This was the fifth consecutive year I’ve attended the men’s retreat put on by Stonebriar Community Church. Each year I’ve offered the use of Clifford, my full-size van. Each year they’ve taken me up on my offer.
I remember the first year I did that I waited until the day before the event to find out I’d be bringing the drums.
My first thought was, “NO! Not the drums.”
My second thought was, “Is it too late to back out?”
My concern was based on my experience with drummers. Most of them beat on them like they’re in the middle of a stadium in a marching band.
When God didn’t give any indication of a change of plans I fulfilled my commitment. Once David began playing I was glad I did. He blended into each song effortlessly. He even held the sticks in his lap for a couple of songs. He knew he wasn’t to be the center of attention.
Our church is blessed with fine musicians. The retreat band is no exception.
The last two years I’ve had the opportunity to go out a day before the retreat to help with the group of men who spend a good part of the previous year organizing this event. We spend the added day getting set up and geared up.
Yeah, we get a bit silly when we’re away from our families. We stopped at Cracker Barrel for lunch on Thursday. After they brought us the corn muffins somebody asked for some honey to go with them. As they passed it around they began calling each other “honey” and “dear and “sweety.”
Then they asked me with one word if I’d like any muffins. They tipped the plate my direction and asked, “Wade?”
I quickly glanced at each of them and asked, “Is it too late for me to go back home?”
They appreciated my humor, then changed the talk around the table.
The Shores of Pine Cove on Lake Palestine (pronounced Palesteen y’all) near Tyler, Texas is a beautiful campground. I thrive on the serenity before the crowd arrives. As crazy as this past year has been I soaked up an extra dose this time around. The naps on the dock were God’s gift to me.
The cabins have the basic air-conditioning Texans require. The memory foam mattresses are another matter. I call them that not because anybody has a copyright over their name, but because one night on that two-inch thick foam wrapped in vinyl and you’ll never forget that night of “sleep.”
Last year there was a rumor somebody saw a bald eagle. This year it showed itself to me as I blended in with nature. That was quite a treat.
Then, during a lull in the registration time I heard a sound I recognized from some TV shows I saw. I stepped away from the dining hall and witnessed two of our nation’s majestic symbol enjoying the thermals. WOW!
Our church brings in some fabulous speakers for these retreats. Jeff Kemp was no exception. He was exceptional and challenging, in a good way. This former pro quarterback now works for Family Life Ministry in Little Rock, Arkansas. He’s steeped in building strong families by strengthening strong men.
Being a part of the behind-the-scenes crews has its advantages. I often get some time with the speakers others miss. This year’s impact didn’t need such opportunity.
I sat at the table Jeff settled into for Saturday’s lunch while one of my cabin-mates was talking to him. Then, one of the men asked if I’d pray for the meal. Jeff had mentioned during his talk on Friday evening how life throws blitzes at us. These challenges are fraught with danger and tremendous opportunity.
I shared in my public prayer that I was in one of life’s blitzes at this time. Jeff probed to learn about the marriage challenges I’m facing. He offered some suggestions for me to try.
During Sunday’s brunch, the last meal before we departed, he sat at my table and talked with everyone during the meal. He asked what I planned on doing about his suggestions. I told him I was praying about the best approach I’d take to implement them.
When he left he walked around my side of the table. I made sure I shook his hand. He gripped my hand and prayed for me and Barb before he left.
The attendance was down a bit for this year’s event. I’m definitely glad I was one of those who went.
Keep smiling. Wade