I was recently invited to be a guest at the First Baptist Church of Mesquite’s Women’s Retreat which was held at the Springdale Suites by Marriott near Zion National Park. I was not particularly interested in the ‘religion’ part of the retreat nor the Baptist denomination. I’ve lived in the south and found the Baptist faith to be a bit radical for my tastes, I grew up Catholic and don’t feel any attachments to that faith nor any other but knew that religion would be a huge part of the weekend. Not being attached to a faith doesn’t mean that I’m not attached to God but I don’t generally share the same ideas of him/her that others do so I mostly keep them to myself. When I’m covering something for a story, I play the spectator well, normally keeping far out of the mix, but this time I found myself right smack in the middle and enjoyed being there.

The speaker was Jan Johnson, a writer and nationally renowned speaker. Her theme was non-denominational and titled “Trusting God for Everything.”

Johnson was a phenomenal speaker who opened minds and hearts to Jesus by bringing him to life on a park bench. It seemed a very down to earth and non-radical approach to prayer.

“Imagine, if you will, sitting beside Jesus on a park bench and having a conversation. That’s all you need to do to pray, just simply have a conversation; it’s that easy and doesn’t have to be formal at all.” Johnson explained that praying is like having a conversation with your best friend because that’s exactly what he wants to be. The only difference is that you can’t hear this friend’s words with your ears, you’ve got to listen with your heart and trust that the answer will come, just not always as immediately as we would like them to.

Johnson mentioned that if you live just by the 23 Psalm, you’ll probably do alright in life but does encourage reading all the scriptures. If you have a difficult time understanding them, I do recommend her books; she has a very understandable way of explaining them.

The women had a strong faith but rather than radically forcing the word of God on me, these women showed nothing but warmth, love and a real desire to help me get to know and trust in God’s love. They also hugged a lot, and, in my book, there is nothing more therapeutic than a hug.

As Jonson was wrapping up the sessions, her words were powerful in a very simple message, “The first freedom you have is where you put your mind. The way to overcome fear, to move forward in confidence and courage is by where you put your mind; where you focus your attention; trust God and you don’t need to fear a thing.

I want to thank Cheryl Young and Myra Burge for organizing a lovely weekend, Cheryl for inviting me to join you all and especially the church women who made me feel so welcome. Your warmth is inviting and your faith inspiring; it was a weekend worth experiencing.

A slide show from the recent retreat at Zion is now ready for viewing.  The ladies invite those who attended to join them at the church on Saturday, March 2 at noon to enjoy coffee, cookies and fellowship as you all savor the memories of that special weekend.  It will only take a half hour out of your busy schedule, but it will be well worth your time. They want you to remember the friendships, the fun and the beauty but most of all they want to treasure all that God taught you.