The months leading up to November’s retreat week of 2013 were filled with excitement from our teammates and friends. Rothenburg was coming; it was coming and just around the corner. “After you guys experience the Rothenburg retreat, you’ll start counting down the days for the next one”, Tamika told me. “You’ll love it and won’t want to leave.”
Truer words about this place couldn’t have been spoken. When we experienced for the first time the solid goodness of the Rothenburg retreat, we couldn’t wait to go back. We understood everyone’s excitement and eagerness to arrive and return. We told all of our new friends we’d see them again in 2014. But – you know – God’s plans.
When we said “See you in 2014!”, we actually meant 2015. As you know we were a bit preoccupied last fall what with having a baby and being an ocean away from Rothenburg. And had we been able to be in Rothenburg with our infant son, I doubt we would’ve been “with it” due to sleep deprivation. God knew what He was doing when He kept us “home” that year. But last week we finally returned to Rothenburg and it was just as magical, relaxing, inspirational, and impactful as we remembered.
The retreat couldn’t go wrong with an All-Star cast made up of speakers Mary Nelson (New Zealand), Dr. Dottie Schulz (U.S.), Tony Coffey (Ireland), Patrick Boyns (England), Vittorio Vitalone (Italy), and the ever-spectacular Keith Lancaster as worship leader. The retreat’s theme was “Yes, I Am Still Here!”, a theme so pertinent to the difficulties, frustrations, and even tragedies many of us at the retreat were met with this year. Patrick Boyns and Tony Coffey led us deep into the Word, specifically focusing on the story of Joseph. Oh how I hope someone recorded those lessons for you to hear because they were phenomenal and I will never read about Joseph the same way again. What a man of great faith who certainly had to wonder over and over again if God was in fact still with him.
How to Refuse Temptation:
- Be decisive
- Be ruthless against sin
- Be loyal
- Be well-informed
- Take precautions
- Know God is with you
The breakout sessions were top notch. The first day, Will went to one which focused on the refugees. The setting was more of an open forum than a single person-led discussion. A variety of individuals who serve in churches all over Europe shared what their team and/or church was doing to better aide those coming into their countries. While this discussion went on upstairs, I was downstairs attending Dottie Schulz’s session on behavior and relationships. Friends, I could listen to this woman talk for hours upon hours. Not only is she knowledgeable on all kinds of psychological topics, she knows how these topics – our mental and physical state – coincide with our spiritual state. For example, DID YOU KNOW that when you forgive someone or confess sin that not only do these actions improve your memory (what!!!!), the hormone oxytocin – a good feelings hormone – is released into your body which leaves you feeling giddy for days? Did you know that?? I certainly didn’t, but now this lesson is written in huge-mongous letters in my work journal, and I’m still in awe of this fact.
“Figure out who God is to figure out who you are.”
I want to be Dottie when I grow up.
Will and I were fortunate enough to have my parents with us from Atlanta. Their presence greatly freed us up to attend most worship and breakout sessions without our busy-body toddler. He stayed with Omi and Opi for the good majority of the retreat which I believe suited everyone just fine. His Omi and Opi took him on walks through Rothenburg’s medieval city and played with him in the hotel until he got sleepy. We were so glad to have them with us and think this should perhaps turn into a yearly tradition 🙂
So here we are again, counting down the days until our feet are back on Rothenburg’s cobblestoned streets. To our supporters, thank you for enabling us to attend this magnificent, soul-filling retreat. Because of you, we are ready to take on the New Year. And join us in Rothenburg sometime. You won’t be disappointed.