Sunday, May 22, 2016

Retreat Down Memory Lane

This weekend we headed up to White Sulphur Springs for our Bible study retreat.  Because there was a wedding up at the big new hotel, we got to stay at Harrison House.  This is where all my memories of summers spent at WSS took place, as well as memories from when we had a lot less kids, so it is a pretty special place!  I really love the comforts of the new hotel . . . but there is a lot to love about the old hotel!  They had just finished renovating all the bathrooms in Harrison House, so that was super nice.  We had such a grand time this weekend, and it was really lovely to have the place all to ourselves.  We didn't have to worry about kids disturbing people working, or anything like that.  It was great!
The weather was really quite dismal the whole weekend.  Thankfully Friday was nice, though.  As soon as we got unpacked Friday afternoon I told everyone I really wanted to get a picture of all the kids on the wagon.  Well, the wagon has seen better days, and the right rear wheel is actually not attached right now.  Instead the wagon is being held up by a block of wood, so we decided it would be better to not have *all* the kids on the wagon.  Since it rained off and on and was incredibly dreary the rest of the weekend, I was SO glad I insisted on getting pictures Friday afternoon!
One part of the deal we had for using the old hotel was that we provided our own meals, except for Saturday dinner, which they brought down for us from the big hotel.  The teenagers were amazing cooks for us.  They got up at 6:00 both mornings to make us breakfast--scrambled eggs and bacon Saturday morning, and pancakes and sausage Sunday morning.  Saturday for lunch we were supposed to have a picnic of grilled hamburgers and hot dogs up by the picnic pond, but even though it was not raining at that moment, the place was definitely drenched.  Instead, the teenage boys grilled everything and brought it back down so we could eat in the warmth and dryness of the dining room.  Amanda L was the "captain of the mess", and she ably organized everyone, and kept things in the kitchen running like clockwork!  We all brought a bunch of food--much more than we actually needed, lol.  If any sort of natural disaster had occurred, we would have been set for several more days at least!
It turned out that Saturday was not a bad day, even though it was so dreary and overcast, because it didn't actually rain all that much.  This meant we could walk around to different places, even though it was pretty chilly.  In the morning we had a session where we shared about relationships--with God, with our spouses, with others in the Body, with nonbelievers.  It was really thought-provoking, and a good time of sharing and prayer.

Bob and I took a nice walk after lunch (although our shoes got wet!), and the kids did a lot of bowling.  They all went rock-climbing in the afternoon too, even Micah and Drew!  And of course there was lots of just visiting on the porch.  John H. and I had been discussing why everyone really likes rocking on the porch of the old hotel, even though the new hotel has a perfectly lovely porch, with a beautiful panoramic view of the mountains.  I think it's because at the old hotel, you are down in the trees, which are restful in and of themselves, and you can hear the birds and the water from the creek across the street.  It really is so peaceful.
Saturday night after our catered dinner of baked ziti, we headed over to Fort Cochran for some fun.  The kids did some impromptu charades, we sang some songs, and then we roasted marshmallows and made s'mores.  The fireplace was so deep, we could fit a bunch of kids actually *in* the fireplace!  We were glad to be warm and dry though!
After the s'mores, there was an unplanned "feats of strength" portion of the program.  Caleb was the first one who was able to pull himself up onto the loft, using just his arms, followed by Nathan.  Others tried, but it was really slippery and tricky.  Eventually people started helping the younger ones up, much to their delight, and then Geoff A. made it up, representing for all the parents.  It was quite the spectacle!  We pulled out the ladder to help get all the littles down, lol.
Verity spent her weekend wandering around, being picked up by anyone she came across.  This made her quite happy, for the most part, except when she was crabby because she had just had her shots on Thursday.  What a life she has, surrounded by especially young men who cater to her every whim!  Elena gifted her with a purple Care Bear that she won at Dennys, where the McC's ate dinner on Friday night.  Verity really took to it, carrying it around everywhere and sleeping with it.
Because it was so wet and rainy the whole weekend, Verity's hair really had some curl to it, including this adorable little curl behind her right ear.
Sunday we had a time of worship, and then a devotional by Geoff A.  He and his family are preparing to retire and take their final move.  In a very moving time, he washed the feet of all the men there, and talked about how they had influenced him and his family.  At our church, Pastor Mike has been going through John, and his sermon on Jesus washing the disciples' feet was just a few weeks ago, so that was fresh in my mind, and made it all the more meaningful.  We will really miss their family!
After pizza for lunch, we all packed up and loaded up in the pouring rain--but not before I got a line picture of the kids in front of the door of the Harrison House.  I love to compare these pictures over the years and see how the kids are growing.  Verity was on her absolute last legs here, and she was very glad to get into the van and go to sleep!  Luke drove the whole way home, in which we had to stop 2 times in a 2 1/2 hour drive for various people to go potty.  And Drew (who was one of the pottiers at the first stop) STILL had an accident in his car seat!  Too much lemonade this weekend or something . . .  The stops and the rain made the trip home seem much longer than usual.  No one wanted to come home because we have testing for the next 3 days, so that is definitely not something to look forward to!

I totally paid no attention to my paleo diet this weekend.  I ate pancakes, pizza, brownies, chips . . . all things I haven't eaten in 6 weeks!  I enjoyed it too!  I'm sure I gained back 5 pounds, lol.  I guess it's back on the wagon tomorrow.  I'm very thankful for a relaxing weekend with good friends who are like family!  What a blessing!

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