Three weeks ago, Chad and I had the opportunity to go on the Best. Retreat. Ever.
First of all, it was free. Yep, completely free. That alone makes it the best ever because we could actually do it!
It was also media free. No TV, no internet, and we only used our phones to check in on the kiddos. So good to be disconnected from the chaos for a few days.
And what really made it incredible was that there was no program, no schedule to keep . . . except meal times and I'm perfectly fine with keeping that one! We were able to read for hours, pray in quiet, sit by a fireplace (I'm still trying to talk Chad into getting one installed in our house . . . LOVE), hike in absolutely beautiful surroundings, talk and talk and talk with no interruptions or little ones pulling or yelling at us . . . Just plain amazing and exactly what our hearts needed!
The retreat was at Winshape Camps, the camp and retreat center owned by Chick-fil-a. It is in Rome, GA on the campus of Berry College and the setting is breathtaking. There were flocks? herds? of deer everywhere. The guys kept being like, "if only I had a gun." I'm not much on eating deer (news flash: it DOES NOT taste just like beef), but prefer to just watch them run and play!
They have lots of marriage retreats through the year, but this was the Pastor's R & R that only happens twice a year. They let a senior pastor and his wife come for zero cost, but it's a once in a lifetime thing. As if we didn't already love us some Chick-fil-a . . . they now hold a new place in our hearts!
A fellow pastor in NOLA told Chad about it a few months ago and asked if we wanted to go. A free trip with no kids . . . absolutely! Plus it was so fun to go with this other couple because the 8 hour drive gave us lots of time to get to know them, talk about our stories, and about what God is doing in our city we all love!
We all seriously expected that this would be a large conference, maybe 100 to 150 people. So imagine our surprise when we get there and learned that there were only 5 couples coming! 10 people! It was so cozy, casual, and intimate instead of the big and crowded like we expected . . . that would have been fine with us, but it was so much better than what we hoped for! We had great conversations at meals with the group and really tried to build each other up. We also had lots of laughs . . . one guy had a joke for every topic that came up, we played The Newlywed Game and I nearly wet my pants from the answers that were given (and the "looks of death" that usually followed), and many laughs came as I followed Chad each day on whatever "adventure" he wanted us to do . . . he is such a boy!
We joked that if we had known how incredible it was going to be, we probably would have saved the trip for another time, a time when we felt really burnt out or stressed. But praise God that He brought us there, not in a time of crisis, but for a time to be refreshed and refueled in a way that will hopefully protect us from getting to a place of crisis.
So if you are a pastor, I would highly recommend that you pick up the phone right now and reserve a spot for September or January! You can thank me later!
Here are some pics from our trip . . .
Chick-fil-a doesn't roll like a cheap hotel . . . our rooms were gorgeous and so cozy!
If I wasn't eating or hiking, you could find me here. A fireplace is the only thing that could make me want to live anywhere other than NOLA . . . besides God of course!
We hiked up to a reservoir on our first day. We both feel like nature does a lot to refuel us so we were in heaven!
This is Chad trying out the acoustics in Frost Chapel, a beautifully and really old church on campus. I'm told that the wait list for weddings is around 3 years. I understand why. I'm betting there are girls that come to school, reserve a date, and just pray that they have a guy and a ring by that time!!
We had a chef cooking fabulous meals just for us! Did I mention that we had dessert twice a day. I probably gained 5 lbs while we were there, but I loved every bite.
No round tables and folding chairs . . . we all sat around this fancy dining room table for each meal. And there was a different place setting for each meal. The guys could care less, but the ladies ooo'd and aaa'd at each meal.
Our hosts . . . Terry and Theta. Talk about the gift of hospitality. They served us, encouraged us, and made the retreat 100 times better than we could have imagined.
Our last breakfast was, of course, Chick-fil-a chicken biscuits. We love you Chick-fil-a!!