I'm currently recovering from a weekend college retreat, "No Pain, No Gain." I love my college students, but spending a weekend with them reminds me how old I really am. I'm old enough to be the mother of most of them which really makes me feel ancient. But, some of them assure me I'd be the coolest parent, so that takes away some of the angst of it all.
Our weekend was full of food, discipleship, and fun. The sessions were led by Brian and Heather Payne, members of our church. Brian is a full-time professor at Boyce College and Heather is a member of the contemporary Christian group, Point of Grace. We are so blessed to have them in our church family and even more privileged that they could lead during this weekend.
One of the fun events for the weekend was playing Paintball. We loaded up the cars and headed for Waddy, Ky, about 45 minutes outside of Louisville. Once we arrived at our destination, we traveled by tractor through a 15-minute ride of the 207 acres that were owned and used by this family for Paintball outings. It was a gorgeous day and we rode by their home, which was a large log cabin. After the first round of Paintball, a few of the students were complaining that they couldn't move and I reminded them - "see me in about 20 years." During the break as we served lunch, Brian led a devotion on putting on the full armor of God. My favorite "Brian-ism" of the weekend came out of that devotion time - "When you go out into the world to fight the Spiritual battles, if you get pricked, you better bleed Scripture." Now that's good stuff, I don't care who you are. After a few hours of Paintball fun, we headed back to home base.
Heather spoke to the girls this weekend about how God prunes our lives so that we can grow. Quoting John 15, she used the Vine and the brances illustration from Scripture to visualize how we have to be connected to the Vine, Jesus Christ, in order to grow. Being a celebrity in Christian circles hasn't made her lose her humility. As a leader, I was able to spend some time with her, and I see her as "Heather Payne" and not "a member of Point of Grace" - she has so much wisdom and insight to share and she's just like any other woman, dealing with a full-time job, being a wife, and raising 3 sweet children.
At the last session she gave each of us a pansy as a reminder of what we learned about cultivation, pruning, and growth. I do not have a green thumb. I've killed multiple african violets. But, I'm willing to give this a whirl and pray for the best. My first job is to repot it, which will be a first for me.
All in all, it was a great weekend - cookouts, bonfires, paintball, and pansies - all surrounded by the study of God's Word. I pray that this weekend will forever shape and "prune" all of us.