The River Fort Smith is an outreach church I have mentioned before. I am honored to serve alongside a team of gifted individuals from a variety of backgrounds, with a host of talents and giftings. The core leadership of this group happens to be all women. These are my co-laborers, my sisters, my friends.
Every fall, we go an a weekend getaway, a retreat, to help us refresh and refocus. This year, for the first time, we went with no agenda to follow, no schedule to keep, no other ministry to visit or conference to attend. We spent the weekend at Big Cedar, a lodge just south of Branson, Missouri. When I started packing, the first thing I packed was my fuzzy pink slippers, followed by my pajamas. This weekend was all about resting, relaxing, and hanging with the girls. We stayed up till the wee hours of the morning talking, lingered over the breakfast table talking, and enjoyed browsing the gift shops, wandering the grounds at the lodge, and stopping for a picnic lunch on the way home, talking the entire time.
We did have one little run-in with nature on the last evening. We had set out a lovely candlelight dinner on the patio of our first-floor condo and were just sitting down to eat. Wendy, out of the corner of her eye, saw movement, and assuming it to be the cat she had seen earlier, started to lean down to pet the kitty, only to discover to her horror that the kitty had a stripe down its back! She promptly went to doing her best to stifle a scream, and not wanting to alarm the creature for obvious reasons, Kim and Lisa froze in their seats while the little critter quite casually made his way under our table and around Wendy’s feet. Being the one in the best position to try to lure the little fellow away from the open door to the condo, I grabbed a piece of bread off the table and tried to get his attention with it in a futile attempt to lure him away from the table and back into the grass. He was not interested.
Wendy quickly went from stifling a scream to praying that this critter be gone in Jesus’ name, and after about a minute of wandering around the patio, he did leave. We took the opportunity to create an assembly line, passing everything from the patio to the dining room table as we hastily moved the party inside and closed the door, leaving our dear Mr. LePew to fend for himself. What could have been a very unpleasant experience, fortunately turned into nothing more than a funny story, which Lisa told her husband, Mike (our drummer) on the phone. His tongue-in-cheek reply about being a part of “this stinkin‘ ministry” generated a roomful of laughter, which is what these moments are all about.
The next day at a gift shop on the way home, we found a stuffed skunk, which Kim could not resist purchasing as a souvenir from our trip. Our new mascot, Pepe, joined us for a creek side picnic lunch and was welcomed with open arms.
As a sidenote, we also found at this same gift shop a “design-your-own necklace” area, where we found charms that read “Daughter” and “Destiny.” The women’s conferences we conduct are called “Daughters of Destiny”, and we were unable to pass up this opportunity to create the first Daughter of Destiny bling as we all purchased matching necklaces. God has a way of reminding us who we are when we are least expecting it.
Here is a video from our trip. Since this was a casual weekend with little or no primping, we promised each other no pictures of each other. What you see here is rather a little bit of what we saw while we spent time enjoying one another’s company. We actually did manage to get a few things accomplished, by the way. All that talking really did pay off. Enjoy the video, and be reminded that simple things can bring great joy and simple moments can last a lifetime.