First Winter Retreat in Texas - Yee haw!

020109_Pic1The year 2009 has already started off memorably with our first ever Koinonia-GFC Austin Winter Retreat. While the weather was cold (though I have experienced far colder in my lifetime), I was thankful that I could get away from the hustle-and-bustle of daily life and spend concentrated time in God’s words. It was wonderful to see so many students who were able to set aside their weekend as well and be so eager to listen to what God had to say to them. The retreat site was no Hyatt, but it was perfectly suited for our needs – comfortable bunk beds, good food, nice flat landscape, crisp fresh air, and even tumbleweed! Some of the highlights that will forever stay with me include but not limited to eating Kimchi Ramen Bowl late at night (my husband seldom lets me get away with eating so late, but this time, I could eat freely!), chatting and brushing my teeth with the girls before going to bed at night in my PJs, eating some of the best bacon and cheese enchiladas I have ever had in my life, playing “Wizards, Elves, and Giants” and “Capture the Flag” until all of our bodies turned sore (I will never forget how Janie bravely performed a body block on a momentum-gathering Caitlyn Richardson), and making a valiant effort to beat the guys at Charades (we didn’t win unfortunately).

020109_Pic2Most importantly, I will remember the messages delivered tirelessly and heartfeltly by Pastor Manny which borne in me a deeper understanding of how precious and valued I am in God’s sight. Pastor Manny painted an unforgettable picture of the Father’s heart using a clip from the movie “Lorenzo’s Oil.” Watching the father in this movie mourning over his 5-year-old son who was diagnosed with a terminal disease made me see in a fresh way how much I matter to God and how the sins in my life grieve and torment Him. The words from Hebrews 12: 3 came alive for me – “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before Him, endured the Cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Jesus endured the Cross ultimately with joy because of His love for us; He knew that through all that suffering, He would be saving my life and my soul for eternity. This point along with so many other points made during the retreat refreshed my desire to honor God and be devoted to Him in every area of my life. To not relent in my struggle against my sins, and to keep living for him and for others even though it is not easy and may require sacrifices. Finally, the greatest highlight of all from this retreat was to witness so many significant decisions being made – 2 salvation decisions and several lordship decisions. I was moved to tears to hear all the commitments that were made and how so many of the students were challenged to devote themselves to the One who gave it all up for them by surrendering very specific things in their lives. I pray that as we step into this new year together, we can experience the joys of obeying God and being changed and loved by Him.