Monday, October 24, 2011

A Life Changing Retreat....

Do you ever have those moments when you are surrounded by such beauty and peace that you feel God's presence so intense, that you want to soak up every moment?

My daughter attended a weekend retreat over fall break, at Camp Celebration. 
The camp was in a canyon, so far from any kind of civilization, filled with hundreds of teens, no cell phones (which is HUGE for teens), and God's presence was undeniable. 
The moment we arrived at the camp and we were coming down the winding roads into the canyon, there was literally nothing surrounding us, no noise, no traffic, no "everyday distractions".
It was full of nature, God's beauty and silence....PEACE!
As you looked up onto the mountain top there was a large cross which lit up at night. 
I did not want to leave, I wanted to get out and set up camp, right there in the middle of the canyon.
 I would walk  away from everything I have, and stay,  no hot water, no connections to the outside world, no comfy bed, and would have been completely fulfilled!
We get so wrapped up in all the "stuff", the problems we are facing day to day, trying to keep up with what society tells us we are to be or do, the kids, our jobs, money, all the daily stuff  that causes us to loose sight of what is really important. 
All we really need is time, peace, a place to connect with ourselves and our creator, time to breathe, appreciate, give thanks.
TIME to feel nothing else but God's presence, and seek his will for our lives. A TIME to be content in what God has blessed us with.
I sat and watched high schools students, stand up and speak in front of their peers, and parents, during a closing ceremony, crying out, praising God, and confessing their fears, struggles, and mistakes. 
Each and everyone of them, repeated time after time, how this place was "life changing", that the canyon was "Magical". 
As I sat there watching, crying, and listening, I was so proud of how many of the kids stepped up to the plate, to proclaim their love for God. They were not ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid, they were proud. 
These are the kids they face everyday at school. Some at different schools, some from great homes, some from not so great homes, some rich, some poor....and ALL face the day to day struggles of growing up in this generation.
A mother, stood up and cried out, stating that she had no idea what these kids faced on a day to day bases, their struggles, the peer pressure, their need to feel or be perfect. 
We had pressures, but I do believe that what our kids are exposed to and have to deal with today, can not compare. 
Parents I don't think we realize, or at least I didn't, how much pressure we put on our children, without even realizing it. When they were born, we were already picking out the best preschools, we had them in dance, tee-ball, gymnastics, soccer, all by the time they were three, as they grew older we focused on health,weight, exercise, or foods that were not "organic", then we pushed for them to take AP classes, start taking the ACT in 8th grade, push to be on the honor roll, tryout for any and all clubs, keep straight A's, be in college classes by the time they are seniors, have the right boyfriend/girlfriend/friends, and by the time they do become a senior, they need to have their entire future well planned. 
Seriously? I do agree that we need to guide our children, teach them values, teach them to be successful, and healthy. But at what cost? Some of these kids stated they are so filled with activities and schedules that they don't ever remember a time setting down for a family meal. 
Our kids are tired, scared of not living up to OUR standards, afraid of not being the best,or worse failing. 
Reality is...God gave us these children to nurture, and lead them to Him. Everything else is just extra! 
I know one thing, if we let our kids breathe, take away some of their activities, and allow them to connect with themselves, and God, they will have a much more grounded future, and family life.
God is the only one who knows the plans for these children.
We should be proud of these kids who can stand firm in their belief, reach out for God when they feel they have no one else, and grab the hand of their peers and ask them to join them.
Because these are the KIDS that will be running this country someday!
I had to ask myself, how many adults would have had the courage to stand up and do what each of these kids did. How many would have taken time to retreat, take off work, change schedules, just to have 48 hours to bond with God?
I was in awe and so proud of these kids, and their open hearts to love others, have grace, praise and worship God, and be completely vulnerable and selfless. 
I think we all need a RETREAT.... a time to REFOCUS, stand up, stay strong, and REFRESH our
relationship with Christ. Not just for ourselves, our own sanity, but for our families.
If you are living for your self, then you are not living.
We all set around and complain about our schedules, and hectic lives, but honestly, we create it. 
So take time to prioritize. Your kids will be gone soon and starting their own families, what legacy will they carry on? What have you really taught them? Have you shown them what is REALLY important in life? And most importantly did you spend enough "quality' time with them? 
Just some tidbits from Tara's soapbox...
(I'll come down now :) )

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