What Do You Get When You Put 26 Women Under One Roof?
Wow. Planning and organizing a women’s retreat. Wow. Facilitating and implementing a women’s retreat. Wow. Participating and engaging in a women’s retreat. Wow. Just wow.
The desire to put together a women’s retreat is something that has been on our hearts for a LONG time. We love our church and the people within it. In the last few years, we’ve felt a pull on our heart to encourage women to come together- to engage with one another and build strong bonds and connections. To experience something more meaningful than our passing Sunday conversations (“how are you” and the quick “fine” response). So, for us, the idea of a women’s retreat within our church was born. (Be sure to see awesome video footage at the bottom of this post!)
We knew something amazing could happen for our women if we were able to get them away for a weekend to renew their spirits, connect with others, and refresh in their minds God’s intentions in their lives. We think it’s safe to say we were right. God showed up in such a big way that it’s hard to even put the weekend into adequate words. BUT WE AIN’T QUITTERS SO WE WILL TRY.
The theme for the weekend was Mosaic: Finding Beauty in the Brokenness. As a woman, we are sure you have experienced this feeling of brokenness- whether it be feeling inadequate as a mother, a worker, a wife, a friend- or a past you can’t seem to shake or let go of. Twenty six beautiful souls embarked upon this weekend of retreat together. Moms, business women, wives- they all took time out of their regularly scheduled lives to dive headfirst into this adventure- trusting us and our ability to plan and lead (YIKES)! As women, we invest a ton of time and energy into our own families, work, church, the community, the PTA, you name it- all of the women in attendance constantly sacrifice their own needs for others. Our goal of the retreat was simple, to allow for them to be recharged, feel encouraged, be spiritually fed, and create deeper relationships with women in the same boat.
While the weekend was truly amazing, and in our (semi) EXPERT opinions, a great success, there are always lessons to be learned when planning and executing an experience like this. But we are glad there are things to learn; it means we are making progress. First things first: be very explicit about expectations. We made quite a few assumptions about what others would KNOW to be true about the weekend: things to bring, things not to bring, finances, sleeping arrangements, etc. We thought we had been clear, but we’ve learned that no matter the age of the participants: just go ahead, save yourself the trouble, and spell it out. It’s better for you and for them. Everyone will be on the same page. No questions.
If things don’t go the way we expect them to go- it’s OKAY! Roll with it. When you put this many women together- the itinerary isn’t the most important thing. Sometimes really cool things are going to pop up organically, and you don’t want a rigid schedule to ruin what might end up being a God moment.
We knew that the idea of feeling broken would be something all of these women had in common. However, we thought that if we weren’t real and authentic, then we couldn’t expect them to be either. But that’s scary, because who knows how they’ll react?! If we are honest, we feared apathy; that they might just stare at us with that SO WHAT face. But they didn’t. They were loving and thoughtful and God got to work. So we learned that, despite our insecurities, when we pushed ourselves to open up to these women, it was completely worth it.
We can do anything- like put together a fire pit without a single man in sight. Don’t believe us? Just watch.
The biggest lesson learned was just how powerful it can be when women empower and encourage one another. So in case any of these beautiful women have forgotten:
Tamsin- We adore your fiery spirit and hilarious personality.
Nicole- We admire your bravery. We see your incredible strength!
Alyson- Never doubt how capable & valuable you are. You can achieve anything!
Carol- You have a servant’s heart and it truly shows in the way you love others.
Kiersten- You dream big! We love your passion.
Amy- God gave you such braveness, wisdom, & strength!
Renee- We love your sense of humor. You certainly have a spirit of power.
Rachel- We love your obedience to God and the way you serve everyone around you!
Julie- We love the beautiful heart you have for people.
Rita- Your wisdom, kindness, and huge heart are evident to all who know you!
Leslie- You were fearfully and wonderfully made. You radiate beauty!
Eve- Jesus’ light shines out of you in all that you do!
Emily- We love your quiet, yet incredibly fierce spirit.
Stephanie- You are an overcomer. Your courage is something we admire!
Linda- You are filled with love and so much grace. You are a wonderful friend.
KC- You have so many special gifts to offer the world. Your tenacity amazes us!
Christa- We love that you are bold and self-assured.
Megan- You are so incredibly strong and full of grace!
Erica- You have the ability to achieve whatever you set your sights on. You are here to serve a great purpose!
Heather- It is easy to see that YOU are God’s handiwork. You deserve every bit of happiness and love that comes your way.
April- You ARE enough. You are courageous and strong.
Christy- It’s easy to see the bright light that’s within you. You radiate love!
Jen- We can tell you were called by Jesus to do big things!
Jessica- You have such a thoughtful, tender spirit. Your calm nature is infectious.
It was hard to try and condense all the goodness of this weekend in a short video, but we did our best to highlight some of our favorite moments.