Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Genesee Home

Thanks to the good folks at NewLife Community Church, Shari & I had the wonderful privilege of enjoying a 6 day retreat up in the Sierras a couple of weeks ago at Genesee Home. (And when I say thank you, I mean more than "thanks for budgeting money so I can go on retreats." I mean "thanks for the way you graciously love us, pray for us, encouraged us to do this, and worked together to take care of our kids while we were gone." Man, do I pastor a great church or what?!)

The picture you're looking at is a view from the back yard of the house - the building on the right is the Prayer Barn. I took a lot more pictures, but this one best captures the breathtaking beauty of where Genesee Home is located.

So, for those of you interested enough to read this post but not interested enough to follow the link, here's the skinny on Genesee Home. It's a 120+ year old home, renovated into a bed & breakfast esp. for pastors & their wives. The host couple (Charly & Bev) along with some staff, care for up to five couples each week. Unlike some retreat centers, the schedule is very open - there is plenty of time to spend as a couple and/or with God. First class meals, all kinds of recreation equipment, plenty of room to hike & explore... can you tell we enjoyed ourselves?

Highlights of the week for me:
  • driving along the Feather River Scenic Byway, which is a canyon with a river running down the middle of it... stunning!
  • finding our room (Hoselknuss) was exactly the kind of room we wanted... the pictures on the website don't do it justice. (We esp. liked the sitting room, which gave us lots of space to spread out when we were both taking time to study & pray.)
  • hiking across the meadow in the dark... well, there was a full moon out, so it really wasn't that dark, but it was a pretty big adventure for city folks like us. At one point, we stood still and realized that we'd hiked right up on the herd of deer we'd seen earlier - wow.
  • laying in the double hammock, talking & looking at the stars in the sky and the mountains in the moonlight
  • driving up to Antelope Lake and having a picnic (complete with plates, glasses & tablecloth, thanks to the folks at Genesee Home) by the lake
  • making some big breakthroughs in our relationship with each other - being away from Braeden & Collin and from the pressures of home & church gave us time to really talk through some issues from our past and our hopes for the future
  • reading James Emery White's Embracing the Mysterious God... it set a really good tone for my times with God during our week away
  • spending major time studying Psalm 40... but more than just digging into commentaries, I spent time soaking in the psalm - memorizing it, praying through it, paraphrasing it, waiting for God to speak to me through the Scripture. Best of all, I wasn't doing it to prep a Bible study or shore up a sermon point, I was just spending time with Jesus. (Yes, this is the song U2 used for the song "40".)
  • simply having time with Shari Jo that wasn't under the gun of life pressures - it was a wonderful reminder of why I fell head over heels in love with this woman nearly 18 years ago... (our 16th wedding anniversary is June 16th - whoo hoo!)
Of course, there was a lot more to our trip than this... but that'll give you a brief idea of what the week was like. A couple more items:

First, a HUGE "thank you" to Anna & Canaan Campbell, who came to live with our boys that week. Canaan is one of Braeden's best buddies, and his mom, Anna, is an amazing young woman who gave us an incredible gift. (We were worried Braeden might be a bit freaked out by us being gone so long... Shari asked him a night or two before we left: "You know we'll be gone 5 nights, right?" He replied, "Mom, as a special treat, could you be gone 7 nights?" Yeah, he was traumatized by the experience... not.)

Finally, a closing quote from my journal:

May 12, 2006

Our last morning here begins... I feel a sadness about that. This has been such a wonderful place to draw close to you, Jesus. I've felt utterly stripped and yet also wonderfully healed by Your love.

This isn't the experience I'd dreamed about or planned -- it's better. I want so much of what I've learned to carry over, to spill into my day-2-day life... I want to keep the correct order of things straight in my head & heart. I know that my history leans the other way -- that I put the created above the Creator. Instead, Jesus, I want You first -- and then I want to completely enjoy the good gifts (Shari Jo, the boys, NewLife, gaming) IN LIGHT of my relationship with You.

In the words of Charlie Peacock, "I want to be in the light as You are in the light." I want to dance w/You as my gracious King. I want to strip down to my BVDs and dance before you undignified... trusting my dignity & personhood only to You.

The question now - will I? Or will this just be another "good week" that recedes into the distance as I go back to the grind? Forgive me for how often I've taken Your gift of "good weeks" and turned them simply into mountaintop experiences and sermon fodder.

And that's still my prayer - to live in the light rather than in the grind. Easy to say, hard to do.

Man, I need Jesus.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you guys were able to do that. It sounds like fun. Welcome back.