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My weekend began  in a torrential downpour while driving north on I-35.  It was thunderbolt alley all the way to Dallas.  Every fiber of my being wanted to stay home and not endure the stress of a rain-soaked ride.  Todd prayed for me, and encouraged me to take my time, stopping often.  What was the hurry anyway?  Contemplative exercising began on my way to the retreat, I meditated and slowed my pace.  My pace was sooo slow, I arrived 6 hours after departing, usually a 3 hour tour so I’m told. 

One of my dearest and oldest friends Amy(we’ve known each other 32 years) stayed on speaker phone supporting me along the journey as the water flooded the roads and buckets full of water blasted my windshield.  She has been with me in all sorts of dicey situations and this was no exception.  She was voted nicest in my high school.  A woman of gentle strength.  A true leader.  Her persuasive speech led me to a retreat 30 years ago where I met my Lord for the first time.   

Once I arrived, however road weary and rain soaked, it was another wonderful, life changing, and life challenging retreat.  This was the retreat of the women of Stonebriar, a congregation northeast of Dallas.  For many of us, we were renewed in all ways eternal, detoxing the synthetic ideas away as we  sat under the teaching of accomplished author and speaker Cynthia Heald (Author of the Best Selling Series Becoming a Woman of…. ) 

CARE (Christ’s Arms Reaching Everyone), a women’s ministry I was involved for four years until moving away in January, nourished me in this way.  Now it was a weekend of care for the soul – CARE was evident in the lives of the ladies over the whole weekend. Leaving CARE in Tucson, directed by the godly lady Barbara Tompkins was a raw and painful loss from my life in Arizona.  After 4 months away from the beloved women of CARE  God was lavishing me with John 15:15 as he did 30 years ago this month.

God’s friend:

A friend is a term of endearment that literally means one who walks beside, one who is near, one who is beloved, or those who belong to one another. As God made man, Jesus had every right to expect those He died for to serve Him as slaves, yet He chose to consider us His friends: “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends”

 (John 15:15)   Live Fearlessly by Lenya Heitzig & Penny Rose pg.197,

  Uncommon Beauty, 7 Qualities of a Beautiful Woman , Cynthia Heald’s latest book,  was our spiritual formation class for the weekend.

Although the women we will discuss were ordinary, they became beautiful by choosing to live extraordinarily. They were comfortable with who they were, they rose above their circumstances, and they persevered. Their lives have encouraged me to take risks, to seek wisdom, and to live selflessly. It is so easy for me to get caught up in my own world and seek comfort for myself alone. It is easy for me to focus more on my outward appearance than to develop gracious character. I have learned that lasting beauty is bestowed on those who posess “a certain something,” qualities that are the “soul’s own doing,” which can only be described as uncommonly beautiful. ”                 

 Cynthia Heald Uncommon Beauty , pg.8

Side note…I would like to place a copy of this book in every young woman’s hands I know in  middle school and above.  

  April 21st Chambers stated “We look for God to exhibit Himself to his children, but God only exhibits Himself in his children.” 

 He exhibited Himself in ladies I met through passion, wisdom, integrity, selflessness, graciousness, contentment and courage, the titles of all the chapters.  Cynthia also refered to her book Maybe God is Right After All,  because it was clear Cynthia has kept her hand in His encouraging us to do the same, for God’s Word Is All the Truth You’ll Ever Need, a chapter in the book… 

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-

 His good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:2 

The radiance of Christ was clearly evident at a Marriot just north of Dallas.  The beaming smiles of godly women greeted me as I pulled into the underground garage, bathing away the grime of stress from this harrowing drive, and my new-found gracious friend Mary Shave (entertainment and emcee for the entire weekend) guided me to my room.  Joy and sorrow is part of every woman’s life, and this weekend was no exception.  When the speaker shared that  her Mom was struggling at the end of her 96th year of life, a group of women quietly left the room to pray for her non-stop while she spoke.  Servant’s hearts  were everywhere.  I received welcoming hugs from women I’d never met at most every turn.  More than Texas hospitality, this was the love of Christ in action.  The women in white were our spiritual leaders for the weekend.  Karen Hawkins and her worship team were obedient and humble as they spoke and sang us continually into His Presence in a ballroom.

My keepsake for the time with these eternal beauties was led by a woman of excellence, Dana Cooper,  in a deeper walk with my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and revived friendship with Christ and new friendships with women.

Reporting from Dallas…

Resting in Him, Trish