2018 Messianic Women’s Retreat!
By Debbie Bateman
What do you get when you mix 90 women, the Word of God, and copious amounts of chocolate? Hope of Israel’s eighteenth annual Messianic Women’s Retreat! Embracing the symbolism of eighteen years representing “life”, the retreat theme was fittingly “L’Chaim B’Yeshua – To Life in Yeshua.” Friday evening kicked off with dinner, Shabbat blessings, worship, and a message about this life abundant that Yeshua offers us in John 10:10. We considered the challenge of the enemy trying to drive us to distraction, doubt, or disconnect; and how we, as His valued sheep, can focus on and embrace our relationship with our Good Shepherd by staying in His Word, so that we can enjoy Him as our perfect provider, protector, healer, and lover of our soul, as outlined in Psalm 23. With 14 small groups, we were able to have intimate, meaningful discussions after our teaching sessions. No night at Sisterhood Retreat is complete without chocolate – so there was a campfire and s’mores for everyone who wished to partake!
Saturday morning, staying awake was easy with Laurie Taylor’s “Stayin’ Alive” devotional on Colossians 2:6-7, about being rooted and established in His Word so that we can bloom and be spiritually fruitful, even with the seemingly mundane tasks we women face daily as we care for those around us. After breakfast, and a spectacular rap from Miriam & Laurie, we had enlightening teaching from Miriam in the book of Romans about how to allow Ruach Ha Kodesh, the Holy Spirit, to equip us to live this supernatural life that we have been given in Messiah. We considered the challenge to not grieve or quench the Holy Spirit, and were reminded to not allow the enemy to drag us into the “condemnation zone” but to “keep up the caution tape” and remember that in Messiah there is therefore now no condemnation! A lovely Noah’s ark, created by Elaine deBrocq, helped illustrate the point of being “In Him”, designed with portals for photo ops!
The afternoon was filled with activities, both prayerfully planned ahead and simply Spirit led! Two creative workshops were offered: beginner’s dance upstairs led by HOI dance team members; and an art class downstairs, where Elaine provided everything needed for women to paint tiles, expressing the beauty of life in the Lord. Afterward, we enjoyed free time for whatever made our hearts sing; shopping, hiking, or taking a nap! Following dinner, Havdalah, and a very encouraging testimony from Debbie Holford about God’s perfect timing and faithfulness in her life, we launched into our world famous “Talent Show” (maybe not world famous, but it ought to be!) With a thunder storm clamoring outside, we laughed and cried and cheered each other on as Laurie Taylor rode herd on the diverse offerings of both inspirational and medicinal* song, skit, dance, and life observations. *laughter is good medicine!
Our retreat wrapped up Sunday morning with clear skies, worship, an encouraging testimony from Stacy Corrado about walking out our testimony in the hard situations, giving it all to Him. Our final teaching was a life changing perspective offered by Miriam to remind us that whatever our physical heritage and past circumstances, our true identity and our genetic code according to Romans 8:14-18 is as “Daughters of The King and fellow heirs with Messiah”, so we can be confident in our lives with our hope fixed on Him. Following a group picture, our group descended the mountain of Blowing Rock to go back to our various cities, congregations, and homes, with a renewed sense of His love and power in our lives.
Highlights of the weekend included a contingent of middle school young ladies; celebrating a 30th birthday, (Holly Jensen); golf cart rides for the less mobile with chauffeuring from Ann Thomas; all-request folk and worship dancing till midnight each night; the beauty of multi-generations encouraging each other; new relationships formed and old friends enjoying the retreat as an annual “spiritual family reunion”; and the priceless gift of seeing women nurture and pray for one another. “I have never felt so loved, so welcomed, and so accepted” said one woman. “Everyone made me feel so welcome and included, and I learned a lot“, shared a first time guest from another denomination. “Retreat was such a blessing to me – the teaching was thought-provoking and challenging, small groups were an encouraging environment to apply the lessons, activities were focused and enjoyable and even the hang out time was a blessing to share life on life and to love one another”, expressed a mother with young children. When asked what was significant to them, one of the small group leaders responded, “My mind focuses on a few quotes that I carry with me from sermons, meetings, etc. “Sheep have value. They are worth taking care of.” This reminds me that I have great value to my Heavenly Father. “The Shepherd leads the sheep, He does not drive them. If you see someone driving them, that is the butcher.” My Shepherd goes before me and leads the way. He knows the future, I do not.”
Thank you to all the ladies from HOI who worked behind the scenes to make this retreat possible, from snacks, to registration, to sound systems and more! To every single lady who was there to enjoy it with us, thanks for making it such a blessing! If you couldn’t make it this time, mark your calendars and start saving your shekels! Hope to see you all L’Shanah Haba B’Blowing Rock…
Next Year in Blowing Rock!