Guest Blogger: Christian Schlueter
The final day of our Gulf Shores 2015 Retreat began with the families getting their photos taken at the Beach Club. We enjoyed lunch provided by a Mardi Gras group based out of Orange Beach, AL, before heading to a dolphin cruise with Cold Mil Fleet. The dolphins (and the dance party that erupted on the boat) provided plenty of afternoon entertainment. We all met back at the Turquoise Place for a delicious pasta dinner, complete with salad and sweets, provided by Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. Once dinner was finished, hugs and see you later’s were exchanged. I say see you later, not goodbye.
Smiles. Laughter. Courage. Love. Presence. We’ve talked about and seen it all this week.
The first day was filled with smiles, everyone getting to know each other. The second day was filled with laughter, playing around on the beach. The third day brimmed with courage, climbing up on the paddle boards. The fourth day revolved around love, dining on the rooftop with special guests. And the entire week was filled presence, everyone living in the moment.
Wow, what a change. Ten families came in at the beginning of the week not knowing what to expect. The wear and tear of their journeys (both physical and mental) apparent on their faces. Ten families came into dinner the first night and sat with their families. Now you can’t distinguish one family from the next. None knew what they were getting into. Now they don’t want to leave.
The only thing the families knew for sure was that this week was a gift to them. And it was, this week was about these families. While this week may have been a gift to them, it was also a gift to us.
“Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11: 24-25
This week has been a gift to our souls, and that wouldn’t be possible without our families. This week was a time for all of us to detach from everyday life, to become ridiculously present in life. We don’t do this expecting anything in return; we do this because we love doing it. And we love doing it because we love the families. There is so much strength in the air at all of these retreats, and I’ve learned a lot from these ladies.
Smiles and laughs. The best medicine out there and the best way to make it through the day.
Courage. The willingness to try something new and scary.
Love. The open arms you should welcome everyone with.
Presence. The need to live every day by the seconds in it and not by tomorrow.
Most families don’t realize without them, we wouldn’t be doing this. Most don’t realize how much they have impacted each and every one of us. While our giving was much more obvious during the week, the families gave just as much as us. And for that, I want to thank each and every one of you.
You gave and were the true gift this week.