Shed Your Shoes

This weekend over a hundred of us from the Boiler Room caravanned out to Prairie Star Ranch for the annual spring retreat, a refreshing blend of vacation, family reunion, and deep times with the Lord. We had sweet moments of worship together, powerful clusters of prayer for one another, large meals together, a bonfire every night, and hours of free time to wander through woods and along lakes. My sunburned neck bears witness to the hours I spent outside, surrounded by beauty. My heart, likewise, was deeply marked by the personal ways that God reaffirmed my identity in Him over the weekend and highlighted several places in my heart He wants to sift.

After lunch on Saturday, I found myself with a large chunk of free time, so I meandered down around the lake. To be honest, I was grumbling to the Lord a bit about how I just wanted to feel loved (more and more lately I have been aware of this desire rising up in my heart – and recognizing the ways I tend to respond to that desire – so the Lord and I have been working through that together).

Eventually, still grumbling a bit, I moved away from the Lake and into the woods. As I wandered down the path, I remembered how, as a child, I had loved exploring the words around my grandpa’s cabin in central Michigan. I spent hours there, wading in the creek, balancing on logs, and collecting colored stones, wildflowers, and tiny frogs, treasures of the woods. As I recalled those memories, I felt God encouraging me to explore like a child again.

So I rambled down towards the stream, where I found a pile of shoes discarded along the banks. I could hear children’s voices and laughter from around the bend. Remembering the Lord’s encouragement to explore like a child, I shed my own sandals and waded into the stream. I followed it until I found the cluster of Boiler Room children, feet submerged in the water as they scooped up tiny frogs. There were hundreds of these frogs along the stream. They hopped into the leaves and jumped into the stream every time we took a step, the patter of dozens of tiny bodies launching and landing sounding like raindrops. I marveled with the children at the frogs’ tiny webbed feet, the mottled brown and green of their backs, and the kicking motion they made as they swam away through the water.

It was while we waded through the stream, collecting frogs, that we saw them: mushrooms. Not just any mushrooms, though. Morel mushrooms. We spotted just a few at first, their spongy tops jutting out from the bank of the stream by an old dead tree.

I pointed them out to the children and one exclaimed, “Those are the ones my dad likes!”

When we went closer, scrambling up the muddy bank to reach them, I saw that there were more than just a few. I could see dozens of them scattered around the tree, peeping out from under leaves and barely hidden behind logs.

We picked a few to bring back with us, carrying them like fragile trophies as we waded back down the stream. As we splashed back through the water, the Lord began to speak to me about how this is the way we treasure hunt with Him, when we become like children. We cast aside our shoes and our grown-up agendas to simply explore, delighting in even the simple things: the slippery brush of moss under our feet, the flutter of frogs’ feet on our hands, a crayfish scuttling through the water. In the midst of this, we find treasure.

Later that afternoon, I returned with a friend to collect more of the mushrooms. We filled a produce box and had still only gathered about half of them. The following day, a group of us returned again and collected the rest, filling more bags and boxes to carry back home. I felt like this treasure, though a personal gift from the Lord, was meant to be shared, so I set aside a few for Derek and I and invited people to come take what they wanted of the rest.

When we came home Sunday afternoon, I cleaned my mushrooms and soaked them in salt water for a few hours, then sautéed them in butter with asparagus and tortellini. They were incredible, so tender and full of flavor. Delicious.

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14 Comments

  1. Mama

     /  April 4, 2012

    What a wonderful retreat. You are TRULY loved!!!!

    Reply
    • Papa

       /  April 4, 2012

      Becca, it reminds me of the walks we used to take in the fields behind church. You’ve always had an eye for seeing things that others often overlook. Sometimes the new message is a message from of old. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
      • It reminds me of those walks, too. Thank you for encouraging me to explore :-). I didn’t put any frogs or mushrooms under my pillow when I got home, though ;-)

    • It WAS wonderful, in many ways :-)

      Reply
  2. My mouth is watering. Thanks for sharing this story. it was beautiful and so are you!

    Reply
    • Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it! And my mouth is watering a bit looking at pictures of those mushrooms again. I had no idea they were SO GOOD!

      Reply
  3. amanda

     /  April 4, 2012

    I love that you were swept up into the love of Christ through and with our darling kids!

    Reply
  4. That is the cutest little frog I’ve ever seen! I didn’t think they were out and about when they were that small.

    Reply
    • They were everywhere! We wondered if all these frogs would eventually grow bigger or if they were like the tiny tree frogs that stay that small. Either way, they were precious :-)

      Reply
  5. Thank-you for writing this Rebecca! I’ve been savoring those three phrases ever since you told me the story, “dropping agendas, becoming childlike, finding treasure”. Patti

    Reply
  6. thanks for sharing, rebecca! love this

    Reply
  7. iheartsnapit

     /  April 20, 2012

    Rebecca it looks and sounds like you had an amazing time on your retreat. Wow the land of mushrooms…how do you know which ones a edible? When we come to visit I would love to go to this place and let the boys catch frogs and harvest mushrooms for dinner. Reading your blog makes me want to open ours again!

    Reply
    • I only knew these were edible because I’d seen them before and they’re pretty distinct. I also checked with a couple other people to make sure they were actually the ones I thought they were. I wouldn’t risk eating most mushrooms I see unless I was really sure :-P

      It would be great to show you guys this place! I’m not sure if we could do that, though, because it’s actually a retreat center out in Kansas (several hours away from Kansas City), but I bet we can find some neat places around here with frogs, too (though who knows about mushrooms — those were a pretty special find :-D).

      And you should open your blog again! I’d read it :-)

      Reply

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