Welcome to the online home of Audra Jennings, a book publicist and crafter. Here I share about both. I hope you'll find books you'll want to read and crafts you will want to order. I live a rather boring, single life. At times I would like to think I am humorous. The kids I teach in Bible class tend to think so. I also blog about current seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. I don't know why, I just do.
What if a simple day away could transform your life?
Part 1 of an interview with Letitia Suk,
Author of Getaway
The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat
Our spiritual lives can often resemble our
cell phones at the end of the day. The battery is run down and in need of a
charge. Sometimes we are down to 2% before we even realize it. It’s important
we reconnect to our power source. Even a single day set aside to recharge fully
with God can do wonders for the soul. In Getaway
with God: The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat (Kregel Publications), Letitia Suk
offers women a step-by-step, no-excuses guide to getting back in sync with God.
Many women are
desperate for more time with God, but with the demands of modern life, simply
getting up earlier in the day to fit in a longer devotion is no longer a viable
— or fulfilling — option. Every now and then, concentrated time alone with the
Father is just what the soul needs to reconnect with Him and refresh for the
journey ahead. Getaway with God
provides step-by-step guidance and the necessary tools to enable any woman to
plan time away — whether a work day, a weekend, or even a full week — on any
Q: You introduce Getaway with God with a great analogy. How are our spiritual lives
similar to a cell phone at the end of the day?
yours is anything like mine, by the end of the day the battery is running down,
and sometimes I wonder if I will make it until the end of the day. My soul
feels like that sometimes too.
if you could plug your soul in for a long recharge like you do your phone every
night? If you’re like me, the “juice” on my phone can slide into the red zone
without me even noticing. An emergency-like response sets in as I desperately
grab the charger to plug back into the power. Staying connected to the source
feels critical. And that’s just for a phone.
souls work like that too — draining constantly throughout the day, even more
during times of crisis. As with the phone, we may not be aware of the energy
loss until we are nearly empty.
Q: What was it about the group retreats you
had been on that led you to decide to take your first personal retreat more
than 35 years ago?
most of my weekend experiences enriched my relationships with my church, family
and friends, time alone with God at these events
often seemed minimal and tacked on at the beginning or end of a long day. I
loved the girlfriend time and laughing together at the skits. Retreats were
always a great opportunity to get caught up and renew friendships, something
that seemed hard to fit into our busy lives. Occasionally I started a new
friendship too after initially connecting at a retreat.
are valuable takeaways yet I sometimes I came away with a longing for more of
what I only tasted at the group retreats, entering into the presence of God. I realized
I didn’t want just to taste it but hang out there for a while.
Q: At first you had your own questions about
what a personal retreat would entail. From your own experience, what exactly is
a personal retreat?
would define a personal retreat as an opportunity to take a simple day away to
unplug from stress and recharge your soul. My first one came about in the early
years of our young church when I attended a large group retreat at a local
convent. While browsing the book area, I picked up a brochure for the facility
and noticed “private retreats available” listed among
the amenities. Right away I was intrigued, but I was unsure what a “private”
retreat would be. The idea suggested an unhurried time to pray, read and just
enjoy being with God at my own pace.
I was ready to sign up, but I felt clueless how to spend 24 hours
without a retreat schedule in hand. So I stuck the brochure in my bag and took
it home. A few months later, while seeking God about the direction of my life
and not hearing much back, I pulled out the brochure. Immediately myriad
questions flooded my mind:
If I do this,
will I just pray the whole time?
What does it
mean to “wait on God”?
What if I get
do I have to be to try this?
Then the possibilities began to
emerge — time alone, time to seek God truly, a chance
to finish that Bible study I started at the beginning of the year, an
opportunity to sort out the next season of my life — and I realized there was way
too much agenda for one retreat. I called the facility and made a reservation.
Q: How structured does your time away need to be?
Depends on you. Some women LOVE structure,
and others feel boxed in by it. I do offer detailed use of the hours at a
retreat, but only as a guideline for those who want it.
In my early years of retreats, I stuck to a
schedule because I didn’t want to miss out on anything. Now, after more than 60
personal retreats, I have a good idea what each time is for and what kind of
flow the retreat calls for.
Many women look at the structure not as a
schedule per se but like a menu to see what they want to add to their day. Choosing
a walk, a nap, some scripture, some listening and seeing what emerges from
those options. At my last retreat, which was for women already familiar with my
small group retreats, one of the women decided to go silent for the whole time
and did not attend any of the group meetings. She loved it!
Q: The second part of Getaway
with God outlines a five-day life-review retreat. How often do you
recommend taking one of these long, intensive retreats?
My first life-review
retreat came about when I recognized I was no longer in the middle of my life,
but closer to the end than the beginning. My grandchildren had started
arriving, and I wanted to bequeath to them a solid package of wisdom and
influence. I also wanted to see for myself the trajectory of God’s work
throughout my life and reset for the next season. Alas, there were a few holes
on my epic journey I wanted to go back and fill in. Another overnight retreat
was just not going to be enough.
didn’t have the whole picture at the beginning, just a vision and what seemed
to be an invitation from God to come away with Him to sort all this out. A week
seemed too long and three days too short, so I settled on five days, which
seemed just right. The first and last days were mostly travel days, so the
heart of the retreat was the three days in the middle. My initial agenda was a
vague “I want to see where I have been, where I am and where I’m going.” That
developed into the themes of the three days: the past, present and future.
second half of the book, which reads somewhat like a memoir, provides the
structure and questions to answer these questions for yourself.
My interval is every five years, and this
past spring I took my second life-review retreat. I plan to keep that pattern
up of every five years. Others might plan them around life transitions, such as
finishing school, job change, empty nest, death of a parent or retirement to
name a few.
Q: Once someone has taken a personal retreat, how can
they hold onto the refreshment upon return to the hectic noise of day-to-day
I encourage women to record their retreat
highlights and intentions and pray over them often. Creating spaces and places
for mini-retreats, even if that is a simple walk in nature, can help keep the
flame burning. Always knowing when your next retreat is, even if it is vague,
such as “in the fall,” keeps the momentum going. Certainly practicing the
rhythms of Sabbath goes a long way.