Friday, September 28, 2012

like never before

After closing out our cell groups, the youth kids did what they do after a Wednesday evening service: catching up with friends, meeting parents, playing games, loitering in the parking lot.. They were set free for the night, while us leaders gathered in another room to talk about them.

The excitement is building.  Fall retreat is upon us.

We have some fun plans in the works, but before any of that happens, I have some catching up of my own to do.  It seems I neglected to post about our Spring retreat last April.  I still marvel at how fast the months go by between retreats.

I mean, April.. wasn't that last week?

"Like Never Before" was the theme.  We spent it at Pleasant Hill for the second time, and our speaker was Adam Opper.  My cabin assignment included the "troublemaker" girls, which didn't scare me, but was a stark reminder of how little sleep I was going to get that weekend.  The cabin also had some of my favorite girls in it, so it was a good mix, even if the sleep prophecy came true.

On the first night, one of my girls got herself stuck inside of this 6.5 inch space (the one on the left).  She is an athletic girl with a shapely chest.  I can figure out how she got herself wedged in, but getting her out was going to be rough.  My fellow cabin leader, Erin, and I tried brainstorming on the spot, as this girl's body was hanging sideways.  Everyone was watching and giggling hysterically, as we tried to stay composed (you know, being the adults).  We tried tugging and shoving and shifting and re-shifting her body, to no avail. We finally told her that she had to get herself out or else we would have to grease her up or call on the men of the camp to come cut her out. She didn't like those options, so eventually her stubbornness won. Poor thing was bruised for a week, but it did make for en entertaining story.  There is a video out there somewhere.

As if that wasn't enough excitement, Erin and I were startled awake by one of the other girls having a panic attack in her sleep.  She was hyperventilating when we found her at 3 in the morning.  We did everything we knew to wake her, but nothing worked until we prayed over her.  We sat her up, got her some water, and talked with her for several minutes, prayed over her again, and peace returned.

Bridget was on a sugar high when I took this picture.  An hour later, she was fighting to stay awake during the service.  

Adam brought a pastor friend of his to lead us in a healing service Saturday morning.  Normally, all of the emotion and spiritual awakenings happen the second night, but at this retreat, the light of day was just as powerful.  Some of you might be skeptical when it comes to instant healing through prayer.  I was, too, until I prayed for people who were instantly healed.  I anointed each young person (who came to me for prayer) with oil and spoke words of life over them and asked God to take away their pain.  For some, He did. I even prayed over the pastor and he was healed of crippling hip pain. Personally, I wasn't healed in the way I asked for, but my spirit was enlivened and God worked through me in mighty ways.  I rejoice!

Adam did a great job of engaging the students through story and declaration, and left them with phrases like this: "Just because you're in your brand new car now, doesn't mean there won't be bumps in the road," and "We are royalty."


Saturday night was our semi-annual variety show.  In the past, I've sung in groups and played my guitar, but this time around I knew it was time to bring out the big guns.  Evie Suave.

Who is Evie Suave? She's my alter ego.  I created her when we lived in California, as a host for a friend's party.  Evie's specialty is spoken word poetry that features her friends as the subjects.  Evie needed a debut performance in Ohio, so she came to retreat and delivered. The piece was called "Ode to Pastor Mike."  Watch it here.  The youth got a kick out of it, but it was Pastor Mike's response that moved me the most.  He loved his surprise.

Even with the kids caught kissing in the woods, the boy who started the camp owner's golf cart without permission, the guys who broke a door, the girl with chronic migraines (who I ended up giving head massages to all weekend), and the not-too-distant memory of the junior highers who decided to "test" a fire extinguisher on an empty cabin, we left the weekend smiling and grateful for a God who meets us, carries us, and shows us more kindness than we deserve.

Worship.  Spirit.  Truth.

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