My Grace Women Retreat Experience

“We need to find you a Spa or a Retreat so you can get away and just relax for a few days.”

I read the text from my husband repeatedly. This was completely out of the blue. Or was it?

It was God! I love when He does stuff like that. My husband and I had not discussed what my mind and heart had been saying, but I had just finished talking with God in prayer when that text arrived. I had confessed that I might need a break. My fuse was running short, I was constantly exhausted, and I couldn’t seem to find peace in even the smallest accomplishment. I had reached complete system overload. And in all honesty, I felt guilty about that. You’re too blessed to be stressed; I would try to convince myself. But stressed I was.

Still, I was certain I had been putting on a confident and totally believable smile for everyone around me. Only God knew the true weight I was balancing and that I was losing my grip.

I knew I could choose a Spa Weekend or this Spiritual Retreat with Grace Women but because I was so certain that God was the one who had brought this up, the decision was simple. I went online and signed up for The Stories of The Heart Retreat. As I filled out the form doubt formed a solid and logical list in my mind:

You don’t know anyone who will be there. You’ll have to sleep in a room with strangers. It’s allergy season, you’ll likely snore.  Everyone else is probably bringing their best friend. You’ll be a third wheel. It could be lonely. You need rest and relaxation. Time by the pool is also restorative…

Submit– I hit the button triumphantly. God set this up. That was enough for me. I still had two weeks before the trip for more doubts to swamp me, but I kept releasing them because I was confident this was something He wanted me to do. And while I had no idea what to expect, I knew He would be there.

The weekend was spectacular in every way. Our speaker was Heather Yates, author of All The Wild Pearls, and Heather is brave and honest in a raw and beautiful way that is totally contagious. With her help, we worked our way through our own redemption stories. It was an emotional journey that was eye-opening and healing on so many levels.  Even more, it set us solidly in place to be prepared to share them in all their truth.

I remember feeling this wonder and thinking as I walked back along the river, gripping my completed redemption story, that I felt as though a massive weight had lifted. A burden I had been carrying for over a decade had fallen from me.  I’m a writer. I tell a lot of stories, but this story had been off limits. Too painful, too real, too supernatural and way too personal to risk exposure. I never would have given it ink.

But when it finally spilled out onto the pages it took the weight from my heart and my soul with it. I had no idea how heavy it had been while I tried to keep it caged up inside. It had to be freed. It was never my story. It was His all along. And I am so grateful He sent me to the Retreat so that I could see the truth, that my story has power to help and heal others and most importantly, to lead others toward Him. There is no more powerful story I will ever write. I am so grateful that it has been released.

All that and we had the best time too. We made new friends, we connected, we celebrated, we cried, we laughed, we laughed until we cried, we played, and we praised.

Most importantly though, we drew close to Him. We listened carefully for His voice and read His word intently. We walked with Him along the river and saw His hand in every detail that surrounded us. We were calmed, restored, and strengthened. I am so grateful for this experience, and I can’t wait for next year’s Grace Women retreat!

Gwen Little






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