March 28, 2017

Phoenix in Spring + Jesus + the Beloved Retreat

Things have been tough for me since November. I've been tired in every way a person can be tired. I spent most of December super sick. In January I sat at my grandfather's death bed for a week and then buried him the next. In February we buried Travis' grandfather. And this month, March, we had a really tough meeting about a variety of learning disabilities and developmental delays in one of our kids.

I feel defeated in a lot of ways, run down, like a failure, worried about the future, and sad about the past. There have been highlights, like Kathryn and The Head and the Heart, but folks, it was an incredibly special day when my husband forwarded me an email from a friend with travel information. I had been gifted the amazing opportunity to attend the Blessed Is She Beloved Retreat held March 18th in Phoenix, Arizona. And I cried, feeling both unworthy of such a gift and so grateful for the chance to retreat.

Besides the fact that it felt like Illinois in July it was perfect. There seems to be a rule that you have to be really beautiful and amazing to live in Arizona because every single woman I met was both of those. I had great conversations with complete strangers, caught up with several old friends, and was blown away by the awesomeness of the Catholic community in the Phoenix area. 

But the retreat... Folks, it was breathtaking. Beautiful touches were everywhere to make things super special, unique, and feminine. The vibe was hip but not pretentious, joyful but vulnerable, prayerful but fun. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were all served and they were delicious. The swag bag was great: informative, practical, and with a few really special touches. 

But what made it really powerful for me were the talks, the praise and worship, and adoration. The day followed Henri Nouwen's Life of the Beloved, with each talk building on the previous ones, explaining how we are Chosen, Blessed, Broken, and Given. There were Truths spoken in those talks that really shook me. There were things said that spoke right to my wounds and doubts and fears. By the time we got to Beth Davis' talk on being Broken I was biting my lip so as not to do a sobbing ugly cry. 

 For all the pretty touches throughout the day and the amazing worship, led by Ike Ndolo, his band, and Emily Wilson (who also gave the Blessed talk), I spent the second half of the day stuck in the Broken. I knew that was Sr. Maria Kim, and Emily, and Beth were saying was all true but I couldn't let go and do what they said.

"The Lord is the God of Israel," Sr. Kim had said. "And He is yours, too. Ask Him to speak your name in prayer. The Lord is the God of Bonnie. It is personal and intimate."

"Whatever it is that you believe about yourself - you're not good enough, pretty enough, you're a failure, a loser, a bad mom, stupid, worthless - whatever it is, hold it up to God and ask Him, "Is this true?" Emily spoke these words but I couldn't do it.

"Invite Jesus into your brokenness and let Him heal it," Beth said but the thought scared me because my current state of brokenness seems such a mess. 

And then came adoration. They said Father would process with the monstrance but what he did was so much more than that. Every woman had an intimate, personal encounter with Christ in the Eucharist as the priest brought Him to us all. And as He stood before me I couldn't hold it in any more. And with my tears, the priest brought Christ even closer. It was intense and powerful and healing. 

Honestly, I'm still unpacking it all. I'm still thinking and praying on it all and reviewing what all I saw and heard and felt. 

You can see more pictures and watch a clip of adoration on my Instagram feed but, wow, ladies, I hope you can do one better and go to a Beloved Retreat yourself one day. It was refreshing to my soul and good for my heart. 

PS - I heard that there is still a handful of tickets left for the Austin, Texas Beloved Retreat happening *this* Saturday, April 1st. If you can, please go. If you have half as good and beautiful of a time as I did you will not be sorry you went. Go with your mom, your sisters, your small group, and don't be afraid to go alone if you have to. You won't feel alone or left out, I promise. 


  1. This is really beautiful. I need to get next year's dates on my calendar if they do it again so I can make sure to be free during the weekend and attend. Man I need a retreat.

  2. made me cry, Bonnie. Thank you.

  3. I'm so so glad it was so so wonderful. You deserve it!

  4. Oh Bonnie, I'm so happy you were able to go to the retreat! Just taking a little bit of time to spend with Jesus & other women who love Him can be so refreshing for your soul. <3

  5. It sounds like some much needed seeds of healing, Bonnie. So glad you had that opportunity. - nancyo