Two weeks ago I loaded up our suburban with the kiddos and all manner of things needed for a 7+ hour trip and a weekend stay. My husband drove and my friend Mollie kept me company on the dark, rainy drive to Nashville, TN.
The most anticipated weekend of the summer had arrived! We were on our way to the FMF (Five Minute Friday) Retreat.
Five Minute Friday is an online community of women who come together on Fridays to write for five minutes using a one-word writing prompt. Five minutes of sharing words and hearts without concern for editing. It’s a writing exercise, the type of which my brother-in-law says sounds like a torturous high school assignment. For the 100 or so ladies who participate each week, however, it’s a weekly lesson in releasing perfectionism in our writing.
Some of us gather on Twitter on Thursday evenings to chat using the #fmfparty hashtag. We talk like women do. There is usually talk of chocolate, kids, work, family, prayer requests and more. When the writing prompt is released that evening, the Twitter party gets quiet while we all go to write for our five minutes.
A few months back during one of our Thursday evening #fmfparty chats, someone mentioned how great it would be if we could all chat in person instead of just online. The idea of a retreat was born and four brave souls – Kate, Holly, Mary, and Jen – took on the challenge of planning a time for us to meet.
While to some it might seem strange to gather women from all over the U.S. and Canada who have never met in person in one cabin for a weekend, to those of us who attended, it couldn’t have felt more normal.
When describing the retreat to my husband and friends after the weekend ended, I talked about how it felt like “church camp for adult women”. Church camp to me means so many things, but in this case I likened the retreat to camp since the Holy Spirit was just so obviously present in all of our interactions.
The small talk that normally occurs when you first meet someone wasn’t necessary, as we’d “talked” about these things weekly with one another online for months, sometimes even years.
We were familiar with so many aspects of each others’ stories – families, workplaces, church environments, struggles, and joys. Instead of our conversations staying at surface level, we quickly shared the deep places with one another, becoming “heart sisters” in the process.
Many of the women have shared their own reflections of the weekend we spent together. For some, it was the first time they’d experienced community with like-minded Christian women. For some, it was a time to release fear and embrace a deeper faith. For some, it was a time to truly embrace their identity as a writer.
For me, it was a time to acknowledge God’s true provision in my life in so many areas.
God proved to me His goodness over and over through the women present at the retreat. I was able to see first hand how intimately God knows me, his child, and his desire to pour out his blessings in the form of these sweet relationships.
Some of His good gifts looked like:
There are so many more stories I could share of God’s faithfulness throughout the weekend, stories of special conversations and moments we’ll all cherish forever. These pictures provided a peak into our experiences:
Emily Freeman reflects on these life-changing moments in her new book, Simply Tuesday:
The kingdom of God exists right here in the moments where we live.
On some level, we already know this. Maybe you, like me, can recount moments in your life where it seemed you stepped through the invisible curtain dividing heaven and earth, where you nodded your head with misty eyes and thoughtful gaze, feeling the gauzy weight of eternity settle softly over the moment – at the wedding, the graduation, the birth of a baby, or even after a meaningful night with friends.”
This weekend retreat, two meaningful nights with friends, certainly provided a peak into the kingdom of God here on earth and I am grateful, so very grateful, to have experienced it!
What places in your own life have you experienced the type of community and connection that is the kingdom of God here on earth? If it’s been awhile for you, I’d encourage you to seek out connection with other believers – in your workplace, in a MOPS group, in a small group, at a ladies retreat, or even online. Make space for God to delight you with his provision and create joy in your life through other believers!