SOUTHMINSTER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
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Weekend Unplugged
The weekend of March 3, 2012, our family was very fortunate to be able to take some time away from home for the very first Southminster Family Retreat at Windy Ridge.  What were we hoping to get from this little getaway?  We were hoping to get some quality family time together and for the kids to have fun doing some good old fashioned hiking in the woods.  First, let us clarify what we did not get:  TV, internet & cell phone access, iPods and video games (though we did use the camera feature on our cell phones!).   What we did get was so much more.  

Along with two other Southminster families, we were accompanied by Ken White and Peggy Wucher to the lodge at Windy Ridge.  Soon after arriving, we set off for a scavenger hunt and hiked along the trails to a pond where the kids stopped to play and skip rocks.  It was such a beautiful day, a little chilly but the sun was shining… a perfect day to toss a nerf football, kick a soccer ball or play frisbee!  After the hike and some outside play, our appetites were sufficiently worked up to enjoy a big lunch of chili, cornbread, and chicken noodle soup. 

The kids continued to have a great time after lunch doing arts & crafts and playing in the game room.  Some of the kids even helped Pastor Ken bake bread.  It was so nice to see the kids all getting to know each other and enjoying themselves with crafts and simple games.  Not once did our kids complain about the technological void.  Neither did we, for that matter.  Just as the kids enjoyed making some new friends, we did as well.  It was so nice to spend time talking with Pastor Ken and Peggy, and with the other couples who are in the same phase of their lives with kids of similar ages.

We enjoyed a hearty spaghetti & meatball dinner (along with the delicious bread the kids helped to make!) before heading outside to the campfire to roast s’mores.  Sitting around the campfire, the scenery was amazing.  It was such a clear night, that it seemed the stars were out just for us; A brilliant backdrop for the enormous metal cross that sits in the clearing where the campfire was built. It was the perfect setting not only to count the stars, but to count our blessings as well. 

The day was coming to an end and everyone headed inside.  Everyone found a cozy spot to sit around the living room fireplace so we could listen to Pastor Ken tell some wonderful stories.  And the evening would not have been complete without singing along to some familiar VBS songs with Peggy!  A few of the kids were already dozing off, so it was time to call it a night.  It had been a full day for all, both physically and spiritually.

Sunday morning, after a delicious carbohydrate-filled breakfast of French toast casserole and bacon, we savored some down time and did an activity in which each family created a timeline of their life together, indicating the happy times as well as the sad times.  We all took turns sharing our timelines, remembering that Jesus has always been there through the ups and downs with all of us.  Pastor Ken then led us in some prayer, which was the perfect end to our retreat. 

Feeling inspired after some coffee and two helpings of French toast casserole, I wanted to write something to convey what it seemed we were all feeling that morning, and this is what I came up with: 

We are thankful to be gathered all together
Here at Windy Ridge, no matter what the weather
We’ve unplugged from the busy schedules that we know
With our Southminster family so our faith and hearts may grow

We thank you, God, for the time that we have this day
Far from home, yet close to You, with clear minds we pray
We are thankful to be gathered here in friendship
Here at Windy Ridge, blessed with the time for prayer and fellowship
 
Our “weekend unplugged” was much more than we expected and we are so thankful that we had the opportunity to go.  A huge thank you to Pastor Ken and Peggy for the time and effort you both put into organizing and facilitating such a wonderful retreat!! 
 
The Grant Family – Dan, Tamara, Halle, Carly & Danny 
2012 Family Retreat at Windy Ridge

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