My friend Moria takes a personal retreat each year. She finds a quiet place where she can spend a day or two alone, without electronic interference and a growing to-do list. Moria’s goal? To re-center herself around God’s plan and purpose.
Most people feel swamped in this hurry-up world in which we live, especially if we are wives or mothers. Every week brings new challenges that can add pressure. If we do not clean house on the inside, we let ourselves down and consequently everyone around us.
Find a way to take a retreat. It takes a minimum of twelve hours to download last year and upload God’s direction for the next year.
Once you are alone, relax, worship, pray, and invoke the Holy Spirit’s presence. Then…
Take three pieces of paper (or use your computer) and label the first LAST YEAR’S PLUSSES,
the second page LAST YEAR’S MINUSES,
and label the third page GOING FORWARD.
Ask God to embolden what you should spend time on and whiteout those things that are not to be entertained at this time. As you go through the following areas of who you are, write your notes on the appropriate page.
Take account of the highs and lows this past year. Last year’s calendar can help remind you of these. Were there relationships that became strained? Did you find your emotions shattered due to an event, like illness, death, or change in occupation? Most of us had multiple changes due to the ‘20-21 pandemic. Once you have identified culprits that clutter your emotions, think through those times when you were happiest and content. Next, it is good to look at patterns. What weighs on you? What keeps you from being stressed? What can you program into this year to help defuse stress or depression?
Proverbs 17:22: A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Next, evaluate your overall health. When did you feel at your best during the last year? Was it during a specific season or during an available activity? Then think a little more broadly. What tends to keep you from good health and what helps you stay healthy the most? What hinders your ability to fulfill God’s purposes in terms of your physical state? What can you program into this year to create one step toward better health?
3 John 1:2: Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
Check your brain and thought life. Last year, what events, relationships, or situations bothered you the most? What victories did you have within your family, job or ministry? What do you remember that brings good thoughts? Next, make some conclusions. What negative thoughts repeat themselves without any specific triggers? What needs a positive outcome but isn’t there yet? What might you do to push forward past the negative thoughts? Do you have an area that you would like to learn or be trained to do? Growing in some way can benefit you mentally.
Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Examine your spiritual journey during the past year. Does it go up the straight and narrow path toward the kingdom, or does it detour at times? What helped create times of spiritual closeness to God? What hindered you from experiencing His presence or direction? What spiritual discipline is out of order? What is your daily communication with your Father like? Are there steps you can make to communicate more effectively with the Lord?
2 Timothy 2:15: Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth
Can any of your answers for the PLUSSES and MINUSES pages be grouped? For example, did one incident bring you down both emotionally and spiritually? Go beneath the surface and do some deep cleaning.
Next, look at your GOING FORWARD page. What activities are dust bunnies that keep your life from being clean? Which of these changes are realistic? What changes will make the most difference? Prioritize these 1, 2, and 3—-No more!!!
Ask God to confirm your thoughts and strategy going forward.
Isaiah 40:31: but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
I hope your retreat will make a difference. Stay clean!