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