photographs and words from Dogwood Acres retreat

The lake at Dogwood Acres
The lake at Dogwood Acres

It’s been a while since I missed three consecutive days posting at Life, Gratitude, Faith, & Passion; but it’s also been a while since I was at a retreat center without wi-fi! Besides, there was way too much going on to even contemplate taking time away for any writing.

The occasion was the annual men’s retreat for Trinity Presbyterian Church of Pensacola. Early Friday I flew in to Ft. Walton Beach, then headed out to Dogwood Acres, in the vicinity of Vernon, a crossroads of sorts located in Exactly Nowhere, about 40-miles north of Panama City.

That evening – after a fun afternoon of golf (my gold standard, BTW, when it comes to speaking at this kind of event) – we settled in our cabins before launching the retreat with dinner before the Friday evening session.

DSC_0058NEW LIFE: It’s been seven years since I last led this event, and almost 18 since Rebekah and I rolled out of Pensacola with two middle-schoolers, a cat, and a dog on our way to settle in Brandon.

Since keynoting the 2007 retreat I’ve published five books, found more and more of “the life that is truly life,” (1 Timothy 6), spoken to more groups in more states from more churches than I can remember, seen our children marry amazing people and launch happy lives, become a grandfather twice, and moved to North Carolina with Rebekah, where we are now caught up in the great joy of growing in faith with the Wake Forest Presbyterian Church

In short, I may be older chronologically, but I’m significantly more alive than I was the last time we met together – and in consequence there was a lot I wanted to share.

photo from Rev Hugh Hamilton
photo from Rev Hugh Hamilton

MEN: More than thirty men. More than half were guys I’d never met before, and a third represented the new cadre of young men who have recently joined the church.

From my point of view, I felt the presence of God profoundly in all we did.

I’ll write more about the content tomorrow, but for today I’ll simply share some great photographs from what must be one of the most beautiful and unspoiled PC(USA) camp/conference/retreat centers anywhere in the country.

BEAUTIFUL: Dogwood Acres is more than 457 acres of pristine wilderness; it’s a place where people who take the initiative to set everything else aside and concentrate on renewing and redeveloping their faith, actually get to meet the Creator on God’s home turf.

That’s all I’ll write for today. Enjoy the pictures, then come back Tuesday for more great photographs and some more about what God was teaching me while I was supposed to be teaching others…..

boardwalks to the cabins
board walks to the cabins

 “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” (Hebrews 10:23-25)

Peace – DEREK


  1. Pastor Jesse

    I know it was great for you to reconnect with the Trinity folks. Yep, you’ve passed a few milestones since 2007. And thanks for the pictures – brings back a few memories. Dogwood Acres is a special place to us. Great place to encounter God. I fell in love with Heather there. It’s not nearly as rustic now as it was then – and I greatly appreciate the improvements.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s