WHEN WOMEN GATHER
"One hundred, ninety- three women from across the Cascade Division gathered this past weekend to Redmond, Oregon in order to retreat from the front lines of family, work, and ministry. I was one of them, and boy did I need it. From the feel of things, I wasn’t the only one either. Ten other ladies came with me and as I looked around the crowded room at the opening meeting on Friday night, I saw many other hungry souls who wanted God and wouldn’t settle for less. There was a sense of expectation and yearning for the Holy Spirit to stir, prod and feed our souls. Praise God, He delivered!
After traveling from short and long distances, we all arrived at our accommodations eager to get to the first meeting. It’s funny how you can go to God for one thing, and He gives you another. Like at the first meeting, when I’m sure most of us were waiting for some high and lofty spiritual words that we could really chew on. Instead, our speaker, anointed by God, told us we were animals. Yep, animals. Mighty musk oxes to be exact. I really enjoyed our speaker , Donna Partow, and her clear- speaking analogy of our place and responsibility to seek out our assignment from God, run to it and stand firm, just like a musk ox who happens to be the only animal that runs to a battle in order to protect the weak and frail. One of the mightiest ways we do this is through prayer and praying hard for God’s power to work in others lives. We were also introduced to the porcupine who we do not want to be like. All prickly and hard for people and God to deal with.
Saturday had in store for us a variety of workshops from crafts to holistic health to financial integrity. Of the several ladies I spoke with, they all enjoyed their workshops and were especially glad to have a choice of 2 workshops this year. Shortly before the evening meeting began, the Silent Purse Auction winners were announced. Together, we were able to raise over $1000 for our Women’s Projects.
For the evening meeting , we all got dressed up for a fancy, sit-down meal followed by another presentation by our speaker. She spoke about Namaan and being “unclothed” and real with God and each other. What a breath of fresh air. Handwashing stations were set up around the room so that the Corps Officer’s could pray with each of our ladies. It was an amazing experience with God and I am still humbled by the response of the ladies in the room. He was working in a mighty way and the women gathered were touched and changed for the glory of God.
Our last morning together spoke specifically of being a vessel of the Lord. We were reminded that we carry Christ wherever we go. We all have broken places in our lives that God wants to fill in and use in order to reach others for Him. As the women sat around tables, we were given broken pieces of pottery. We were able to write the broken areas in our own lives on the piece of pottery and bring it up to the altar. By laying them down on the altar, we physically demonstrated the spiritual decision we made to release it the Lord for His mighty work, since we don’t do such a great job with those broken places ourselves.
Fellowship deserves a paragraph all it’s own. We have amazing ladies in the Cascade Division who sincerely care for each other and year after year are praying for each other. You can see lots of hugs and care flying around the banquet hall where we gather together. It is also so good to go back to our rooms and really share about what’s going on in our lives and how God was speaking to us through the speaker. What girl doesn’t like a pajama party and staying up late, crowded around and on a bed or sofa, and sharing her faith-walk with Christian sisters. We did plenty of that among ourselves both during the traveling and the retreating.
Whether it’s work or play (a little of both on my part) the Cascade Division Women’s Retreat was so worth attending. It is a wonderful time of fellowship, learning and retreating! When I left this retreat, I was, and still am thinking “chinese food”: I came and got all filled up by Him but He’s made me hungry for more!"