By Krisie Brown
As I settled into my chair for our opening evening of welcome and worship, I reveled in having nothing to prepare, nothing to lead, nothing I had to be “on” for. I could smile at each woman entering, or bow my head in preparation, just breathe, rest, and listen to God.
As a stay-at-home mom of three young children, I was plenty busy. My heart-work is volunteering on the women’s ministry team at my church and helping run women’s study (more than 80 ladies!) on Tuesday mornings. I love encouraging women to dig into God’s Word and raising up new small group leaders for the study. We also run some regular events during the year for women of the church, including a December Greens workshop and a Spring Tea.
As my children grew up, I also got involved in children’s ministries with Sunday School and VBS. I had served for several years in both and found myself taking on more responsibilities. Not my first inclination, but I’d found God leading me into teaching children, and providing wonderful opportunities and gifted teachers to collaborate with. Such responsibilities, though, led to being “on” nearly all the time and finding myself preparing for lessons more than being renewed and refreshed by them.
At this perfect time, I was introduced to the by design reTREAT by my women’s ministry director – a retreat for nurturing women who are leaders in their church. I didn’t have to prepare a lesson, lead prayer, have exciting activities prepared or come up with a clever icebreaker. I just had to drive myself there and be. Be renewed, be uplifted, be refreshed.
Then, as Linda Moore welcomed the participants of the weekend reTREAT, I was floored by her invitation: “We have many wonderful breakout groups as shown in your reTREAT folder, but also feel free to walk the grounds, sit by the fire or take a nap in your room.” What?!?!? I thought, can you do that? I mean, they took all this care in planning and preparing to put together worship, a keynote speaker, and breakout groups, and I was allowed to skip them? This was a completely novel idea to me, a type A rule (and agenda) follower down to the minute. “God knows what you need, and sometimes it’s a nap,” Linda continued, wisely.
Over the years, I’ve experienced the by design reTREAT by myself, with my women’s ministry director, with our whole women’s ministry team, and with my mom and my sister. Each and every year I attend, I find that I am renewed, uplifted, and refreshed. More recently, attending as a by design board member, I’ve even been known to contribute to the planning and preparation. It’s so worth it. I know the value of providing a space where women in church leadership can just breathe, rest, and listen to God.
It’s your turn to breathe, rest, and listen. We hope you will join us at our upcoming reTREAT from January 21-23, 2022, where we will be hearing from author and speaker Carolyn Custis James. Click here for more information and to register. And bring a friend or two! We offer a discount to groups of 3 or more!
Krisie Brown has been involved in both the Women’s and Children’s Ministries at First Congregational Church of Hamilton for close to 30 years. She and her husband live in Ipswich, MA with their three children (Morgan, Calvin, and Sydney). Currently, she is on the board of by design ministries and the teaching team for the Women’s Bible Study at her church. Krisie loves to be involved at church and in her children’s schools, building community.