Alone Together

ashley_blog-alone_togetherAbout 2 months ago, my friend Annie was telling me how exasperated she had become with her unending duties at home and responsibilities at church. She tackles these tasks with grace and thanksgiving, but she was feeling discontent with the lack of checkmarks appearing on her spiritual to-do list.

“I just need to get away, by myself for a few days to pray, read my Bible, read my books…do all that stuff that has been put off for weeks now!”

I not only agreed that sounded like a fantastic idea, but insisted that Annie let me come along.

“But, if you’re with me, I won’t be alone! And that’s the whole point!”

After a brief moment of convincing her that I needed the same sort of retreat, we came to the compromise that we would go together, but be alone once we were there.

“There” was Deer Creek Lodge in Mount Sterling, Ohio. Only about 45 minutes outside of Columbus, Deer Creek is a little piece of nature not too far from home.

Our 24 Hours of Refueling began on a Friday morning with breakfast and enough coffee to fuel a tank engine. It should be noted for anyone reading who might someday want to make coffee for Annie or I, we aren’t particular about our coffee, but our creamer…you better have the good stuff. (Annie has taught me to pack my own creamer when traveling to San Salvador!)

We arrived at Deer Creek around noon, checked into our separate rooms and claimed our spots at opposite ends of the perfectly scenic patio. My time was spent finishing Loveology by John Mark Comer. This book is AMAZING. I don’t care who you are or where you are in your dating life (or lack thereof!) – READ. THIS. BOOK. I basically underlined every line and wrote either “AMEN!” “PREACH!” or “MMMHMM…” on every other page. This book tackles why we should even bother getting married when the divorce rate in the US hangs at 50%, how to find “The One,” (hint: he/she is probably waiting for you next to a unicorn. i.e., as cool as it might be if they did, they don’t exist.), and why marriage is truly the best place for a sexual relationship (it’s not just because Jesus said so). Plus, Comer breaks down love and all its components into the original Greek. Nerds, rejoice.

After a few hours of solitude, I had finished Loveology and it was time for our Debriefing Dinner. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Lodge Restaurant, discussed what we had been learning and decided leaving the Lodge for a bit for ice cream was beyond necessary for more refueling.

Annie and I stumbled upon The Dairy Freeze in town and devoured our ice cream sundae and peanut butter chocolate shake (respectively). When we had about polished off our desserts, two neighborhood boys came in for a Friday night treat. I smiled to myself as the boys deliberated on whether or not they had enough money for two ice creams with sprinkles. I drifted into memories of rollerblading (oh, the 90s) to Rax fast food restaurant with my childhood best friend Sarah. We would each order curly fries with cheese, scoot to our favorite summer hideout and eat every fry and lick the cheese cup clean. Needless to say, the boys were 7 cents short and I got to treat them to extra sprinkles – it was Friday after all! Everyone deserves extra sprinkles on Friday! One of the boys thanked me kindly and assured me that the next time he saw me in town, he would “buy me something nice.” I told him I was only visiting and he should pay the sprinkles forward.

We returned to the Lodge where Annie and I sat together (but alone!) in front of a beautiful fireplace for our individual evening sessions. I began my new book, As You Wish, by Mercy Lokulutu. I have yet to finish this book, but so far, I love it. Mercy references the movie The Princess Bride when she points out that when we tell God, “As you wish,” we are really surrendering and professing, “I love you, God.” She talks about true surrender to God and why avoiding it could be possibly fatal. We had one more reprieve from solitude for 20 minutes in the hot tub…ahhhhh…..and then back to the fireplace! Serious coziness.

The next morning started with feeding the resident stray cats, more reading and LOTS more coffee. We departed the lodge and stopped in town for breakfast and pie. Yup. Pie was part of breakfast. As it always should be.

I wish I could have a 3-day weekend every week for an escape like this. I was able to chat with God uninterrupted, soak up words of wisdom from two Godly inspired authors, and hear my own thoughts for longer than 30 seconds at a time. Even though our time refueling was short, I returned home with a refreshed spirit, a peaceful mind and God’s own words whispered in my heart.

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