loving word of rebuke, or corrective discipline to turn the direction of our walk with him back to balance and wholeness.

My friends have taught me many things, from funny to fundamental. Here are a few:
  • Scripture lives and breathes as we seek God's face. His Word most truthfully and lovingly directs our journey of faith.
  • "Women usually interact this way." (I grew up with brothers and continue to be amazed by the feminine perspective.)
  • God is pleased to make us unique. Each of us has a place and a role in his kingdom. 
  • My assumptions on how things function are only my perspective. I might tackle an issue one way. Others view life differently and react differently. That's okay. Watching them helps me consider other ways of doing things myself.
  • Life is wonderful. Celebrate!
  • Life is hard. Pray and surround yourself with godly companions so you don't become derailed.
  • God is good. He stays with us through thick and thin, when our heart leaps with joy or breaks with sorrow.
  • Along the way, they've tried to spruce me up. "Rosemee, wear makeup. Though you don't have to look in the mirror again, we're looking at you all day." haha Yup, since that talk, I apply makeup. It's minimal. The process is quick and pared down to a few swipes and brushstrokes, but it's seldom missing. (I know: thank the WPPRs.)
Looking backwards while moving ahead
We WPPRs function in our giftings, even in such an intimate setting. The counselors affirm and correct. The nurturers make us feel loved. The administrators keep us on track. The learners bring information and perspective. It's not always easy to be together, given the strength of our convictions and personalities! Along with comfort, there is iron sharpening iron. Still, we've found a safe place to toss out ideas and get feedback. No one loves us less if they disagree with us. No one shuns us if we react badly to their idea. No one wishes us harm because we're different than she is.

Who is sharing your heart? Do you have trusted advisers who complement your strengths and provide balance when you face opportunities and challenges? Where is your safe spot, where you can ask, "Is God in it? Am I on the right track?"

If you are interested in setting up a group with similar goals (trust, balance, and safety as you mature in faith), contact me. Either as a WPPRs group or as individuals, we'd love to encourage you to find such a safe haven of others who love God, value confidentiality, and want to serve God with all their hearts.

Read more:
*Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but the Lord condemns a crafty man. A man cannot be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be uprooted. Proverbs 12:1-3    NIV

*O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you. Psalm 41:4

*Then some people came, bringing to Jesus a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:3,5  

*Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, 'Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas' (which means 'Peter')." John 1:42

Moravian Prayer: We pause now to become aware of the many ways in which we sin, both by our actions and inactions. Forgive us, heal us and grant us your peace. In Christ’s name. Amen. 

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