by Kristine Severson
This year our family will again go to the church retreat. We first began going to church retreats ten years ago. Our first retreat as young newlyweds was a little disorienting as we tried to figure out Gilmore from Crags and tried to carry on conversations during the loud cookie & coffee time on Friday night. But we were hooked. We got rare opportunity to reconnect with people we usually just say hi to on Sundays. We were moved as we had the time to dig deep in our hearts in response to the speaker. We also were able to witness and celebrate baptisms with our church body. These were experiences that we didn’t get throughout the year with Sunday worship or weekly homegroups. We came home resolved to go again.
The next couple years we had wonderful experiences. Not only did we continue to bond with our church body in worship, fellowship, and baptisms, but we enjoyed the camaraderie of SBCC’s personality. Our church body was able to laugh at ourselves through humorous skits, be entertained by a homegrown kids’ musical, and discovered many fun afternoon activities like hiking, soccer, swimming, Frisbee gold, and the rock wall. It was delightful.
Then came children.
Wow. Our packing became ominous, our nights were sketchy, and our days became blurry. One year my husband played Frisbee golf at 1am as our, then, one year old son wouldn’t go back to sleep. Another year he spent the night in the heated car as our, then, 2 year old daughter wouldn’t go back to sleep. We now had child care duties and naptime confined one of us to the dorm room. Why did we keep coming back?
I’ll tell you. We were still able to reconnect with people we hadn’t talked to in a while – but this time it was around the jump house and the playground. We were still moved by the challenges set forth by the speaker – trading notes when we missed because of serving with the kids program. We still celebrated baptisms and laughed at ourselves. We still enjoyed afternoon activities, even though we traded off watching the kids. We met new people and exchanged tips like how to make dorm rooms dark enough for the children.
But not only that, we also began to see something we didn’t expect. Our kids began to grow spiritually. I don’t know why we were so surprised by it. They were getting a huge dose of God Loves You even at the youngest ages. They sang worship songs and celebrated as older kids and adults alike were baptized. We would come home more tired than refreshed, but our kids would exclaim how much they love church retreat! We would leave knowing that we were a part of SBCC and our kids did too.
We have missed a couple of years for illness or high school reunions, but always feeling like we would have rather gone to church retreat. This year, our family will again go to church retreat. We want to reconnect and laugh with our church body, worship and celebrate with our church body, and be challenged as a church body.