Life can take its toll. Many of us are bombarded at work with deadlines, achievements and goals to supersede. Sometimes we make it. Sometimes we don't. Maybe a lot of times we don't. On top of that, we've got a house to pay for and maintain, maybe mouths to feed (human and/or the furry kind), and we're supposed to eat healthy, exercise, and have a social life and spiritual life. How does one manage it all? Then like a huge unsuspecting tidal wave, you are hit with devastating news. The loss of a dear loved one, or met with a serious illness. Loss of a job, a house. When life doesn't happen they way we planned. Disappointment, frustration or anger are just a few of the many emotions one can face and are forced to sweep under the rug at times in order to keep up with the rest of our lives. This was us for the last 5 years.
This year, we were met early with a miscarriage and later the loss of Geoff's dad. We felt like we were just trying to keep our heads above water. Trying to move forward in life, but kept getting pulled down. But every day we keep putting one foot in front of the other because the bills still need to be paid and we have mouths to feed. But, someone noticed. Someone could sense that we needed something that we didn't even really realize that we needed it. The gift of rest.
A few weeks later, we find ourselves on our way to the Red Bench Retreat Center in Weimar, CA. Just Geoff and I. We exited off the freeway and found ourselves surrounded in a canopy of fall colors, and were met with the melody of nature's quiet song. A beautiful home welcomed us in and it was there we found rest. Literally, rest. Both nights there we were in bed and asleep between 8:30 and 9pm and slept until after 7:30am the next morning. We woke up and fell back asleep to only wake up closer to 9am. All cozy under our down comforter and with no James around to wake us early from our slumber or schedules to follow it was easy to fall back asleep. Neither Geoff nor I could remember when the last time we were able to sleep in past 8am. This was truly a gift.
We spent the morning enjoying not only a delicious breakfast but also heart warming company of the owners, JB and Kendra Branderhorst. We instantly experienced the love they have for people and connected on our mutual desire and calling to serve, provide comfort and share God's love with others. They wanted to hear our story and shared with us parts of theirs. I'm sure we could have sat around the dining table all day and would have enjoyed sharing and listening to each others life experiences. True to their calling, they were off to serve dinner to another group. Always serving others.
Geoff and I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring. We took a mini hike on the trails, came back and enjoyed some fun competition on the putting green. I'd just like to add that I, Toni, was the only one that got a hole in one. Unfortunately, I don't have any video or photos to prove it. We didn't want to over exert ourselves and had we more time, would have definitely enjoyed all the amenities including a sand volleyball court, tennis and basketball courts, a pool and hot tub. We decided to instead, REST. Relaxing by the fire and purposefully choosing not to watch tv, movies or Netflix. We RESTED. We breathed. We laughed. And it was so nice to allow ourselves this gift. Honestly, I don't think we would have taken the time to do so on our own had this opportunity not been given to us. But, we've learned that rest is absolutely needed. Taking a break and stepping away from our daily lives is healthy for us. It refreshes us, rejuvenates us and can reset us. Yes, those same stressors still wait for us back at home and at work but after a little time away, we breathe a little easier and facing those stressors doesn't seem as daunting as they once were.
We are so thankful for how God is using JB and Kendra to use their home to bless others. Its a perfect getaway for individuals and couples. Great for day retreats for church groups or staff meetings. Red Bench Retreat offers a lot for resting, relaxation, creativity, and brainstorming. The surrounding nature itself reflects the awe of God. I'm not sure what else I would have needed to remind me that there is a God much bigger than I can imagine who cares so deeply about us and every detail of our lives.
If you are in need of some quiet space to find your breath again, to be in awe of God's beauty and feel his love through JB and Kendra, Red Bench Retreat is worth looking into. We highly recommend it. We will definitely be back. Sooner than later.
Geoff and toni Brabec
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