My Journey to the Baltimore Real Refreshment Retreat, Part 1: Alone but Not Alone.

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I can’t believe it has been almost two weeks since I was blessed to have such an encouraging, refreshing, amazing experience — attending the Real Refreshment Retreat in Baltimore, Maryland. Apologia’s “Retreat” is aptly named, it’s something of a cross between a homeschool convention, a Christian Women’s conference and a Worship Night.

It has taken me this long to “unpack” and be able to write out everything that God showed me on that journey. And it was truly “A Journey!”

Apologia’s Real Refreshment Retreat

The speakers (Rachael Carman, Debra Bell, Heidi St. John, Zan Tyler and Sherri Seglison – to name a few) spoke on topics such as following Christ, our thought life, Biblical friendships, loveliness, excellence and Biblical discernment. They shared wisdom for our relationships with our spouse, our children and our sisters in Christ. During the Nuts & Bolts session, which is a homeschool “how to” event, we were able to sit in on a variety of topics such as tailoring our child’s education, managing our day, and helping our kids learn. Truly, the retreat was packed with goodness and it would be impossible for me to share all of it here!

Above and beyond the speaking schedule, God had additional lessons for me to learn through the events of my journey. I learned so much personally over that weekend. I can’t share *everything* but I am going to try to share the highlights, connecting the dots along the way, to show you how great God is, and how He speaks through the Apologia Real Refreshment Retreat…

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Thursday- The Adventure Begins!

I flew into Baltimore Thursday night so I could attend the Nuts & Bolts portion of the retreat on Friday morning. I am not a traveler; it hadn’t really occurred to me that I would spend my whole day traveling (since the airport is a couple hours away and since we need to arrive a couple of hours early, and especially since my plane was an hour late!) At this point I need to reiterate that I was not, NOT, looking forward to flying or traveling alone.

In fact, for weeks leading up to my departure, and especially in those last few days, I experienced a great deal of anxiety over traveling! I don’t like anything about flying, really, and I’m not a “figure it out on my own” kind of person. I don’t like just diving in and not knowing what to do already.

After kissing my babies and hugging my mom, my husband drove me to the airport – and that was the beginning of the “good,” as my husband and I had some great time to talk about things like my blog and blogging (which we don’t do enough of.) My husband helped me get my ticket, took my hair mousse since I couldn’t carry it on, and stayed and watched as I went through security–waving from the other side when I was clear. (Aww, isn’t that sweet?) After a brief “I almost lost it” moment, I collected myself — and I was on my own.

With no trouble, I found my gate on the other side of the terminal – and would you believe there was a Starbucks immediately next to it? I had a Starbucks card with some money on it and I planned to use that for my lunch. I was so glad to see that I wasn’t going to have to go far to find one! See? More “good.”

I was blessed with an amiable light talker sitting next to me who was also waiting for our late plane, and I was blessed with a very friendly, well-traveled young lady next to me on the plane. With these two blessings, the “good” continued, and that would be a large portion of my experience for the weekend. I was alone, but I was not ALONE, and God continued to bless me with small graces and little good things.

The flight to Baltimore was fairly smooth (as far as I can tell) but I did not and still do not enjoy the feeling of flying, taking off, banking and turning, landing.. the whole nine yards. But I did it, and upon arriving at the airport I was additionally blessed to meet up with the lovely Rachel Martin, of Finding Joy, who had graciously waited for me so we could shuttle to the hotel together. I can’t say how much that meant to me! She actually got OFF the shuttle to wait for me, and guided me via text out of the unfamiliar airport. Yes, God was looking out for me by putting her there with me. =)

Later that night I also met Melissa Crabtree (who was there assisting Heidi St. John) and we immediately clicked. I love making new friends. =) I think we clicked over my hair product woes (having to leave my mousse behind) and she let me know that she had a car–thanks to Melissa I was able to style my hair for the weekend! It’s the little things that make us smile. But hair mousse isn’t the only thing I appreciate about Melissa, she was genuinely lovely and kind. It was also really good to see my old friends again, Liz and Michelle (and all of the other Apologia people that I would be surprised if they had remembered me from Austin.) Speaking of genuine and kind, that would be Liz and Michelle, too.

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So all of that to say that I reached the end of Friday on a little mini happy buzz, that lasted all the way to my hotel room. And then I closed the door — and I was alone. Whereas my husband would be giddy at the thought, I wasn’t looking forward to that part. It’s true that I slept with the tv on low that night, because it was just too quiet without it. As I stepped into the silence of my room and looked around, I thought, “Okay, God, here I am alone, again. What exactly are you trying to tell me?”

… To be continued with Part 2.

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