Peace Among the Pines

Covenant Pines sunset

I’ve written this article several times now, and deleted each version immediately upon reading it back. I think I have unknowingly been trying to use this post to pitch the idea of going on the church retreat or brag about Covenant Pines. I am going to abandon that approach and simply write about my experience with my family.

Covenant Pines climbing wallThis year, my family decided to borrow a camper to stay in rather than sleep in one of the cabins or retreat facilities available at Covenant Pines. We chose to park the camper away from the cabins and the majority of others camping mostly to aid in naps and bedtime for the kids. We set up near the boat beach, simply because it seemed like a good spot and there was easy access to electricity and water. It ended up being a great location and just what I needed for our retreat.

Each morning, after some coffee and breakfast, we’d grab some lifejackets and paddles and hop in a canoe for a peaceful ride on Round Lake. The air was still and the water was calm and glassy. It was a fantastic way to start each day as a family.

Mercy Commons Covenant PinesThen it was off to chapel with a stop at the playground so June could ride the zip line once or twice and Esme could swing or hang from the monkey bars. Chapel would start with singing, and June would race to the front along with other kids (and kids at heart) to dance and sing.

During one of the songs, she came running back to where I was standing to tell me a secret. I bent down, and she whispered in my ear, “I love to dance!” Then she darted back to the front. This wasn’t news to me, but it put a smile on my face. It was a joy to be in an environment where June was not only allowed, but also encouraged to run and dance and be herself within a time of worship.

Covenant Pines beachAfternoons were spent at the beach playing in the sand and splashing in the water or with more adventurous activities like the climbing wall, zip line, and giant swing. The weather was perfect and allowed us to make use of all the amazing amenities and activities that are provided.

Every night after putting the kids to sleep, Jenna and I would start a fire. We just sat quietly and watched the flickering flames beneath the starry sky. It was the perfect way to end each day.

Covenant Pines Zip LineThe Sunday prior to the retreat weekend, we sang prayerful songs in response to our scripture reading. We prayed these words during of those songs:

Slow me down, oh Lord, slow me down
Help my heart to hear Your sound
Clear my mind, oh Lord, clear my mind
Bring me peace that I cannot find

God answered that prayer for me in a way that I did not expect at the Church Retreat. It was the daily bookends of those peaceful family paddles and quiet evening fires that gave my soul what it needed.

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