Behind the scenes in preparation for a ladies retreat, you wonder at times how things will turn out… In February, I had the privilege of co-hosting our third weekend retreat for Christian women creatives called #LetYourWriteShine with my friend Jen Reyneri of WordTraveling.com (The Faith and Family Travel Community).
It was a huge success with raving reviews of refreshment, learning, new friends and lives changed. In retrospect though, I came to realize that apart from the prayers and the servant's hearts of the speakers and retreat team, there were 3 physical things we did that contributed incredibly to the attendees seeing the time as a blessing worthy investment, and something they would love to do again.
1. Have a Gorgeous Venue
We could have rented hotel rooms near a busy mall where each one got to make their own reservations and head out for their own coffee, breakfast or shopping whenever they liked (we all like to shop by ourselves every now and then, right?). But we chose instead to take our retreat to a vacation home on the beautiful beach of Destin, Florida.
The four-story house, graciously sponsored by Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, was huge, immaculate and gorgeous. So much so that no one even cared that it didn't have a pool. We were literally 12 steps from the beach with balconies overlooking it, an amazing kitchen and common gathering area. One of our attendees said:
I have NEVER stayed in a house this nice in my life. I feel so spoiled.
Coffee each morning (provided by Perky Perky Coffee) was ready on a timer and oh SO good! No one had to run out to Starbucks at all. In fact, nearly everyone stayed on the property for the entire 3-day retreat. Having everyone together in one spot, without distractions, added so much to the community, conversations and connections that were built between the attendees as the weekend progressed.
2. Have Your Meals Catered
At a half-day event, you can get by with a late breakfast or a light brunch, but our retreat was 3 days long with many folks having driven over 8 hours to get there. It was important to us to feed them well, and it was a huge blessing to have ALL of our meals catered by local restaurants. The local Whole Foods Destin sent us a dinner AND breakfast foods, and it was amazing!
Not only did the ladies get to enjoy great food, but no one had to prepare or cook it for the group. All we had to do was chip in to clean up anything that hadn't arrived in disposable containers.
It may not seem like such a big deal, but for mom who feels like she's always in the kitchen, the weekend was that much more relaxing for or ladies without the need to be cooking, cleaning or serving. Our ladies could sit back, breathe, rest, and enjoy time with the Lord and with each other, and enjoy being served.
3. Do New Things Together
As a community of creative Christian women, we felt it important to include a creative activity for the group. Something that would be new, and put everyone on even ground while encouraging creativity (and not making anyone uncomfortable) and still creating a unifying experience for the ladies as a whole.
We were blessed that Tammy (@heavenlyart9899), a returning attendee, is an accomplished artist and was willing to teach the group an ink on paper technique. Each lady got to create her own art during the workshop, but our photographer took photos of each one, and the art will be used in a collaborative coffee table art/prayers book our attendees are creating.
We were created to create and to take joy in it! This is the #art created by the women at our latest retreat. The ink art workshop, taught by @heavenlyart9899, was so much fun and a first time experience for almost everyone there. Didn't they do a fabulous job! #faithart #faithretreat #christiancreatives #christiancreative #christianretreat #shineretreat #shineauthors #colorpop #colorful #heavenlyart #inkonpaper #letyourwriteshine #heavenlyart
Surprisingly, even those who didn't “feel like much of an artist” enjoyed the “new” activity, and the encouragement from their friends and every single one turned out beautifully. It was a great bonding experience for the attendees, and if you can squeeze something like that into your schedule and budget, I'd highly recommend it. There are other things I could mention, such as having a flexible schedule, making a detailed packing list (especially when the venue is a far distance from your home) and other things, but these 3 are what I felt made the biggest contributions to this being the best Christian Ladies Retreat these women (and I) have ever attended.
I believe the Lord is honored when we pursue excellence in the service of others, and he rewards that. If you're interested in future retreats, check out