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Retreating, part 1

re·treat – n

a.) A place affording peace, quiet, privacy, or security
b.) A period of seclusion, retirement, or solitude.
c.) A period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, or study 

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Honestly, I have never taken or gone on a retreat before. It seems I have allowed the busy excuses of life to prevent me, and even us as a whole family, from committing to one. It’s hard to really grasp the Why’s behind this one being The One. Maybe it’s because this first year into the launch of the Downtown Seattle Mars Hill Campus is where we have been so firmly planted, really for the first time ever. Maybe because I couldn’t fathom missing out on the weekend’s importance for the corporate collective of this body. Maybe because it was such an awesome opportunity, made so awesomely possible, for us to receive and experience humility in a new and profound way. The weekend reinforced that this is truly home, that these people are truly a huge group of extended family, and that there are a lot more relationships worth developing and deepening. As stated, and I wholeheartedly agree, regarding this retreat, “The purpose of this is to pull everyone together as a family, have fun, learn, grow closer to Jesus and closer to each other, and grow in our sense of mission and vision as disciples of Jesus in Downtown Seattle.”

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While for probably everyone else coming to Suncadia for the weekend their trip came from the West, we experienced the reverse, driving across the high rolling plains from the Eastern side of Washington, where the wide, sweeping expanse of sky is a completely different experience this side of the Cascades. (Still beautiful, though this shot was taken through a very dirty windshield, sorry). I have to admit, Suncadia wouldn’t have been my first choice of a place to go spend a weekend. Resorts in general rub me a bit wrong, likely  due to the fact I grew up in a resort town (Lake Tahoe) and still carry scorn from seeing too many demanding weekend tourists, from working in the resort atmosphere too long, and being flabbergasted when part-time residents in these resort communities petition that they get there own line in Safeway (kid you not). Personally, I prefer my sense of Outdoor Adventure to be a little less catered. I’d rather hike 100 miles on energy bars than go get spa treatments in the woods and hire someone to scrape needed callouses off my feet. Though I have to admit, there is a very tempting allure to going to a Spa, I just have to accentuate it’s just not my first choice.

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On the surface, Suncadia is your typical resort community- buy some cheap land in the middle of no-where, cut down a bunch of trees, build a golf course, over-priced over-sized houses, add a pool, fine dining and a staff in pressed Khaki’s then market it really well. Bam. But, add 200+ Mars Hill Members for an entire weekend and it’s a whole new ball game.

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We were given a larger suite room. Suite should really be spelled SWEET in this case. It is rare to go anywhere, especially a hotel, and be able to book a room with a full kitchen. We even had a washer and dryer. It was a perfect set-up for a family. Additionally, we were able to serve other families by hosting planned Breakfasts and Lunches in our room, providing ample opportunity to spend time in smaller communities. We then also got together and did Group Family Dinners with people from our neighborhood. This thankfully cut down on costs and the crazies of taking small children to nice restaurants when we just want to hang out and relax. Honestly, it made me think how cool it would be to do communal meals every weekend. I would have no problem hosting. Another great thing about the sweet suite- I took FULL advantage of having a really nice, deep soaking tub by taking a really long, hot bath the first night we were there.

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The ingredient that made the weekend the most enjoyable was the sun because even plush amenities and time off only go so far on their own. We tried super hard to soak up every ray of photon we could. Even in our suite we spent a good deal of time on the balcony and in the sun-filled living room with the sliders wide open. Saturday and Sunday our free time was filled being out at the pools. 

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Over the course of the weekend there was a lot to be enjoyed, a lot we walked away with chewing on. Honestly, as soon as we got back we were hit in the face with a load of heavy real life stuff making this retreat in essence exactly what we needed as a time of rest amidst the storm. Just taking time as a family, little expectation of schedule, few pressing stresses which usually worm there way between relationships. Good, quality Family time. So much, in fact, just to catalog the course of the event would be far too long. So I will touch on the real highlights of our enjoyment of this little getaway: Us, Friends and the Pool. Stay tuned.

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