Five Minute Friday scribblings, Relationship

Retreat: When Connection Happens

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous as July 21st arrived. I can admit that, as excited as I was, some of those ingrained insecurities tried to resurrect themselves in my thoughts. What would it be like spending the weekend with women I’d never met in person?

The locals said it was the hottest weekend yet this summer in Kansas City.

But oh, meeting so many amazing women was a cool drink of water to my thirsty spirit. From the moment I arrived until the final good-bye hug was given, my spirit was refreshed.

 

Connecting voices to the faces I see online each week? Priceless. When I read their blogs, I will forever hear their voices sharing their words with me.

No surprise here, but being in the company of women who seek after Jesus brought two-dimensional gleanings into three-dimensional understanding. We shared stories from our lives, knowing it was safe to share the ugly, the hard, the words we can probably never truly share online.

What happens when you walk into a room of women you’ve never met in person? Women who are hungry for connection?

Laughter.

Openness.

Tears.

Community.

Hugs—the universal language of caring.

Heart-deep connection.

An early morning walk begun in time to drink in the sunrise. Learning more about each other. Avoiding the dogs who roamed their yards on the country road where we walked. And lots of photos of the beauty lining each side of the street.

 

Belonging. We, each of us, probably brought in a few our insecurities, uncertainties. And yet . . .

When hearts are open, uncertainties dissipate as acceptance offers a warm hug.

And coffee.

Snacks.

Chocolate.

Tazo Tea.

And the thoughtful gifts from DaySpring, (in)courage, and Krafty Kash? Treasures.

The welcome place Kate and the team created set the stage for a weekend of heart-refreshing.

 

Watching women operate in their giftings and their talents was beautiful. We had worship that moved our hearts toward the Father. Words of truth spoken over heartaches. 

Wisdom was shared by the planning committee and authors via the internet. Encouragement shared with us plucked up some brave inside each of us to keep pursuing our dreams . . . and remembering that God is the giver of and fulfiller of dreams.

Stories. Perhaps the unwritten theme of the weekend was that of “story.” We wrote about it. Spoke them. Received them. Stories spoken filled in some of the details of who we each are. Stories of our someday-dreams, of our pasts . . . and our present. Of being real.

 

God gave us a lightning storm, a beautiful reminder of His power and His love. As some of us sat in the gazebo in the dark, we talked, we tried to capture photos of a flash of lightning, and we shared parts of ourselves.

For me, the takeaways from the weekend weren’t only the wonderful teaching and time we shared with authors and Fistbump Media, and these were fabulous. The thing that stayed with me was the filling of my soul by other women—women I had never met in person before. The power of story, of reaching beyond our own comfort zones and accepting the invitation to be a part of each other’s stories . . . this was what crafted an amazing weekend.

 

For this writer, the FMF retreat filled some of the parched, weary spaces in my soul. The pictures, the memories of our time together satiated me as I drove the ten hours home. The weekend gave me space to breathe. Made me ready to take on life with my family, in all our ups and downs, crazy moments and connecting moments once again.

What about you? When have you found heart-deep connection? When have you been encouraged by others?

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46 thoughts on “Retreat: When Connection Happens”

  1. Jeanne, I resonate with your early fears. I thought to myself, “This is the craziest thing I’ve ever done!” Some of our greatest blessings are revealed when we move out of our comfortable places. “The power of story, of reaching beyond our own comfort zones and accepting the invitation to be a part of each other’s stories . . . this was what crafted an amazing weekend.” We learned so much about each other and gained new perspectives. So glad we connected!

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    1. Yes, you’re right, Stephanie. Some of those most amazing moments happen when we’re brave and move out of our comfort zones. I was so thankful to finally meet you and spend a little time (not nearly enough!) with you!

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  2. I’m glad you had such a great time at the retreat, Jeanne, and it’s great to hear more about it. It sounds amazing and I would have loved to be able to join you all.

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  3. It sounds like you had a great time, Jeanne, and it was all you hoped it would be. And I love the photographs.

    Even if dudes could go, I probably wouldn’t do too well at something like that. I get by on about one word of conversation per hour, and habitually fade into the background.

    But I receive tremendous support from the online community, and fro that I am truly grateful.

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    1. It was a special weekend, Andrew. I thought about all the connections you have with the people who were there. I really did. You make me smile with the one word per hour comment. You don’t even require your 5,000 words per day? Or, maybe you get them out online. I know we women use A LOT more words than you dudes do. 😉

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  4. “…but being in the company of women who seek after Jesus brought two-dimensional gleanings into three-dimensional understanding.” I couldn’t have said it better myself, my dear friend. ❤ It was a time I won't soon forget. I enjoyed your company so much! ❤ Wrapping you up in hugs and gluten free kisses. 😀

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  5. Jeanne,
    I had such anxiety walking into a room of 800 women at the “She Speaks” conference in Charlotte, but God quickly dispelled those fears. When women who love Christ gather something amazing happens. The worldly comparison is not there, but love and acceptance is. Oh how sweet to be among other sisters in Christ. Glad you had an awesome time at the FMF Retreat….you have to come to She Speaks next year (there were plenty of women from your neck of the woods)…it was AWESOME!!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Bev, I can imagine how walking into a room of 800 women could cause some serious anxiety! You were brave to do it! And you’re so right. When women who love Jesus gather, God is in their midst and works powerfully. I would love to attend She Speaks one of these years. 🙂

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    1. It was fabulous, Lisa. Just wonderful. 🙂 Five Minute Friday is a special community. 🙂 Thanks! My blog needed a little upgrade, so that was the one thing I’ve done on it this past month. 😉 So good to see you here.

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  6. Wow! Jeanne, what a total blessing it has been seeing FMF retreat through your eyes and lens! The idea of joining in on a truly focused retreat like this excites and terrifies me! I have been to one conference in my life (She Speaks) and that didn’t freak me out nearly as much. I believe it is the total vulnerability that freaks me, but that is where we grow! Thank you for sharing. It is so awesome getting the chance to ready your words. 🙂

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    1. Kelly, it was a wonderful weekend. I had so many pictures, but I try not to overwhelm my readers. 😉 I would love to attend She Speaks sometime. What was your favorite part of it when you went? The beautiful thing about small retreats is that, when the women are seeking God and desiring connection a lot of the games women tend to play fall by the wayside. It makes the risk of being vulnerable easier to navigate. 🙂 Thanks so much for taking time to read!

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      1. Wow, there were so many amazing things about She Speaks. I think my favorite thing would have to be the women I met and connected with and the keynote speaker who was Christine Cain. She rocked us and reminded us that we are in a developing stage and it is a good stage to be in. I still listen again and again to many of the CDs I ordered from the event.

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  7. So special – as insecure as I know I would be…after reading through all the memories, I think “when can I go to a conference??” It just sounds wonderful. I really enjoyed all your photos and reflections about the weekend. Maybe, just maybe, I will meet you at another one down the road!

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    1. Hey Jennifer, it was a special weekend. I had no idea I needed that weekend so much until I was there, meeting people whose blogs I’d read and commented on and gotten to know. 🙂 I hope you do get to go and that one day I’ll get to meet you too. 🙂

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    1. Awww, Marie. You are one of those people I would love, LOVE to get to meet one day! So, when you go to a future FMF retreat, let’s make sure we go together so I can just spend a little time getting to know you. 🙂

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  8. Your smile was contagious! And how did I not know you wrote contemporary fiction? I am researching genres for my novel and this is where I found myself fitting, so neat wow! I hope to connect with more ladies next time. It went by so fast really. Your photos are stunning. I think I will get up earlier next time and roll with the walkers lol!

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    1. Awww, Meg, you are so sweet. I can’t tell you what a blessing it was to get to know you. I would have loved to have spent more time chatting with you and getting to know you better. You’re right, the weekend FLEW by!

      And, now that we each know the other is writing fiction we can pray for each other. I’d love to talk story with you some day and hear more about what you’re working on. 🙂

      Truly thankful for you!

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  9. What an inspiring weekend you had! And I like the new look here! Connection is so important for us writing types, isn’t it? Happy for you that you received connections that will last way beyond a weekend.

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    1. Thanks, Lynn! Yes, it was a wonderful weekend.Filling my spirit and “friend” tank. Sometimes a girl needs to get away and be loosed from the responsibilities at home for a few days.

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  10. Jeanne,
    oooooh what a blessing it was and a true joy to finally get to see you and hear your voice and be real life friends! I’m laughing with delight at all the little things, our coordinated outfits, the chances of you, Alice and I all seated together and practically triplets, the shared love of morning walks and photography and nature…all of it! That’s the Colorado girl coming out in us, I think.
    Thank you for sharing so much in this post. I’m blessed beyond measure to be your forever friend!
    Love,
    Tammy

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    1. And that goes both ways, Tammy!I loved getting to know you, to see your vibrant self interacting with other women, encouraging them with a hug. I was so grateful to get to spend time with you over the weekend! And I loved the twinsies thing going on. Great minds truly do think alike, don’t they? 😉 I was beyond thrilled to meet my blogging sister-friend in the flesh!

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  11. Jeanne, I love the new look for your website … it’s beautiful. And seeing the pictures of the retreat made me sure wish I had gone, too. Mostly to spend time with you. That would have been super special. Maybe one day I’ll be a good enough writer that I can have a retreat at my home … but my home’s so little … still … I can dream. ❤

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    1. Thank you, Shelli. It was the one thing I did for my blog while I took my July break. 😉 I would love to have a retreat where I could spend more time with you too. And you are an amazing writer. You are. I always glean so much from your posts. So very thankful for you, friend!

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  12. jeanne, i’m glad you were able to attend. i went last year…or the last time they had a retreat. it was wonderful and was only about 2 hours from my home:) i couldn’t attend this year. i’m so sad b/c i would have enjoyed meeting you and a couple of others in person.

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    1. Martha, it would have been so fun to meet you too!! I’m glad you got Togo last time. It is such a special weekend, isn’t it? It would great if we both go to the same one some year. 😀

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    1. Grinning. It’s okay, Kate. I know life has been busy for both of us. There’s always grace, right? I always appreciate your visits! And I was thrilled to be there that weekend! I came away so refreshed! You are a blessing!

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