Dear Hope Family,
This past weekend nearly 70 women gathered at a conference center in Hickory, NC for the Hope Women’s Retreat. This was a great time of connection, fun, making memories, worship and spiritual encouragement. We enjoyed worshiping together, getting to know each other better and hearing from our speaker, Wendy Alsup. Wendy tackled the difficult topic of suffering which she defined as groaning under the weight of the effects of the fall of humanity. Wendy took us into scripture to look at Job, Hagar and Joseph. Through these accounts, we saw how God invites us to be honest before Him and to lament in the midst of suffering, how God sees us and hears us when we feel alone and desperate and how we can live a fruitful life of hope even as we grieve in a land of affliction. We were able to process Wendy’s material in small groups and share our own experiences and struggles.
The beautiful weekend gave women opportunities to hike at nearby Baker’s Mountain, go shopping in downtown Hickory, play games, create art, stretch in a yoga class, hang out on the porch in rocking chairs, rest and engage in meaningful conversation. Saturday evening much fun was had making and eating s’mores by a warm campfire.
Women who lead busy lives professionally and personally had a chance to pause, worship the Lord, hear from His Word and engage with other women. For me personally, the opportunity to interact, talk and laugh with women while hiking, playing cards, coloring in the art room and sitting in rocking chairs was so valuable. It was also an encouraging time for me spiritually. Saturday evening during the time of silence and reflection, I spent time alone with God in the chapel. Coming out of that time alone with the Lord, I was able to share with my small group the next day some thoughts that I really had not articulated before to others. I was privileged to receive prayer from my group. I believe that God works in settings like the women’s retreat: that He uses real places in real time with real people to minister to us. All glory to our amazing Savior who not only walks with us through suffering but provides opportunities like the women’s retreat to walk with Christian sisters along the way.