It’s Time to Retreat!

I wish there was a way to visually capture what is happening right now. This weekend, literally all across the globe, women are leaving. We are leaving our responsibilities, our busyness, our to-do lists. We are leaving the people and the needs we pour ourselves into so that we can receive, so that we can be the ones poured into. We’re leaving it all behind so that we can get away with Jesus.

We are answering God’s invitation to “come and talk with me” (Psalm 27:8).

This is happening from Australia to Zambia. Women are retreating in hotel rooms and Air Bnb’s, in hacienda spas and botanical gardens, in hundred year-old cottages and rainforest bungalows. From locked bedrooms to jungle tree houses, we are saying, “God, I’m here to be with you.”

We are coming, many of us, with worn-down hearts. Somehow in our fervor for the Lord, in our all-out effort to help others find abundant life in Christ, we manage to miss it ourselves. We forget that the whole point of this Bible we teach, the whole reason for the cross-climax and resurrection glory is so that we can live in daily intimacy, in moment-by-moment communication with the Creator of the universe.

We whirl through our days without getting quiet enough to hear his whispers. This Retreat is about pausing to do just that, to re-center our hearts, to receive whatever it is God knows we are needing from him.

Will you join me in a prayer for this Retreat?

“Father God, as we come away with you, would you gently slide the burdens from our shoulders? Remind us they are not ours to carry.

Would you still our hearts before you?

And then, would you pour your Spirit out on us? Would you speak our belovedness into the deepest crevices of our souls? Would you wipe away every shame, root out every lie?

Would you speak directly into the heart of every woman? Speak as only you can, for only you know the intricacies of us. You created each of our innermost beings. You know our past, present and future. You made our hearts, souls, minds, and bodies. We present our whole selves to you. Would you meet us, connect with us, whisper your truth to us?

Would you shower us with your tender care? Would you renew us physically, emotionally, and spiritually? We need you so.

As we receive from you, may our response, may our permanent heart posture be that of worship. Receive our adoration, Lord Jesus.

This Retreat is yours. Guard it against the enemy. Let it be for your glory and the good of your kingdom.

In Jesus name,


Now let’s process, share, and celebrate what God is doing in this time! Maybe we can visually capture what is happening! Share with us a picture of your Retreat location. Share it on Instagram with #velvetashesretreat or in the comments below. It will be so fun to see the diversity of this global experience!

If you are heading into your Retreat time, what are you anticipating? What are you needing or hoping for from this time?

If you’ve done your Retreat, how was it?! What is your major take-away?

Join us for more Retreat Reflection in our weekend post (going live Saturday 6pm EST).

And don’t miss the chance to join the Velvet Ashes Team and Spiritual Director Jayna Gallagher for our Live Chat Conversation, where we’ll be debriefing the Retreat together and inviting you to share too!

We have two times for you to choose from (since we span ALL the time zones):

Sunday April 30 at 9:30pm EST – sign up here

Monday May 1 at 9:30am EST – sign up here

Debriefing your experience is an important part of reentering life after a Retreat, so be sure to join us.

We’re excited to hear from you in the comments below. And since this is The Grove, you can share on your own blog too and link it up here.Blessings,friends, as you get away to be with him!


This is The Grove and we want to hear from you! You can link up your blog post, or share your practices, ponderings, wisdom, questions, ideas, and creative expressions with us in the comments below.

Here’s our Instagram collection for #VelvetAshesRetreat. Be sure to add yours!


  1. Kathryn April 27, 2017

    On a rooftop in China…

    1. Danielle Wheeler April 27, 2017

      What a beautiful space! Love that you captured the foreground with the pencils and candle too. Hope that your Retreat was/is truly blessed.

  2. Amy Young April 27, 2017

    Last weekend . . . getting ready for the retreat. A local church let me use their prayer chapel.

    1. Danielle Wheeler April 27, 2017

      So peaceful. A prayer chapel is a great idea! Looking forward to debriefing with you. 🙂

  3. Elizabeth April 28, 2017

    I LOVE your prayer, Danielle, and I really need this retreat. I’m doing it with a friend, so I think that will be more helpful than doing it alone at home like I’ve done before (because of previous time constraints). Heading out in a couple hours!

    1. Danielle Wheeler April 28, 2017

      So excited for you, Elizabeth! Looking forward to hearing how it was!

      1. Elizabeth May 1, 2017

        Thanks Danielle. The retreat itself was wonderful! I tried to “return slowly,” however I do not think I returned slowly enough. I’ve been having a hard time ever since I walked through the door of my house. 🙁

  4. Michelle S April 28, 2017

    I wasn’t able to get away anywhere, so this is my retreat space…my living room. Since I live alone that works fine, although it takes special effort to lay aside my everyday responsibilities when I’m in my everyday space!

    1. Cecily April 29, 2017

      I know what you mean, Michelle! I was in my bedroom for the retreat and was so easily distracted. But I had a wonderful time of communion with the Lord! Hope you did, too!

      1. Michelle S April 29, 2017

        Yes, I did, Cecily! There were a couple of unavoidable interruptions since I was at home, but for the most part it wasn’t a problem. I’ve been having internet trouble the last couple months and trying one thing after another to get good internet, and a couple hours before I started the retreat I was trying to get another new set-up working, and it wasn’t working, which meant that I had NO internet. I’d been downloading the retreat ahead of time because I didn’t trust my internet, but because of internet problems I hadn’t gotten it all downloaded yet. After trying and trying to get things working that morning–and getting some unsuccessful help from someone more knowledgeable than I–I felt like it was an effort on the part of the enemy to steal my peace of mind heading into this retreat and to interfere with being able to carry out the retreat. I cried out and asked God to please, somehow, just heal the problem with the new phone line I was trying to use for my internet and make it work. And within a couple minutes of that the person who had been helping me suddenly had a brainstorm of what the problem was, and he was right. A quick little fix, and then for my retreat I had the best internet service I’ve had for months! 🙂 It was a precious time of meeting with God and listening to what He had to say to me. Thank you so much to each one who worked hard to make this retreat available!

  5. Cecily April 28, 2017

    I didn’t take a photo of my retreat, but I just wanted to say, “WOW!” Thank you so much, VA, for making this retreat possible! I didn’t get through everything today, but I sure did receive a lot from the Lord. Whenever I do these retreats, I wonder how the retreat can be for anyone but me because the way God speaks to me is SO personal. It is like it is only for me! He is an amazing God, how He ministers to intimately to each one of us. So, thanks again for putting this together!

  6. Grace L April 28, 2017

    Ready to start my retreat at our homey guest house here in central China. My husband brought me these flowers as I was getting started in the morning and I felt so blessed by his love and support. I did the retreat on my own and loved being able to really be alone with God for a whole day. It was so helpful to make a list on the sticky note of what I was leaving behind for the day. If thoughts of those things came to mind, I would glance at my bright yellow sticky note on the wall and remind myself that I had put them in God’s hands for the day.

    1. Danielle Wheeler April 28, 2017

      What a sweet thing for your husband to do! And yes, isn’t the sticky note thing so helpful?!

  7. Karen C April 28, 2017

    A quiet house after a LONG trip to start furlough. I can’t think of a better way to start furlough than getting away to hear from God!

    1. Danielle Wheeler April 28, 2017

      Oh, I bet the I Kings passage was especially timely for you, Karen! Looking forward to hearing how it went.

  8. meredith April 29, 2017

    I had set aside Thursday to do the retreat, here in the jungle, and talk with a M friend on Skype in the US who was also alone for it. Then Wed. night, over a period of several hours,, we realized, together with my husband, that I needed to travel to the capitol to sign some documents that had to be corrected (for the THIRD time). We travel a lot for our work, and it’s dirt roads and hot, so I try to conserve energy by avoiding any extra travel during the busiest time of the year ( My husband says I’m “all terrain”, but I almost started crying, just not wanting to go (and also bummed about missing the retreat, and interaction with my friend). In the process of making the decision I listened to the welcome and the intro to I Kings and started crying (happy tears). “This journey is too much for you” was just for me, literally! Exactly how I felt!
    As I worked through ch. 18 that night, and ch. 19 the next day, in the midst of packing and getting everything ready to leave, the Lord spoke to me so clearly and kindly through Elijah’s weariness…I KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS. I CREATED YOU WITH THEM! I TAKE THEM INTO ACCOUNT, AND I CAN GIVE YOU EXTRA ENERGY TO OVERCOME THEM TOO, WHENEVER I WANT TO!
    I got 30 sweet minutes with my friend on the phone, both of us sharing what we learned from the study.Then, even in the 3 hr. van ride on the way to the hotel near airport, I had enough signal to listen to 2 testimonies on my phone, and worship music the rest of the way.
    Because the van left town later than I expected, and there were a lot of delays on the road, I was going to arrive in the dark, wondering if I could get a safe taxi to the hotel. I felt tempted to panic a bit, then I thought, how ridiculous is that, after all I just learned about God’s care of His servants! Praying the Lord would meet my need, which He already knew, I refused to worry. When I arrived at the gas station drop off, it was dark and rainy, but a little lady from the mountains got out too. We realized we were going the same direction and happily agreed to take a taxi together. Not five minutes later a mototaxi pulled up with a FEMALE driver! I had to smile…couldn’t imagine feeling ANY more cared for by my loving Father!
    I got to the hotel , full of thanksgiving, and could do the pilates work out (cried again), because the hotel had small rugs in the room! (RARE in our neck of the woods!)
    In the midst of the decision making, purchasing tickets, getting ready to go, and in an unplanned evening in a hotel by myself, I was able to participate fully, and sense the Lord’s presence surrounding me and all of what was happening….He obviously wanted this retreat to happen for me in the midst of everything. Learning to let HIM restore and energize me…I don’t have to come up with all that on my own.
    Thank you Jesus! Thank you Velvet Ashes too : ).
    p.s. sorry this is so long and picture-less! just had to share!

    1. Michele April 29, 2017

      I, for one, am so glad you shared the whole story! I’m just ready to start my retreat (at home alone), and this testimony is so encouraging! He is so good!

    2. Danielle Wheeler April 30, 2017

      I’m glad you shared it all too! I felt so sad at the beginning when it looked like you’d miss your retreat time. So beautiful to hear how God met you with such tenderness in the midst of all you ended up doing. He’s such a good, good Father!

    3. Patty Stallings May 2, 2017

      What a beautiful story of God’s perfect care. I’m thinking you and Elijah had broken expectations in common! So sweet that you also had God’s provision and a significant encounter with Him in common with Elijah as well!

  9. Abigail S April 29, 2017

    I’m loving the retreat so far, even though I’m in somewhat of a nomadic/wandering season these few weeks, waiting for a home birth client to go into labor, while sharing a house with a few people in a different town, and still unsure of where my more long-tern HOME will be in my new city (with this dog-sitting stretching a lot longer than I ever imagined, and my furniture in my old city). Also, don’t have my laptop with me, and the 1 Kings 19 discussion link doesn’t work no matter what I try. But I’m still sensing His peace and grace in this extended season of expectant waiting on so many different things. And reflecting on His specific, detailed, intentional, grace-filled care of Elijah and us. Thank you again for this retreat every year!!!!

  10. Vivienne April 29, 2017

    To the retreat organisers,
    When is the retreat online and accessible until? I’ve only just printed off the retreat guide. I have 3 kids who are currently on a school break and a husband who is very busy at work and tired when he gets home. If you could keep the retreat accessible until Tuesday or Wednesday (May 2nd/3rd) that would really help, as I will only have short blocks of time to do it so will have to spread it out over a few days.
    Thanks so much,

    1. Hadassah Doss April 30, 2017

      My friends and I are planning on doing the retreat next weekend. Will it still be available then?

      1. Debbie April 30, 2017

        As I understand, you’d need to download the stuff now 🙂

        1. Amy Young April 30, 2017

          Hi friends, the retreat will be open through May — but feel free to download all the material so you have it :)!

  11. Lois April 29, 2017

    Thank you all for your comments. I am alone in my apartment just finishing up my retreat. Because of a fall yesterday, I did not take part in the exercising part. I will do that at a later date. The time spent reflecting using the arts was very good for me. It brought ideas , concepts, and truths to light. Visualizing helps me to remember important details. What I was reminded of is God whispers to me, so it is important to take time to listen. Thank you and Blessings to all.

    1. Danielle Wheeler April 30, 2017

      Isn’t it amazing how God moves and speaks to us through art? And yes, the reminder to LISTEN… so powerful!

  12. Michele April 29, 2017

    I’m also using my own living room (and live alone, so it works)! I’m just starting and we got a beautiful little thunderstorm, which cleans the dust out of the air and also helps me to ‘begin to slow down!’ I’ve only watched the introduction video, but I am already really loving Jayna! 🙂

    1. Danielle Wheeler April 30, 2017

      Yay for rain that clears the dust! And yeah, Jayna is so lovely. 🙂

  13. Melody Kane April 29, 2017

    My two friends and I just finished a half day version of this retreat and were so impressed with Velvet Ashes! It was so refreshing to spend the bulk of the time in God’s word, instead of hearing a lecture (like most retreats). It was a cold, rainy day here in IL, USA- the perfect time to cozy up with some tea and hear what God had for us. The wind was crazy, especially out on the edge of the prairie where we were and it was a perfect reminder to God’s power and yet gentle whisper in I Kings.
    I especially loved the praying in color exercise- I’d never done that before! (I’m going to try and attach mine below)
    All three of us agreed that we absolutely loved the Psalm 27:8 verse but we couldn’t figure out what version was being used?? I’d love to pass that along to a couple friends!
    As an MK, having lived overseas with my husband, and now being Stateside- my heart is with all of you women who are overseas! That’s truly what made this special- knowing we were all doing this- no matter where we were or what stage of life we were in.

    1. Danielle Wheeler April 30, 2017

      We got that same crazy storm here in Missouri too! So thankful for the way God met you during your Retreat. Your picture is truly meaningful. And Psalm 27:8 is the NLT. Isn’t that a powerful translation?

  14. Jayna Gallagher April 30, 2017

    For those of you who are interested in purchasing Christ candles, I buy my Christ candles from a Catholic store. Very similar to a Christian Bible Book store. I buy them in bulk because they are cheaper that way. I get a box of 24/7 burning candle inserts for less than $60.00.

    So let me explain the inserts. They are different than the one I had on the video.That one was a complete Christ candle. In other words it is in glass, and when you are finished you can throw it away. It is a bit fancier. I buy plastic inserts that fit down into a glass sheath. The glass sheath costs about $2.50. When it is finished burning you just pull out the plastic candle insert and replace it with another plastic candle insert. Much cheaper!

    I figured out that it comes to .35 a day, $2.50 a week. Pretty reasonable.

    I’m sure your could order online. The company I use is Cathedral, and the type of candle is Inserta-lite. There are 24 per box of 7 day burning inserts.

    Hope this helps, and blessings on you as you begin this journey with your Christ candles. =)

  15. Cindy May 7, 2017

    My husband and just went on the field last June. I just heard about the retreat, but too late !! Is it possible to purchase the downloads of the teachings and do it now from our home in Malawi? Please let me know— and thank u so much for your FB presence. It is very encouraging to me ??

    1. Jayna Gallagher May 8, 2017

      Hi Cindy,
      Yes I believe you can still jump on the retreat site and purchase it. Give it a try and if you run into any problems just let us know.
      Enjoy your retreat!

  16. Julia Thielman May 15, 2017

    I got to do my retreat weekend. We took a family vacation to the beach and stayed at a campground. Here’s a picture of our cabin porch where I watched videos, sculpted, colored, and did Pilates! The retreat materials were so well done! I was tempted over and over to start the retreat early bit by bit. I was afraid that I would not find the time to be alone. I felt God say, “wait”. I talked to my husband about my desire to do this retreat but not sure logistically about getting a full day away from two young kids. He suggested we make it a weekend and he watch the kids at the beach/pool while I retreat! Awesome. Talk about God being an extravagant giver! Plus my husband cooked all the meals!

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