For about a year now, I’ve met online twice a month with a group of women who are small-business owners. We use video chat to take turns sharing about an idea, a challenge, or a success in our areas of work. Each of us is a writer, each of us is a Christian, and each of us is a wife and homemaker. Beyond that, we are a diverse group; from travel blogging, to virtual assisting, to speaking, to project management, we have varied interests and income sources. But we’ve found that our mutual commitment to our convictions and to each other gives us each benefits that we wouldn’t have if we tried to work alone. We’ve become a sort of Proverbs 31 support group, cheering each other on as we pursue the callings we believe we have to pour into our relationships with God, our families, and the world around us in our individual seasons.
One night, one of our group mentioned that she and her husband had finished her “shed,” her office/curl-up-and-get-cozy space, and she’d love to host us all for a working/ writing retreat. Those of who could (and who wouldn’t end up running from a hurricane!), jumped on the bandwagon and started planning our trip. We booked a room to share and packed our laptops and planners and gathered together, full of expectation.
Our first goal was to work through a book on business branding, but that goal quickly led to digging deeper into our own hearts, desires, family circumstances and spiritual state, to intentionally get at where we think God is leading us in this season. While Elisa’s giant teddy-bear-of-a-golden-retriever kept loyal watch over us, we alternated between quiet working time and outbursts of, “Hey, can you look at this?” “Anyone know how to??” and “Someone listen to this and see if it makes sense.” We shared our individual expertise, fearlessly admitted our lack of knowledge, and spoke words of challenge and encouragement to each other. Over meals and between work-sessions, we shared our life story/God-story with each other, we cried, we prayed, and we were amazed at how similar some of our experiences were, and how much we each had to offer the others. (We took a little break for some updated headshots, too, and I loved, loved, loved being able to give this gift to my sisters who give me so much. Aren’t they beautiful??!!)
(Naomi is a travel blogger and virtual assistant for travel businesses and non-profits and small business owners.)
(Esther is a pastor’s wife and does online virtual assisting for small business owners. She’s a whiz at social media and helps others learn it too. She’s also passionate about spiritual, physical and relationship wellness for women and has written a course on marriage that I’m taking myself!)
Elisa is an author of several books, a women’s speaker and mentor trainer... and we’re currently working on starting a podcast together to encourage women in their walk with Christ! (Oh-my-goodness!!!)
I think the thing that most stood out to me about our time together on this writer’s retreat was the hospitality of the heart that characterized every moment.
From intentional listening, to sharing a home and a table and an office and a cup of coffee, to setting aside our own agenda for a few moments, to sharing what we’ve learned to help someone else, we practiced the best kind of welcome.
I don’t know about you, but having the opportunity to physically leave my everyday life for the kind of “getaway” that happened for this group is rare. So rare that I’ve longed almost (maybe not “almost”) enviously for so many events and outings over the years I saw other women attending. I have several other amazing women in this group, and in other areas of my life, who have impacted me powerfully, and none of them were part of this time together.
But as I dig into the concept of yieldedness in this season of my life, I’m learning that so often I have opportunities for little retreats, little investments, and little learning spaces, if my eyes are open and I’m watching for them. It’s caused me to set goal to create more space in my life for that “everyday welcome.”
I’m planning to share with you as I journey, and I hope you’ll be encouraged to do the same.
Do you have a recent time where you’ve been encouraged by someone to go deeper into what God’s calling you to? A time when someone has shown you heart-centered hospitality, the kind that might’ve started with a cup of coffee, but led to encouragement that will last?
What’s an area you’d like to grow this year? Something you want to learn, something you feel challenged to achieve for you and your family, for the people in your life? Do you need more time for rest? Do you need to bring in income? Do you long for more intentional time at the table with your kids, your husband, or your neighbor? Share your thoughts below and let’s give each other that hospitality of the heart.
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