Last month I had the privilege of leading worship at our church’s women’s retreat. My dear friend and mentor, Shelly, was our speaker, so I jumped at the chance to help. We have been dreaming about working a retreat together for years and we both so enjoyed it. I put together a team of four musicians and we led worship four different times throughout the weekend.
It was a wonderful time of fellowship, teaching, and worship. I was privileged to be a part of it. Getting away into the mountains is such balm for one’s soul. Driving out of town and into such beauty is instantly calming. My mom was able to join us as well which was wonderful. She’s been to several of our retreats over the years and always fits right in making fast friends. Unfortunately, I was so busy during the weekend that I completely forgot to get a picture of the two of us!
Our team of musicians were such dear friends. Part of the fun of leading worship for an event is getting to work with wonderful people. The four of us enjoyed being together for rehearsals beforehand – praying together, laughing together, sharing our lives, and making music together. In fact, when it was time to go home, we were quite sad our time together was over. It’s been about a month since that weekend and we’ve just planned to get together for lunch soon. We miss each other! Something happens when you work closely together with people, being willing to be vulnerable with each other. God knits your hearts together in such a special way. I love that.
The enemy was at work on Friday before we left…my van wouldn’t start that morning and mom and I ended up taking her vehicle instead. Praise God we discovered problems before we got on the road! And Shelly was experiencing a pretty bad cold. But as the retreat began she was feeling much better and as the weekend continued, she improved. So thankful for that.
Weeks prior God was so faithful to guide me in song selections. We had women attending the retreat from both our traditional and contemporary services and I wanted everyone to feel comfortable with the music. The choices ended up being just right – the women responded beautifully and their voices were angelic! The four of us leading were blessed greatly listening to them sing.
One hymn in particular, He Giveth More Grace, was a song that fit perfectly with Shelly’s messages. She and I agreed to sing it a few times through the weekend. The hymn was unfamiliar to myself and the music team and as we met to rehearse, all of us were struggling with how to make it slightly updated yet keep the integrity of the song. We wondered if the women would know it and how it would go over. And honestly, it wasn’t a favorite of the team but we trusted God and we trusted Shelly’s suggestion. As we sang it the first time, it was clear that many women knew it and their singing was so beautiful. We later discovered that it was a favorite by many and had ministered to some of these women in the past during difficult times. The author of the hymn, Annie Johnson Flint, suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, and one of our women who also suffers from RA has clung to this hymn for many years. Another woman I spoke to listened to this hymn on a record over and over during her many years of caring for her husband after an accident. Others remembered learning this hymn as a child and loving it as an adult. In the end, God used this hymn in so many ways. Not only did it minister to these women, but also, it humbled and spoke to the hearts of the worship team. We were blown away by the response. Only God could do that, and we were so grateful.
Shelly’s messages were filled with grace and truth and God used her in a mighty way. The women LOVED meeting her and so enjoyed learning from her. God used her words to convict, to comfort, to heal, and to encourage. It was wonderful working a retreat with “my Shelly” and I am thrilled for more women of our church to know her.
I was overwhelmed with God’s goodness and stood amazed once more of God’s love and faithfulness to us.