The ladies of Little With Great Love were able to get together for their 2nd annual retreat in St. Augustine, FL. Their theme was “Lord Pour Into Us” allowing the Lord to refresh them. They were able to reconnect, refresh, and restore together in God’s hands.
We spent time together at our AirBnb reconnecting and meeting. We laughed, ate, cried, and prayed together.
Time spent at the beach was the refresh our team needed. We swam in the water, ate good food, and danced, refreshing our body, minds, and souls.
Our mission to Our Lady of La Leche was one of restoration for our team and all of those who gave us their petitions. We spent time in front of Our Lady reading each intention, praying for you all. We concluded our time in prayer, adoration, and going to Mass.
Take time for a self-refresh and read the talk (below) from our Founder, Lisa. She led us on our refreshing journey and how we can retreat together.
Our time together on retreat will focus on the theme of God refreshing us. We’re here for some time set apart for spiritual rest and refreshment, especially for dry and weary souls. Care for our soul restores our spirit, it helps us to have greater peace and perseverance. Spiritual resilience is another area we will begin to dip our toe into, as that fortifies us for the challenges of our daily lives. Because especially as women, the emotional/mental weariness is harder to overcome than physical tiredness.
Refreshment is something the Lord desires to do for us—one example is in Psalm 23:3 when it says:
“The Lord is my shepherd. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.”Psalm 23:3
Let’s begin with a conscious decision of detachment. To open our souls up to the Father to do the real work during this retreat. He reminded that it’s not my job, or anyone else’s here or there, to accomplish anything during this time. It is merely a chance to be a vessel in giving and receiving, and to be poured into from other vessels—of course, Christ first and foremost.
Whether it is allowing Him to nurture, refresh, remove any impediments, renew, reignite, relax, reveal—whatever is needed to have His way in each of us. And it will be different for each of us, and thanks be to God that He knows our hearts, our burdens, our worries, and our circumstances, and exactly how to heal our hearts and bring them into deeper union with His.
At the end of my talk, I’d like for us to discuss areas that the Lord has been at work on within each of us, some burdens that we’ve been carrying as of late. Yet, let’s not presume to know what or how God is going to be about His work within our hearts during this time. Let’s show up when its asked of us, and be present to Him and each other, on this part of our journey. Most importantly, the important part of retreat isn’t just about going away, it’s about detachment—to leave things behind and let go. I invite us to untether ourselves right now, letting go of our responsibilities, our families, our devices, our illusions of our false selves, our insecurities and internal noise—whatever it is that may be vying for attention or distraction— anything that may take us away from being fully present.
I was trying to look up a quote about detachment by St. John of the Cross that I had referred to in one of my previous vlogs on detachment and decluttering. But instead, the Holy Spirit led me to this story of St. John, my patron (his feast day is my birthday) that moved me. To give some important context, John of the Cross was ordered by his Provincial to ‘repent’ of the reforms he was trying to bring about in the Carmelite order and return to his monastery in Medina del Campo, Spain. St. John refused, having previously been given permission for his reform work by the nuncio Ormanio before he died, and claiming he was not bound by the Provincial’s demands. Judged to be willfully disobedient to their authority, he was sent to a 6 x 10 ft. dungeon cell for imprisonment.
“During the nine months of his imprisonment, Father John was regularly abused by the friars in attempts to get him to ‘repent.’ He was given no change of clothing, very little food, endured a severe case of lice, and was given only his breviary to read. He endured the severe cold of the winter and the heat of the summer in the small dark cell that had only one small window high up on the wall. However, it was during this time of abuse that some of the greatest spiritual treasures to fill our Church were born. Father John, in the darkness of this prison, composed numerous poems, including ‘The Dark Night of the Soul’ and portions of the ‘The Spiritual Canticle.’ God did not allow this abuse to go fruitless. Father John grew deep in the spiritual life and entered into interior freedom through his prayer and surrender to God.
In August of 1578, it is said that God miraculously enabled Father John to escape at night, ‘in the darkness’ as his poem relates, and find refuge with Mother Teresa’s (i.e. St. Teresa of Avila) sisters in Toledo. Eventually, he escaped to Santa Cruz where he was cared for secretly and nursed back to full health. Over the coming years, his prison experience, the poems he composed, and his life of deep prayer and study prepared him to write four of the greatest works on mystical theology the Church has ever known.” (Source)
It’s no secret that the human journey is messy and challenging. We are sometimes stretched beyond our limits — burdens compressed by worries and anxieties. We do need to learn resilience to help us to continue walking the path God has for us. And most of all, we need to trust in God. Trust and rely fully upon His plan, timing, and provision, believing in His love for us, and desire to bring about our ultimate good. And I’m not saying that in some “yes, Jesus loves me the Bible tells me so” sing-songy way. I’m saying it from feeling like I too have been in my own sort of prison, and knowing that God miraculously is preparing my escape which I’m trying so hard to embrace while being terrified to make a significant move. All the while knowing that God’s will is what I desire, and I will do whatever He asks, even doing it scared. Because I know He loves me and I’m not alone. And the same holds true for you.
“The resilient ones have the ability to recover from life’s ‘slings and arrows;’ the resilient ones have the capacity to adjust to the misfortunes and stresses of life.” To be resilient involves staying flexible.
We need each other:
- To keep perspective
- To experience the mystery of God’s love
- To cope with the peaks and valleys of our journey
Our lives may narrow in on a certain difficulty or trauma that then becomes absolutized, a piece that becomes the whole. Also, caring people like ourselves can find themselves carrying unnecessary crosses, which wears us down mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. So, the book I’ve provided each of you, “Spiritual Resilience: 30 Days to Refresh Your Soul,” will be a resource, and addition to your mental health and spiritual toolkit. In it, Robert Wicks sets out to help us to keep a healthy perspective, offering practical steps on how to do so. We won’t really be spending much time with it together on retreat, as it’s not meant to tackle the text quickly, but rather something to use day-by-day, spending some time for reflection. But it can also be something you can use in your quiet time here if you wish. Either way, I hope it will be a helpful resource to continue to refresh your soul now and later.
Wicks shares that spiritual resilience is not just about recovering from adversity. Our focus should be on restoration in a way that provides deeper knowledge of both God and ourselves. With grace and proper guidance, during hardships, times of confusion, pain, and stress, we have unique opportunities to nurture our relationship with God and enable it to grow in surprising ways.
The central tenet of the “Spiritual Resilience” book is: “Be clear and be not afraid, for you are loved by God.” The deeper call is to be open us to see clearly, act faithfully, and appreciate more deeply how we are loved by God.
There are thirty points in the book that can lead to spiritual resilence, encouraging us to grow in relationship with God and with others. This is a journey of becoming more fully alive in Christ Jesus. And where there are challenges and sufferings, to view them as opportunities for the tenets of resilience to take root to bear fruit.
To live and work connected to Jesus is the primary way of restoring soul. If we live in Jesus, and rest in Jesus—we live in rest—we are abiding. Spiritual rest is to remain in Him. “I am the vine, you are the branches.” This is where we rely upon His resources, and choose to trust in Him. Trust in His provision, His will, His plan, His work within our current circumstances.
Another text we will a bit draw upon while together is the “Jesus I Trust in You: A 30-Day Personal Retreat with the Litany of Trust” by Sr. Faustina Maria Pia who was inspired to write the Litany. And like St. John of the Cross, she Sr. Faustina wrote the Litany after a time of suffering—a time where it had been hard to trust in God’s will.
Dependence on Christ is trusting Him with the work, process and outcome. Soul rest happens when we release our burdens to the Lord and rely upon Him. Harboring unforgiveness or resentment is a heavy burden, so we will also be doing an exercise later to work on that.
There are many things we could have done during this time together. However, the goal is to allow space for refreshment, to let Christ do the work, to grow in relationship with him and each other. So Let’s keep our eyes fixed on the Lord this weekend. And lay our petitions into Mary’s lap where the sweet Baby Jesus rests, and let Our Lady of La Leche intercede for us.