This past weekend we took our older kids up to Benedictine Abbey for a family retreat. We wanted to get away for prayer and reflection time, away from technology and distractions.
I planned an agenda and scheduled some time for spiritual exercises and reflections. All of this time I was thinking it was for my wife and kids. It turned out, as usual, God had a message to share with me.
Once we arrived and the kids were in their room, I took their phones away. There was no tv and immediately they gave me a hard time. Is this all we are going to do Dad? Just sit in our room?
Stacy and I left the three of them alone in their room for 30+ minutes. After getting past the snide remarks and comments, they went with it. They asked if they could at least have some paper. “Funny you should ask,” I said, “because I bought you each a prayer journal.”
By the time we all got together for the first spiritual exercise they were laughing with each other. Megan and Nicky had come up with a rap about Jesus that was really funny and borderline inappropriate. Michael had decided to start a “dear diary” section where he poked fun at the boredom of this retreat.
My prayer before leaving on the retreat was that the family would have a “magical experience”. And that is exactly what happened. I set up an exercise with the kids and called it discover your unique gifts and abilities and used Romans 12:3-11 as a reference. The purpose of this exercise was to affirm each child that they each were unique.
The first part of the exercise was to prayerfully tell each person what they thought were their unique gifts and abilities. It’s really awesome to see your children affirm their siblings. They each really needed to hear this from one another.
We then asked them to take their list from each parent and sibling and find a common theme. Then prayerfully list their big dream and finally answer “is God speaking to you and if so, please write what you think he is sharing?” Then each child presented to the rest of the family what they learned about themselves.
I remember how truly awesome this entire exercise was and that the kids are digging deep. I was sure they were getting something out of this. By the tears of joy in their mom’s eyes I felt like we were on to something.
I went last and when I got to the section of is God speaking to you and if so please write what you think he is sharing I got choked up. God really was speaking to me and gave me a pretty specific message that I needed to hear. Funny how it worked out that I got so much out of this retreat when I thought it was all for my family. God really shared with me…