Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Friends at the Metro Life Ladies' Retreat

Hello friends!

My girls and I really enjoyed Metro Life Church's awesome ladies retreat this past weekend. I'll write about it more in another post (stay tuned!), but here I just wanted to share some of the pictures I took. I actually snapped a whole bunch more, but not all of them turned out because I forgot to put the flash on and they were fuzzy. That, and some of you had some odd expressions on your faces and I didn't want to embarrass you! Oh well!

With dry wit and great empathy, Elyse Fitzpatrick, noted author and Christian counselor from San Diego, encouraged us all to encourage one another. Please visit her web site Women Helping Women. I'll write more about what Elyse said in another post. You can click here to download a zip file with all Audio and Notes -- or you can go to Metro Life's main web page for a limited time and select individual files to download or listen to on-line.

Melodye Jones, wife of our senior pastor Danny, regularly plugged great books for us to read. She gave a lot of them away, too! She and Sheree (see below) staged a hilarious running feud over who got to do the many different kinds of give aways. I personally won a Carabbas Grill restaurant gift card for bringing the most family members (four of my daughters).

Sheree Phillips is a rare treasure. As a veteran home school mom of seven and grandma of seven, and a warm hearted friend, Sheree has brought so much wisdom and grace to my life. If you can believe it, I first met her when I was 16 years old, living in northern Virginia, where I used to go hear her husband Benny preach at the Saturday Night Alive worship services.

Songwriter Vikki Cook led our singing this weekend, along with our Metro Life girl band. I commented to Vikki that two hundred years from now, people will still be singing her contemporary worship music (though they will be calling them ancient hymns by then). Famous though she is, Vikki is a wonderful down to earth lady with a heart of worship for the Lord.

On Friday evening, we enjoyed a short musical skit about makeovers. These ladies know how to do inspirational comedy just right! Need a heart makeover, anyone?

I've known Debbie Klinect for a dozen years or so. We've walked through so much together, and I'm grateful for her friendship! Debbie has three adult children, and three much younger ones, and she's a seasoned home school veteran and fellow writer.

I have a funny story about Mary Lou Graham. She has been reading my Hope Chest e-magazine for maybe 10 years, and I had reviewed her book of pregnancy devotions, Expecting Joy. In 2002, she e-mailed me and asked if Thad and I would join her and Rich for dinner. We had just started going to Metro Life, so I reluctantly replied that we had better concentrate on building friendships there. Imagine my surprise when I met Mary Lou and Rich at church a week or so later -- they had been members there for years! Rich was our home group leader for quite some time, and yes, we did eventually have dinner with them. They even let us borrow their house for a week after Hurricane Charlie knocked out our power and water. That's friendship!
Speaking of hosting other families, can you believe that Heather's family of six welcomed Patricia's family of six for two months (or more?) in a two bedroom home? That's hospitality! These ladies are as sweet as honey. They each drive about an hour to get to Metro Life, and they've each had a baby or two since then.

Susan, Leslie and Ariel enjoy Saturday morning breakfast in the chapel. This year the retreat organizers promised us heartier breakfasts like they serve at the men's retreat, and they sure came through with eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, fruit, granola, and even some girly yogurt and pastries.
At the same breakfast table, these three lovely ladies are from Haiti, where Marlene's husband is a pastor. Marlene told us about her 65 children -- one biological, and three in their children's homes, which they do not call orphanages. (Orphans don't have families, and now these beloved children do. Marlene knows every one of them very well! She is rich in love!) Marlene is on the left, and I can't remember the name of the girl in the middle, but the older woman on the left is CeCe.
Monica, Robin, and Olga are also enjoying their breakfast. Olga is from Russia and has fascinating stories to tell. Her family was able to get US asylum as religious refugees because of the Communist persecution. Robin's son (and Monica's brother) Micaiah is in the Marines!
Also hailing from Eastern Europe is Anna Maria from Hungary. (Her husband Ovi is from Romania.) Joy and her husband Prem have 13 wonderful kiddos -- and she's a whole lot younger than I am!
Mary Ann Moran and Mary Johnson are two of my fellow teachers at the Providence Home School co-op. These ladies are so fun to be around, and they are awesome teachers, too! Oh, and that's Benny Phillips, one of our pastors, scratching his head at the right. I don't have time to crop these photos, but I probably would have left him in anyway. He's a good guy.

And now for some pictures of three of my daughters with their friends.
Natalie, Clareese, Hannah & my Rachel

Brittany, Emily and my Lydia

Friends sometimes have the audacity to move away! (Sigh!) I first met Brandi Lenfestey (on the left) several years ago when she moved down from Indiana with her husband John and their three children. Then her nieces Chrissie and Cassie moved down with their mom Lynnette, and became buddies with my girls. All of them moved up to the Florida panhandle (about an 8 hour drive from here) a year or so ago when John became a pastor at the Sovereign Grace Church in Niceville. Joanna's been trying to figure out a way to see Cassie and Chrissie ever since then, and fortunately for her, Brandi e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago asking if she could take Joanna and her friend Cherish back to Niceville with her for a week after the retreat. We'll drive up this Friday and spend some time at the beach on Saturday before heading home Sunday after church. We miss you, Brandi!
Well, I hope you enjoyed all of these lovely pictures! I'll post some of my thoughts from the retreat within a few days if I have time before we hit the road.
As a reminder, if you want to experience the retreat for yourself you can download a zip file with all Audio and Notes by clicking on the link.


  1. Well, I've now burst in to tears...I miss you all SO much! I'm loving married life, and the Jax church is WONDERFUL, but I do still miss my Metro family...

    Thanks so much for posting pictures!

    Colleen (Barbato) Moore

  2. It was SO fun to be there and see everyone again. I enjoyed it so much. Thanks for letting Joanna come to visit . . . it was so much fun!
    We enjoyed our time with you guys this past weekend as well. You guys are just a joy to be with. Glad you made it home safe and sound!

  3. As this post is coming up again in automatic links from my most recent one (http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2011/06/sacred-romance-in-deeper-places-of-our.html) I should note that we have since left Metro Life Church. One of the things that concerned me about the retreat, though I didn't write about it at the time, was that there was somewhat of an over-focus on the confession and confrontation of sin among friends. I was concerned about it at the time, but I started to see this even more and more in the church in the larger context of how we view and deal with sin. You can read more about that here: http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2010/07/it-became-to-me-dark-thing-poem.html


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