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WHY WINSOME? ~ Doran Richards

As a midwife, Doran Richards has a unique appreciation and perspective on women and the wonder of our bodies. She also helped deliver Kim's first grandchild, Amelia, and therefore will always be treasured in her heart! This year at Winsome, Doran, a certified instructor with Holy Yoga, will lead us as we engage our bodies, minds, and spirits.

Tell us a little about you and your role at Winsome this year.

Hello! I am Doran, a wife for 24 years and mother of six. I have been called to wear many hats—including starting a ministry called Blessing God’s Way. I have been a midwife for over 10 years, supporting women in their childbearing years. Blessing God’s Way is a ministry for women, educating, supporting and celebrating womanhood from maidenhood to maternity to menopause. We provide resources that declare that our cycles and phases are actually blessings to us, God’s way. I have been in remission from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for over a year. Before being diagnosed, I was introduced to Holy Yoga. Training and certification as a yoga instructor has changed my life and health and relationship with the Lord to a degree I never thought possible. I am currently taking the Master’s Holy Yoga training so I can support women in their health through the modality of yoga practice.
 

How did you hear about Winsome?

I heard about Winsome through mutual friends and being in the same homeschooling circles as the founder, Kim Hyland. I have also had the pleasure of serving her son and daughter-in-law for the birth of their first child (Kim’s grandchild). I have been leaning towards knowing more about their vision at Winsome, knowing that our ministries’ messages would be similar and beneficial. So, working together would be a dream.
 

Do the Winsome values of authenticity, diversity, and truth already play a role in your life, even if you use other names to describe them?

They do, because we all do the best we can with what we have. Our individual levels of understanding pertaining to beauty, worth, acceptance, etc., all stem from the One who created us. We need encouragement, as women, that our worth is in Him, as His daughters, and that we have two main focuses in this life—to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Vertical and horizontal. The one true source of all knowledge is the scripture, speaking to our very souls, daily.
 

Why did you want to speak and/or lead a workshop at Winsome?

To bring awareness to yet one more way to tap into the depth and height and width of God’s love for us. To love women where they are, to support them and to encourage them as they seek to do His will for them. I have worked with women of all ages for over 12 years, with ministry of Blessing God’s Way as well as through midwifery and now post-menopause (forced upon me by cancer).
 

What are you most looking forward to at Winsome 2017?

I look forward to the connection of women, sharing and loving one another where they are, and to the building of relationships. I look forward to seeing the Holy Spirit minister to women on a level that takes effort to get to and to feel the peace and renewing from it.

 

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WHY WINSOME? ~ Lisha Epperson

We're so happy to welcome Lisha Epperson to Winsome again this year! She will lead her Sacred Movement Workshop and explore "the healing and redemptive value of every gesture." She'll also be sharing in a breakout session. Lisha leads with grace and truth. Take a minute to get to know her!

Lisha leads the Sacred Movement Workshop at Winsome 2016.

Lisha leads the Sacred Movement Workshop at Winsome 2016.

Tell us a little about you and your role at Winsome this year.

I’m Lisha Epperson, a wife and mother of five answering a call to ministry in midlife. I’m excited to share a little about how I mindfully manage that amongst the crazy of life in New York City. Specifically, I’ll share a message about living your dream. I’ll also get to share my love for dance ministry in a workshop centered on prayer and ritual.
 

How did you hear about Winsome?

I met Kim Hyland during my second year as a blogger. Her writing and ministry are inspirational because she truly embodies the heart of her vision. Dropped as it were into a community of Christian writers and artists that for many reasons is not diverse—I consider Kim’s authentic welcome a gift.
 

How have the Winsome values of authenticity, diversity, and truth enriched your life?

Kim’s authentic welcome into a community of Christian writers and artists is a gift. As one of a handful of women of color in this community, I’ve appreciated her invitation to share my experience and story. Kim’s passion and commitment to diversity encourage me to keep believing for the dream of a beloved community.
 

What experiences, stories, phrases or moments have stuck in your memory since you last attended Winsome? How have they affected you?

I remember sitting with Brandee Shafer late one afternoon. We talked well past some of the sessions we might have attended, but—knowing God was in the middle of our conversation—settled into our divine appointment.

The phrase “come away” has stuck with me. I hear it in my heart when I get tired and know it as Holy Spirit direction.
 

Why did you want to speak and lead a workshop at Winsome?

This has been a hard year online. I’m just coming back to my blog from a much-needed break. Post-election trauma is real. The fallout online was painful to experience—both personally and communally as people of faith. It was ugly and so hard. Backing away from it was necessary, and I think we all did to some extent.

I’m excited to reconnect in person—after the pause. I’m excited to see how God will work among us. I want to be part of whatever God does in this challenging season.
 

What advice or reassurance would you give a first-timer about Winsome?

Let God direct your participation in the sessions. You don’t have to be anywhere but where you are—mine those fields for the goodness of God.

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WHY WINSOME? ~ Ann Kroeker

This year we are thrilled to have Ann Kroeker with us at Winsome! You can read all about her here and register for her Next Level Writers Workshop here. But what neither of those will tell you is that Ann is Winsome founder Kim Hyland's fairy godmother (aka writing coach) and has played an integral role in Kim's upcoming book An Imperfect Woman: Letting Go of the Need to Have It All Together (Baker Books, Spring 2018).

Today Ann shares about her connection with Winsome and what she's looking forward to!

Tell us a little about you and your role at Winsome this year.

I’m thrilled to lead a workshop for people who are interested in growing as a writer and looking for ways to send their work out into the world—possibly for the first time ever. In our Next-Level Writer Workshop, we’ll learn how to take our ideas and stories from private to public venues. My role as the workshop leader is to help attendees see they can take either baby steps or giant leaps into the world—however God leads. They’ll grow as a person and a writer, leveraging existing skills and building new ones. By the end our time together, they can see how with courage and creativity they can begin to impact people right away.

 
How did you hear about Winsome?

I know about Winsome from two places: from Kim Hyland herself, as we’ve gotten to know each other in the past year, and from social media, as attendees processed their time at Winsome. Clearly, it's making an impact on women’s lives.

 
Do the Winsome values of authenticity, diversity, and truth already play a role in your life, even if you use other names to describe them?


Yes, absolutely. One of the most powerful tools we have as writers is to write with authenticity to convey truth. I think we can all point to writing that conveys truth without being authentic, and we can also identify a writer who has an authentic voice but lacks truth. Ideally, those go together: an authentic writing voice—steeped in truth—sharing authentically about her life. As a coach, I try to help writers of faith pull that together.
 
And though we writers must narrow our target audience—often thinking in terms of demographics—I hope we learn to write in a way connects with a wide range of people from all walks of life. Writing and sharing ideas and stories is a natural way for us to know people and be known. As a writer, I can share my perspective and life experience; as a reader, I can turn to the work of diverse writers whose perspective and life experience are different than mine. In this way, we can understand one another more intimately, which can initiate and strengthen relationships.

 
Why did you want to lead a workshop at Winsome?

I love encouraging people who are interested in writing but aren’t sure what to do with their words and ideas. I hoped I could come to Winsome Retreat as a presenter and be a voice assuring women, “Your message—your story—matters.” Not only that, I wanted to show them how they can express themselves effectively and, if they want to, begin to send that message or story out into the world.
 

What are you most looking forward to at Winsome 2017?

I can’t wait to meet the people signed up for the Next-Level Writer Workshop! The setting sounds wonderful, too.

 

There's still time to register for Ann's workshop! The deadline has been extended to March 31, but space is limited. Go here to register!
 

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WHY WINSOME? ~ Kimberly Amici

Our prayer each year at Winsome is that each woman who attends would encounter God's love in a very personal and unmistakable way. Kimberly Amici's Why Winsome? story demonstrates one of the many unique ways God answers that prayer.

I first heard about Winsome from Kim Hyland, the retreat’s founder, who I met at a blogging conference the year before. I loved the idea of having a weekend away from the busyness of life, not to learn how to be more successful or productive, but to rest and be encouraged. Once I found out a dear friend was going and I wouldn’t have to drive alone, I was in!

It was nothing like I expected. The idea of a few days to draw close to God and have authentic conversations with other women sounded wonderful in theory but wasn’t so great for me in practice. I struggled with the idea of a God that wanted to know me intimately. Unconditional love sounded good, but I lived in a world where my worth each day was dependent on what I brought to the table. I made some wonderful new friends, but I decided there was no way I was going back.  

The following year, I got the email that it was time to register. I put it off until the last minute but eventually decided to go. This time I knew what I was in for, but I was ready. Instead of putting up walls of defense, I wrote down the lies that rose up inside me as each speaker spoke. And I stayed focused during worship hoping to gain revelation of the words being sung.

Speaker Jen Hand spoke directly to what I struggled with the year before.

You can't work your way into God's pleasure.
He already knows you; He's already called you.
You are His.

Despite being an extrovert, I didn’t stay busy in between sessions but instead spent time alone to read, pray, and let truth seep into my being. I allowed my heart to be transformed by God’s presence. My experience continues to produce good fruit in my life.

The Winsome retreat is truly a life giving experience, if you allow it to be. The location lends itself to peace and tranquility, while the truth that is spoken sows seeds of restoration and freedom.

Kimberly Amici is the co-founder of Circles of Faith and co-host of Slices of Life , a podcast designed to equip women for everyday life.

Kimberly Amici is the co-founder of Circles of Faith and co-host of Slices of Life , a podcast designed to equip women for everyday life.

We'd love to hear your Why Winsome? story! If you'd like to share it with our community, contact Emily Dean at evhyland@gmail.com

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WHY WINSOME? ~ Stephanie Avellino

Winsome is only three days long, but months before our Leadership Team begins praying and planning for our weekend. Stephanie Avellino keeps our team focused on prayer all year long and straight through Winsome. Today she's sharing her Why Winsome? story!

Winsome leader "welcome crew": Julie Dodson, Stephanie Avellino, and Debbie Morgans

Winsome leader "welcome crew": Julie Dodson, Stephanie Avellino, and Debbie Morgans

Why did you want to be a part of the Winsome team and what drew you to attend?

Kim asked. Okay, there's more to it than that, but the history of our friendship and the way God has worked in both of our lives and nurtured a passion to encourage women in the various seasons of their lives has definitely been a huge part of our friendship.

Another reason is I needed Winsome. Winsome began about the time I was going through some of my deepest valleys. Having the opportunity to encourage women and to share their burdens gave me hope for my own dark places.
 

What were a few of the biggest highlights while you were there?

Winsome is a highlight in my whole year. The whole weekend is a highlight. The worship; the camaraderie; the speakers; the time to just rest and hang out in one of the comfy couches, go for a hike, or enjoy yummy food are all highlights.
 

How have the Winsome values of authenticity, diversity, and truth enriched your life?

In many ways authenticity and truth have just expanded for me. I'm usually real with people and the truth has always mattered to me, but Winsome empowered me to walk more boldly in those areas. Diversity, on the other hand, has been hard. My social circles are diverse in many ways, but talking about our differences never happened until after Winsome. It has been an area where I'm being stretched, and I'm glad. It's hard but worth it.


What experiences or stories at Winsome impacted you and how?

Talking till four o'clock in the morning with my daughters. Hearing their hearts, discovering secret pain, and getting to know the courageous women that they are. We are closer now, and a lot of healing has happened in our family.

Hearing other women's stories has greatly impacted me. It has confirmed what I suspected. We are all going through struggles and trials. Keeping quiet about it is not the way to find answers and healing. By talking, pointing each other to Christ, and committing to pray for each other, friendships have begun or have been deepened and the masks are gone and the hope is growing.
 

What are you most excited about for Winsome 2017?

I'm just excited. Winsome is different every year. It is impossible to know what to expect. I'm looking forward to seeing familiar faces and excited to meet new ones. Because of the foundation, the women that are drawn to Winsome, and especially because God is doing something whenever we get together, I know it will be a wonderful experience, but I have no idea what to expect.


We'd love to hear your "Why Winsome?" story! If you'd like to share it with our community, contact Emily Dean at evhyland@gmail.com

 

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