For the past week our family has been living in this beautiful house in southern Colorado.
We've taken day trips to hike, visit historical sites, shop in quirky stores and spend time as a family. We have stayed up late and slept in. We've fished, lazed around and goofed off. All that a vacation should be!
You may be thinking, "Gee. It must be nice to have the money to just up and take an extravagant vacation like that! Those lucky Brumbaughs." And you'd be completely right if we had forked out the money for this vacation.
But God is good and we didn't have to. Yes, we paid for gas to drive out here, hotels on the way and for food and souveniers. But we did not have to pay for a week in a house bigger than ours with more bathrooms than I could count!
We went through a pastoral retreat program called Rocky Mountain Renewal. They offer week long retreats to full time pastors and their families free of charge! And amazingly they aren't the only ones who do so. Check out the Pastor's Retreat Network.
You can find these types of retreats all over the country. Wonderful people who desire to serve those who are serving the church. People who are willing to sacrifice their time, resources and talents so that those who are on the front lines can get a much needed break. I praise God for these people!
Josh and I have now attended three pastor's retreats. The first was through Broomtree. We stayed on Lake Michigan and had a wonderful time fellowshiping with other church leaders and ministry wives while also getting lots of alone time with God and time for our marriage.
Our second retreat was at Cedarly. I'm not sure you could find a more beautiful setting! We stayed in an old, giant house situated on beautifully kept grounds nestled against a lake. We enjoyed things like bike riding, canoeing, strolling in the woods and incredible meals.
Both of these retreats were only for pastors and spouses. No kids allowed. And with both of these there was a required group meal each day when we would gather and talk about ministry together. The hosts of both weeks were incredibly gracious and loving, ready to listen and challenge as needed.
This week's retreat was different in that we were allowed to bring the kids with us. There was also no schedule to keep. In fact, we never once saw the face of a person affiliated with the program. We were mailed directions on how to get onto the property, where to find the house key and specifics on what was allowed or not allowed (such as using the grill if there was a high risk of forest fire). It truly felt as though we were on our own vacation - which was a tremendous blessing with four kids in tow. We shopped for our food, made our own meals, set our own schedule and thoroughly enjoyed spreading out in a huge house.
As we talk with other pastors, Josh and I are learning that so few actually seek out opportunities like these for rest. So can I ask you to do something? Tell your pastor about these things. Most are free of charge, some come with a small fee. Some are only for pastors and spouses and some accept whole families. But nomatter the format, we've found that the refreshment offered through these programs is a tremendous way to encourage those in ministry. At our first retreat we were told that frequently pastors will sleep for an entire day and a half - not even bothering to eat - because they are so worn from constant ministry. Pastors are on call at all times - which often means their spouses and families are as well.
Josh and I decided after our first retreat that we needed to do one every other year or so. It helps us to stay fresh, to take time for our marriage, to spend time with God and to appreciate our church family. And it is wonderfully encouraging to be poured into for a whole week without having to pour out.
So go, tell your pastor about these retreats! And if you have extra resources that you aren't sure what to do with, consider contributing to one of these ministries. What they do for those who serve in God's name is invaluable.