As if we ever need an excuse to take a vacation, but just in case, here’s a great one: Vision Retreats.
I will totally fess up to this: I am an idea mooch! I like to make like a sponge when I’m around anyone that is sharing some great ideas and soak it up for my own life. That’s exactly what I did when I heard a man named Jimmy Evans on the radio. He said things that gave me a fresh take on marriage and family and I’d love to share it with you in Evan’s own words:
"When I first began in the ministry, I knew I had to have a vision for the church if we were ever going to go anywhere. I never even thought about Karen [his wife] and I having a vision. One day David Smith, a dear friend of mine from Orlando, Florida, began telling me that he and his wife go on a vision retreat every year, a time that they take every year to go and get God's vision for their marriage. So about ten years ago, Karen and I did our first vision retreat. It absolutely transformed our marriage in about a three-day period of time.
David Smith: "We go out of town for a minimum of three days, and we start praying and asking God about goals that He wants for us, really almost like a prayer list. We go through the calendar and we schedule the entire year, because if we don't, we won't have family nights, we won't have date nights, we won't have our retreat times, we won't have vacation. If I let the calendar crowd out all that stuff, we'll never end up doing it."
Once this idea got knocking around in my brain, I figured there was no time like the present. Bob and I were on phase three of the “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in the baby carriage” plan so we packed up our stuff and I squeezed my huge belly into our little truck and we headed to a friend’s cabin in the chilly Northwoods for our family’s first Vision Retreat.
It’s amazing what three days and two nights in a little space with only a fireplace to keep you warm and no television will do for a marriage. After we quit arguing about the best way to keep a fire going and who was stealing all the blankets at night, we finally got around to figuring out our lives.
Okay, not quite. But we did end up having a blast as we discussed and wrote out what we hoped to do in the coming year as new parents. Who we were wanting to be. What life with a baby could look like. Dreams! Goals! Vision! Then we actually had the kid and decided our new vision would be to just get out of bed in the morning after being up all night with a newborn! But it was still worth it because it helped us remember the big picture amidst sleepless nights and busy days.
Another thing I love about a vision retreat is you can get creative and make it your own. Have it in a hotel, cabin or a tent in your living room. Bring the kiddos or leave them with a babysitter. Have it every year or every few months. Just don’t forget the basics: paper and pen for writing ideas, your Bible, a calendar to make a plan, an open mind and your special someone to argue about who is stealing the blankets of course!
Happy Vision Retreating, my friend!