Retreat, Reflect, and Refresh

Retreat, Reflect, and Refresh

A retreat will help you choose to orient your life around God.

A little over a decade ago, Glenn and I began talking with several couples who prioritized going on an annual or semiannual retreat to reflect on the previous year and look ahead to the coming year. The couples went to different places and followed different rhythms during their retreats, but their intentionality was the same.

We noticed these couples were choosing to orient their lives around God. This kind of lifestyle didn’t just automatically fall into place; they purposefully carved out time every year to pay attention to what God was doing in their lives and look ahead to where they were going.

We were inspired to follow in their footsteps, and so we embarked on our first retreat. For a dozen years or so, Glenn and I have been carving out time for our annual retreat at the end of December or the beginning of January. Our retreat plan has ebbed and flowed during this time, but in recent years we’ve come up with a rhythm to guide us into a more intentional life.

If you would like to learn more about the structure of our retreats, read pages 6–8 of The Intentional Year. You can find the first chapter here for free.

Reflect on the Past Year

The goal of reflecting on the past year is to hold up our lives to God’s light and present our whole selves to him. We often bring to God only the stuff that’s going on right now, or the stuff we want to see happen. But the present and the future are only two-thirds of our lives.

Inviting God into the past year—even the more distant past—is a way to find him in all things.

We may have missed little signs of grace along the way, like little bread crumbs leading us home. We often fail to notice slight deviations in our habits or the calluses forming on our hearts. Usually by the time life forces us to notice, it’s too late—like the driver who dozes off at the wheel and then jolts to attention when he finds himself drifting into oncoming traffic. The knee-jerk reaction that follows is often an overcorrection that has disastrous results. But safe and smart drivers handle changes on the road with small, frequent adjustments of the steering wheel.

We cannot move into a new season without properly marking what has passed. We encourage you to take time to journal and write down your prayers and thoughts during the various phases of reflection. This prayerful inventory taking is the necessary setup for what comes next.

The Packiams share the prayer of reflection (the Examen) and the practices of rejoicing, repenting, and making requests in chapter 2 of The Intentional Year. They also provide a list of questions to ask as you review the year. Download 7 Questions for Reflecting on the Year.

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Are you ready to stop living reactively and feeling emotionally exhausted? Do you want to experience freedom to invest time and energy into the people you value most? The Intentional Year is your guide to living into the purpose you were made for. With stories, practices, and a road map to intentionality, Holly and Glenn Packiam will guide you into the simple, sustainable, life-giving rhythms of an intentional life.

This isn’t just about aspirations or self-improvement—a flourishing life is tangible and possible. It’s time to live into the purpose you were made for.

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In our next message, we’ll hear from Glenn and Holly Packiam about how creating a word for the year can help you to lean intentionally into the season ahead.