Recap: Annual Well Ladies' Retreat
During the weekend of October 15, over fifty women gathered at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Denver for The Well’s annual Women’s Conference. This year’s conference was a little different from previous conferences in several ways. One key addition this year was the speakers. The teaching came from Bob and Shari Stewart, a husband-and-wife team who share a practice in Louisville, KY that specializes in supporting families that are struggling with the crisis of infertility. In this practice, Bob serves as a psychiatrist and Shari a Christian counselor.
The theme of this year’s conference was “The Search for Blessing: Will I Ever be Good Enough?” Bob and Shari defined blessing in two ways:
1) an accurate discernment about who a person is and who God made them to be, and
2) words or gestures to affirm and encourage a person in who God has made them to be.
Blessings that we have received in our lives spur us on to become who God created us to be and influence our choices and what we believe to be true about ourselves. The opposite is also true. Curses, the negative words and actions our loved ones say and do to us, also influence our choices and views of ourselves. Many women at the conference commented about how they had not ever really thought about blessings in this way, and there was much fruitful conversation around the topic.
Another difference in this year’s conference was that all small group interactions happened live. The Stewarts interspersed group activities, questions, and discussions between snippets of teaching. On two of these occasions, we were asked to share with the women at our table a time when we had been blessed and a time when we had been cursed.
Every one of us in the room had been blessed and cursed, and these stories are not always easy to share. Tears were shed at nearly every table as women found the courage to discuss real truths about their personal search for blessings. There was also much discussion around the fact that we all carry around the affirming and hurtful words that people have said about us, regardless of how put together or not we might look.
Though it was difficult to share these stories, the vulnerability was beautiful. James 5:13-16 says, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord…Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. “
We are called to be vulnerable with each other, to share our joys and our struggles and to confess our sins. Being vulnerable and praying with one another allows us to heal, and I’m thankful for speakers who asked us to share vulnerable stories with one another and the small groups of women who were willing to share with each other.
Special thanks to the planning team of Maggie Costley, Becca Karner, Ari Patrick, Crystal Dady, Sarah Targgart, Jessyca Allen for organizing a wonderful and impactful event!