Last weekend I went on a retreat with women from my church.
What a wonderful way to rejuvenate and restore after a long, hard year.
My daughters sent me away with these wonderful tokens of their love.
I made sure to put them out in my room to remind me
of one of the reasons I drew away for restoration.
A few of us left early to stop by some quaint shops in a nearby small town.
This is my shopping buddy. Boy, does she know her Vera Bradley.
As wonderful as it was to reconnect with friends
and sit at the feet of our local radio diva Tracy Tiernan for worship and teaching,
I needed a little time alone. So I went for a walk
on the beautiful grounds of Sandy Cove.
I literally bumped into these soft, fragrant pine bushes.
And I noticed something.
Pine cones don't start out hard.
I guess I'd never thought about the birth of pine cones before.
But when I stumbled upon these beautiful crimson creations,
I was mesmerized. I wanted to squeeze their little hearts.
Eventually they turn to these things we recognize
as pine cones and collect to decorate with during the fall.
I have to say I've been inspired to learn more about the life cycle of a pine cone.
And I promise I won't go all philosophical on you,
but I know there's some sort of illustration there about how God grows us...
One night I snuck out to the restroom during the teaching
and happened upon this phenomenal sight:
It touched my heart so deeply, I had to sneak back in to get my camera.
Just look at that setting sun reflecting on the still water.
And that tree, full-of-life, smack dab in the middle of it all.
I feel another illustration coming on...
So often we go away on retreat and have
what we call, "Mountaintop Experiences,"
and have a far fall back into "normal life."
Yet that's not what happened to me this particular weekend.
Because the next morning I woke up to my own beautiful sight:
I send a thank-you from my heart to everyone
who made this weekend such a time of life and love for me.