Relaxing in Middleburg – RestoWomen Welcome!

IMG_0548As I reflect on the many reasons I value attending the women’s retreat each year, I keep coming back to the way that it carves out precious space and time amidst a world that feels busy and chaotic.  When I drive along the winding roads of Middleburg, VA, I can physically and mentally feel the constraints of the city wash away and fade into the distance. Looking forward, I feel a sense of peace because I know that every moment of the next 36 hours will encompass some beautiful combination of the following:

–       Prayer

–       Silence

–       Laughter

–       Reflection

–       Connection

–       Nature

–       Creativity

–       Worship

–       Friendship

–       Play

Not included:

–       Emails

–       Demands

–       To-Do Lists

–       Laundry

–       Traffic

–       Errands

–       Technology

–       Rushing

IMG_6351To me, the women’s retreat offers precious time and space during which I am much more open and available to receive the abundant gifts that God delights in bestowing upon me. It is my hope and prayer that all of the women at Restoration would attend the retreat this year so that they, too, could receive and experience these gifts! Sign up here for the retreat, 9-11 Feb. Closing date MONDAY, January 29, 2018!!

~Kate Liias

God’s reflection….


This morning I was driving to church as dawn was breaking…  The sky was so lovely – pinks and greys and oranges…but as I changed direction away from the sunrise I had a moment of pang – sorry to not be able to see it clearly any longer. But then, as I was stopped at the lights I looked up, and all the buildings around were reflecting back soft pinks and oranges… and as I smiled, I felt God nudging me and reminding me that I am deeply embedded in a community of believers who all reflect the Father’s face.

And so – a call out – if you are a woman and are not yet signed up for the women’s retreat – why not consider coming? The more we come to know each other in community, the more we see the reflection of our very, very good God in those around us AND what is more as Connally points us in the direction of ‘Simply God’ I am confident that together we will reflect more of God’s character and loveliness by the end of the weekend! Your face will be brighter .. so…

Over 90 of us are going already – but there are a few more spaces! Feb 9-11… just over two weeks away…

COME! You can sign up here!


A story about a ring… and God


Over 120 RestoWomen gathered last weekend in Middleburg to consider what it means to be mature and secure children of God.  Kristen Terry led us through scripture, brain science and attachment theories to help us better understand how we view God as our parent and how we can rest secure as His children.  On Friday night, Kristen guided us through an exercise recalling a memory involving a happy child.  In small groups, we shared how those memories led us to consider what God might be saying to us.  There were over 120 different stories, different memories, and different revelations about what it means to be a child of God over the weekend.

The recurring thread in my own story was challenging me to examine my constrained view of God and the way I constrain myself in approaching Him.  How do I limit what I believe God can do, or what He cares about, or even how He cares for me?  In my notes on Friday evening I reflected, “God is not contained within the box I have created for Him.  He is surprising.”  The words I associated with my memory were free, unleashed, or unchained.

On Saturday, as Kristen encouraged us to think about our relationships to others and our ability to develop trust, I really struggled with the word distrust.  Distrust can imply a sense of suspicion and that didn’t seem fitting for the way I approach God.  There have been big moments in my life when I have felt fully and completely trusting of my heavenly Father.  And yet, day-to-day, am I a child of God that is fully trusting?  Am I a child that climbs into the lap of my Father to tell him what I need?  Am I “letting God love me?” as Kristen asked us on Sunday. 

No sooner had Kristen finished her final talk when I looked down and fiddled with the ring on my right hand.  It is antique ring that belonged to my husband’s grandmother, gifted to me by my mother-in-law.  I have cherished this gift and have loved wearing a reminder of the generations before me.  As I looked down I noticed a dark hole where the antique diamond had sat just days earlier.  My heart dropped and I quickly tried to remember the last time I had seen the ring intact.  I mentally began to rewind my movements.  I had sat in a least 5 different chairs, I had walked to and from my room, I had scraped my plate into the trash in the dining hall after dinner, I had walked along the river and skipped rocks Saturday afternoon.  There was no way I could retrace my steps of the previous two days.  I leaned to the friend sitting next me and pointed to my ring.  “Dear Jesus,” she said as grabbed my hand “help us find the diamond.”  I snickered.  Really?  I am not asking God to help me find a diamond.  Surely we could pray for bigger things.  Just moments earlier as we prayed together, I had prayed BIG prayers.  I had prayed for emotional healing and wholeness for the women in the room.  Surely God has better things to do.  I showed Liz the ring and she too stopped to pray, but again the skeptic in me stopped her, “we have already prayed Liz, but thanks!” I quipped.

I scurried back to my room during the break to check under the bed and in the bathroom.  Nothing.  I headed back in time for eucharist and scanned the gravel path as I walked.  Nothing.  After eucharist ended we started to say our goodbyes.  As we filed out of the Stone Barn, I scooted down one of the rows of chairs and something caught my eye—the size of a crumb. There it was.  Tiny and sparkling and right in front of a chair I had been sitting in on Saturday morning.  The relief as I scooped up the little diamond and clutched it in my palm was not in finding what I had lost, but it was in confirmation of the truth I had been seeking all weekend— that sometimes God truly is surprising.  That sometimes He loves us in ways that are small and seemingly insignificant.  Those questions I had jotted in my booklet all weekend— Can I trust Him?  Can I let Him love me?  Yes. yes.

As we were leaving, I shared the story with Kristen.  She grabbed her folder and began to read something that she hadn’t had time to share during the session.  This is what she read:

Praying for Abundance

A slave feels reluctant to pray; they feel they have no right to ask, and so their prayers are modest and respectful. They spend more time asking forgiveness than they do praying for abundance.

An orphan is not reluctant to pray; they feel desperate. But their prayers feel more like begging than anything else.

But not sons; sons know who they are.

Mine were just home for Christmas; all three of them. They are young men now, out making their way in the world. And as is fitting to their stage in life, they are living on limited means. But when they come home, they get to feast. The refrigerator and pantry is theirs to pillage and they don’t have to ask permission. When we go out to dinner, there is no question that dad will take care of the bill. For they are sons—they get to live under their father’s blessing; they get to drink from the abundance of my house (Ps. 36:8).

And when the holidays were over and they packed up and left, they took with them my best shoes, my best sunglasses, some of my favorite books, climbing gear, and cigars—with my absolute pleasure and blessing. Luke was the last to go; he was hoping to pillage some of my travel gear for an upcoming trip. I said, “You are my son—everything I have is yours. Plunder as you will.”

This is how sons get to live; this is how a father feels toward his sons.  – John Eldridge

The truth is I was praying like a slave, reluctantly, trying to be modest and respectful.  How appropriate that one of the words I associated with my memory was unchained. 

When I got home I recounted the story to my family about the lost diamond, the prayer of a few friends, and the way God answered that prayer.  My child looked me in the eyes and, as children do, exclaimed, “God probably really loves you.”  Indeed He does. unnamed

~Hannah Royal

An Introvert’s Invitation to the Women’s Retreat

images“So long as there are men and women, Christ walks the earth as your neighbor, as the one through whom God calls on you, speaks to you, and makes demands on you. That is the most serious and most blessed thing about the Advent message. Christ lives in the shape of the person in our midst.”

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Mystery of Holy Night, p. 11)

I love Advent. I love candles and children singing and handmade presents and hot chocolate and special prayers and rituals. But I’m also an introvert who thrives on solitude and slowness, so the shopping and parties and events of this season stretch me to my limit. I often come to Christmas day – and the beautiful season of joy that follows – limping and weary and longing for a break.

Which is why I begin to look forward to the women’s retreat every year around this time. It’s so well timed to refresh me after the holidays, to interrupt the mid-winter doldrums (which, in my house, includes stir-crazy kids trapped indoors and behaving like caged wild animals), and to strengthen and inspire me for the year that lies ahead. But wait, I know what you’re thinking – I said I’m an introvert, right? And the women’s retreat involves a LOT of women, many of whom I don’t know, right? And this year’s theme is something terrifying like “corporate spiritual disciplines,” right?photo-3

Right. Yes. I’m an introvert who loves the women’s retreat and can’t wait to dive into corporate spiritual disciplines. Why?

First of all, I am careful to fight off FOMO to carve out a few hours of contemplative solitude over the retreat weekend every year. I know I need this time in order to fully engage with the retreat experience and to go home replenished rather than depleted. If you’re introverted, I highly recommend you consider doing the same, and I’d be happy to share what works for me.

But more importantly, though I am introverted by temperament, I also firmly believe that I am created in the image of a triune, relational God. I am made for community, and I cannot experience the fullness of the life Jesus offers me apart from it. I have been profoundly impacted by the vulnerability and wisdom of our Resto Women community, and my faith is strengthened, challenged, and deepened by immersing myself in it every year at the women’s retreat. There is nothing like a weekend set aside to pray, sing, laugh, cry, learn, and seek God with a group of honest, messy, and unique women. I love it.

This year, we’ll be digging into corporate spiritual disciplines like worship, confession, prayer, and celebration. Every introverted cell in my body resists this topic, mainly because of the word “corprorate.” I’m quite content to pursue (or lazily not pursue, as is more often the case) spiritual disciplines on my own without those pesky other people all up in my spiritual grill. But it’s my resistance to the topic that also most excites me, because I have experienced how God loves to surprise me with joy and healing in the places that feel most risky, especially in community.

So come, dive in with me to a scary topic with a bunch of people we don’t really know. Take a risk. Consider the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer above, and trust that you will, indeed, encounter Christ in “the shape of the person in our midst.”snow-friends

~Amy Rowe

God and the (single) woman

Last Tuesday,  7.30pm 51 women met at LFPC to listen, chat, think and pray around the idea of being a woman of God who may be single; and how we can encourage one another to grow into all that God has for us individually and collectively.IMG_0666 The panel: Leigh McAfee, Barb Hagerty and Connally Gilliam were outstanding – they made us laugh and think as they called us to revel in our womanhood, delight in our maker and allow God to minister to the hurts and longings that we feel. Some of my favorite quotes from the evening include:

  • “It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (quoted by Barb)
  • “I want to live out of wholeness not longing” (Leigh)
  • “But Eros, honoured without reservation and obeyed unconditionally, becomes a demon” CS Lewis, The four loves (quoted by Connally)
  • ‘Fill yourselves with thankfulness” (Barb)
  • “How would I live if I knew for a fact in five years I would/would not be married?” (Barb)
  • “My singleness is only part of my identity” (Leigh)

What was your favorite take-away from the evening?    Do continue the conversation…


1) Last call for the Women’s retreat: sign up closes this Sunday. Connally is our speaker – the book is Philippians and we will be thinking about hope in the chaos of life. It will be fun!

2) March 18, 7.30pm LFPC: ‘God and the (sexual) woman’. Similar format. Send questions in advance to Liz Gray

Restoration women on retreat: rhinestones optional…

I grew up in Texas, the land of big hair, big jewelry, and assertive makeup application. As anyone who knows me now might guess, I always felt a bit out of place among Texas women. I liked books, wore glasses, had perpetually crooked bangs, and didn’t have a single rhinestone-bedazzled vest to my name.

e23329b7c937d2dfabdfaa7e13ac7aa5As a result, I always felt a little baffled by the whole concept of femininity. So the idea of a women’s retreat has always been a turnoff for me. Spend an entire weekend feeling weird, awkward, plain, and clumsy around sparkly women who have it all together? No thanks.

In a moment of uncharacteristic courage, I actually tried attending a women’s retreat about a decade ago in Texas. Over the course of the weekend, amidst a sea of vanilla-scented candles, I witnessed not one but two interpretive ribbon dances performed to sentimental love songs. While most women in the room were weeping, I was shuffling my feet and staring at the floor and thinking how once again, I just couldn’t get the hang of this “woman” thing. (To be fair, there was also a great speaker and I learned lots in between all the dancing and weeping.)

Thankfully, God has delivered me from my phobia of being trapped in a hotel with a large group of women. How? He brought me to Restoration. This church is packed with fascinating, brave, creative women. Some of them have great hair and flawless lipstick, and some of them wear sweaters with holes at the elbows to church (or maybe that’s just me). But regardless of outward appearances, without fail, I have found the women at Restoration to be incredibly honest and thoughtful and real about themselves. And for that reason, I didn’t run screaming when Restoration announced its first women’s retreat a few years ago. Someone called that first retreat “a women’s retreat for women who don’t like women’s retreats,” and I think that about sums it up. There wasn’t a scented candle or ribbon in sight, but there was wine and worship and art and prayer and great conversation with interesting women who were all trying figure out what it means to be a woman who follows Jesus in a broken world.

This year’s retreat is coming up soon (Feb 21-23), and there’s still room to sign up for what promises to be a refreshing weekend. Our own Connally Gilliam will be teaching. We’d love to have you, especially if you think women’s retreats are not your thing. Take a risk and allow God to surprise you. Sign up today!

Amy Rowe

Feb 21-23, 2014 the AWESOME women’s retreat

February is always a long month.  I guess it is the shortest month, if you’re counting days, but for me, it never feels like the shortest month.  The excitement of the holidays is long past and I’m ready to shed my winter coat.  I’m tired of the early darkness and spring break is too many weeks away.

What is the solution to this February drag? The Restoration Women’s Retreat!


Last February, I was stuck in my traditional February rut and the ladies of Restoration helped to pull me out of it.  Our weekend of learning and hanging out was so rejuvenating for me.

I wrote in my journal during the weekend, “It’s amazing when I can really see God at work in my life – during the most frustrating and chaotic season, he has sent me inspiration and guidance.”  That inspiration and guidance came in the form of lessons and wonderful friendships that were forged at the Women’s Retreat 2013.

During the Women’s Retreat in February 2014 we will hear our own Connally Gilliam speak.  There will be plenty of time to chat by the fire, time for getting cozy and relaxed with a book, and opportunities to be adventurous in the Pennsylvania outdoors.  Most importantly, it will be a weekend surrounded by some of the most wonderful people.  What is better than that?

Join us! February 21-23, 2014 at the Capital Retreat Center in Waynesboro, PA

You can sign up here or here …do it today!

Liz Baar


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