This weekend, my sister, my mom, and myself attended two out of three sessions of this year's First Baptist Women's Retreat.
I've been looking forward to this since stumbling upon the Women's fall catalog and seeing a reference to the retreat and who was speaking. I was IMMEDIATELY intrigued. In the past, much to my disappointment, the retreat has featured speakers from within our church. I shouldn't complain, as the talent and wisdom from these women has indeed been rewarding. However, there's just something about bringing in a "celebrity", someone you can't stop and talk to on any given Sunday. Then, when you mix a "celebrity speaker" with a horse/animal lover who runs a rescue ranch in Bend, I'm for sure captivated.
I immediately went home, googled her name, linked to her website, and then read the first example excerpt from her book - and cried. I then proceeded to order the book and talk her and her stories up to anyone who would listen - including Michele, my mom, Lisa, and Steph (who also attended).
We were only able to attend for the Friday evening session as well as the morning session. I have to admit, I was a little concerned bringing my mom into the fold of a women's retreat. In the past there's been some bonding/ice breaker games that have not necessarily made me feel super thrilled/comfortable and given Mom knows very few of the folks in attendance, I worried for her. However, I really felt like the organizers did an exceptional job this year. They played some humorous videos, presented a dog tricks show (from a special little terrier who's a celebrity in his own right - and "proud parents" attended our church), had outstanding/recognizable worship, and plentiful yummy snacks to indulge in while listening to the speaker. (This is a big hit for a girl like me).
All that said, the retreat was PHENOMENAL because of the speaker. Kim Meeder is so real, transparent, captivating, and oh....her stories. I am a story girl, which is why I love Lori Salierno as a speaker so much - these are the modern day "parables" that my mind absorbs the truth of Jesus from. I could try to tell you some of them, but I'd rather just flash a picture of the books, both available for around $10 from Amazon (and, there's an additional one as well). The books are filled with mini chapters, each giving an account of the struggles, achievements, and miracles she's experienced, both in her own life as well as in the lives of the horses - and consequently, wounded children - that have been rescued.
Mom said she was so glad she went. It got even more personal for the three of us as we shared a short but very meaningful and intimate time of prayer together. We prayed specifically for a person in our lives who we've all felt hurt by - and yet know we are called to love despite that hurt. Through that prayer it further solidified (as if we didn't already know) just how incredible the bond of love the three of us share in not only our mother-daughter relationship but as friends. Thank you Lord!