A Grace-Filled Weekend!

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by Krisie Brown

This was my first overnight experience at a by design reTREAT. In previous years, I’d joined in just for the day on Saturday and had been excited and blessed by the worship and teaching. This year experiencing the overnight added so much more. More time to unwind and hear from God, more connection with other women in ministry and more interaction with the material presented.

Meeting other women in other churches doing ministry in different ways was so fun. Friday night’s dinner started that process, which was continued through the icebreaker and small group discussions. Meeting fresh faces through these more formal settings allowed for continuing conversations over relaxed mealtimes.

The pace of the retreat was delightful. We had a time of reflection with questions relating to our main topic of grace. These thought-provoking questions lead to a rich quiet time immediately following breakfast. At this point, I’ve mentioned meals a couple of times and have to stop and rave about the food, service and staff at Rolling Ridge. All were amazing! The food was delicious, well balanced, and a real treat. One could not miss that it was all prepared and served with care.
Our schedule for the day was mildly rearranged due to a snowstorm and the delay of our featured speaker. Linda Moore and her team handled the adjustment very smoothly with no loss of content. We had a choice of one of four different Round Table Discussion Groups. I chose Jean Marrapodi’s class on

Jean Marrapodi

“Relating to and Reaching Our Post-Modern World” which was very well thought out and fresh with lots of new content.  Really she was teaching us how to actively love others by humbling ourselves and listening to others’ stories. I so appreciated her style of teaching where she had us break into smaller groups (no fewer than four times) and discuss different questions to interact with the material she was giving us so we could learn from each other and hear bits of each other’s stories. I was blessed by attending this retreat with my mom and she was able to attend Pauline Morgan’s class on “Emotional Intelligence and Ministry” which she found very informative and engaging as well.

The worship times both on Friday night as well as on Saturday were rich with songs centering on our main theme of grace. Linda Moore led us in some faithful hymns, well-known contemporary pieces, and a new-to-most-of-us composition. These kept us grounded and communing with our Lord, allowing our hearts to be revealed in the lyrics as well as to hear the Lord’s response of love and grace in His Word.

After lunch, we headed into a full afternoon of two sessions on “Gritty Grace” by Linda Anderson, broken by a short discussion time to interact with the material in our ‘Together Groups,’ created by geographic areas. All together these were powerful sessions on getting us all back to the basics of grace, yet encouraging us to go deeper into the wonder and life -giving aspects of grace. Her humble teach-ability was evident in the pieces of her story that she shared with us. Linda’s sharing of her ongoing learning to receive as well as to give grace was a blessing. This she passed on to us in her practical ways of living out grace.  I’m excited to take them into my home and church to ponder and practice, hopefully allowing God to use me as a greater conduit of His grace; “because if we’re not good grace-receivers, we’re not good grace-givers.”

May God’s grace and peace be with you as you consider joining in the next by design ministries gathering.

Krisie and her family live in Beverly, MA where they attend First Congregational Church of Hamilton, MA. She serves as a member of the Women’s Ministry Team.