It's hard to believe that back in January there was no such thing as Rise & Shine Women's Retreat. When we met together as a team early this year, Rise & Shine didn't have theme, a logo, a schedule or a plan...Rise & Shine didn't even have a name yet! There was a date booked on the Orchard Hill Church calendar, an idea for a guest speaker and few ideas on what this retreat should look like, but that was it. WOW! What an amazing journey this has been!! God heard our heart-felt prayers and guided us forward...every step of the way!
Friday was a day full of preparation (as much of the previous days had been). There were lots of little details to get in place. I had the honor of working next to Judy most of the day! Then, decorating...WOW, the decorating!! Dianna Geiger is my hero when it comes to decorating! :) The tables in the community center looked absolutely wonderful. I love everything about her taste and style...not to mention her very passionate, fun and Christ-like personality. Her spunk is contagious!!
After the Friday evening practice, production, sound and light check, having dinner with the team and Renee Swope (the guest speaker) and her assistant, Leah; this pregnant girl (who was also fighting off a cold) was soooo tired and my body ached like you wouldn't believe. Yet, the adrenaline continued to flow and my mind would not turn off. I only slept from 1am to 4am that night (well, I guess that's technically morning). :)
I prayed when I was lying there awake at 4 something. I told the LORD that it would only be by his divine intervention if I wasn't exhausted the next day. I asked him to spare me from the pregnancy nausea I'd been experiencing, the chronic neck/back pain I've been fighting for over a year and the over-tiredness I knew was inevitable without His intervention.
Saturday...oh what a day!! It started out with a meeting with all the volunteers in the fabulous Orchard Hill Church coffee house. I had no idea even myself that these coffee house volunteers were going so far above and beyond to serve at Rise & Shine. Wow! The coffee...all sorts of flavors and steeping hot. Not to mention all the homemade muffins and coffee cake to go along with it. Fabulous!
The volunteers (greeters, registration table, book table, breakout reflection facilitators and prayer room partners) blew me away. They were so eager to serve and totally competent to quickly jump into place to serve. Thank you girls!
Women flooded the lobby and community center...some faces were familiar, but many were not. Yet, I knew these were the women our team (and many others) had been praying for this entire year! We had prayed that God would send the women there that He wanted there and that He would prepare their hearts to hear from Him. I may not have known all of these ladies, but God did! I knew they were right where they were suppose to be that day. My heart overflowed with love for them! And with praise to the One who sent them there!
I wasn't sure how much time our team would spend sitting down that day, but everything went so smoothly (thanks to a lot of people!) that we were able to sit through both sessions. As the worship team and band started that morning, I personally felt the Holy Spirit raining down in that place! Although I had previously been a bit nervous about getting up in front of all those people to say welcome from our team, as the worship music continued I felt such peace...and wasn't really nervous at all. That's a pretty big thing for a girl who's not only from a small, rural church where there's about 80 people at an average service, but who also doesn't necessarily like getting up in front of people to talk. Thank you, Lord!
The skit team did an awesome job...making us laugh with a message attached. These girls have a story all their own. They are a group of young women from the same rural church Jill and I attend (also all related to us). These girls stepped out in faith to rise & shine at Rise & Shine!
The worship team and special music was soooo good! They blew me away...with their talent and spirit!
We were blessed to hear guest speaker Renee Swope speak twice at the retreat. Her morning talk was titled, "Becoming the Woman God Created Me to Be." She shared about the woman at the well and finding satisfaction in Christ. I heard loud and clearly that He is the only one who can satisfy. We must position ourselves to receive from Him so we can give to others from the overflow He's given to us. Very relevant for us women!
From there we broke out into "Breakout Reflections." We divided the women up into 8 smaller groups, each with a facilitator to go over some discussion questions from Renee's talk. Our team was very busy during this time so we did not get to participate in any of these breakout reflections. However, from the feedback we've received although each of the groups were different, this was very impactful for many of the women in attendance. It was an opportunity to connect with women (women they didn't even know beforehand) on a deeper level and dig more into the heart of Renee's talk.
Lunch...again, oh wow! What can I say?! Natalie Brown and her helpers from "Scratch" catering outdid themselves! Seriously, the food was phenomenal!! I can't say enough! During lunch women were able to share (and I noticed that they did a lot of this!), visit the book tables, prayer room and Life 101.9s table where the lovely Julia Taylor (their morning show co-host) had positioned herself.
It was now time for the afternoon session. At this point, I couldn't believe it was already 1pm! I thought about all the preparation that went into this day...and there were only 2 more hours left! More spirit filled praise and worship was followed by "The Story Behind Rise & Shine" where Leanne and Jill shared their story...and the original vision of a conference. Good!
After Jackie Beran and Barbie Tupy shared special music with us (and did a terrific job!), Renee Swope took the stage again. This time she shared a talk entitled, "Blessed is She Who Believes." This talk was especially impactful! She spoke about Mary (the mother of Jesus), living beyond the shadow of our doubts by focusing on the light of His truth. I wish I could do this talk justice by what I write here, but there was so many relevant thoughts expressed that I don't think I can sum it up quickly. I think I need another whole blog post for this one! :) Some things that really stood out to me in this talk was, "God does not call the equipped, He equips the called." And it's not that we're able, but that we're available. And that we need to women who don't just believe in God, but who believe God! (AMEN!)
Now, we're to what was probably my favorite part of the day... Renee asked us women to write our doubts, fears, insecurities on an index card and bring them to the cross. We had 2 big crosses set up on the stage, one on each end. I had the privilege of being on one side holding a basket full of promises from Scripture. When the ladies brought their doubts and laid them at the foot of the cross, they picked up a promise from the basket...and Renee had prayed that each woman would pull out the promise (out of 15!) that was specifically for her. As I stood there holding this basket of promises, watching the women line up to bring their doubts to the cross...knowing that this was in response to all that had taken place there that day, I became extremely overwhelmed with praise to the Father! He had shown up there allllll day in a very big way! He had once again shown His faithfulness and provision! The Holy Spirit was strong and some women were weeping. I began to tear up (and I am not a crier!).
Since I was the first woman up there, knowing I need to hold the basket of promises and having women right behind me to pick theirs up, I didn't pull out a promise right away. No, some time along the way, a promise flipped up. I couldn't see what it said, but I felt prompted to pick it up. This was my verse! When I flipped it over, I started to cry. Oh, Lord, you know all things and spoke directly to me, even in this room full of women!!! This verse was meant just for me!!!
After Ann Knapp sang, "Lead Me to the Cross" (so beautifully!), Renee wrapped up her talk. I was crying the whole time! God did this...all of it. I was bursting with gratitude to the people who allowed God to work through them to make Rise & Shine a success. I thanked God for how all the details, big and small, came into place! I thanked Him that He chose me to be a part of something so grand and beyond me! To HIM be the GLORY! I've been rejoicing ever since!!
I've enjoyed hearing the stories from friends and new friends since the retreat. Things that I will continue to rejoice over for a long time to come! Stories from the prayer room, to personal connections and life impacting decisions made. God is good!
My last little praise from the day because I know this is looooong: God answered my prayers. I had NO nausea (despite having very little to eat until after noon), NO neck/back pain (although I've been dealing with that for over a year!), and wasn't even that tired (despite getting very little sleep, previously having a cold...and being someone who normally requires a lot of sleep!). GOD IS GOOD! That may not mean a lot to someone else, but to me God revealed Himself, His love and provision in a very big way!
Will we do it again next year?! Stay tuned for details. For now, we are rejoicing and basking in the after-glow of the day! Praying to see where God leads next.
Want to know how I got involved with Rise & Shine? Click here.