Retreat Reflections {Let’s Share}

This is the part of our Velvet Ashes Online Retreat weekend where we circle up from around the globe and share our Retreat experiences. We’re so excited to hear about your time! One of our favorite responses so far has been from Cecily who says:

“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 so intimately to each one of us.”

That is what it is all about. This Retreat sets the table, invites you to come, and trusts that God is going to show up in a very personal and intimate way for you. And now we want to hear about it.

So gather around, imagine we’re all together in our comfy pants eating chocolate, and let’s talk. Here are some questions to get us going, but feel free to share whatever you’d like.

– How was your heart coming into this Retreat?

– How did God meet you during this time?

–  What was his gentle whisper to you?

– What impacted you from the Scripture meditation?

– How was the exercise experience? What was it like to merge exercise and prayer? How did God meet you there?

– What touched you from the testimonies?

– How did you like praying in color?  What word or phrase did you use?

– Describe your experience with Centering Prayer. Was it new to you? How was it?

– Was it meaningful for you to draw/color Psalm 27:8?

– What did you think of the Fixed Hour Prayers? Are you interested in making that part of your daily life?

– What is your major take-away from the Retreat?

– What do you think it means for you to “return slowly”?

We look forward to processing with you in the comments. And don’t miss our Live Chat conversation (the next best thing to being together in real life!).

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

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


  1. Ruth April 29, 2017

    We had our retreat a week early, last weekend. It is amazing how one day, breakfast to dinner, can be so meaningful. It really did seem like God spoke to each of us in our place of need. He definitely did for me. I absolutely loved the passage choice of Elijah in the wilderness. I think I’ve mostly skimmed over that part, or heard it mentioned in passing, on the way to the gentle whisper passage. But after a year of sickness, depression, and burnout – coming to the retreat still so weary, I could really understand where Elijah was in that place of having nothing left, of saying it’s too much.

    What really stood out to me is how God provided for his physical needs, and how he rested and was fed, then rested and was fed again. God was not impatient, hurrying him on his way. I think that’s the biggest thing He spoke to me. I’ve been in a place of weakness and emptiness so long it seems like I ought to “get over it” by now and get back to doing, but God is saying, “No, I’m still giving you rest. I’m still feeding you.”

    Returning slowly meant something different than I pictured – I was really sick with the flu all week. I hardly got out of bed for 5 days, which you know is no small feat with little kids. It was hard on the family, but I actually felt like the illness was a gift. When else would I have the chance to just lie there on my own and stare at the wall for hours on end?? I kept thinking about Elijah. And you know what, everyone survived without me, not even that worse for the wear. While physically I feel more weak and exhausted than before, I feel like it was a time of renewing for my spirit. God is creative in how he brings rest!

    This retreat is so special every year. As someone else said, it seems intimately tailored to each of us. The resources are amazing. I loved Jana’s leading through the spiritual formation exercises (and I taught my kids the “chicken butt” joke). Everything is so well done – the professionalism and care put into it really speaks to us. I think in our line of work we are all used to taking whatever we get – and being glad about it – but those details and extras make us feel so valued! Blessings on all of you for your hard work in putting it together!

    1. Danielle Wheeler April 30, 2017

      Ruth, your comment made me laugh (chicken butt) and cry. I cried because I am so very touched that the details and extras made you feel valued. You ARE valued, and that is what we want this retreat to remind you of. (And personally, it reminds me that all the work put into this is SO worth it). I am so thankful for the way God met you in the retreat and even afterwards in the returning. Praying physical strength and healing for you, friend. And may you rest in his tender care for you!

  2. Kristi April 29, 2017

    You Provide I Kings 19
    A broken, whispering, shattered voice
    My heart has an answer
    But words fail
    I fear the rushing Wind
    But glory in Its Power
    My heart shakes with each Tremor
    As this world is proven unstable
    The Fire threatens to burn
    Because dross yet remains
    Then You Whisper
    Calming my heart
    You guide me
    To the shelter of a Tree
    You touch me
    Restoring my Hope
    Your people rally at Your Command
    For my protection
    The Journey is too great for me
    You Provide
    KCM April 29-30, 2017, VA Retreat: Receive

    We are still “retreating” but this was a reflection from yesterday.

    1. Ruth April 30, 2017

      That’s beautiful!

    2. Michele April 30, 2017

      I’m reading this over lunch, still on retreat, after a morning of being absolutely undone by God’s tenderness toward Elijah and toward me. So I’m just gonna admit this poem made me cry over my pasta! Beautiful- thanks for sharing!

    3. Danielle Wheeler April 30, 2017

      Ah, there is nothing like Kristi poetry… There are no words after you read this, only a glow inside.

    4. Cecily May 1, 2017

      Love this poem!

    5. Patty Stallings May 2, 2017

      Kristi, I am always touched by your written creative expressions.It’s “deep calling to deep” kind of stuff!

  3. Megann April 30, 2017

    This retreat has been a wonderful experience. Like Ruth mentioned above, for me, too, God spoke to me right in my place of need. Coming into the retreat I was kind of feeling dry, a little hard, kind of colorless (lacking the enthusiasm and brightness that I’ve had), not so low like Elijah was at but definitely the I Kings passage was perfect to study. There were so many things that stood out and that God taught me and showed me, but 1 Kings and Rhonda’s story especially spoke to me — just kind of reminding me of a recurring theme/thought recently about just being with God — being with Him before doing things for Him or getting answers/direction from Him, focusing on really loving Him and on knowing Him on a deeper level. Thank you, VA, for putting together this retreat for us and for giving us opportunities not only to do it but also to share our pictures and thoughts with our fellow retreaters! Already looking forward to next year!

    1. Danielle Wheeler April 30, 2017

      So glad to hear this, Megann. Being before doing. Being before doing. This needs to be a mantra we (I) repeat daily (hourly!). Glad you liked sharing pictures and thoughts too.

  4. Michele April 30, 2017

    This retreat far exceeded my expectations (which were already pretty high, I thought)! Last year I was on holiday and had very slow and inconsistent internet, so just barely got the audio sessions and retreat guide downloaded to my phone and wasn’t able to participate in everything (though I got to enjoy peaceful walks and beautiful views, so no complaints)! This year I stayed home and was able to take my time and enjoy everything offered- testimonies, spiritual formation, exercise- the whole thing. I am not exaggerating when I say that God met me in every single part of it. He touched such deep places in my heart through the scripture meditation especially, bringing healing where I didn’t even know I needed it. I loved being able to see other people’s sculptures and drawings and read their thoughts in the discussion, feeling connected while being able to move through the material at my own pace and enjoy His presence in solitude at the same time. Thank you so much for all the hard work and prayer that went into this! (Attaching a picture of my communion closing time).

    1. Patty Stallings May 2, 2017

      Michele, I am impressed by your intentionality illustrated in this photo. I can’t help but wonder how much God has loved loving on His girls this past weekend!

  5. Danielle Wheeler April 30, 2017

    So glad you shared this pic. Beautiful. Praising God for the way he touched deep places in you.

  6. Katie Rose April 30, 2017

    This was my first time joining VA for a retreat, and it was such an amazing encounter with God to have! I stayed in my room (with the AC on!) all day, resting and reading and writing and listening. I’m so thankful that this was such an easy and pleasant experience. Thank you!

    For me, God just kept repeating that He knows. He knows what’s ahead, He knows how and what and who He will provide for me, He knows all my emotional instabilities. He knows, He knows, He knows. And, it’s funny, coming into this retreat, I knew I felt some distance or silence from God. The week after Easter, I found myself really identifying with Thomas–distant and doubting. So to read of “the sound of a thin silence” being exactly where God’s presence was–it brought such freedom and release to me. I’m leaving the field in 2 months, 18 days. And the transition is huge and unknown, so I found myself writing on my sticky-note that I needed to leave behind thoughts of the future, as well as answers concerning it. And He met me with His presence–that He knows. He knows and He’s leading me. Praise, praise be.

    Can’t wait to chat more tonight!

    1. Patty Stallings May 2, 2017

      Thanks so much for sharing how God met you. I love how He confirmed so clearly His knowledge of every part of you and your life, expressing His tender care and love for you.

  7. Adora April 30, 2017

    I loved the Scripture meditation and the questions in the Retreat guide! When I opened my Bible to 1 Kings 19, I was surprised to see that parts of it were already highlighted from a previous realization (about God being in the gentle whisper and not the fire, earthquake, or wind), but this time the Spirit led me to notice something else from the passage – the journey to rest. My mind is still overflowing with awe at how God purposely led Elijah to Mount Horeb, His holy mountain, for him essentially to take a nap! How is that for resting in God!? And once he was all rested up and ready to listen to God, only then were further plans revealed. That spoke so much to me about God’s nurturing and patient character and His perfect timing, how He is still working out His plans during the “meanwhile”s of our rest. I wanted to share my Praying in Colour exercise because it kind of sums up my first VA Retreat experience – the quiet, gentle whisper of rest amidst fire and earth. Also, the bright colours symbolize the deep sense of joy resulting from this weekend 🙂 Thank you for all the hard work and thoughtfulness that went into creating this retreat!

    1. Michele Zintz May 1, 2017

      I love the picture! I want it on my wall! 🙂

    2. Patty Stallings May 2, 2017

      Adora, your painting excudes rest! Thank you for sharing it! God leading Elijah to His holy mountain so Elijah could take a nap is a new thought for me – I love it!

  8. Kristi May 1, 2017

    I heard the question, “What are you doing here?” as a way I can check in with God and He can check in with me. Every day I can ask myself that question and respond honestly. I can use it to examine my heart and apply Truth. Do do that I must listen to Him and not become stuck in my own thoughts. I believe that if I listen and as the Father uses this question it will lead to both praise and repentance. I will listen for His guidance. and receive what He has for me. He provided all that is needed. All. I want to receive Him in food, His word, others and see Him in the “big” things (wind, fire, earthquake) and and the “small” things (whispers and silences). He gives rest and commands us to go.

    During Emiilie’s testimony I was prompted to reflect on and ask God, “What are you speaking over me?” and to be mindful of the lies that I speak over myself and that I perceive are being spoken over my by the actions and words or the lack of action and words of others. I gotta keep filling in those well worn ruts in my thought patterns with Truth, Love, and Grace.

    1. Patty Stallings May 2, 2017

      Kristi, thanks for sharing this. My biggest take-away from the 1 Kings passage was how Elijah seemed stuck in a narrative when God twice asked “What are you doing here?” I’m sure something must have shifted in Elijah as he experienced all he experienced on the mountain, but his story didn’t change. That has challenged me to consider where I am stuck in my own narrative and perspective. What am I seeing only from my own experience and interpretation? Where am I misunderstanding reality because of a lack of God’s perspective? I have a feeling I’ll be asking Him and processing that for the next stretch of time.
      I like the way you’ve highlighted those two questions – What are you doing here? What are you speaking over me? – and are using them to reflect and hear from Him. That’s helpful to me!

  9. Natalie May 2, 2017

    I was so excited for this retreat – my first time! A dear friend and supporter from our homechurch gifted it to me and my supportive husband urged me to take the entire day for it. I am in my first term on the field and the past 6 months have been extremely rocky. Rocky doesn’t even do it justice – we were close to going home. I love how God times things. A ministering group of counsellors was here this weekend so I booked an appointment for Friday afternoon and planned to retreat on Saturday. I return from the appointment encouraged to walk in truth and begin responding to what God was doing rather than reacting. And He invited me to put it into practice immediately. I pull into our driveway seeing my husband waiting for me. Before I have even taken my helmet off it is very clear that something has happened. Sure enough there is big news waiting for me and an invitation to respond rather than react – “Our co-workers are pulling off the team”. Velvet Ashes you need to hear from me just how important your ministry is! Friday evening I just couldn’t wait to begin the retreat that next morning. I NEEDED to bathe in His word, His presence and His provision. Yes this is too much for me – feed me Lord, help me get some rest and give me some sort of way forward. Ladies, it has been a devastating 5 days and yet an incredible time of responding to His quiet still voice. Thank you so much – God knew what I needed at such a time as this.

    1. Patty Stallings May 2, 2017

      Natalie, I am so touched by God’s good provision of Himself in the midst of the earth shaking underneath you and the winds and fire blowing through plans and hopes. I have been pondering what Elijah must have been experiencing in that cave as the wind shattered rocks (that’s some wind!) and the earth quaking and fire roaring. It must have been intensely frightening! We know the end of the story – that God met him in stillness and with direction for him. But Elijah didn’t know what was ahead and what God had for him while he was experiencing devastation all around him. It takes courage to trust God in the hard places, and I hear that courage in you through what you’ve written. May you continue to experience His presence and rest and nurturing care for you.

  10. Shannon May 2, 2017

    I have been doing a lot of questioning about my calling, my ministry, my feelings of inadequacy, feelings of isolation even in being with people since the beginning of this year. But within the last month questioning and doubting even more. Did I really hear God’s voice or was it just something I wanted to hear. This weekend was busier than usual but yet God carved several times out for me to stop, rest, and to receive from Him. Studying 1 Kings 19 touched my heart and soul especially about God immediately coming to Elijah and ministering to his needs. The physical touch that brings comfort, healing, love, security, etc. The gentle whisper is what Elijah needed to hear–God’s gentleness, tenderness, caring, compassion, not his might and power. I so appreciate the details, planning, organizing that went into this retreat. I am especially grateful for your prayers covering and bathing this retreat in prayer. Thank you!

  11. Michelle S May 2, 2017

    The retreat was such a blessing! This last year and half has been full of transitions and changes and relationship challenges and…well…just HARD. But God has been so good and faithful to give me what I need at each step of the journey. The retreat came at a time when I was actually fairly encouraged and thriving, but deeply feeling my need of Him. It was so good to just take time to soak in His presence and His Word.

    But not much more than 24 hours after I finished the retreat, I walked into a couple days of deep discouragement–that kind of discouragement that is like a heavy black cloud that envelopes life. I felt like this was just too hard and I simply couldn’t do it anymore. Thoughts of packing up and plane tickets flitted through my mind. As I cried out and clung to Jesus, He brought 1 Kings 19 to mind again–and especially the words, “The journey is too much for you.” Oh. Yes. That’s right. I can’t do this. But God knows that. He’s not asking me to “do this.” HE has and will provide the sustenance, the strength that I need for this journey. He is tender and compassionate, and He is faithful–He never fails!

    Thank you, thank you SO much to each of you who labored and gave of yourselves to make this retreat available. I know that A LOT of work goes into organizing and preparing something like this. May God pour back on you the blessing that you’ve poured out for all of us!

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