Taking a Personal Retreat

Notebook on table
Image by Amir K.

Every once in a while, a mom could use to just get away for a little while.

I'm not talking about self-indulgence or feeding the idea of constantly needing "me time". Our society tells us often enough that it's time we stopped doing everything for everybody else and started focusing on meeting our own needs. I don't believe that type of thinking is Biblical. We have been called to serve our families, laying down our lives for others and for God's kingdom, and to trust in Him (not ourselves) to ultimately meet all of our needs!

I do, however, think that it can be an incredibly beneficial thing to plan to take a "personal retreat" once or twice a year. This can be anything from a couple of hours in a coffee shop, to spending the day at a park by yourself, to actually going overnight somewhere and having a full day or two by yourself. It all depends on the season of life that you are in (newborn or nursing babies, a husband or family member that is able to stay with the children), your financial limitations, etc. but I think that anyone can find a way to carve out at least a little bit of purposeful time.

So what's the point of taking a personal retreat?

For me, it is a way to spend some focused, quiet time seeking God, reading His word, praying over specific issues in my life and just generally asking Him to renew my vision and my priorities for the season of life that He has me in.

It is also an opportunity to read encouraging or challenging books on important topics (on mothering, on marriage, on home educating, on a specific spiritual topic). It can be an ideal time to really flesh out the different things in my life that are fighting for my attention, and bring some clarity to what is most important and then make a plan to focus on those things and release the others.

Planning can happen more easily when I am already in the mode of refocusing myself and setting goals and priorities. I find it the perfect time to tweak my schedules and routines, to plan for upcoming months of home educating and blogging, to determine projects I want to accomplish, to choose new books to read or set a new direction for personal devotions, and to set goals (and steps to accomplish those goals) in various areas.

If you're interested in the idea of taking one, see this older post where I talk a little bit more about taking retreats, and also highlight the book Shopping for Time
which was instrumental for me in beginning to take my own retreats!

What I'll be doing this weekend…

Starting tonight, I will be serving dinner to my family and then leaving the house for several hours alone. The next morning after breakfast, I will go out again and take the entire day, until it's time to come home for dinner. My husband and I have been planning this for quite some time, and he is fully supportive of my desire to do this. He also takes retreats a couple of times a year, and we are both in agreement as to just how helpful they are to us and how they enable us to better function in the roles that God has given us.

I've been anticipating taking this retreat for the last several months, and I am so eager to go and enjoy some intimate fellowship with God, and to come home (as I always do) just bursting with eagerness and joy to do what He has called me to do, with a fresh sense of purpose and direction!

Have you ever taken a personal retreat? What did you find the most beneficial about it? If not, would you like to take one?

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  1. I have been blessed to take several little retreats over the years. Afterward, I always feel recharged and refocused. One in particular that I remember very well. A girlfriend and I agreed to take care of each other’s children for an entire morning so the other could have a mini-retreat at home. It was during a time in my life that I really needed extra time to focus on God.

    I like to set a goal of some kind when I have a retreat. For example: intense prayer; goals for the year; seeking God about how I’m discipling/mentoring my children; meditating on my role as a wife/helpmeet; drawing close to the face of God; etc. Finding a place is a key element; one where you are free of distractions and you feel free to pray and worship, read Scripture, laugh and cry, concentrate… all these things. I’ve often told my husband that a REAL retreat for me would be to go to a Convent where they don’t talk all day long and there are no phones! Since then, I have found a little, quaint hotel right on the ocean that is pretty close to offering all these things, but most of the time, I use a room in my home or on my back porch (and I hide all the phones!).

  2. A personal retreat is so important and refreshing! I wish we made them more of a priority. It seems like my husband and I have been taking turns every other year taking one. (Actually, it’s just the way it has worked out). But I think we need to be more purposeful about the frequency. He surprised me the second year we’d been married by sending me to visit my aunt for a week where I would be free to spend time alone and last year a friend and I did a joint one together. This summer he talked about doing one as a couple at a cottage nearby, but I guess we forgot about it. I think I’ll set the plans in motion. Thanks for this terrific reminder! Personal retreats are definitely revitalizing and renewing.

  3. Thanks for the reminder, Stephanie! We’ve been talking about me needing to do this for awhile now, so I think I’ll bring it up to my hubby tonight so we can put one on the calendar.

    A friend of mine takes a day per month to do a personal retreat. Her husband works from home that day to stay with the kids, and she leaves after breakfast and returns by dinner. It’s done wonders for her heart, her spirit, and even her marriage.

  4. In my family, it’s still just me and my husband, but I started doing this very thing at the beginning of this year and I’ve done three of them so far. Very helpful! I’m glad to be starting the habit now so that once we have children, it will be easier to maintain (hopefully?).

  5. I LOVE that you addressed the focus of “taking care of ourselves” our society encourages. I’ve seen it trickle into the church, and while some level of that is okay, I do agree that the idea our culture supports isn’t Biblical at all; that, on the contrary, we are to rely on the Lord of the Universe to supernaturally meet our needs while we focus on Him and others. Trying to do it ourselves usually makes us more tired! Thanks for mentioning that in this post!

  6. Oh, I SO need to do this…it’s just hard with a special needs toddler. I don’t know when I even could. maybe it’s time I sit down and ask myself that question.

  7. Where do you personally go for the afternoon that allows you the solitude to pray/read/plan? I like the idea though I’ve never done this before. I do, however, plan time into my regular schedule for planning, thinking, goal-setting, reading material which encourages me as mom, wife, homemaker, homeschooler, etc. (but am at home for this). I don’t think this sort of “me time” is selfish – but necessary for me to continue to grow and learn. It also respects my introverted personality which requires chunks of alone time on a regular basis in order for me to thrive as a person.

  8. I have once! And plan to this year before we start up our next school year. I will be getting a condo for a weekend at SunPeaks Ski resort and will spend the time praying and planning. Im am really looking forward to it with my little nursling

  9. I did this a few months ago for an hour. Its all I could take at the time (nursing baby, husband working lots). It was very helpful to me.

  10. I have been in the habit of taking one every 6 months…I sort of still do, but the past 1 1/2 years (since my 16 month was born, or right before, as a matter of fact), I have NOT been doing a good job…mainly in terms of having time…I plan for a whole day, but somehow it ends up being for 2 hours…not enough time for my brain to detox and realign. It is also really hard to hear from God when you are telling Him to, “PLEASE! Hurry up before the time runs out!!” LOL. Was actually just talking to a friend today about watching the girl from 7:30-2:30 so I can have one. I do go out about once a week or 2 and have some planning time for stuff like menu planning and todos, etc., but I don’t count that. I also tend to use a resource on GirlTalk Blog to focus my time with the Lord. (Let me know if you are interested in a link to the packet…)

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