Thursday, February 6, 2014

FAITHFULNESS: Day 3 with my accountability group

Wilhelmina gets her Tiffany bracelet,
celebrating 20 years together
The sun's out! Mount Baker is glowing in across the Sound, and we've woken to the final full day of our retreat. Wilhelmina and I wake early.

After Patti, Phyllis, and I started to meet in the fall of 1993, we sensed a larger group would hold us more accountable and expand feedback for personal growth, handling life's challenges, and doing ministry. Our criterion were the two markers for finding each other: we were looking for women who 1) would give their lives to please God and 2) those who were - or had husbands in - positions of authority where confidentiality was paramount.

In other words, we dreamed of a circle where we could share our deepest longings, our dreams, our struggles, and our hopes. One gal declined - none of us knew she was headed for missions within two years. But she heard clearly that this wasn't her time to join us.

Wilhelmina completes the WPPR circle
On the other hand, when Wilhelmina got our call she wanted to make sure we would keep each other's secrets. She was in transition - and felt this was God's timing and provision for her. When she said yes in January 1994, my mind's eye saw a quarter circle locking into place. The whole circle was complete: no others would be invited.

A few years ago, we admired Patti's Tiffany bracelet. Then the girls bought me one to celebrate completing my doctorate. We bought Phyllis hers before a major surgery, a reminder of God's provision and our prayers. Yesterday, we presented Wilhelmina with hers to recognize 20 years together. (We never take the bracelets off. This WPPR memento stays with us 24-7.)

20 years after our initial meetings, God's faithfulness continues to astonish us. We originally agreed we didn't have to be friends but we would remain longterm companions. God had His own plans: these women have become my dearest friends, faithful throughout the years.

Throughout today, our Day 3 on retreat, we share our deepest concerns and fondest memories. Sometimes we're confrontational. At other times we console. We pray together. Or we hug and reassure one another: though we're moving apart physically this year, we're connected at the heart.

The food is great, as usual. Salmon. Steak. Fresh vegetables. Dark chocolate. Raspberries.

Christmas in February
We become so wrapped up in what God is saying about our futures in light of the past, that we forget to take a walk. We talk and talk. And listen and listen. Instead of shopping as we'd planned, we leave the house only to bring in wood for the fireplace.

We've not been able to meet since November. So in the evening, we open our Christmas presents. Patti and Phyllis unwrap their birthday gifts, too. It's very late when we head for our rooms. Sweet dreams, girls!

Who is faithful to you? Whose heart are you faithfully guarding. For whom do you faithfully pray? Who is praying for you?

Read more:
*Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the LordFor he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?

I, the LORDsearch the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds." Jeremiah 17: 7-10 ASV

*Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.  God, the LORD, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on high places. Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV

*I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. John 15:1-11 NEV

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