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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Retreat (as in quiet time away) (08/01/05)

TITLE: Retreat to Return
By Michelle Burkhardt


A familiar date that is instilled in the minds of all Americans is September 11, 2001. The terrorist attack on this country using American Airliners was a sad day for us all. I felt the same shock, pain and sadness that fell across this beautiful nation. However, having a husband working as a First Officer with United Airlines affected me a little more than most of my friends and neighbors. Fortunately, he had just arrived home the previous night, and when the attack occurred he was safe with me. The months that followed that horrible day were very difficult and an opportunity to go away to a Word of Life’s women’s retreat, had presented itself. Even though I was reluctant to go and leave my young children, with a little coxing from family, I finally agreed. The Great Doctor knew exactly what to prescribe for me.

The drive to the conference was seven hours allowing me plenty of time to just look out the window and contemplate life’s challenges. Floating in my mind was the same question that most Christian’s had, “Why Lord?” In addition to the distress over the loss of so many innocent lives, I also struggled with the aftereffects that followed. Unfortunately, I knew it was only a matter of time until Paul, my husband, was going to be furloughed. He had started with United Airlines only a year and a half prior. Layoffs were already occurring in this industry and seniority was everything. We had finally reached a point in our marriage that we were financially stable. Our bills were paid and we were starting to enjoy the fruits of our labor. We were moving forward and now this would set us back again. When we had met, Paul was a student in college, striving to be a commercial pilot, a very expensive career with college loans, certification ratings, and years of working low-paying flight positions. Then, when we decided to start a family, I was making more money with better benefits, therefore, quitting was an extremely difficult choice but one that we knew the Lord wanted. See, I had prayed that the Lord would bless us with children that were close together in age. The well thought out plan to have one baby, use some maternity leave; then, get pregnant again and use all my accrued sick time before finally quitting was rearranged. The Great Comedian answered my prayers with our sons being born only 30 minutes apart. A double Ha! Ha!

Once arriving at the retreat, to be honest, making new friends was not a priority. This was my chance to have one on one time with my Creator, my Friend, my God. The talks we had by the serene lake were especially my favorite as the wind carried his soft whispering words of comfort and love. Plus, I would jog along the roads that surrounded the complex and breathe in His fresh air to fill my lungs with His peace. I enjoyed reading His brilliant novel filled with inspiring, supportive words for the future. When I left on Sunday, the seven hour drive back home flew by as if it were a jet and not a van. No, my husband was not the pilot but God was my copilot and I returned home with a new, relaxed demeanor.

I have not been on a retreat since that weekend and making time for one should be a priority. It is important to be with Him. For this reason, I believe that even though the word retreat means a place affording peace, privacy, or security; a more suitable word is RETURN. For Return to Him is what I did that weekend and I am grateful that His soft arms continue to surround me with His Love. “Even now, declares the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning…for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.” (Joel 2:12, 13 NIV Study Bible)

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This article has been read 856 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Debra Brand08/10/05
Lesson told well. Thanks for sharing.
dub W08/11/05
Might look at paragraphing and structure, otherwise a good lesson.
Karen O'Leary08/14/05
Overall good piece. I agree with a comment above that the paragraphing (smaller) would mke this story stronger. You share a timely and inspiring message. I suggest edit and send it to a publisher.
Karen O'Leary08/14/05
sorry about misspelling make--I saw the error as I pressed the key to send it.