Our family is counting the days until the Hallows All-Church Retreat on Memorial Day Weekend. Last year we left the Firs Retreat Center encouraged in our faith, better connected to our church community, blessed from the generous volunteers who loved on our kids, and probably a few pounds heavier from the delicious food.

What a joy it was to see our kids get to play with kids of all ages from the three Hallows expressions. We saw our older kids connect with sweet babies and preschoolers that they still seek out at church on Sunday and our toddler was told how precious she was to Jesus by the sweetest volunteers. The kids enjoyed more freedom at the lake and in the woods then they do here in the city and loved spending time with friends from church they only see on Sunday.

We went inner tubing on the lake, had an epic Nerf war, played lots of basketball and volleyball, and even escaped for a quick date into Bellingham thanks to the amazing missions team loving on our kids. The teaching was encouraging and the worship was beautiful. We were served well by the staff and volunteers from The Hallows, the Firs, and the missions team caring for our kids. But, most of all, I was encouraged by the opportunity to have time and space to really connect with people that weekend who loved Jesus and encouraged us where we were at.

Galatians 6:2: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

You see, last year at the retreat, our family was burdened. We were in a hard season that was just about to get harder. We didn’t know how bad it would get, or what we were going to need, but God did. And He used that weekend as a time for our family to enjoy being together, to open up to people who would support us and pray for us the next several months, and point us towards Jesus as we walked through pain. It was a gift.

I am in anticipation of what God will do again this year at the retreat. Who will we meet? What will we learn? Whose burdens will we carry? And who will carry ours? Our kids can’t wait to find out what kind of sugary cereal they will have and how many s’mores they can eat before they throw up. You know, all the good stuff that happens at camp!

The ALL-church retreat (for all ages, life stages and expressions) is just around the corner and the sign up deadline is in less than two weeks — May 10th! Sign up today, and if cost is an issue—please don’t let it be, we can subsidize as needed to allow everyone to participate in this life-giving time away in gospel community.

Written by Emilie in The Hallows North Expression. She’s a writer, fundraiser, FUNraiser, mom, wife, entrepreneur, organizer, and most importantly one who has been deeply impacted by the gospel of Jesus.