By Candace Echols

As much as I love my husband and children, sometimes the thought of sleeping until I naturally wake up and making breakfast for one sounds like heaven. So when my friend Ashley Tinnin Frazer told me about Lauren Daigle’s Kaleidoscope Beach Weekend and mentioned the idea of a girls’ trip, I was all in!

Ashley and I rallied a group of seven women who were over the moon to steal away to the sandy beaches of the Gulf Coast. Not all the members of our group knew each other when we left Memphis, and I was a little worried that might impact the flow of conversation. But Betsy Hollis Brown suggested we swap cars halfway to the beach so everyone would have a chance to chat. That sounded like a plan, so we hopped in and made the long drive south.

So many of the details—from the weather to the group dynamics to the concert itself—were out of my control. Ashley’s hopes for the weekend were as high as mine, so we prayed that God would show up and refresh this group of women, encouraging them in whatever calling they were living out during this season of life. God answered our prayers and the trip was just what we were hoping for—soul refreshment. As I have thought back over what made the long weekend so delightful, I’ve noticed something: the four things I enjoyed most are ours to delight in here on earth, and—thanks be to God—they will also be ours for the taking in heaven.

  1. Praise: The Lauren Daigle Beach Weekend was a three-night music festival and during that time, Lauren invited several artists/singer/songwriters to join her on stage. Let me just say, when you find yourself praising God under the stars at the beach with your friends, the atmosphere of worship sets the tone for everything else that happens. I recall multiple occasions when we might otherwise have tripped into gossip, but my friends chose not to share a specific name or juicy detail in order to steer clear of hearsay. Worship pointed our hearts heavenward towards Jesus. The Holy Spirit’s work was clearly evident in the words that were spoken, and perhaps even more evident in the words that were not.
  2. Laughter: All four nights, we came home after dinner, put on our pjs, and sat on the U-shaped couch chit-chatting like we would have done at a middle school slumber party or in a college dorm room. These days, we often live life in a rush. Conversation is intentional, but clipped. But when a group of girls—at any age—are just shooting the breeze with nothing to do, stories will come out and giggling will commence. Since heaven is filled with unadulterated joy with nary a tear in sight, a good, late night belly laugh serves as a solid preview for what awaits when we all get to glory.
  3. Nature: As Ashley and I planned our trip, we had to make several decisions, with the biggest being where to stay. In the end, we decided it was worth it to be together, and it was also worth it to be close to the water. We settled on a beautiful house that was perfectly set up for a big group called “Dune Beachy” by GLAM-Destin. Ashley counted—it was 25 steps from the porch to the water. Almost nothing is as nourishing to a tired or parched soul as time spent in the great outdoors. Several friends took long walks; others went on runs. Every last one of us sat by the water for hours on end, talking and dozing and letting the lapping waves loosen our tight muscles and lull our overstimulated minds. Nature did what nature does: It reminded us that God is the Creator; we are the created. And there is nothing more relaxing than that.
  4. Conversation:Community is a gift, and the most fundamental way to build community is through good conversation. I remember one night, a girl in our group asked, “What do you do when you get into an argument with your husband and afterward, the tension just hangs in the air?” One answer helped me tremendously: “Humor,” another friend said. “One of us will say something funny, and that cuts the tension like a knife.” The well-timed, intentional question sparked much good conversation, and we all walked away relationally richer because of it.

A weekend away is hard to come by in busy phases of life. Before any planning can take place, it’s worth it to pray and ask for God’s blessing on the people, the place, and the purpose. Ask him to show up in big and little ways. Because there is nothing on earth that brings rest to the mind, body, and soul like the presence of our heavenly Father.

Candace Echols and her husband Jim enjoy raising their five children in Memphis, Tennessee. For fun, she dreams of having a small writer’s cottage in either Oxford, England or Oxford, Mississippi—either one would be just fine. For now, she writes in her yellow wingback chair from Ikea, and that serves as her happy place.