"Sir, why would you want to come to a women's retreat?"
He quietly responds.
"My wife is handi-capped, and she rarely goes anywhere without me. She saw the topic of the weekend, looked at me with her big blue eyes and said, 'Can you take me?'"
After I pulled my foot out of my mouth, I say, "Yes, you surely can come."
I spoke for a retreat with a different flavor. In all of my retreat years, I've never encountered this. There were several young moms, not only bringing their infants, but also small toddlers. I have never been a proponent of bringing babies/toddlers/children to women's retreats. I just know that (as a mom), you'll be spending more time in the hallways than in the sessions. I also know that many other women who paid equally to come and get away, can get quite offended by the squabbles, the crying, and the disruptions. I really can't blame them. It's also very hard as a speaker to work with all the distractions.
The other side of the story, however, goes like this: Many of these young moms wouldn't be able to come without bringing their children. Some by self-induced choice; others by the fact that anyone they would remotely trust to watch their children for the weekend, are already here with them at the retreat!
So what I encountered in Clarion, PA happened so quickly and so divinely that I don't know quite how to write it. Courtney, a precocious two year old, is quite a hand full. Her mom, who I grew to love instantly, IS spending more time in the hall ways and her hotel room than in any of the sessions. She has all three of her children with her. Her life is in a crisis mode and many around her know this. I do not. At least not yet.
Courtney was in the back of the ballroom just being a typical two year old. I have to admit I was very close to frustration myself, knowing that the other women present were a little fatigued with the interruptions. I just started to sing, "Amazing Love" and I watched as Courtney separated herself from her mother and started walking slowly up the center aisle towards me. I saw her immediately. I kept singing and slowly walked towards her. I got down on my knees and sang directly to her. Face to face. She didn't move for over five minutes. I was staring into those gorgeous blue eyes, while at the same time stroking her hair, her shoulders and her hands. It was a divine interruption.
Every woman in that ballroom had tears in their eyes. I knew it was a sacred stop. I knew that the Holy Spirit had an agenda and it was up to me to flow with it or lose it. Someone captured this on video and I surely hope to pass it along here when I get it.
Courtney, her mom, her family and their situation needs a major miracle. It was in that sacred pause that I believe God showed me how to quit. To quit trying to make things work. To quit trying to force stuff. To quit being the orchestrator and let God direct the symphony.
Courtney never moved a muscle, looking deep into my eyes. After the song finished, we all sang "Yes, Jesus Loves Me" and Courtney sang with me. She was a different child from that point on. So was I.
I'm still not a proponent of bringing kids to a retreat, but I've got to say - this was a superb picture of what Jesus would do. To be "interrupted" by children, is to see the hand of God. I'm not that smart, but I knew better. This would turn that ballroom into a sanctuary. And it did.
How do you handle the interruptions in your life? Wouldn't it be amazing if you allowed yourself to flow with God-ly peace, even when it's not in your plan?
The child in me says, "Yes. Because Jesus Loves Me."
(The photo above really tells the story.... she never moved, or blinked an eye. A sacred moment)
(Also posted on SueDuffield.com)