Sunday, December 14, 2008

A gift for me...and a gift for you too!

One of the things I most look forward to during the Advent season is a one-day retreat hosted by the women's ministry at my former church.

It is so nice to get away, quiet my heart and mind, center myself, and usher in the peace of Christ during this often chaotic season.

I debated about going this year. Much has transpired in the last month or so that has me feeling a bit out of whack. Things feel hurried and while I'm not at the stressed out point (yet), I keep feeling like I need to maximize every minute of every day. Giving up an entire day felt costly. Especially since I've already been away from my family so much lately.

However, I knew that going would be good for my heart (and it WAS).

The Advent retreat is always led by my beautiful friend, Jan. I never fail to walk away from the day stunned at the ways she leads us into our own hearts and into the heart of God.

Yesterday was no exception.

As I was driving to the retreat yesterday morning, I was talking to God about the range of emotion I am feeling this year. Everything from worry to sadness to anger. I was also a little unsure of what I was stepping into because I was going back into the church that we stepped away from a few months ago. I have so many dear friends there, but was a little worried that I would feel a bit like an outsider this time. It sounds silly to even voice that, but if I'm honest I know that I can so easily undermine myself. So, while driving, I was praying and asking God to open my heart to receive what He had in store for me yesterday and I very clearly heard Him say to my heart, "Meredith, this is a day for you to feel loved your friends and by Me. Just receive is a gift."

My tears started flowing immediately because I so needed that.

It really was a beautiful day spent with dear, dear friends. They did love on me, and I also felt my Heavenly Father's warm affection. The day was indeed a gift to my heart. (Jamie, you were missed!)

I love giving gifts this time of year, and I have a gift for one of you...

I'm giving away a copy of this book.

Advent is a season of expectant waiting. It is also a comprehensive waiting--we wait for the coming of Christ (his birth), we look for his second coming, but we're also looking and waiting for Him to show up in the daily-ness of our lives. I don't know about you, but there have been days and even seasons in my own life where pain and disappointment have reigned supreme and I've felt forgotten (dare I even say abandoned) by Him. Seasons where it has been easy to lose sight of HOPE.

This book is about keeping hope alive in the midst of painful and disappointing circumstances. It isn't easy and it often takes tremendous courage, but it is necessary if we're to realize the beauty God wants to create in our lives.

If you relate to any of this, then leave me a comment and I'll put your name in a drawing for this book. I'll close comments on Thursday evening at 9pm (MST) and draw a winner...just in time to get it mailed before we leave for Christmas.  

If you've read this book, and I know some of you have (let me just name some names--Julie, Jamie, Carrie) and want to leave a brief review of it, please do!


Suzanne said...

Yikes... I'm first! I am so glad that you were able to go back with your old church friends and be ministered to and by them. I haven't been on a retreat in a very long time, but I know that God has the time and the place for me to do so. I'm glad that you were able to be filled up again at such a special, yet busy time of year.
Be blessed!

Amber said...

Oh, Mer...I'm so glad that you had a great weekend. God is amazing in His timing...isn't He?

I would love so much to read that book!


Deidre said...

That book sounds wonderful!

I'm so glad you obeyed the prompting of the Lord and took that day to be ministered to. Sounds like it was perfect timing. Praying for you, friend.

Unknown said...

hmmmm....painful and disappointing...I think I can totally relate...especially in this particular season of my life.

Becky said...

sounds like a good book!

i can relate to going back to visit and worrying about being an outsider...then realizing it was a gift given to me when I desperatly needed it.

Anonymous said...

I could use this book. Free or not! :)

Jennifer said...

I'm so glad that you enjoyed your retreat. We had our Christmas program this weekend and they sang a song called I beautiful!

The book sounds awesome. Thanks for sharing!

Moriah @ Please Pass the Salt said...

Count me in!

Gretchen said...

I'm so glad for your experience, Mer. I'm glad that we're taught to give, but it's also nice to receive, especially when God tells us that it IS about us sometimes.

I'd love to be entered.

Tiffani said...

Oh, I love those moments when I hear Him speak so clearly to my heart...what a praise for you!!

Glad you're retreat was worth every minute!

Looks like a great book!

Megan L Hutchings said...

I am so glad that you were able to enjoy your women's retreat with dear friends. It sounds like it was just what you needed ;)!

That book sounds AMAZING! I consider myself still young and I often feel myself waiting for my time to shine to come. Does that make sense?

Lindsay said...

Wow... Hope I get the book this time. I'll probably pass it along to a friend who is going through insurmontable circumstances at the moment.

Glad you got away for your Women's retreat. I bet it was good to see your friends from the church you left.

Stephanie Kay said...

A women's retreat sounds lovely! I'm glad you felt loved on; that's always a nice feeling!

*carrie* said...


I thought of you on Saturday and am so glad to hear more about the retreat.

I've read that book 3 times as I've told you, and I strongly recommend it! Are you sure you don't want to give away her other book, too? =)

Rmomof3 said...

I have never read this book - but the way you describe it - it is just what I need to read! Please put my name in the drawing!
Sweet blessings!

lisa@littlesliceoflife said...

Oh Mer! I'm so glad you got to spend time with your friends. I'm also proud of you for going back to your former's hard, isn't it? But it's so nice to know you're loved for who you are and not where you went to church.

Oh, and I'd love to read the book.

Mama Voss said...

What a wonderful way to begin your holiday season... with warmth from friends and Him. The book sounds wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I just recently moved away from CO Spgs so I've enjoyed reading about your life in CO. As a stay-at-home mom of three kids I understand how hectic life can be. I'm glad you were able to take some time for yourself. The book sounds like something wonderful to read...especially during this busy time of year!

Becca~CapturingSimpleJoys said...

Count me in. I'm so happy for you that you went to the retreat and recieved the blessing you needed. Isn't it amazing how the Lord speaks to us?

Elizabeth said...

Even after two years in Oklahoma, I still feel as lost as ever. I'm always waiting for something better. I'm learning contentment where I am, but it's hard. I know you understand.

Shanda said...

I must confess, I have been reading your blog off and on for awhile now; I have just rarely left comments. I began reading your husband's blog when a friend recommended it to me. I checked out his links and realized that you are both gifted communicators.

I have been praying for you & your father the past few weeks. I'm glad you were able to have some sweet moments of rest and restoration.

This books sounds wonderful-I'd love to win it. I love John Eldridge's writing so I'm sure any book he would be willing to write the forward to has to be worth reading.

Blessings and Peace to you & your family this Christmas!

Unknown said...

I'm thankful the retreat was such a blessing.

"we wait for the coming of Christ (his birth), we look for his second coming, but we're also looking and waiting for Him to show up in the daily-ness of our lives. I don't know about you, but there have been days and even seasons in my own life where pain and disappointment have reigned supreme"

This quote is exactly where my mind has been in the last few weeks...I'm still trying to think these things through, so I don't have much to say, except that I hear you!

Anonymous said...

i just became familar with blogs this year and yours was one of the first that i found. i had felt funny leaving a comment but when you shared about meeting some of your blog friends, it made it seem okay to do so. reminds me of penpals! anyway, i am a senior pastor's wife entering a ministry transition phase - the book may be a timely read! thanks for sharing.

blessings to you!


cathleen said...

This book sounds like something I could really read right now. Thank you for giving it away and please add me to the list. Merry Christmas!