And leave as friends. The end. Just kidding! Well, I'm not kidding about the friends part. Sigh. Let me start over.
Madison of Wetherills Say I Do and Rachel of Oh Simple Thoughts hosted the Renew Retreat this past weekend in Tennessee. When they first announced their vision of a retreat for bloggers who are Christian, I thought it sounded like a lot of fun and also something I would never do. I am really introverted and the idea of spending a weekend with a bunch of people I didn't know was so intimidating. My thought process was, "What if I don't have anything to say, or worse, say something crazy? What if they hate me? What if I hate THEM?" Then my sister (Lisa of Life to the Full) said she was interested in going. I started thinking maybe it being something I normally wouldn't do was exactly why I should do it. Get out of my comfort zone. Meet some people in real life, not just on the computer. You know, actual human contact.
The retreat was in a cabin in the woods of Tennessee. Isn't this view from the balcony gorgeous?!
The leaves were starting to turn and it was wonderful to be reminded of how beautiful our world has been created. (The baby bears we saw outside the cabin Friday night were less beautiful and more terrifying.) We were even treated to a fantastic swag bag with super cute things to bring home. Rachel has a great post detailing what was in the swag bag here.
We spent part of Saturday in Gatlinburg. We split into smaller groups for lunch and sightseeing or shopping then drove our caravan back to the cabin for dinner. My family went this candy shop when we were in Gatlinburg last summer, so I was glad to visit it again. I wisely (or sadly?) avoided buying candy this time.
Now, it made it a lot easier that Lisa went too, but I am SO glad I went. I met thirteen other women who are all so amazing in their own ways. Each one of them inspired me, whether they were relatively fresh out of college, well established career-wise, newly married or single, raising kids or birthing a new business. And such talent! An unbelievable number of fantastic photographers (not me) and bakers of delicious biscuits, makers of all manner of delicious food, creative minds, kind hearts and super funny people. Every single woman there had something wonderful to contribute, and I truly believe we all placed there together to lift each other up. I feel a connection to these women, and have prayed for many of them specifically and all of them generally since I came home.
I'm already looking forward to next year's retreat!