A Cushion Of Calm

Words aren't flowing as freely as I'd like them to as I attempt to recap the renewal and restoration I experienced at last weekend's retreat, so I'm borrowing the phrase ~ a cushion of calm ~  from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young to describe what has enveloped me.

The invitation came last July as I was sitting in the airport awaiting my flight to Santa Barbara for a kindness training: Would you be willing to be the featured speaker at our annual Women's Retreat? And my answer, without giving it any thought at all, was yes! The theme would be Real Grace and I'd have three one-hour sessions throughout the weekend to share relevant reflections that would help the women renew and restore. For nine months, seeds of grace germinated in my heart and mind. I prayed and prepared and prayed some more. I hand-picked some inspirational verses and made this interactive vision board.

Thanks to social media, my cousin Amy, whom I'd not seen or interacted with in 25 years, found out about and was able to register for the retreat. I'm still in awe of how similar she and I are in personality despite the distance of years and miles between us. Our reunion instantly felt like we'd known each other forever! 

 A teacher from our school family, Ann, also came along. A relaxed Friday night, with ice breakers and a touching candle-light devotion prior to an early tuck-in time, started the retreat off on an incredibly high note. Of course, Amy and I had a lot of catching up to do, so it was just way past midnight when we finally fell asleep. We woke up to this beautiful canvas just outside our window.

It set the scene for an equally-gorgeous day filled with food, fun, festivities and faith. My interactive sessions {Grace & Gifts, Grace & Gratitude} went really well, the weather cooperated for the nature hike and the scavenger hunt, and the songs of praise and worship throughout the day tugged at our heartstrings and left not a dry eye in the group of women, two-dozen strong, as we connected with our innermost being and with the gift of one another.

I made it a little farther up the Challenge Tower than this picture shows and feel certain I could have made it to the top, but a victory for me personally was allowing myself to be done before I'd finished. 
To say enough
And be okay.

After a Bunco tournament, S'mores by the fire, and a thunderstorm complete with a grand lightning display, we were ready for a good night's sleep. Sunday morning brought us back to the table for biscuits & gravy, then into our last session to talk about Grace & Glory. I shared the story of my great Aunt Norma before turning it over to the ladies for a recap. They found their partners by connecting the pieces of a puzzle that they would find inside an empty plastic heart and tying the verse in to a take-away from the weekend.  

Their heartfelt thoughts were more powerful than anything I could have come up with and they totally put the exclamation point on our time together. We talked about the metaphor of the heart, how there is strength in our brokenness because it's through those cracks that Light can shine. The ballad Tell Your Heart To Beat Again by Phillips, Craig & Dean, followed by an emotional circle-up Benediction, 
launched us into greatness.

Such a blessing, to be saturated in grace 
and enJOY that cushion of calm.


  1. I'm so glad you had such a wonderful and renewing weekend! I bet your talk was great!

  2. You are a cushion of calm for so many. Bless you dear Barbara.


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