Two years ago, our (in)courage writers and staff from all over the U.S. (and Canada — hi, Aliza!) gathered in the beautiful mountains of Estes Park, Colorado. We spent three days walking along the river, eating good food, sharing hearts, drinking too much coffee, and planning new projects for you. Boy, was that a sweet time.
Going into the retreat, I knew I wanted to wrap up our final night with an intentional time of reflection. But I wasn’t sure what it should look like. I had bounced around ideas and sketched out some possibilities, but nothing felt quite right.
After a full day of meaningful conversations and exploring Colorado, we began our last evening together with a rooftop yoga session – what an experience. As worship music played, I breathed in with each stretch, focusing my mind on Christ, giving thanks for the rare gift of this retreat.
Maybe this was enough, I thought. Maybe this is the way to end our time together. Everyone seems content and relaxed. Maybe more sharing will just feel forced.
I breathed out my praise for God’s lavish kindness and looked around at this group of sisters whom I treasure and esteem. With the Rocky Mountains as a majestic backdrop, I thought, If I feel such gratitude and awe toward each one of these women, how much more must God delight in them as His daughters?
I reflected on how each woman had enriched our collective time in a particular way. Each uniquely gifted and anointed. Do they know how amazing they are?
And then I knew in my spirit what our closing time together had to be.
After our last scheduled activity, I could tell everyone was tired and ready to wrap up our group time and withdraw to their quiet condos.“What if we just called it a night?” someone asked.
I felt the tug of wanting to be sensitive and accommodate my friends. It would be easier to just go to bed. But the Spirit’s voice was louder. I knew there would be something lost if we tapped out now.
“No, let’s meet back in the main house in ten minutes. There’s one more thing I want to do.”
It feels a little silly to confess it now, but it took courage to say those words. It took courage to believe that I had heard the Holy Spirit correctly. It took courage to believe that the plan in my mind would result in a meaningful time when at our last retreat I felt like I totally flopped as a leader.
People were slow in making it back to our gathering place, but when everyone finally arrived, we sat in a large living room circle. Women piled on couches, and others pulled over stools from the kitchen. Some sat on the floor or perched on side tables.
“Okay, I know it’s late and we’re all tired, so thanks for being present for one final activity together,” I began awkwardly. “As you know, this year at (in)courage has been all about becoming women of courage. We’ve done an online Bible study and written blog posts, and this week we even recorded a video about it. But our invitation to our community is also God’s invitation to us. Part of becoming a woman of courage is learning to see ourselves the way God sees us. I don’t know about you, but sometimes that’s hard for me.
“One of the purposes of community is to be mirrors,” I continued. “To reflect back to one another what we see so others can see more clearly too. Over the last few days, I have seen beautiful things in each of you! And I know you have, too. So I want to end our time together by calling out what we see.”
Then, one by one, I stood behind each woman, placed my hands on her shoulders, and proclaimed, “You are a woman of courage,” and then together we blessed her with our words.
“Anjuli, you are a woman of courage. When I look at you, I see . . . ”
Around the circle, the words came out tentative at first. But as we went from one sister to the next, I began to hear a boldness in each voice — a bravery in calling out the intense good, the rare beauty, the hidden gifts in each other.
Yawns were replaced with shy smiles, inside-joke laughter, and tears for being truly seen.
Two years later and I remember the rooftop yoga and cinnamon lattes of that trip, but more than anything I remember the Holy Spirit showing up. His presence that final night was palpable. He was in us and among us, speaking to us and through us.
And doubt almost stole it.
So here’s the thing I’m reminding myself today, that I want to tell you too: The Holy Spirit is alive, He has more for us than we can imagine, and we can trust Him!
When that Voice speaks, whether you feel like obeying or not, whether your circumstances make perfect sense or not, you need to listen and respond. Doubt is normal — but you’ll miss out on what God wants to do if you defer to what is most comfortable.
Maybe you’re not leading a retreat today, but I bet you’ve got a situation in your life that is precious or important to you. You’re trying your best to savor it fully or steward it well. If you’ve accepted Christ as your Savior, then the Holy Spirit lives in you! But it’s up to you to surrender to His work!
Jesus said it clearly, “What gives life is God’s Spirit; human power is of no use at all” (John 6:63 GNT).
Indeed, God’s Spirit gave life that summer night. I’m so grateful I listened to His voice and accepted His invitation to trust His plan. At first, it may have looked awkward, forced, or foolish to others, but the Spirit’s plan is never foolish — it’s life to the full.Leave a Comment
Ruth Mills says
Amen! Thank you for sharing!
Becky Keife says
I appreciate you reading today, Ruth!
Kellie Johnson says
I work with women in my church and have wanted for a long time, to have a moment like this where the Holy Spirit speaks through us to affirm and exhort one another. Thank you for sharing this scene with me today. I think I know now exactly when we will do this together, and it will be soon. And beautiful.
Becky Keife says
Oh I love that, Kellie! Praying for you as you walk in the courage the Spirit gives. I know He’ll be faithful to bless your time of lifting up one another!
Dawn Camp says
Becky, you took me right back to that day. You’ve even got pictures! It was a special evening; thank you for going where the Spirit led!
Becky Keife says
I wish we could go back there right now together! Love you, friend!
Indeed Holy Spirit is our lifetime partner.
God blessed you & family tremendously.
Becky Keife says
Our lifetime partner. Yes! Love that phrase, Jasmine.
glad you love and agree with..
thank you for your prompt reply.
Michelle Stiffler says
Today, courage looks like a conversation. It’s not what I would choose, but I’m choosing to be faithful. Lord Jesus, fill me with Your Spirit of power and boldness, knowing You are with me. Thank you, Becky
Becky Keife says
Amen! Praying with you, Michelle. You can walk and speak with confidence when you walk with Him.
I needed this word today. I am planning a mission trip for the fall to many places on the east coast. Just me and God. I have asked him to show me those who need encouragement, healing or come to know Him. I have trained for the past period of Covid19 in the healing ministry with a friend from Chard, UK who received his ministry directly from Kathryn Kuhlman. I know God has called this yet the closer it gets to the fall, those feelings of doubt creep in. I will be considered crazy by many. I am so excited for what God is doing and know this is HIS timing. Thank you for sharing for us to take courage and take heed to the Spirit of God.
Becky Keife says
Mary, thank you for reading and sharing your heart this morning. May God guide you each step, each encounter, as you courageous trust in Him!
BC From BC says
Interesting read. As a Christian myself I believe if we read and believe the Bible Yoga is not of God.
Becky Keife says
I find that where we center our mind makes all the difference! With worship music playing, meditating on Scripture, and practicing breath prayer, this type of yoga was absolutely an opportunity to connect with God. But even if we differ on our opinions about yoga, I hope the point of this article — that the Holy Spirit is present and active in our lives — still encouraged you! Thanks for reading.
This makes me feel better about a decision I had to make, and I was not sure of. But I kept feeling like God was saying “I will Provide”. Time will tell but I wont regret a thing. Thank you
Jodi Kinasewitz says
I love this! So wonderful to hear your surrender to The Spirit story. I started teaching a Christian yoga class back in January, and I too felt awkward at first. I felt my spiritual cues, prayer and meditative prompting sounded forced or “fake” but 6 mos later I feel and see how beautifully He is working in and through me and in the ladies coming to the class.
Brooke frick says
Love this Becky! What a gift it is to speak the beauty we see in one another to one another. ♥️And yes that Holy Spirit guidance is like nothing else!!
DiannElyse Colburn says
amen and amen! I have learned one key that I’m hearing God and Not myself is when it is something Good to do that I don’t want to do! and may even feel uncomfortable about … as long as it doesn’t violate God’s Word (in which case it would t be good!) I realize that I am being stretched and about to be used and blessed, and the best times are when I move forward with the Spirit. I wonder what might have happened all the times I let fear or pride or laziness have the last word.
Bev Rihtarchik says
What a blessing you gave each woman at the retreat when you followed the Spirit’s urging. Oh how we all long to be seen and appreciated. Now, more than ever, I am convicted to pray, ask, listen, and most of all follow the Holy Spirit’s nudges. I believe He nudges a lot more than we realize — too often I/we are too distracted to pick up on the subtlety. Here’s to having our antennae up and to following the Spirit’s leading no matter how awkward we might feel. If we don’t move, we may miss a God-ordained moment. Beautiful post and thanks for checking in on me…
Anna E. Rendell says
Love seeing you pop up here Bev – we’ve missed you!
Bunny Harrison says
Recently the Holy Spirit inspired me to do something I would never have done of my own volition. Not certain this came from the Holy Spirit, still, I wanted to be obedient in trust and did as inspired. Afterwards, I felt free, loved, accepted and happy. Now I’m more open to hearing and obeying.
I’m gone to convey my little brother, that he should also visit this web site on regular basis to obtain updated from hottest news update.
I can only imagine how powerful this would be. God blesses us with a tribe and yes we need to invite HIM into each activity.
Beth Williams says
My pastor calls it God’s aha moments. When God or the Holy Spirit tells you to do something just get up & do it. You will be blessed & so will the recipient. Far to often we let doubt creep in & ask ourselves did I hear Him right? Or worse yet we say ah I’ll get to it later. Problem is later never comes. We get busy & forget to do it. Thank you for listening to the Holy Spirit & making those wonderful women know they are seen & loved. We could all use that more in our world.
Karen Miller says
Thank you for your encouraging words!