by D. Bateman
Immersed in His Grace Poured Out – 17th Annual Messianic Women’s Retreat
“We laughed. We Cried. We ate chocolate!” Our 17th annual Messianic Women’s Retreat included these traditional sisterhood items, but most importantly, the 85 ladies gathered together in the beautiful mountains of Blowing Rock, NC, spent the weekend immersing ourselves in abundant streams of God’s Grace Poured Out, diving into worship, prayer and the Word.
Our collective group this year was wonderfully diverse, comprised of ladies from a number of different congregations, age groups, and life circumstances. Some of us arrived young in years, some arrived young at heart, but we all left lighter in heart, as we were refreshed in His Truth and our time together!
Even with road construction blocking 321 down to one lane, the majority of the women arrived Friday evening. We were able to enjoy a great meal together. Someone else had prepared and cleaned up, yay! The meeting room had been decorated with beautiful Shabbat & Havdalah items gracing the stone fireplace. Many ladies worked behind the scenes making everything special and beautiful: from our booklets to our door signs to the tasty treats and a thousand other things, sweet labors of love!
After a rich time of worship and Shabbat welcoming, we considered how God’s grace equips us for every circumstance: Helping us de-fuse drama, having right relationships, being perfected through challenges, serving Him acceptably. Finally the heart of how we receive His equipping grace with humility and complete dependence on Him Who is constantly longing to be gracious to us! We considered how the Japanese art of Kintsugi illustrates the thought of His power being perfected in our weaknesses, as we looked on images of broken pottery which had been repaired with precious metals mixed into the bonding material, so the object actually increased in value as it was restored. The previous damage and weak places were not viewed as faults, but as the rich history of the object, made once again useful for service. In the same way, when we allow His all sufficient grace to fill our weak and broken places, we enjoy being restored, priceless, beautiful vessels of honor for His grace poured out to and through us, to His glory! In the spirit of making everything fun, our small groups enjoyed bonding over coloured beads as we went deeper into the scriptures & prayer together. The evening concluded under the stars with sweet s’mores and songs by the campfire.
Saturday morning we gathered in the fireplace room, cozy with the steam of fresh coffee rising up and morning light filtering in. Laurie blessed us with a wonderfully clear, encouraging devotion from Titus 3:1-8 “The Struggle Is Real!” We considered the challenges of living for Him in this world and how marvelously His mercy is there when we falter and fail, to regenerate us (grow something new) and renew us (like reinstating our license after an interruption of coverage), so we can carry on His legacy, with the sure expectation of His faithful promises, being careful to do what’s right, because it’s for our benefit!
After breakfast and worship, we got great encouragement from the core scripture study of the retreat- Miriam Nadler’s teaching which centered on the challenging lives of the women in the genealogy of Messiah, and how God’s grace enabled them to be women of honor in Him. As we looked in depth at the life of Tamar and the hard, unjust circumstances she endured, the study revealed how God provided for her, giving her courage and a breakthrough at just the right time. Our small group hour flew by as we took Miriam’s teaching to a personal level, applying the principals to our own hearts and lives so we too can experience His victory and breakthrough in our circumstances.
Saturday after lunch we had delightful options for exercising our artistic expressions. In the “art class” Elaine’s expertise and encouragement provided a great space for participants to be successful creating their own masterpieces… making a unique & useful miniature tin for notes & scriptures (much more thrifty and personal than buying similar items in trendy boutiques!) or with classic painting. It was beautiful seeing some of the ladies linger over their labors of love after the “art hour” was officially done, with joy & peace continuing to bring to life on paper the beauty of nature surrounding us. The other option for artistic expression was dance! We ended up making a double circle as lots of ladies gathered to learn & share classics of Israeli folk dance, and modern Messianic worship. Ladies took advantage of the free time the rest of the afternoon to explore the shops of Blowing Rock, local trails, practice for the talent show, and take naps. After dinner & havdalah, we were blessed by Taly’s testimony of God’s grace in her life. Following that, the famous Ladies Talent Show brought us everything from original poetry, to beautiful singing, to really silly things that made us GOL (giggle out loud), to recognizing the Memorial Day weekend with a well done tribute to our service men & women, complete with bubble wrap audience participation cannon fire for the 1812 Overture! Laurie never fails to make this talent show a delight for audience and participants alike!
Sunday morning we wrapped up the weekend with Miriam’s great teaching on another woman in Messiah’s lineage- Ruth. Stacy’s demonstration of filling a pitcher with water represented Naomi’s bitterness. Her heart was filled to overflowing after so many tragedies. Once she was able to pour her hurts out, she again blessed the Lord with her words, her heart, her life. From across the room, the sound of the water poured out was a tangible reminder of how wonderfully freeing it is when, likewise, we let go of all bitterness in our hearts. We are free and filled with praise, blessing, thanksgiving, and His grace!
Most memorable reflections: I treasured being sharing the dance circle with several ladies and young women who do not often get to dance. It was beautiful to behold many women and girls have the opportunity to share their gifts through service, talents,ministry. The Lord provided perfectly for every little detail, including weather. Throughout the weekend ladies ministered to each other- with listening hearts, with loving deeds, with sweetness and joy.
Save the date for next year, when we celebrate our 18th year together, back in Blowing Rock, May 4-6, 2018!