How many surprises can a three-day writers’ retreat produce? I wasn’t even sure why I was there.
I went to Singing Hills Camp in NH, knowing just one other person. I left on hugging terms with countless others. Unexpected connections:
- “Are you related to Rachel? I was a counselor at Camp Fireside.”
- “I know you from West Church.”
- “I’m writing a trilogy set on your cousin’s campground on Martha’s Vineyard.”
- “My daughter Emily was good friends with your granddaughter Britta.”
- “Yes, I’m the pastor from Chester, Vermont.”
- “I led David Midwood to the Lord.”
More people I hadn’t known: My roommate Sandra, a pastor’s wife and kindred spirit. Rebecca, shy and unassuming but an astonishing poet. Valerie Shepard, daughter of Elisabeth Elliot. Deb, a professional reviewer who agreed to take on Dynamo for a possible review. Workshop leaders from whom I learned much.
And Tessa. Born in Iran, she writes biblical fiction. (She bought The Stones, my biblical fiction on King David; I bought her novel on Ruth.) Tessa was everywhere, loving on everyone. My designated critiquer, she looked at a chapter from my next book, An Unpresentable Glory. Could find little wrong with it; I write professionally, etc. Music to my ears, but Tessa displayed far more depth than simply speaking kind words about my writing.
The weekend retreat finished with a communion service on Sunday morning, and Tessa gave a message based on Ruth. A dynamic speaker, yes, but her part in serving the communion elements was like Jesus himself standing there, speaking my name, pouring love into my heart. I wept, along with many others in the group. I have never experienced such a powerful communion service and won’t soon forget it.
An additional, bizarre surprise, apart from that special moment:
I, who never, ever win anything, won THREE THINGS that weekend. Couldn’t believe it. My number was called twice, my name a third time. Had to have been a God thing.
I still didn’t know why I was there, but God spoke to me—loudly—“You’re here because I want you here.”
Thank you, Lord. Your surprises were excellent medicine for my soul.
You were there to share God’s love with the rest of us. Powerful stuff!!!!
May He bless you in return. Amen
Yes, I agree. It was a blessing to read about your writers’ retreat. It is great to see that you had the desire and took the time to develop your God given passion and skills. May I always be a learner like you.
From what you shared, I think another lesson that jumps out at me is simply that God is good. Good things happen because He is good. Let’s never forget, especially in our dark days, that God is good!
I think it was great that you were among so many kindred spirits who think deeply as you do. I’m so glad you could participate. It is amazing how small our world is when we see connections like you did. Keep writing!!!
Yes, I was there with Ellie at that same retreat. It was indeed a blessing! I confess to NOT being much of a camper, so my expectations were not high. The planning, care, and love that went into every aspect of the event was evident. Tessa’s communion service was so moving. Ellie’s right. It was like Jesus speaking to us.
What an uplifting high there is in being in on God’s special connections and Ellie, you are one of those special ones. So glad you had this weekend.
I suppose I should learn how to post to a blog. Just lost everything I typed because I did not first fill in the form. Oh dear, perhaps I’ll relay more another time – other duties call. But I did want to say that, yes Ellie, I experienced much of the same as you and went into it with much of the same – except that I’m not an author. Anyway, an awesome, unforgettable weekend. So glad Cindy Saab, Jean Doyan and Pam Palagyi (sp?) encouraged me to go! And I sooo enjoyed meeing you and all the others. Thank you all!
I am glad that you had this time making new friends. I recently went to my 50th college reunion. I graduated from Columbia Bible College, which is now Columbia International University. I went with a nervous stomach. I found the others there so welcoming and encompassing. It was wonderful. One season several people shared some of the struggles they had been through since graduation so long ago. I realized my struggles are not unique and was encouraged and encouraged others. It was so wonderful to reconnect and realize that we all have struggles in our lives. It isn’t the struggles that are so important but how we deal with the struggles. I am so thankful that God has worked in my life and given me hope.
I bought your book Dynamo when we were at Rumney Bible Conference this summer. It was extremely interesting. I guess my biggest question had to do with the visions or messages that he seemed to receive. Do people really have those experiences like that? The message of the book is good but that was a little strange.
Hope you are having a good fall and beginning of winter season. Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving. Anne