Exhilarating. Encouraging. Refreshing. Renewing!
Those were just some of the words women used to describe the 2009 Rock Womens Retreat. Held at Calvary Chapels Conference Center in Murrieta, Hot Springs, the events theme was Precious in His Sight. More than 500 women gathered to seek God and connect with each other.
The weekend began late Friday afternoon as groups of women checked in. Excitement, expectation and glee filled the air as women gathered in the sanctuary that evening. The group enjoyed a sumptuous curried chicken and couscous dinner with peach tea that was absolutely to die for. Praise and worship was led by the Rocks Worship Arts Director, Stefanie Kelly. Debbie Alsford, author, speaker, teacher and the Director of Womens Ministries at Cornerstone Fellowship in Livermore, California, gave her audience strong meat to chew on. Her words, given in four distinct messageseach one building on the other, challenged women to live deeper for God. She encouraged the women to truly know who they are in Him and to live the reality of Gods love.
Much of the inspiration came from Debbies own story. "I needed a miracle of the heart," she said. "I lived a Stepford Christian existence." Then things changed. In 1982, she was given three to five years to live. During that same time, Debbies husband who is a pastor, after six years of marriage and two sons, one day came home to tell her, "I never did love you."
It was a wake-up call. "During our years of ministry together, I got busy for God, but I never did the groundwork," she said.
The messages cut deep. Some women walked away crying. Others delved deeply into meditative thought, applying her words to their own lives, including this writer.
The entire group appeared to enjoy and feel blessed by the experience. Many said the grounds of the facility itself were part of the blessing. "There was beauty everywhere you looked," said one attendee. "There were ducks and swans in a beautiful lake. You could hear the waterfalls and smell the minerals in the hot springs. It gave you such a feeling of tranquility."
Saturday morning began with a devotional. Women were treated with two more messages from Debbie Alsdorf, who continued to encourage women to "get real about God and commit each day to love myself and God."
Throughout the weekend, there were opportunities for personal meditation and free time to enjoy the pool, hot tub, and hot springs. They could also hike, play tennis, go on a scavenger hunt or enjoy other workshops.
Saturday featured a special concert led by worship leader, Mike Clark and his band. It was followed with an afterglow of worship. Women worshipped freely- some kneeling and prostrating themselves at the altar, in the aisles, or wherever they were - crying with uplifted arms, with the lights dimmed low.
Sunday began with Stefanie and her band, followed by Debbie Alsdorfs final message, "Lifestyle of Love." She shared that, We need to go back to basics and stay connected to God. He wants to make you an everyday vessel. We were born for a bigger picture born to answer His call." The time ended with communion.
The weekend seemed to fly by too quickly. Soon it was time to pack up and head home.
"The retreat affected me from the start," said one woman. "I just had to be here. The Holy Spirit was leading me. I knew I was going to receive a message from God and I did."
Another womans goals for the weekend seemed to sum up the overall experience of the 2009 Rock Womens Retreat.
"I wanted to go deeper in my walk with God. I wanted a spiritual renewal and I wanted to connect and fellowship with other women at The Rock."
DO Something! Get involved! Check out the Womens Ministry at the Rock.
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