WFMW – How to Plan a Women’s Retreat

wfmwOur church hosted its women’s retreat this month. I was blessed, as I have the past few years, to be a part of the steering committee.

Some time ago a friend asked if I would post a How – To blog on planning a women’s retreat. I thought it was a wonderful idea and convinced my dear friend, Nancy, to be a guest blogger. Nancy has served as the Women’s Ministry Director at our church for the past 7 years. It’s been such a blessing to get to know her and see her passion for the women of our church. She truly and sincerely wants them to grow in their spiritual walk and commitment.

Retreat Planning 101
By Nancy

So you want to know how to plan a Women’s Retreat? It is actually very simple…here is the secret: Pray!

That’s it, well, that is the priority, beyond that build a great team of women to work alongside you. Find women that are excited about your retreat, that love the Lord and want to see women draw close to Him.

Here are some bullet points that may help you on your adventure:

  1. Pray

    Always begin with this. The Lord knows what the women need during this season, ask Him what it is. Pray that He will help direct the steps of the planning. Pray that He will guide you to the women He wants involved in the retreat.

    Share with a small group of women that are also passionate about designing a women’s retreat and see what God has been teaching you. Often the Lord uses these lessons as a spring board for the retreat.

  2. Location and speaker

    After forming the core steering committee, the most immediate attention needs to be placed on selecting a location and speaker. We typically have between 80-100 women in attendance so we have certain logistical needs to consider when picking a facility. In our area retreat spots book fast, so we often make this decision 10 to 12 months in advance. This year for the first time we went to a hotel!

  3. Coordinating Team

    In the past, we had one coordinator that oversaw all the retreat committees. She would choose a co-coordinator that would be in training for the next year. Lately we’ve found having three or four women as part of a steering team to be less burdensome and more fun! Each of these women oversees separate committees.

  4. Form committees based on your needs

    Here is a sample of some of ours:

    Prayer team
    Decorating team
    Free time activities
    Speaker hostess
    Follow up

    Of course this is not an exhaustive list! Although you might be exhausted just reading it.


    Our giveaways team came up with a tremendous amount of prizes and gifts to share with the ladies over the weekend.

    Clear communication is also very important. You can use e-mail, phone calls, meetings, letters etc, just make sure everyone has clear expectations. We have written job descriptions so each committee head knows her responsibilities.

  5. Plan an agenda for the weekend

    Have a timeline and put in meals, speaker times, small groups, free time etc. Build in some extra time between meeting times to allow God to work in His own way. It is okay to deviate from the schedule as the Holy Spirit prompts. It is also important though to know where you are headed, confusion over scheduling can be very distracting to the women.

  6. Meetings

    We open the first meeting up to all the women of the church, asking for people to come and be a part of our planning session. The steering committee has already divided the responsibilities and are ready to form their core teams. Some women come forth out of their own initiative and others are asked (invited, cajoled) to help.

    We usually have about 8-10 meetings before the retreat with all the committee leaders and steering team. We pray, share requests and needs and discuss the planning and progress of each area. By this time, we’ve come up with a topic, theme and core Bible verse.

  7. let's have a meeting

    Meetings keep everyone on track.

  8. Additional Activities

    Here is a collection of some of the things we’ve done at retreats, either during free time or as part of the presentation. Each year looks different, you can’t “do it all”, so pick what personally suits the women of your church.

    Mug exchange
    Prayer walks
    Personal testimonies from women in our church
    Break out sessions on specific topics (marriage, parenting, Bible study helps)
    Board games and puzzles
    Sign language
    Outdoor activities/sports
    PowerPoint presentations

  9. Registration

    This is a significant area of management. It can be difficult to keeping track of payments, special needs and rooming assignments. Pick someone with great administrative skills. Have all payments made before the retreat. We provide scholarship money for women that can not afford the cost of the retreat. It was been a joy to see God provide just what we need.

  10. Set up

    The retreat committee generally arrives about 3 hours before the rest of the women to decorate, put out name tags, check rooming assignments and be personally prepared to greet the women. Be careful not to be distracted with the small stuff as the women arrive. Many of them are completely scared and uncomfortable!

  11. decorations are set

    Our theme this year was The Amazing Race. The decorations were definitely amazing!

  12. Notebook

    We have fun creating a notebook for the weekend. Included in it is the retreat committee teams, the agenda for the weekend, notes for the speaker’s sessions, a quiet time devotional, small group questions, songs and even a phone/email address list of each attendee. Our worship leader is a gifted songwriter and each year pens a song especially for the year’s retreat.

  13. More Prayer

    The retreat team is careful to build in time, during the retreat, for prayer. We gather with the speaker, worship leader and steering team to pray before each session. Often God reveals to us there, any changes that are necessary.

    Make sure you are available to “be present” with the women. We can physically show up to hang out with the women, but our minds can be on the next meeting or in problem solving mode. They need you, all of you!

    Thank you’s of course are important at the end of a meeting. Mainly, of course, God gets all the glory!

  14. speaker table

    Our speaker, Judy Gerry, brought a collection of her books to share with the retreat attendees.

  15. Follow up

    Often this is difficult. You will be tired. Some women will still want to connect or may have shared a struggle and will need further attention. Know counselors in your area, be alert to “signals” some women may send out, indicating their need for further help. One year we hosted a party for the committee the week after the retreat to say thank you. Another time we had a “reunion” for the women who attended the retreat. Again, make this about what your women need.

Have fun! Did I mention you need to pray? I can’t emphasize that enough. It is an absolute blessing to see God work in very specific and awesome ways. He speaks to each of us so personally, let the women share their stories….it is amazing!

There you go…some ramblings from a retreat junkie. My very first one, I was one of those scared, reluctant girls who only came because someone personally invited me and offered to room with me. I am now hooked! It is hard work and exhausting and completely worth it. Have fun and may God bless you beyond all your expectations!

Love, Nancy


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I Hate Calories

Okay, maybe it’s more fair to say I hate COUNTING calories! Harumph. It seems no matter how healthy and lean I keep my eating, those calories still add up. It’s frustrating.

oh the pain, the agony

David obviously sympathizes with me.

Still, summer is coming and I would rather not be depressed and grumpy because my clothes are tight. Let’s see, grumpy about calories or grumpy about fat? Hmmmm, What a fantastic choice.

Why is this self-discipline thing is so difficult? Does EVERY area in life require self-control?

Spiritual walk – check
Finances – check
Fitness – check
Homeschooling – check
Housework – check
Eating – check
Parenting – check

where's waldo?

Self-control alert – must not kiss that sweet face!

Each one of these categories require me to say “no” to my self-indulgent ways. I LIKE being self-indulgent. Isn’t that the whole point? Sigh. To be honest, however, I have to say I don’t care for the consequences of all that lazy living.

Spiritual walk – stagnation and sin
Finances – debt and struggles
Fitness – flab and fatigue
Homeschooling – uneducated children
Housework – messy, cluttered home
Eating – fat and poor health
Parenting – undisciplined, out of control children

So instead of eating, I will fix a cup of tea. Instead of spending money, I shall go to the library. When I want to sit back and blog all evening, I’ll see if Tim will take a walk with me. I’ll read my Bible and journal in the morning because I love God and want to know Him better. I’ll pray (desperately at times) to remain consistent in my parenting. I’ll step away from my computer during the day and diligently homeschool my children. I’ll enlist their help with the cooking and cleaning.

you can do it, Mom!

Rachel cheers me on!

And at night, I’ll fall in bed exhausted but content.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1


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Sleep Question

If you fall asleep in your super comfy, leather recliner is it a nap or part of the night’s sleep?

Does it count toward bed time if it’s close to midnight and a nap if it’s in the middle of the afternoon?

These are important questions. Help me out! Also, I’m curious to know if I’m the only one who finds herself taking a little snooze on occasion.

Let me know!

For more homeschooling related thoughts, go and check out the Ultimate Homeschool Expo, a homeschool convention completely online. What do you think? Great concept whose time has come or wacky idea from a bunch of geeky homeschoolers?


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Families – jump on the count of three

As a mother of five, I often feel pulled in many directions. Guilt is my constant companion. Am I doing enough? Is everyone getting enough of my love, attention and support? Is the laundry clean? Do the children have nutritious meals and snacks to feed and nourish their bodies? Are the younger ones learning to read, write and excel in mathematics? Are the older ones being challenged in all the areas of their schooling?

How can I possibly provide each child with all that he or she needs? Maybe I did them a great disservice by adding so many siblings to the bunch.

Just when I begin to doubt the wisdom of having a large family I hear shrieks of laughter. I look outside and see something like this.

ready, set go!

Joshua swings the rope while the kids race by.

time to jump over!

Look at Sarah fly up in the eir.

down again

And then I glimpse the joy the children have in being together. I laugh because their play is spontaneous and free, their laughter contagious. I thank God for letting me be the mother of these precious five children. I realize anew that their interactions are replete with life lessons.

How to be kind. How to share. How to deal with anger, frustration and disappointment. How to be a servant and a leader. Lessons that are invaluable and will impact each child’s future. In the business world, this kind of training costs companies thousands of dollars. And ours come free of charge. Ha!

And of course, if you are very, very blessed you end up with a big brother like Joshua.

david hugs Joshua

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The day is nearly over and what is done (or not done) is over by now.

Project 366 – Day 117

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Co-Op Ends

Hooray – the semester (and year) of our homeschooling co-op has come to a lovely finish!! I love being a part of such an amazing group. The board members are dedicated, passionate women who love the students and believe whole-heartedly in making our co-op excellent. The other families are composed of some of our dearest friends. The kids thrive in their different classes – Rachel and Daniel both scored in the top of their spelling class. I am constantly delighted in the work the students produce for me in my classes.

sarah sips her tea daintily

We had a tea party in our kindergarten class this morning.

All of that said, I am thrilled to shed the responsibility, stress and work of another year at co-op. Whew! In the meantime, I will try hard not to think about the THREE classes I have committed to teaching next semester. There are so many fun ideas I like to explore with the kids, I have a difficult time pacing myself.

Ah, but fall is a long time away and I plan to thoroughly enjoy the spring and summer.

girls love purses at any age

What’s a party without accessories?

Tim took over 300 pictures of our Friends and Family Night where the kindergarteners graduated, the choir performed, the older three took part in a mystery play, and the parents/teachers were honored.

let's get those cap and gowns

First grade here we come!

Hopefully at least one or two of the pictures turned out.

Project 366 – Day 116

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