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About the Writer:
Joanne Sampl

With grown step-children, college age sons and a self-employed husband, Joanne offers her time to God and to others. Her interest in writing and communications brought her back to college as an adult and through several reinventions of her own business and ministries. With time on her hands, she writes about God and life.



Put Downs & Pick Ups

By Joanne Sampl

I recently spent three days at a women’s retreat. The hectic pace I had to work for weeks ahead of the event was exhausting. I worked nearly every night after dinner and my thoughts of deadlines and pleasing customers tangled my muscles with tension. “All of this for a day and a half off work,” was my silent grumble. Do self employed people really have the time or the energy to go on retreats? I shut my thoughts up and tried to concentrate on getting my work done. “It will all be over soon enough,” I told myself.

So, today is the day after the retreat. My mind won’t focus back on work now. It is swirling with exciting memories of closeness with my Savior during worship, and treasured moments of honesty with my new friends from the retreat. The taste of daily communion is fresh in my mouth. How I love those sacramental flashes of remembering what Jesus did for me on the Cross and celebrating what He did for me in the Resurrection. There is so much about that retreat I don’t want to be over now.

In the sixteen years since I accepted my relationship with Jesus and let Him start changing and growing me as a believer, I’ve been on dozens of organized retreats. Each one has their own characteristics and prominence in my life. Although some were more about growing closer to people than about growing closer to our Lord, I learned to put down something and pick up something else from each one. This retreat had its own special list of “put downs” and “pick ups” for me to change in my life.

  • Put down busyness and Pick up more time alone with the Lord.
  • Put down procrastination and Pick up intentional commitments of my time and talents.
  • Put down negative attitudes and Pick up positive expectations of God’s work around me.
  • Put down what I think God wants me to do and Pick up letting Him show me what He wants me to do.
  • Put down trying to please people and Pick up that I am already pleasing to God because of Jesus.
  • Put down my inability to be sinless on my own strength and Pick up that Jesus helps me overcome my sins and all my shortcomings.
  • Put down my awareness of my own problems and Pick up that Jesus can and will make me an overcomer of all my problems.

I’m sure the list will get longer as I fully digest my retreat experience and the Lord continues to show me why He wanted my focused attention for the three days. I pray that this time, the important principles God wants me to learn will not just stay in my notebook but actually get applied to my heart and life. But, by now I understand that the process of putting down things and picking up new things is a lifelong activity of faith building. It’s not about how much I think I need to get out of a retreat, it is about letting the Lord use it to change me little by little to be more of who He wants me to be.

For those of you who have been on a retreat or had a significant event in your faith journey recently, I challenge you to ask God to help you make your own “Put Down and Pick Up” list of principles. It shouldn’t take very long, but the results could last an eternity. It’s one way I’ve learned to not let a retreat really end.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

In fact, as I look back on the sixteen years of my faith journey, it is every time I am alone with God, in worship, in Bible study, in relationships and in my quiet time, the Lord is showing me different things to put down in my life so I can pick something else up that He wants for me. So, even if you haven’t been on an organized retreat lately, I challenge you to ask God to show you what He wants you to “Put Down and Pick Up” for Him. He has something new for you every day.


Copyright © October 9, 2006 – Joanne Sampl. All rights reserved.


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