8 Lessons I Learned From Reset Retreat


I knew that organizing a retreat would be a learning process but I didn’t realize just how MUCH I would learn. I’m sure I’ll be unpacking those lessons for months, but here are some initial thoughts:


1. For the participants, Reset was a lot about rest. For me, not so much. I knew that going in, of course, but I did not anticipate how much rest I would need afterwards.

New fun fact: apparently you can be so tired that you become dizzy. Yesterday I couldn’t even do the simplest math problem.

My. Brains. Are. Jello.

My tummy is, too, but I’ll spare you the details. Several of my friends mentioned how wiped out I looked in the recap video I posted Monday. (Why didn’t I wait to post until after I’d recovered?!)

In retrospect, a week-long trip out of state with several speaking engagements, followed by holding a retreat (and doing all the cooking) the very next week probably wasn’t the smartest idea. I tend to overestimate my resilience levels.


Lesson Learned: I need to pace myself and make sure to schedule more downtime.


2. I get that some people thought it was a little crazy that I chose to cater the food for Reset. Honestly, I thought I’d left all that behind years ago; that was my old life, but then a writer friend challenged me on that mindset.

“Why not use it all?” she said; all meaning all the gifts He’s given me. What if there was a way to weave together all my experience and use it for others?

Turns out there was!


CHarcuterie board



It made me realize that who I am today is a compilation of all that has gone before; the events of my life aren’t random. There’s nothing that’s for nothing; God uses it ALL. It’s all part of His plan.

Those years of catering and running a gourmet-to-go were physically grueling, but that wasn’t all they were: they were an opportunity to express my creativity and learn leadership skills. What amazing preparation for organizing an event!


“Occasionally, God rips aside the veil, and you begin to see this very fact: All things happen for you. All things. Everything is knit together.” Tim Keller Click To Tweet

Lesson Learned: Embrace the season you’re in more fully by incorporating what you learned in the past.


3. There’s nothing like holding an event to deal with your ego. What if nobody comes? What if it’s a flop? What if I’m just kidding myself that I have anything to offer?

Me and Jesus had some serious talks about this over the past few months, and when I say talks, I mean me begging Him to take over, because “I got nuthin.’” I can’t even tell you how many times I sang, “I surrender all.”


Lesson Learned: If you want to know how big of an ego you still have, try putting yourself out there in a big way. That rumble in your stomach? EGO.


4. Reset wasn’t something I dreamed up over the course of the summer; some form of it has been brewing in my heart for years. Decades, even. It was time and I knew it, but I also knew I couldn’t do it alone.

Enter: Karen (Everybody Loves Karen) Lanouette.



Karen brainstormed with me, prodded me, helped me find the location, set up the online registration, and patiently fielded all of my panicky texts and phone calls. She put the linens on the bunk beds when we found them unmade, then she put on her Miss Congeniality hat and greeted the guests and made them feel at home. Did I mention she was also sous chef and dishwasher extraordinaire?

And my personal onsite therapist?


Lesson Learned: If you want to do big things, find yourself a Karen.


5. I have to admit, there are times I miss working in the food world. The process was so simple: cook it, sell it, the customer eats it, they love it, start all over again.

With writing and speaking (and now organizing retreats) it’s not that clear cut. It’s a lot harder to know if you’re making an impact, and the truth is… sometimes you’re not.


Not everybody is going to understand what you're doing or why you're doing it. They won't connect with your personality or your message or the way you do things. This doesn't make me happy (hello... ego) but it's part of the deal. Click To Tweet



Lesson Learned: Pleasing God is more important than pleasing people.


6. There were lots of ups and downs the last few months and the nightly practice of #countingitalljoy was a lifeline for me while I prepared for Reset Retreat.

Finding the perfect Airbnb counted as joy. When I found just the right giveaways, I counted that all joy, too. The charcuterie board my brother made for me, the pumpkin swag I found at the dollar store, the messages that started to come together… joy.



The days when no one signed up, I counted it all joy. (Not saying I felt like it; it was a choice.) Staring at the blank computer screen, endless grocery shopping trips, kitchen basically impassable because of all the boxes and bins…. joy, joy, joy.


the mess


Friends donating so others could attend—JOY.


Making new friends—JOY.


Using the gifts that He gave me—JOY.


Learning how much I still have to learn—JOY.


All that counting added up to the overall joy of Reset Retreat.



Lesson Learned: The journey is every bit as important and precious as the destination.


7. Last month I shared a message called “Cultivating a Life of Beauty and Strength.” It was based on a prophetic word about women being roses with stems of steel. This past weekend I got to experience that beauty and strength up close and personal with the women at Reset. It was breathtaking listening to their stories. As they wrapped themselves in a “mantle of praise,” I thought to myself, “Beautiful warriors, every single one of them.”


Lesson Learned: We need to tell each other how beautiful we are.


8. Last but by no means least, never underestimate the power of cheese. I brought home tons of crackers but sadly, very little cheese.

Gorgonzola? Gone. Brie? Bye, bye. Asiago? Adios.


Lesson Learned: If you build a cheese board, they will come.


I’m looking forward to my own Reset at the end of the month when Roger and I head to the mountains; we’re praying there will still be some fall color to enjoy. In the meantime, I’m making notes and jotting down ideas for how to make the next Reset Retreat even better, based on what I’m learning.


Tell me, what do you look for in a retreat?


And now a contest for those of you who weren’t able to attend Reset Retreat!


Winner will receive the same giveaways that our attendees did: a Reset journal, a copy of Bob Sorge’s book, “Reset, 30 Ways to a Consistent Prayer Life,” homemade soap, a handmade piece of pottery by Pottery With Parkinson’s, a Clinging Cross, a “Re-words” bookmark, and a “Re-word” stone.



Rules to enter:

*1 entry for commenting on post

*1 entry for sharing

*1 entry for subscribing to blog

*1 entry for Tweeting

Winner will be announced on Sunday, October 13th.


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A Redesigned Life

Guest post and a giveaway!

When you meet a new writer friend and discover she’s publishing a book about one of your favorite “Re-words,” you pay attention. I’m happy to have Tracy Steel with us today on the blog and to introduce you to her recently launched book, A Redesigned Life, Uncovering God’s purpose when life doesn’t go as planned. 

All of us are living a life we did not design, but one that God is redesigning for us. Like a human interior designer or artist uses a set of design principles to help them create, God uses his own set of codes to create a couture life for each of us. Recognizing what these are is key to uncovering the purposes of God when life doesn’t go as planned. Similar to all the other “re” words we’ve looked at here in this space, the word “redesigned” is no different. God is busy redesigning each of us so the focus of our hearts and mind will return to being fixed on him.

In her new book, A Redesigned Life, published in partnership with Revell/Baker Publishing Group, author Tracy Steel considers six principles of design and how God also uses the principles of movement, emphasis, pattern, contrast, balance, and space to redesign our lives. Each of these principles enable us to uncover something spectacular about the purposes of our creative God. The following excerpt from Tracy’s new book focuses on the principle of emphasis and how it helps us to see the “No’s” of God differently:


I love simple and elegant design. We’ve all seen pictures of a living room with its crisp white walls and cream sofa. Imagine a coffee table in the middle of that living room. On top of the table sits a glass vase filled with a bouquet of orange tulips or powder blue hydrangeas. Or perhaps there is a turquoise-and-white paisley pattern rug under the coffee table. Maybe there is a large abstract oil painting hanging on the wall composed of green, blue, and purple horizontal stripes. Our eyes are drawn to the flowers, to the rug, or to the oil painting because of the pop of color they provide among all the white. This is the essence of emphasis as a design principle. Emphasis makes us stop, helping us focus. A designer uses shapes, texture, or color to create emphasis.




Imagine the same living room but now everything in it is red—from the couch to the walls to the flowers to the rug. I don’t want to linger or enjoy the space because it’s overwhelming and nothing grabs my attention. There’s too much red. Nothing is emphasized.

In the same way, our world is pressing us to be like an all-red room. We must be all things to all people all the time, it seems. Good at everything. Involved in everything. Know everyone. I’m tired of the pressure, of all the striving, competition, and backbiting. Give me some white space, please.


I need God to give me emphasis and so do you.


God is not asking us to be all things to all people all the time. He’s the one who is capable of doing and being this. He’s the one who is all-knowing. God alone is our ever-present help and shield. We’re only to add our little pop of color into the corner of the world in which he places us. We do this through the emphasis that God has designed for each of us. The beautiful thing is, all our emphases or callings will look different. However different they may be, our little pops of color should cause others to rest the eyes of their hearts and minds upon God. And if we are doing too many things, we will be way too red or stressed out and no one will want to linger around us either.

But what if we really feel like we found our calling or purpose, and then it doesn’t happen? Sometimes the emphasis we wish for or desire in our hearts will not come to pass because God will say no and not allow it to happen. We may assume this is because God is not good or fair. Or maybe we believe we are not good enough for God to use us, or that God doesn’t care about the dreams or passions that we feel inside us. But this isn’t true.

Look at God’s “No,” from a different perspective. God, because he is good and is in the process of redesigning us, could be saying no to our good desires simply because they are not in line with the emphasis he has designed for our overall life. And God’s no enables our pop of color to be a beneficial and beautiful one. Here it is in a nutshell:


God’s no = not our emphasis

God’s no = the revealing of his emphasis for us

God’s no = his protection, preventing us from becoming an all-red room


And when God says no, that means we will have the opportunity to say yes to something that he has decided is better for us, because in his providence he knows and has already designed what is to come. So if you ever thought that by now you’d be living in the city or home of your dreams and making one million dollars and, well . . . you aren’t, it’s okay to admit your disappointment or feelings of failure to yourself and to your God. Ask him to heal you of those feelings. Realize that you’re beautifully gifted to do something else with your life and that God is redesigning you so you can bless the lives of others and bring glory to him.


Don’t be all things, just be you-things.


pop of color


Your emphasis matters in God’s eyes. May this encourage you whenever your life doesn’t go as planned.


Guest post

To hear more of Tracy’s musings, visit her online home and subscribe at www.tracymsteel.com. “A Redesigned Life” is now available for purchase at various online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Baker Publishing Group, and Christian Book Distributors.

Tracy Steel graduated from Kansas State University with a BS in interior design in 1998 and has a master’s degree in biblical and theological studies from Phoenix Seminary. As a project designer, Tracy created and coordinated the design and space planning of commercial spaces for clients such as Bank One, Wells Fargo, Express Scripts, DHS, and Lockheed Martin. Moving from one type of interior design to another, Tracy then worked in full-time youth ministry, serving as the director of female students at Scottsdale Bible Church. God’s true design for Tracy now involves improving the interior space of the hearts and minds of women around her. Currently stationed in Washington, DC, this military wife and mother of two enjoys linking up with other bloggers, leading Bible studies at her local church, and speaking at various moms’ groups and women’s ministries events nationwide. She is also the author of Images of His Beauty, a 10-week Bible study for young women that focuses on identity, overcoming and healing through Christ, and bearing the image of Christ.



Have you asked God to redesign your life? How is He answering your prayers? Leave a comment to be entered into a giveaway of Tracy’s new book, A Redesigned Life!

book cover


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Retreats Aren’t For Wimps

If you know me at all, you might wonder why in the world would a die-hard introvert host her own women’s retreat?

Answer: Introverts need retreats, too. That, and God loves to nudge me out of my comfort zone!

Honestly, I just really love the idea of a retreat, especially since most retreats rely heavily on the promise of refreshing, restoring, renewing, and refocusing.

Re-words? Yes, please.


Retreat, restore, recover

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Pushing the reset button

Pushing the reset button is a nightly occurrence at our house, and this is the part where I have to make a confession: lately, we’ve been eating our evening meal in the living room while watching reruns of Alias. (I know, I know; we should eat at the table and talk about our day, reconnect—practice what you preach, Susan.) I’m just gonna’ blame Jennifer Garner and all those fantastic outfits and ever changing hair colors.



Here’s where the reset comes into the picture: we use Amazon Firestick to watch TV and inevitably it stops working right at the part where Sydney Bristow is about to get captured by the bad guy. It’s maddening.

Roger has to get up, turn the TV around and do whatever it is he does to that little Firestick to reset it.

The only way we can continue to watch “our show,” is to reset the connection and my husband is the only one who knows how to reset it. (Note to self: have him write down the process in case it happens when he’s not here. Never mind: if he’s not here, I’ll just turn off the TV and read a book.)

It’s the running joke at our house… if anything ever happens to Roger, I’d have to sell the TV because I’m pretty much clueless to how he has it all set up.


If you don’t know the setup, there’s no way you’ll know how to do a reset. Click To Tweet


I may not know how to reset the TV, but I have learned how to reset my heart.

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Marital Bliss and other thoughts on our 47th anniversary

We celebrated our 47th anniversary yesterday. Well, no… that’s not exactly true. The truth is, we forgot that it was our anniversary until Facebook reminded us. The actual celebration begins this Sunday when we head over to a cute little Airbnb cabin that we rented on the banks of the Neuse River, near where my Mom grew up on the coast of eastern North Carolina.



Among those Facebook memories was one I posted three years ago in 2016. The last line of that post mentioned that I was looking forward to what the future held for us as a couple.

I was soon to find out.

Our fall schedule was crammed with ministry trips—a women’s retreat in the mountains, four days speaking in Virginia and a long-awaited speaking engagement in Ohio. Roger would be providing music at most of these events. Little did we know on August 6th that the most exciting trip we’d take that fall was to the Emergency Room on September 30, a trip that would turn out to be not only life-saving for my husband, Roger, but life-changing for us.

A pulmonary embolism was not what we were expecting in the fall of 2016.

Marriage is like that—full of things you don’t expect and frequently lacking in the things you expect the most.

Marriage is full of things you don't expect and frequently lacking in the things you expect the most. Click To Tweet



Last night my daughter texted me, wanting to know how many years we’d been married and then asking how many of those years were marital bliss.


“Bliss is a myth,” I answered.


I know, I know; that sounds really pessimistic, doesn’t it?

Hey, I’m not down on marriage; I’m just a realist. Only heaven will be bliss. Her next question was even more interesting:


“Would you consider yourself an expert on marriage?”


She was surprised when I said no.

“Really?” she asked. “After all you’ve been through together?”


All we’ve been through… I thought about that all night, because just like you, we’ve been through a lot in 47 years of marriage: raising a family, moving across country, ups and downs of jobs and ministry, financial challenges, disappointments as well as dreams come true. The marriage vows are spot on, but we get blinded by the bliss thing.






Expert? No, I’m not an expert. There’s always more to learn and one thing I’ve learned is that unrealistic expectations will take out your marriage quicker than you can squeeze the toothpaste the wrong way.

There’s been bliss, sure, but also plenty of bumps and bruises along the way, many of them self-inflicted due to those unrealistic expectations.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I got married at 19 (19!) but I know I didn’t expect it to be so challenging. One expectation was certain, though… divorce was not in the equation.

When my husband proposed, he was adamant that if we got married it would be for life and I agreed. By the grace of God and sheer stubbornness we’ve managed to remain together.


(Stubbornness will wreck a marriage unless you’re stubborn about the right things.)


Stubbornness will wreck a marriage unless you’re stubborn about the right things. Click To Tweet


Here’s an expectation for you:

Expect your marriage to be opposed; the enemy despises a united front and he will do everything in his power to divide you, including using the myth of daily bliss to make you disappointed in your marriage.

I mean, really… I’m certainly not blissful to be around 24/7, so why should I expect my marriage to be blissful 100% of the time?

The movies portray marriage like one big romance, a la Titanic or When Harry Met Sally. In reality, it’s more Raider’s of the Lost Ark… romance, adventure, drama and humor. The humor helps!



On a hunch, I looked up the etymology of the word ‘anniversary.’ It comes from a root word meaning, “to turn, bend.”


I just knew it would be something like that.


So, yes, we’re celebrating our anniversary this week. 47 years of turning to God for help, patience, strength, unconditional love.

Turning to face each other when we wanted to turn our backs.

Bending to avoid breaking, bending to serve when we’d rather be served, bending our wills to benefit the other’s.

Bending our knees in prayer.

Bliss? Depends on how you define it, I guess.

But most definitely blessed.



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