Monday, November 28, 2011

Laity Lodge-It is Well With My Soul

This is the last of a four part series about the writer's retreat at Laity Lodge. Here are the links for:
 Part 1
 Part 2
 Part 3

View of the beautiful Frio River. Sept. 2011

My first writer’s retreat; I had no idea what activities to expect. I had registered for the nonfiction workshop led by David Dark. Gregory Wolfe led the other nonfiction workshop. Julia Kasdorf led poetry, Andy Gullahorn and Jill Phillips led songwriters and Jeffrey Overstreet led fiction. 

Julia Kasdorf reads

A special presentation occurred each night, along with singing. With the soft voice of Stephen Purcell opening a poetry reading by Julia Kasdorf on the first night, I felt like I was live at a PBS show. I had never attended a poetry reading before.

Singer, songwriter Andy Gullahorn

I loved that worship began each day. If every gathering, every activity in our lives began with worship, wouldn’t life so much more fulfilling and so much more of how God intended it to be? I want the life that God intended for me to have. I found it at Laity Lodge.

Author Jeffrey Overstreet speaks

Jeffrey Overstreet spoke on Friday morning with help from Kermit the Frog. a panel discussion about self-publishing and self-promotion occurred on Friday evening, with the sweeping changes in the publishing industry being one of the highlights of the discussion. Again, I felt like I was on the set of PBS. David Dark spoke that night.

Panel Discussion

Greg Wolfe spoke at the Saturday worship service, giving an address that he gave at a college graduation. That evening was highlighted by a concert by Andy Gullahorn and Jill Phillips who harmonize in both song and their relationship.

Sign marking hiking trail

Circle Bluff sign

Various boats were available for use.

In between all of the workshops and presentations, there were hikes, kayaking, art workshops and an art exhibit. I tried to participate in everything and squeeze out every drop of the experience that I could. However, I have to admit that I did skip the concert to fellowship with some of the other people attending. I got to sit with published authors talking about their publishing experience--priceless!

Gordon Atkinson speaks on the last day.

Andy Gullahorn plays his guitar

Jill Phillips and Andy Gullahorn lead the last song of the weekend: "It is Well With My Soul"

The highlight of the weekend for me was on the last day. At every session in the great hall the chairs were turned away from the river toward the fireplace. This was done so that no one would get distracted by the beauty outside and fail to pay attention to the activity at hand. But on that last morning, the chairs faced the river. Steve Purcell led the worship featuring communion. He gave people time to prepare to share a few words about their experience if they felt so led. I thought, “Well, I won this retreat. I have to speak, if just to say thank you.” At that thought tears began to well up in my eyes. That doesn’t happen often. As we sang, I had tears running down my cheeks realizing that God’s grace had brought me here and he had carried me in the palm of his hand all weekend. I don’t know that I have ever felt this before in my life; not this real. We had the opportunity to share and I led it off, with others sharing that they had been given the opportunity to attend with anonymous donations from others as well.  It was hard for people to hold back their emotions as they spoke. And then, Pat Spreng broke the serious mood, inciting laughter when she volunteered, “Well, I just want everybody to know that I had to pay my own way.” We all cracked up.

The Body and Blood of Christ

After communion, I felt such joy that I was thinking that we should sing a song that is really upbeat. Andy and Jill surprised me with a beautiful rendition of “It is Well With My Soul”. We all sang this together in harmony. Looking over the beautiful river, in the room with so many wonderful souls, I sang with tears running down my face; I realized that it is indeed well with my soul….

Until next year.....

Note: To read the previous article in this series, go here.

Linking up today with L.L. Barkat at Seedlings in Stone and Laura Boggess at The Wellspring
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copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins


  1. I was so sad that I had to miss that last day, Kathy. Next year I will make sure my flight leave a little later ;). It sounds so very special. I'm so glad you were there to enjoy. Love all these photos! You bring me to worship with these words.

  2. We missed you at that last service. It was a beautiful ending to a beautiful weekend. I wish we could all worship every day.....


  4. Such a beautiful comment Dodie. Thank you for stopping by and Merry Christmas!