What is a SelfRetreat: These mini-retreats are smaller, manageable portions of full weekend retreats. Often we cannot take a full weekend away, so my SelfRetreats offer a break from the demands of modern life without the commitment of a full weekend away. They also bid you to make the opportunity of intentional movement into a place of contemplation and reflection.
How SelfRetreats Should be Conducted: The SelfRetreats are comprised of three parts. You can work through these parts during a morning or full day of reflection. They can also be worked through in shorter increments during three consecutive days.
Regardless how you work them, they are intended to provide you with tools that will guide you in your time alone with God. Sometimes God will take a point in one of these SelfRetreats and pull you off into another direction. You should always yield to His leading and if you do not complete the exercise, there is no harm; simply accept your SelfRetreat as a space for the Holy Spirit to work.
Topics: My SelfRetreats range in a variety of topics as diverse as suffering and celebrating, self-knowledge and history. For a full list of SelfRetreats with a full description for each click here.
Location: These SelfRetreats can be conducted anywhere. While a church or other sacred space is preferable, your kitchen table can provide the perfect spot too. The most important aspect of selecting a location is picking a spot where you will not be interrupted.
Materials: The cover page for each SelfRetreat will outline all the materials you will need for that particular retreat. Read the instructions, but do not read the exercise. For most SelfRetreats you will need a kitchen timer, printed retreat materials, a Bible, a journal, and writing utensils of your choice. These can include colored pencils, markers, crayons, or water colors – whatever you prefer.
Creative Meditation: Many of the SelfRetreats will involve creating something that expresses what has been revealed to you. Allow yourself the freedom to utilize a medium that you enjoy. As we are made in God’s image, we are creative by our very nature. The fear of being “artistic” encumbers many of us from creative expression. Allow yourself to enter into this additional time of meditation. Do you remember the feeling you had when creating things as a child, before the demands of perfectionism entered your understanding? This is where we’re headed when we allow ourselves to create something that conveys our inner workings.
Method of Conducting a SelfRetreat: Select the date and time for your retreat. Write it down in your calendar as a commitment to yourself. Download and print the retreat packet. Read the instructions, and collect your materials. When the date for your retreat arrives, head off to your location, set your timer and begin. An hour is ideal for each exercise, however longer time with God will always bring additional benefit. If all you can manage is half an hour, then half an hour is perfect. God will honor the time you have, and he delights when you set aside this time to listen, learn, and grow.
Don’t Read Ahead: It is best not to read through the retreat materials ahead of time. Our minds are active and will begin “working” on anything that it comes across. To derive the greatest benefit from these retreats, do not permit your mind to begin working the exercises until your whole person is ready to enter into the exercise. Print out the materials and tuck them away; do not begin, until you actually ready to begin.
Use of Cell Phone Apps: I recommend that you do NOT use your Bible or study app on your cell phone. I love exploring the original language of Bible passages on my cell phone apps, but I know from my own experience that this can create temptation to leave the space I’ve created to learn and grow. This is especially true if the materials draw you to a space inside that is new or frightening. The temptation to check social media or take a quick look at your email is too great for most of us. During these times of SelfRetreat, you will have to depend on the Holy Spirit to instruct you as to original language, or other specific helps you utilize during your regular time of study of God’s word. If you’re really curious about something you can look it up later. The idea here is NOT to find the exact exegesis of a passage, but to discern what God is trying to tell YOU at this time.
Kitchen Timers: I recommend an old-fashioned kitchen timer for the exact reason mentioned above; we’ve become dependent on our cell phones to provide us a regular escape from the reality in front of us. Invest in something fun that ticks. I have found that the ticking reminds me to stay on task and focus on what God is telling me in the exercise.
Other Distractions if Working from Home: Before you begin, turn off anything that might disturb the space you are attempting to create. If other people are at home, a note on the door is a kind way to remind them that you do not want to be disturbed. I also keep a separate piece of paper near should I think of something I need to tend to. I make a quick note, and then move back into the exercise.
It is my hope that you will benefit from your time spent alone with God. I look forward to hearing how God used the time you set aside to work on your own inner growth.