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My two daughters and I recently attended a Mother/Daughter Conference at Pine Cove Camp in Tyler, TX. After a grueling 7-hour trip due to standstill traffic and detours, we arrived at Pine Cove mentally and physically exhausted. But I felt my muscles ease up and my soul exhale as I stepped out of my vehicle and onto the grass of The Bluffs. Ahhhhh. We had made it!

There in front of me was the barn swing my girls had made memories on in years past and The Summit dining hall where we had shared many meals together as a family. Inside The Summit, two exuberant, smiling college students welcomed us and asked about our trip. And fruit infused water invited us to refresh ourselves.

There is something about this camp in the woods of East Texas that is truly a retreat from the busy, chaotic world. When I’m here, my heart rate seems to slow, my stress melts, and though I know God is everywhere, I feel His presence a little more.

The whole weekend was a needed respite for me – a break from an already stressful new school year. And it reminded me just how important it is that we, as moms, give ourselves those kinds of breaks.

Sometimes we need breaks by ourselves and sometimes we need them with our kids to refocus on our relationships and invest in each other.

As I talked with “Prestigee,” the women’s director at our camp (all the staff have silly camp names), she confirmed that Pine Cove aims to be just the kind of retreat moms crave. “You all are in full-time ministry,” she said. “And just like pastors and other ministers need retreats, so do you.”

Wow. I admit I felt acknowledged and encouraged like I had not in a while! We discussed how sometimes, even in our churches, moms can get so busy with “ministries” that we are run ragged and not really refreshed in our services. But the truth is, moms need regular Sabbaths because when we take time to be still and meditate on Him, we are recharged for the journey ahead.

After my conversation with Prestigee, I went back to my cabin and sat on the porch with my Bible, my journal and a pen. My girls were somewhere having fun with their counselors, and I had more than an hour to just sit with God. That’s something that just doesn’t regularly happen back home in our days packed with work, school, and chasing our toddler. It was glorious!

And that night our speaker confirmed once more the things God had been speaking to my heart. She told about becoming a mom of one and then two and then three and how she just kept right on doing all her different ministries outside her home. One older lady had hinted that she wouldn’t be able to keep it up for long, and for our speaker, it was an issue of pride to prove to this woman that she surely could! But God gently cupped her face in His hand and tilted it downward – down to the three little ducklings following her to this meeting and that. “These are your main ministry,” He whispered. “Focus on them.”

“Yes!” my heart sang. As moms, we often want to “do it all.” I know at times my life gets so packed full (even of good things) my attention is splintered in 100 directions. So I must remind myself to take breaks – to create whitespace for my mind and soul. And sometimes I need to turn down obligations and opportunities all together.

There is much, much work to be done in our homes. We are raising little warriors to one day be mighty for the Kingdom. But if we aren’t careful, we will use up all our energy on this activity or that ministry and have little to spare.

I believe we need to prioritize our time, including breaks like my family’s weekend retreat, so we can recharge and realign our hearts with the Lord. It’s often in these “breaks” where I believe He speaks about where we should move forward and where we should step back.

I’m so thankful for the rest and direction I received during our respite weekend. And for the reminder that prioritizing the relationships in my home is where my focus should currently be.