"...Until recently I barely even knew the signs of welcome, like the way a person plopped down across from me and sighed deeply while looking at me with relief: a shy look on someone’s face that gave me time to breathe and settle in. I didn’t know that wounds and scars were what we find welcoming, because they are like ours. Trappings and charm wear off, I’ve learned. The book of welcome says, Let people see you. They see that your upper arms are beautiful, soft and clean and warm, and then they will see this about their own, some of the time. It’s called having friends, choosing each other, getting found, being fished out of the rubble. It blows you away, how this wonderful event happened—me in your life, you in mine. Two parts fit together. This hadn’t occurred all that often, but now that it does, it’s the wildest experience. It could almost make a believer out of you. Of course, life will randomly go to hell every so often, too. Cold winds arrive and prick you; the rain falls down your neck; darkness comes. But now there are two of you. Holy Moly.” ― Anne Lamott, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace
For what seemed like much longer than four years I journaled and prayed and waited. All the ideas swimming inside my head and my heart and the eventual planning and fundraising and executing became reality last week at the first Option EDS (the retreat).
I hoped it would be so many things, but I mostly wanted the women invited to arrive and feel welcome. We use this word often, and it loses meaning in certain contexts, but we all know what it feels like when it happens to us.
Healing Hearts Respite Foundation gave us the perfect space to use, a beautiful beach house in the Outer Banks of North Carolin set on a hill with views of the ocean and the sound. In a meeting only God could orchestrate I found Kim Sproles, Founder and Director of Healing Hearts, last year through an email exchange while I was first stepping out on the waters of faith. Her "Yes!" became God's "Yes!"
Last Monday night the mamas and daughters were allowed to check in after 2 pm for a day of rest and recovery after long travel. They came from as far as San Antonio and Boston. I knew what an act of hope and faith their journeys to Corolla were. They were trusting me. The first night was perhaps my favorite. Before the retreat officially began these beautiful souls entered into a home prepared perfectly for them. After finding their rooms, discovering the first of many gifts and touring the gorgeous house the girls and moms put on their bathing suits and gathered by the pool. Janet and Lori, two dear saints of hospitality, served a nutritious feast for the eyes and the body. Kim and Hope, beautiful souls from Healing Hearts, joined us for an introduction and a glimpse into what their generosity was birthing.
I love Jesus' call to retreat in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
This was the Spirit gently ushering the guests in.
Later in the week Christa Wells joined us for a private house concert. She sang her song "You've Got a Home." I chose it for the set list, because it is was on my retreat dreaming playlist. The generous feeling of welcome and home was central to everything else I prayed for. It's not something I can transfer from there to here. You will just have to trust me when I tell you we settled in quickly and never wanted to leave.
Put your feet up and stay here awhile. I will be writing all week and sharing so many photos!