How did you hear about Winsome and what drew you to attend?
In Early 2015 I heard of this Winsome Retreat through a friend who described it as "coming home." I was hungry for some fellowship and encouragement, so I signed up. This retreat, the fruition of Kim Hyland’s dream to encourage women, validated the direction my heart was beginning to be drawn to.
What were a few of the biggest highlights while you were there?
I've now attended two Winsome Retreats, and while the setting is certainly a highlight—it is so beautiful and peaceful—and my once a year horseback ride is another highlight, what really stands out is what I find in the women there and the messages of the speakers. These women find their identity solely in the finished work of Christ. They are from all walks and seasons of life and are seeking to find and fulfill their God-given purpose and to unearth their dreams. From the women who spoke to us, to those who were attending, there was camaraderie as women, encouragement, and love. There is no hierarchy or competition. There is support for the season of life you are in but also a call to step out in faith into whatever “God-sized” dream you might have. There is validation of God’s love for you no matter where you have come from or what is going on in your life now. God is enough.
There are probably more highlights from the retreat, but it is what has happened in my life since the retreats of 2015 and 2016 that has really made a difference in my life. The call and validation to discover and follow my God-sized dream is a paradigm shift in the way I think about living the Christian life.
You see the smallest inkling of desire and the littlest spark of a dream I had ever thought I also, usually, held suspect to some ungodly selfish desire in my heart. I have since felt God’s freeing encouragement and empowerment to step through open doors and follow His lead. I left Winsome each year with a whole new genre of Christian Living. The books and ministries I’ve been introduced to have opened up and ushered me into a new season of life where I have allowed God to work through and in me in new ways.
Since Winsome, and turning 50 years old two years ago, I have successfully launched a Real Estate Career, gone on a mission trip to Costa Rica and become a board member of LOV Foundation, Inc. I am seeking ways to support other missions and as God leads will follow each path to which he directs me. Just writing that makes my heart leap. God is so good!
How have the Winsome values of Authenticity, Diversity, and Truth enriched your life since the retreat?
These specific values as portrayed through the speakers at and the attendees of Winsome have allowed me to take a look at my life and learn to live more truly in who God made me to be. I can work to my strengths, be "real" instead of pretending to have it all together, yet still be responsible for living as a child of God. Life is still hard and that's part of being authentic! I loved the Diversity of Winsome and how it has taught me to listen to women from all walks and seasons of life and to appreciate how God has created us all!
Were there any phrases, or stories that stood out to you from your last Winsome? What were they?
I don't have specific detailed memories of stories or phrases but lasting impressions of the strength of the women and the encouragement they brought through their own stories.
Winsome 2016, Nicol Epple came and spoke briefly to the ladies, she just came for that day and I didn't get a chance to meet her then. . She had a flower pot and she took a hammer and broke it and spoke about how God can use us in our brokenness.
Natalie Joy also spoke about how to discover and walk in our God Sized Dreams. The launching of her business came from a desire to simply help women but was also born out of a hard season of her life.
Many of the other women speakers have come from places of hurt, abuse, neglect sorrow and suffering yet God is using each one to further his kingdom and strengthen our faith.
The importance of stories is always a theme at Winsome and was an avenue to me reflecting on my own story and how it was perfectly designed by God.
What are you most excited about for Winsome 2017?
Seeing my long distance friends! horseback riding! Being encouraged and challenged by the speakers! Making new friends!!
Martha, thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story!
We'd love to hear your "Why Winsome?" story! If you'd like to share it with our community, contact Emily Dean at email@example.com