My husband and I have gotten away before to reconnect, sleep in, and have a break from the kids and routine. However this past week was a first for us. The idea was to reconnect with God and each other. A ministry called Broom Tree (named for Elijah in the Bible who rested under a broom tree) provided this week where we could retreat from the daily grind.
The rules were simple. No media – internet, smart phones, or television. Take time to sleep, talk, read, and listen to God. I have to admit it was tough for me in some ways. I didn’t realize how much I am addicted to productivity. I kept wanting to schedule it out. I would ask my husband, “When should we take a walk, read, or have times of solitude?” By the last day, I learned to live without a plan. To just “be still” not knowing what might come next.
The big take-aways for me were:
I need to slow down. My kids follow me around the house as I put away laundry, cook in the kitchen, etc. to have a conversation sometimes. I need to be a better listener, not only to my children, but to my God. I found Him speaking so clearly when I stopped long enough to hear what He had to say. I found myself thrilled with truths that jumped out at me through His Word, but also hearing clear direction for specific situations in my life. The host couple for the week pointed out that Jesus was never in a hurry. He had only three years of ministry on this earth, yet He took time for people and never seemed to have a checklist.
I love spending time with my husband. Sometimes our relationship gets reduced to just being parents, chauffeurs, cooks, and passing on urgent information about car and house repairs. Getting away helped remind us how much we love to laugh together, take walks, play games, and …. other stuff. We actually took time to evaluate our relationship with each child and look for strengths and weaknesses. Meeting with the host couple we also unpacked some struggles in our relationship and ministry and got good counsel about some simple changes we can make to help us communicate and understand one another better.
I have a media addiction. I didn’t realize how much I checked my phone and email until it was turned off. Sundays are media free around the Spoelstra house, but how can I use some of the time I usually spend media checking for reflection, prayer, or just good ole silence? I am still working on this. I mean, what’s so urgent that it can’t wait? I’m tossing around thoughts of only checking email once a day and setting my phone louder so I will hear texts from kids rather than looking at my phone all the time to see.
So now we are back in the thick of family routine. I must admit, it felt good to put away laundry and do dishes for the productive feelings that something was accomplished. I’m surprised that I haven’t even checked my Facebook yet preferring to catch up with my kids and flesh and blood friends instead. However, I mourn the unhurried time with my guy as the four need machines that we adore take up a lot of time and attention. God has called us to love and train them so we can’t just run away whenever things get hard with parenting teens.
I think time under the broom tree to rest, reflect, and spend time listening to God benefits anyone who will persevere in making it happen. I know we are hoping not to wait another 17 years before embarking on a retreat like this again. As we head into Thanksgiving this week, I am thankful for the rest I find in Jesus, even during the crazy busy holiday seasons ahead. In the midst of your celebrations, I pray you’ll find His rest as well. “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
(Here is a link to the organization that I would highly recommend to other pastors and wives for a getaway like this: http://www.broomtreeministries.org)