I really enjoyed Saturday's Advent Retreat. I have been having a rough transition since I just moved to Austin 3 months ago, and this time really helped me to just come to the Lord and bring him all my worries. The verse that was in my heart for the first part of the retreat was Philippians 4:6-7 ~ "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." And after spending some time just putting all my anxieties in the hands of the Lord with prayer and thanksgiving, he responded to me with Isaiah 41:13 ~ "For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, 'Fear not, I will help you.'" By the end of our time, I left with a restful heart and with peace knowing that the Lord takes care of me. I feel very blessed to be part of a community that acts on their faith and seeks the Lord together. Where they do not just learn "about God" but they seek the presence of God. -Y.M.

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Going in, I thought my mind might wander and get too distracted with unstructured time. But I was surprised at how focused my time was and how clearly I heard some things that I wasn't expecting.

On the walk down to pick out my spot, I was reminded that there was no pressure for this time; that it was not wasted if I did not "use" it well. Because time I spend with God is always time well spent. That removed some of the burden of "what is this going to be like?"

Once I sat quietly for a few moments, some verses came to mind that are messages of who God tells me he is. I noticed a theme. All of the verses talked about God's steadfast love and reassurance that He would always protect, provide, be my God, etc. I CAN TRUST HIM. After seeing all of the ways that God's promises in that particular vulnerable area (fear) comforted and healed my heart, I could see that I have some unknown anxiety. So I came Saturday not even knowing where I was weak, and God reassured and strengthened me.

I was very surprised at how quickly the time flew by. I just kind of followed a stream of verses. The first verse I read would make me remember another verse, then that one would lead me to the next one and so on. It was lovely. I almost NEVER spend two hours just going wherever my thoughts take me in God's Word. But it was very, very good. -M.C.