BY ERIN CARPENTER

SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WOODS, NORTH CAROLINA | 2017

 

Driving to work Friday morning, I reached into my pocket for a holiday Hershey Kiss and I sang along to “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” with my raspy voice. I was recovering from my third bout of bronchitis. There was a stirring in my heart: joy. I hadn’t felt it in a while. My heart had grown numb hardened, and I didn’t have the same spark of happiness or excitement that I used to over little things.

My girlfriends and I packed our weekend bags, and headed to the mountain house for our annual “retreat.” We turned off our phones for the whole weekend. When we got to the cabin, I lay disconnected in my dark bedroom and felt nothing.

And then: 6:30 am, black sky and a stroke of orange through the window. There was absolute silence, so much silence there was a ringing in my ears. I opened all the blinds in the house and watched the sun rise from four different windows. My friends woke up, and my head on their shoulders thawed my insides.

I’d never gotten to that point before: burnout, in all areas of my life. I’d become a slave to external validation, striving for approval at the expense of myself. Met with silence, and face-to-face with my honest heart, I had to confront hard questions. And without social media, distractions, busyness, I was still enough to hear God’s answers. We spent hours curled up on couches with our journals, scribbling down hurts and things we were wrestling with. We asked God questions about our lives, and wrestled through forks in our roads. Over mealtimes we shared the things we were wondering, things we were hearing. We spoke out fears that felt scary and hidden away. We encouraged each other in our identities, calling out gold we could see. 

By the second day of the retreat, my heart physically felt warm again. I woke up to the sound of someone making pancakes, and I buried under the comforter after a good night’s sleep. When we’d arrived at the cabin on the first night, I had a broken body and dark mind. I was looking to escape. I was angry, sick, and numb. That precious time in solitude put the breaks on the fast track I was on. 

The day we left, I scribbled a note to myself in my journal:

No more running myself into the ground. I will allow God to re-build me with his sound structure. I have been ripped down and leveled, but this weekend has cleared the rubble and prepared the foundation for building.”

Looking back, those retreats we took were some of the most meaningful weekends of my life. They were the only time I’ve truly disconnected from the world and tangibly sat with God. At first there was uncomfortable silence, and then there was refreshing breakthrough. Some of my biggest turning points and life decisions were made in those weekends in the woods.

As women, we can enter the solitude together. So we bring you Arise retreats.

What the weekends will look like:

Our first retreat, the spring retreat, March 24-26th, will have 4 spots available (there will be six ladies staying onsite total, including leaders). This is to ensure that every woman has her own bedroom & bathroom, which will give that space and solitude.

It’s highly encouraged everyone turns off their phone upon arrival. There will be a designated phone on at all times in case of emergency!

The morning and afternoons between mealtimes are for YOU. Whether you’re curled up in your room with your journal, nestled in a couch, or walking in the woods, those hours are for you to decide how you spend them in solitude.

Meals will be shared together for discussion, fellowship, and sharing what we’re learning. Each person will sign up for 1 meal to make. This guarantees that each person only has to cook & do dishes once the entire weekend. It also allows for creativity in the kitchen, and for everyone to share a favorite dish!

On Friday & Saturday nights, there will be gatherings, including a bonfire, where other local Arise ladies will join. There’s also an optional sunrise hike on the Mountains to Sea Trail to a mountain overlook (don’t worry there will be coffee)!

Everyone is encouraged to bring their favorite books or resources to share. We’ll put them on a table designated as “the library,” where ladies can borrow them throughout the weekend. It’s a great way to swap resources and learn from each other!

Other HIGHLY encouraged items:

  • Chocolate
  • Slippers
  • A well-loved journal & Bible
  • Sweatpants
  • Messy buns
  • Your favorite candles
  • Chunky sweaters
  • Other favorite cozy items

OKAY. That’s all for now. If you’re interested, email thearisecreative@gmail.com to secure a spot. We will have a full schedule and registration form posted to the Arise Instagram soon.

The original “library” from the 2017 retreat

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