Retreat or Advance?

What I learned from being alone for 5 days

I know I have not posted for a while and shame on me.  I took time off to help my parents (see Meat in the Sandwich) and then I went on vacation with my hubby and two of my sons.  At the end of that week, while they trekked to the top of Mt. Antero, I retreated to a cabin looking across at Mt. Elbert to write and reflect.  It was the first time I have been alone for so long, I really cannot remember how long it has been.  I stayed in a wonderful cabin that was designed for the purpose of giving ministers and their families a retreat from ministering.

While I wish Robert could have this time off too, he provided me with a perfect opportunity to do something I really needed to do.  That is, writing down my life story.  I wrote about being adopted, considering adopting, and fostering other children.  I also wrote about sin, illness, infertility and overcoming.  I wanted to use this rare opportunity wisely so I pushed myself to stay focused and write.  It worked, I finished my rough draft!  I wrote 15 chapters (I already written two last summer) and I was so thankful God gave me the recollection to record all of the events that happened to shape my life.  I have a ways to go in polishing my manuscript before sending off a book proposal, but I am so much closer to finishing what I have really felt called to do– to share my story of redemption.

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While on the mountain however, I learned a few things and I want to share them here.  I titled this post, “Retreat or Advance” because I have heard in the past that we sometimes mislabel “Retreats”.  We get away, not to escape the battle, but to charge our batteries for the battle.  It has been suggested that calling them an “Advance” would be more appropriate.  I would have to agree with that somewhat, however, I still like the sound of retreat and in my case I was retreating from distractions, not the battle.  The battle was going on in my cabin.  Thankfully, I had eliminated some of the “enemies” by removing myself from them.

Here is what I learned from my retreat/advance:

  1.  God did not intend for us always be on the mountain top alone.  I like being alone, but I do need people; we all do.  It is no secret in my family that mom doesn’t mind being alone.  In fact, the boys were all mortified that I would consider staying alone for days in a mountaintop cabin.  While I was not scared, and I was content, I did find that I needed to see people, even if I didn’t interact with them.  I also wanted to explore the nearby towns. I went into town and explored, but also took my laptop and wrote in the coffee shoppes while I was there.    God  wants us to interact with people otherwise we can’t accomplish what he intended for us to do: “perform good works” (Ephesians 2:10)   We cannot minister to people, if we are not around them!
  2. There are always distractions.  I was in a cabin with no people.  I had my cell phone and a portable wifi with me, but it sometimes didn’t work and I was not there to be on the internet.  I mainly used it for some research and for brief breaks.  I had no television, I did take a copy of “Julie and Julia” with me and I re-watched it one night for a break.  I took a couple of books, unrelated to my writing topic, and I had my Bible.  The mountains and food were my other distractions.  It took me a little bit to just sit down and write.  It was SO quiet!  I have quiet days at home, but when all my guys are home; it is not quiet.  I had to push myself to focus, especially when it came to writing about the most difficult times at my life.  I often had to take walks to help myself process the past pain and hurt.  I prayed a bunch and I learned that with God’s help, you can overcome the distractions of life and that we need to unplug and just be quiet sometimes.
  3. I think I learned to give myself a little more grace…I learned that when you only have yourself to feed and clean up after, you have much more time available!  I only had a kitchenette with a refrigerator, microwave and toaster.  I ate all but 3 of my meals there to save money, time and calories!  I was amazed how little time this took!  So much of my time is spent each week planning, buying and preparing meals.  I decided that the chores of life were a big reason I had not been able to write this book before now.  I think it was an affirmation of what I have known all along, that caring for my family, while of the most importance, is a full time job!  I admire Stephen King, who before becoming a best selling writer, wrote whenever he could outside of working full time to provide for his family.  I think I learned to give myself a little more grace…that I am in a season of life that is about to end and I soon will not spend all day caring for a family.

So now I am off the mountain and back to sea level, caring for the needs of my family.  Tell me about your retreats/advances.  Maybe you need one, I hope you can have one soon.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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2 thoughts on “Retreat or Advance?

  1. Molly – how encouraging your blog is to me….I love reading it! It is amazing how one small thought can strike a chord and have an impact, perhaps at a time you, as the writer, would least expect. Keep sharing.

  2. Congratulations on completing your first draft of your life story! My retreats have always refreshed me. I recently took one to be with girl friends since I don’t have children. I so enjoy being with others and find I like the fellowship better than the solitude.