Today we are excited to share with you why God led us to the theme “Invited” for this year’s Velvet Ashes Retreat. We’re also thrilled to hear from three women in our community who are sharing their own Retreat experiences.
We believe and have experienced in our own lives that the concept of invitations from God has the power to transform your life. Follow this trail with us…
Did you know that in the Lord’s Prayer, the greek word “will” from “your will be done” can be translated as “best offer”? Is that how you think about God’s will? As his best offer for your life? Or do you think of God’s will as something heavy and demanding?
Thinking of God’s will as his best offer transforms our relationship with him. His will for our life is not some heavy demand that we must submit to. God invites us to his best offer. If his will feels heavy or scary, then it probably involves the death of some false thing we are clinging to. The great irony is that when we allow the painful death of those false things and move into his will, we discover it really is the best way.
Thinking of God as an invitational God transforms our relationship with him. He invites us into the best way. He stands with outstretched arms offering it to us, inviting us, wooing us even. He is inviting us not just into eternity in heaven with him, but into the present daily indwelling of his Spirit, which is his will, his best offer.
So if we want God’s will, if we want his best offer for our lives, our role is simply to pay attention to his invitations and say yes. That is why our theme for the 2021 Velvet Ashes Online Retreat is “Invited.” We each need time and space to step out of the distractions of our life, to sit and let the Spirit of God whisper his invitation to us.
He alone knows what we truly need. He knows what we truly need in the big picture of our lives and in the small details too. He sees the unique season of our souls, and he knows exactly what the next best thing is for us.
Before our global community’s Retreat weekend, we shared a post interviewing three women who were preparing to retreat. Today we are circling back to see how their time was.
Ladies, we’re curious and excited to see, how did the Lord meet you during the Retreat and what invitation did he give?
Elise: I knew that I was bringing a list of griefs from this past season into the Retreat to process and reflect on, and I was hoping and expecting that God would bring healing and revelation to each of those areas of my life. But I was blown away by God’s kindness and his presence as he helped me to instead zoom out and see repetitive connections of grief leading to joy and growth. There were several times where I’d be journaling through the prompts and then stop and say, “Whoa!” as the Lord revealed glimpses of how he is weaving all these different pieces of my life to bring about deep meaning and growth, and how it’s him who’s bringing it about. I feel invited to remember that God is the master of the seasons of my soul. He’s the one with me in each season, and moving me through the seasons. That helps me relax and embrace the place that I am in. I’m so thankful for this Retreat, and I loved the sense of belonging to the VA community as we retreated together!
Jenny: This was my first full retreat to experience with Velvet Ashes and I must admit that I underestimated how meaningful it would be. Even in the first few components. We have had a really busy month. So much so that my plan to retreat was shifted from the weekend to the beginning of the week. Then, after receiving news that our family would have to quarantine because of a Covid case in our kid’s school, my retreat plans were hard to carry out. But I was able to carve out a couple of hours Monday morning to dig into the first part of the retreat. The opening videos and time of worship felt like refreshing rain on places I didn’t realize were so parched. I was in tears at the intention and and the invitation given and in the realization that I was in need of the space that was being provided. I continue to hear the whisper of the Lord beckoning me to carve out the time to assess what season I’m in and what I need for it. Even though the weekend didn’t turn out how I initially wanted, I am so thankful that I purchased a Season Pass so that I can step back into the retreat when our routine settles.
Lisa: My retreat experience this year ended up with a group of 12 ladies from our region of the country. Some of us have known each other for a while, others are new faces, and some of us were meeting for the first time. So we walked into the weekend with quite a variety of stages of friendship. And we walked out with staff from where we stayed watching us give goodbye hugs to new friends.
We were blessed to enjoy time on a small, peaceful island nearby, not a drop of rain the entire time to interfere with our mostly-outside program, a balance of time in God’s Word, conversation with others, and time on our own.
The sessions on all of the seasons were impactful and relevant, but I think the most significant for me was Autumn. It was so good for me to take time to process and put words to various things I’ve been lamenting. I loved the exercise of writing my own lament modeled after Psalm 13. It was cathartic in many ways. Our group also had many meaningful reactions to the Spring session on Isaiah 35. The images in the video were powerful displays of the words.
Before we packed up our things into the boat to head back home, the 12 of us took some time to share prayer requests with the whole group. Many of us shared things that we had been thinking about and processing throughout the weekend, complete with laughter and tears around the tables. Finally we broke up into partners and prayed together. It was such a lovely time for each of us all, regardless of what season we find ourselves in currently. It is so good for our souls to have time away from home and work to be with like-minded women, investing in the refreshment of our souls. (Plus, we didn’t have to cook or clean up after any meals for 2 full days!)
Thanks so much Velvet Ashes for all you do to not only make this possible, but to make it so meaningful as well.
Thank you Elise, Jenny and Lisa for sharing with us. We’re celebrating how God met you and spoke to you. We would love to hear from all of you. Have you done the 2021 Velvet Ashes Retreat? If not, you still can!
If you’ve done the Retreat already, how did the Lord meet you?
What was his invitation to you?
Life after Retreat can often get swamped with a list of “shoulds.” There are so many things we “should” be doing. But what is the one thing the Lord has actually invited you to?
What would happen if we kept that invitation at the forefront of our minds? What would happen if we centered our decisions, our schedules, our reading, and our prayers around that invitation?
Transformed living would happen. His best offer would become reality, one invitation at a time. His will would be done.
We love you, Velvet Ashes Community! Thank you for retreating with us and walking with us in community. We never cease to be amazed at what God does. We look forward to hearing from you in the comments.