Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Women of Hope

Guns and Roses
Wow Factor
El Ni no
3 on the Couch
Forest Fires
What do the above have to do with the other? Our women's retreat, of course!

I returned a couple nights ago from a great weekend with some awesome women. Most of our women's ministry leadership team took 2 days out to do some vision casting and planning for 2008-09. Really, it is even a wonder that I am included in this group of ladies. They are smart and gifted and I constantly am humbled to be a part of this leadership team.

We stayed in a beautiful cabin just outside of Clarksville, VA in Occoneechee State Park. It was very cozy and comfortable cabin with 10 of us. It overlooked a lake and was so peaceful. The hikes and rocking chairs on the front porches were just the ticket to get in touch with God's beautiful creation.

Our fearless leader, prepared most of our food for us. Oh is she blessed with the gift of hospitality! She made wonderful meals for all of us and we were able to share in these meals at one long wooden table. It is the kind of table I wish I had in my own house so everyone could eat Thanksgiving dinner at one table!

She shopped for about a week to make sure we had all of our meals covered. Every detail was covered. Oh, and did I mention she brought the largest bag of m M & M's I have ever seen?

I won't even begin to explain the amount of chocolate and creme puffs consumed on this trip. Let's just say a women's retreat would not be complete without great amounts of chocolate consumed. It is what makes our brain work. It gives us clarity and focus.

That, of course, and coffee because we all know how late a bunch of women can stay up because we just can't seem to stop the madness of our chatter. And don't you just know that we needed that caffeine to get going for another round each morning?

We spent a great deal of our time talking about our upcoming year, but we also spent time laughing, playing games, eating together and antique shopping.

Oh my, did we laugh!

Only my retreat friends will understand the significance of the words above, but isn't that how a retreat is?

On each retreat that I go on, I bring back treasured memories of my roomies. We come back knowing each person just a little bit better. The sweet memories we share start to shape the friendship that will grow.

It is like the wall of formality begins to break down as we share pieces of ourselves while hanging out in our PJ's and fuzzy slippers.

We find out just how deep and sensitive one is, how funny another is and another how smart.

We see one serve the others over and over and another listen without ever even caring if you hear about the details of her own life.

We see one who is able to help others move on from issues of the past and yet another bring to light the brightness of the future.

One who offers herself as a mentor.

Another who shares funny stories and wisdom in the sweetest southern accent I have ever heard.

We understand one's love for chocolate and red wine, and another's passion for tea.

Speaking of the one's love for tea, I need to stop here to show you how one of these lovely ladies prepared a real afternoon tea for us. She really knows her stuff and blessed us by serving us all. What a special treat! She normally would have set this table with one of her very beautiful tea sets, but she did what she could with the cabin dishes and it was just lovely.

Mostly we understand what the strength of 10 women, who believe that God has led them to lead a women's ministry (in a church of about 3000 people), can do. Through God's leading, we found vision. We defined our place in this church and what we want to achieve for the lost women in our community. We laid out a plan of how to encourage friendships and how to grow into women of influence. For we are Women of Hope.

So, I say a big thank you to these ladies for a wonderful weekend. For the fun, the laughter, the prayer and the sweet time to come together as a team.

So, what about you? What is the women's ministry like at your church? I would love to hear a story about a retreat, an event you loved or something that just hits your sweet spot in your women's ministry.

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