Thursday, March 5, 2009


That was the theme of Longview Heights Baptist Church Ladies Retreat. Wow, was that such an awesome weekend! I was honored to be asked to lead the worship for this special retreat and had a fantastic time laughing, praising, fellow-shipping, learning, and getting to know special women. The Lord was gracious to provide this weekend in the midst of winter and the doldrums that come with waiting for spring. In the weeks leading up to the retreat, I felt a nervous excitement about both leading in worship and also hearing from God through the speaker, Margaret Kennedy.

It did not disappoint!

This is a picture of me on the Thursday before the weekend started. I stopped to breathe for just a moment and take a shot of myself for posterity's sake, so I would remember the thrill and craziness of that day:

Right at that moment, I had checked and double-checked my packing list about a million times. I'm prone to forget important items, so this was a bit nerve-wracking to me. However, as you can see, I was so happy to leave a day earlier than our ladies and get going on a fabulous weekend with no cooking, cleaning, or child-care responsibilities. Who wouldn't be thrilled?!

We traveled to Pickwick, TN and stayed at the hotel and conference center there. I rode up with Julie Stewart, our Women's Ministries director. She and I had a great visit on the two hour drive and excitement abounded.

At this point, I must confess that a huge hurdle for me personally was the setting up of the sound system and media devices. Now, I know that I am a musician and have plenty of experience with all sorts of music/worship/bands, etc. However, up until this point in my life, I haven't had the weighty (I mean this literally) pleasure of putting up a sound system. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, my friend and co-conspiritor Debbie Grear, gave me detailed instruction on this sound system process. I took detailed notes. I went over and over all the equipment when we loaded up, to make sure I didn't forget some very important cord or direct box. I usually don't sweat stuff, but I must tell you I was plain old scared that I would somehow mess this up! Debbie, God bless her, assured me she would be on standby with her ever present iphone to guide me through the treacherous process of hooking everything up.

And she was.

I know this because I believe I called her no less than 50 times during the set up. Can I just say right here that I have new found love, respect, and admiration for the "sound guys?" These people are so essential to a musician it's almost unbelievable...and now, having experienced set up all by myself, and breaking into a complete sweat carrying, hauling, plugging, lifting, etc.....well, let's just say I want to keep my "sound guys" happy!

Once I actually completed the roughly 6 hour process of sound/media set up, I stopped to wipe the sweat off and breathe a huge prayer of thanksgiving to God for success and for Debbie--In that order and seriousness.

One hundred and thirty two lovely ladies of all ages began to show up Friday afternoon at 4pm. One of the things I was so impressed with was the variety of ages and walks of life of our women. Our "50 and better" crowd was every bit as fun, participatory, and energetic as our single young'uns. Probably we mothers of little ones were the most sluggish---still in shock we were without them for an entire weekend and wandering around with dazed looks on our faces marveling at our clothes with no grubby finger stains, and food that was not thrown or spat on us!

Friday evening we all convened for a "Pajama Parade." This is were all the craziness began. Some folks were really creative with this competition (oh yes, we had judges) dressing up as Lucy and Ethel, "sleeping beauties", or dressing in identical pajama sets. But the absolute *best* moment, was when one of our dear "50 and better" ladies paraded up on stage unassuming and with dignity and then just at the right moment, turned to her side and slid her long nightie slowly up her side and to the knee---all to the cheers and complete hysteria of every single lady in the room! How much fun we all had and what a fantastic start to sweet fellowship with women.

Julie welcoming everyone and preparing us for the pajama parade

Me and my friend Claudia in our pj's! Notice please that my pj's look more like lounge wear than real pj's....I like multi-functional clothing!

A shot of some of our ladies in there pj's on stage.

I can't say I've ever led worship in my pajamas.....or even participated in any sort of public worship whatsoever in my pj's, but that is what we did! And our Godly speaker, Margaret, agreed that she had likewise never spoken in public in her pj's! Her first message was to tell us a "bedtime story" of Dorcas from the word and her unique giftings and service to God and her community. We were blessed with this word from God.

Worship in our pj's! These other two ladies are Pam Stout and Pam Marsee. They have such sweet spirits and sang with me throughout the weekend....uh, also in their pj's Friday night!

Saturday morning came TOO early, what with all the shenanigans going on half the night with grown women you would've thought were merely high schoolers. Oh my. It is probably not prudent to disclose what all went on, but let's just say that lots of giggling and carrying on ensued. And on a serious note, many were able to open up and connect, myself included, with new friends and sisters in Christ.

Saturday's talks from Margaret were Heavy. Capital H. She packed in point after point from the word and spoke openly and authentically about her life and walk with God. We listened and gleaned from her so many truths....about surrendering fully to God and letting go of whatever we are hanging on to that we think will get us somewhere in this life. It was powerful and of course emotional for so many of us.

A shot of Saturday worship time.

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This is my new friend Amy Krumalis, who also just moved to the area due to her husband joining Longview staff like Jason. And to my right is sweet and ever funny, Pam M.

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These lovely ladies were my roomies for the weekend. "Sun Sisters"--had to be there! Ann Clifton, Pam Marsee, and Tabitha Rogers. Oh what fun we had in room 217! Ann so thoughtfully surprised us with cute bags filled with items we might need throughout the weekend (chocolate mainly--b/c we definitely needed that! Also pens, notebooks, tissues, etc.). I love these ladies!

This is a shot of a group of ladies investigating some things in the Bible on Friday night.

I am so thankful to God that He allowed me to be a part of "Serve Retreat." It was wonderful and refreshing. I can't wait to go again next year!

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