so, i figured i'd post the first post of the new year on the first day of the new year, though i've waited so long that it's really the second day.
i wrapped up my year by spending four days with lovely people in gatlinburg, tennessee. the coaling baptist church student ministry annual winter retreat.
oh, gatlinburg. we'll start off with where we stayed. it was outside of gatlinburg a bit, which i don't really mind at all. we stayed at the wa-floy retreat place. it was a little...modest. the girls and boys were separated by a small distance, bigger than the beach but not too bad. our house had a tree that fell down in the front yard. we had the kitchen and the living room in our house, so that was deemed the meeting room for the trip. boys filed in and out all day. but, to speak more about the place, we had a chalkboard on the wall of the living room that said "get out", we had REDRUM on the bathroom mirror, a coffin shaped coffee table, beds with stained sheets, ladybugs everywhere, a toilet that ran forever, a leaking sink, random bathrooms, hardly any plugs, and a constantly beeping fire alarm -- in my room. the good thing was that we only had to sleep two to a room, and each room had two double beds in it.
however, this only goes to show how God works through your circumstances. we also had a beautiful "chapel in the woods" that we had sessions in. it was back away from everything else and had a little creek running beside it. the upside - our band - was amazing. no less than expected. fell in love with one of their songs. they rocked, no other way to put it. and they interacted with us during the week. because they are like us. i really like that when we get somebody who comes to lead worship and they actually hang out and get to know us, rather than someone who comes only to do what they were payed to do - play.
our speaker, joseph keenard. he was cool too. i knew he'd fit right in with us after i looked at his myspace and his general interests were "all things music. all things food." and i was right. he did. his messages weren't very long, but they were good. to the point and easy to understand. the only thing that he was pretty much wrong about is that we would hate snowboarding. there was only one that hated it, if i recall right.
then, our free time. not the focus or the purpose of the trip, but it was fun all the same. friday we spent a full day in gatlinburg, some shopped, a small group of us sat on a short brick wall outside of claire's and people watched, took pictures, and goofed off for about a total of three hours. it was great. that night we went snowboarding...awesome. i wish i could have done it more than just one day. so much fun. i think i fell less than ten times total. i got to where i could go down the hill only falling one time. great fun. i can't control the board after i pick up speed, though. saturday we went to newfoundland gap, i think...it was high on a mountain, either way, and in north carolina, i think. me, nicole, and the band hiked way up on the appalachian trail and had a snowball fight. then we ate at hard rock cafe. came back, took tons of great pictures on the couch. sunday we went into gatlinburg early and some bought swords and i ate ice cream from baskin robbins. mmm.
through all of this, i believe that God was working. He took our location, our band, our speaker, and our free time to bond us all together. i've never felt closer to some of the people in the group than i do now. especially the girls, we stayed up one night till two-ish in the morning talking about everything. He's moving us together for a reason. He's taking the words that came out of joseph and travis' mouths to shape us for the next level. He's taking the worship that the upside led us in to mold our future praise. everything about this trip happened especially to put into motion a plan that we may not know much about.
it's to make us stronger, more committed...fully, to Him. i think a lot of us have become distracted, led astray...we've allowed ourselves to sink into our everyday life and lose sight of what's really important in this world. we've become content with where we are and aren't striving to reach any further than where we already are. maybe we think i go to church. i live a pretty good life, i don't do those things i know i'm not supposed to. that's good enough, right? no. we are supposed to be leaders. to be continually expecting more of ourselves. to want to be more like Jesus. instead we're just happy to have things the way they are.
so maybe this trip was a wake up call. a call to get us prepared for the next trial we're going to face. to tell us that we aren't doing what we're supposed to be doing. it sure affected me, and i believe that it has affected others as well.
anyway, to say that it was a pretty awesome trip is an understatement, and that i think it was the perfect way to end 2006. on to 2007, full speed ahead.