By Ruth DuCharme

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 6/4/2015

This past weekend I was blessed to take a group of Highland Hills families to Epworth By the Sea for a time of retreat. In this beautiful setting we experienced worship, fellowship, and service. We laughed together and cried together. We played hard and prayed harder. Most importantly, we found a deep connection to each other and to God.

The weekend theme was “X Marks the Spot: Finding Yourself in the Story.” The group spent time studying the stories of Christ and his followers in the gospel of Mark. Through drama, art, and games, we reflected upon the meaning of discipleship and the importance of sharing Christ’s love with others. We spent time in worship praying as families and sharing our stories.

A highlight of the weekend occurred on Saturday morning as the group spent time with the children of Safe Harbor. Safe Harbor is a home for children who have been abandoned or mistreated by their families. Our parents and children shared love and friendship with the Safe Harbor youth by spending time with them playing kickball, whiffle ball, making bracelets, and eating popsicles together.

During a time of reflection at the end of the retreat, some of our parents and children shared these thoughts. Jay Davis said, “I really enjoyed escaping for a few days with my kids.” Ellie Browne responded, “I'm glad we got to be ourselves around the Safe Harbor kids while having fun!” Eydie Bowden reflected that her favorite thing about the retreat was being all together – laughing together, praying together, and spending time with one another in an informal setting. She said, “These kind of activities make us closer as a church family.”

Building relationships was a large part of this retreat. It was about learning to recognize each other in newer and deeper ways. My favorite quote of the weekend came from young Conner Davis. When I asked him to share something about the weekend, he said to me, “At first you didn’t look like Mrs. Ruth at the beach, but then I recognized you.” Yes, this retreat gave us an opportunity to know each other in new ways. May God bless us as we seek to see God and each other in new ways.