The three of us were sitting around my living room, dodging our toddlers, rocking our babies, dodging fallen Cheerios, and collecting a mental pile of all the things we yearned for: space to read our Bibles and discuss our questions with one another, time for a full cup of coffee, a night of uninterrupted sleep, rich Bible teaching, a beautiful table full of women and laughter and delicious food, opportunities beyond Sunday morning to form relationships with women who might disciple us, with women we might disciple. We looked around at what was offered, and we couldn’t find anything comparable to what was stirring in our hearts. “Oh well,” we said. “Wouldn’t that be amazing?”
Shared dreams are fun like that—offering the sharers camaraderie, the lovely indulgence of possibility, and the happy confirmation of synced passions.
Then the dream wouldn’t let up. We’d toss it to the back of our minds like a we’d toss snacks to our kids in our minivans, but it kept finding its way back to the front seat. We’d mention it to our husbands, and they’d say, “I bet more women than just you three are desiring those things.” We’d notice a gifting expressed by one of us and think, “Wow! I know how we could use that for ministry.”
We loved what we saw in each other: Christin, the girl you’d trust with anything, a steady and servant-hearted force, a beautiful blend of affection and administration who offers order and safety. Megan, who can’t help but make things beautiful, who cares for you by shaping the space around you, who wrestles heaven things down to earth. And me, Caroline, who gets grabbed by scripture and a vision for ministry and can’t stop creating. I care for people through content, and I will ignore the laundry forever if I have an idea to write something that may help you.
Eventually we realized that if we could mix all our “things” together, we might be able to bring that dream down from our heads and spread it out into reality. The vision came together lightning fast—with alliteration and everything:
Scripture - No gimmicks, just God’s word. The full gospel, taught by women who love it to women who crave it. God, may this content stir desire and delight for your word in the hearts of your women!
Sisterhood - Opportunity to enjoy existing relationships and establish new ones, space for conversations that can't be rushed. God, may this time lead to rich friendship and discipleship!
Stillness - An intentionally crafted itinerary that allows for mental space to process rich content rather than the fire hydrant strategy we see elsewhere, space for personal study, time for physical rest. God, may women experience true stillness so that they may hear you in the whisper!
So we went for it.
The first retreat took tons of work, required every ounce of our abilities, squeezed our faith real tight—and we loved it. God showed up big, and we were tired in the best way. Women were encountering the Bible in a new way, enjoying time together, sharing their stories and rejoicing over God's story, and walking away from the weekend rested, newly excited to pursue relationship with God and others in everyday life.
Lots of shifts happened from the time we first cast the vision to the time we held the first event, and in the midst of all the change, we didn’t think we’d have the honor of doing Story & Soul Weekend a second time. But we should have remembered the stubbornness of the idea. Soon it popped back up into the front seat again, and it buckled in and clearly wasn’t going anywhere. This things was unrelenting, and we were ecstatic. The idea sharpened: What if we could serve more than interested individuals? What if we could serve local women’s ministries whose women desired set-apart time together but whose budgets, manpower, or other limitations prevented them from pulling off their own retreat? Well, they could come to ours. Thank you, Lord!
So we did it again.
And then we did it again.
Every retreat, we are amazed by all kinds of things: how God has designed his people to minister in community, how fun friendship is when it's fleshed out over common purpose, how delicious it is to join together with women for a set-apart weekend, how hungry we are for relationship with him and one another, how beautiful his story truly is, how much he loves the local church, and how much he cares about things others might dismiss, like a women’s retreat. We see his fingerprint on so many unexpected details. Like last year, when our theme was “The Story of Water,” do you know what happened? The whole weekend was a downpour. We complained about it for hours until we figured out that the weather was on theme. God really is sovereign over every drop. (And we joked that next year’s theme would be “The Story of Sunshine.”)
This year, we’ll hosting our fourth annual retreat December 6-8 (can't wait to tell you about the theme and the speaker!), and we’re adding a new event to our line-up. It’s called & KNOW: An Accessible Theology Event for Women, and we couldn’t be more excited to offer women a day of worship and teaching centered around the character of God. It’ll be Saturday, August 24 in Germantown, TN. (Spots are limited, so if you want to know when tickets are on sale, you can sign up for our email list here.)
We have a few more things up our sleeves, and we’re grateful for the way God is shaping our ministry. Will you pray that we will be sensitive to his leadership and seek his glory alone? We are so humbled and happy that he insists on using three friends, who once felt a small nudge amidst the Cheerios and shrieking toddlers, and we are eager to continue to follow his nudges.
P.S. If our vision resonates with you and you’d like to partner with us, you can apply to be part of our volunteer team, or you can make a donation. (And of course, we'd love to see you at our events!)