What To Do on Your Yearly Retreat

By February 11, 2013General

(I’ve been sharing this series from the archives because I’m deep in speech prep for two back to back conferences. The first of the two was this past weekend and was amazing. Thanks so much for your prayers! The next one is this coming weekend at MomHeart Conference in Dallas. If you’re headed there, I’d love to connect!)

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The purpose of a yearly retreat isn’t simply to get away. It isn’t just to sleep in.

The purpose is to make sure that you are moving forward in the plan God has for you.

He has chosen you to lead your children. If you want them to follow you, you need to actually be going somewhere; constantly growing, changing, becoming the person God created you to be.

A yearly retreat is a time to reevaluate the direction you are taking, the responsibilities you’re carrying, and the action you need to take.

The Two Goals of a Yearly Retreat

There are two primary goals of a yearly retreat: to rest and to refocus. The order in which you approach these goals is up to you and depends on your personality.

Consider your needs and decide what might be best for you. You might be the sort (like me) who just wants to “get things done” and end up forgetting to rest. Or you might be needing so much rest that you forget to focus and plan.

There isn’t much point in resting if we are simply returning to the chaos that exhausted us with no plan to change it. And there isn’t much use in planning if we return to our home too weary to act upon it.

Rest and refocus. Make sure you do both on your retreat.

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How do you refocus?

1. Re-establish who you are.
Many moms who feel as though they’ve lost touch with themselves as they’ve spent years caring for others.

  • Take some time to journal and think about those things that make you feel alive.
  • Make a list.
  • How can you incorporate those things into your life on a regular basis?

It’s also a great time to learn about yourself.

  • Take a personality test.
  • What makes you tick, what makes you feel overwhelmed, what are your strengths?
  • What aspects of your personality need the most work? Discipline? Organization? Patience? Planning?

Use this time of quiet to get to know yourself better. Ask God to reveal in you the things that need to change.

2. Re-establish where you’re going
A yearly retreat is the perfect time to work on your Mission Statement. Whether you’re creating it for the first time or simply re-evaluating it, there is no better way to leave your retreat feeling focused and purposeful than to have your mission prayed over, clear and written down. (If you don’t know how to create a personal mission statement, here’s a free ebook.)

This is also a good time to list your responsibilities outside of your Mission Statement and determine whether they are truly necessary or if you are over committed. Motherhood is a busy season where it is easy to stretch ourselves too thin and have little left over for the most important thing, our family.

Take this time of solitude to simplify, if necessary.

3. Re-establish how you’ll get there
Once you have your mission statement written down, take time to think about how you’ll make that statement your reality.

Break it down into simple yearly and monthly goals to ensure that what you say you want to do, actually gets done.

4. Re-establish how you can serve best.
Again, the whole point of this retreat is for you to be better equipped as a wife and mother.

  • Take time to pray over every member of your family.
  • Make a list for each person, brainstorming ways you can serve, encourage and have fun with them.
  • Make plans to do some of those things the first day you arrive home, so that everyone feels revived because of your retreat.

Time to Rest

In this age of constant communication and endless entertainment, we spend so much time “relaxing” but never feeling rested. During your retreat, I highly recommend that you turn off the tv, unplug the computer and stop checking your phone.
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Reacquaint yourself with silence…and stillness.

  • Go to bed early.
  • Sleep in.
  • Take a nap.
  • Just sit awhile.
  • Enjoy looking at the clouds or stars.

Evaluate the Past Year

Did life live you or did you live life?

Where you intentional or simply a pinball reacting to your circumstances? Are you the same person this year that you were last year? How do you want to be different next year?

Make Your Retreat a Conversation, Not a Checklist

I pray that you’re time would be spent according to God’s leading. That your yearly retreat would leave you feeling more confident in hearing His voice and the direction in which He’s telling you to go.

I pray that you would go home with renewed passion for God and your family, with a love that can only come from an overflowing cup.

Action Time: Is your natural tendency to “do” or to “be”?
Consider this now so that as you plan your retreat you can be particularly focused on making sure you take time to do both.

(originally shared 4.20.11)

Leave a Comment



  • This is an awesome breakdown of what a retreat should have. Some may balk and say “why do I need to DO anything? I am supposed to be retreating!” I like that you give a practical list of questions to think over, because if you do go back to the same chaos, you will need another retreat in a week, lol!

  • Joyce says:

    Great points!

  • Lezli says:

    I am loving your retreat posts! I’m starting to daydream about having a yearly retreat… it sounds lovely! I’m going to start making real plans toward having one.

  • Anne says:

    (Kat–I apologize for replying to the wrong post above–so embarrassed!)

    I read something a few years ago that totally reframed how I approach goal-setting: I think the author was Richard Foster. He said that a yearly retreat is an excellent time to purposefully set goals for our lives, and to make sure to set long term goals as well as shorter-term ones–we tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in one year, but hugely UNDERestimate what we can accomplish in ten.

    That one kernel of advice dramatically changed my approach to goal setting.

  • Katie Orr says:

    These are all great tips (as always!)

    I think my tendency is to “do”, although sometimes I just reach the end of my rope and am pretty useless. If I took a retreat during those seasons I would be tempted to just sleep, sleep and sleep some more!

  • MrsH says:

    Thank you for this post, it was really helpful as I approached a long weekend during which I visited a friend, but also knew I’d have oodles of time for just me.

    My biggest struggle, honestly, was transitioning back home. I really tried to structure my first day back to make sure I’d get some 1:1 time in with each of my three kids, but one just rejected all attempts, and then my sitter got sick so my oldest one sulked for the rest of the day about losing that time with me. They spent the day fighting and breaking stuff. NOT fun!

    So, any tips for the transition out of the retreat (whether weekly or yearly) and back to home life?

  • My husband and I went on a goal planning retreat in early December. It was a very valuable use of time. I’ve never gone on a retreat by myself, but I can imagine there is great benefit in doing so.
    Thanks for the suggestions presented here. I’m a “doer,” so I often have a tough time sitting still and relaxing (I feel like I’m being lazy). I’m both encouraged and challenged by the suggestion to take time to rest. I often need reminded that rest is a good thing.

    • Kat Lee says:

      Oh, I’m exactly the same way. It’s so hard to rest, but as I’ve seen the immense value in it, it’s become easier and easier. Praying you have some wonderful time of rest this year!

  • Michele-Lyn says:

    Love this idea! I take every 7th week off of blogging and social networking and I feel it benefits the same! I, too, think Allume will be my retreat away this year. Or perhaps I need to plan one alone…hmm? We shall see!

    Love you, friend.

  • Breanne says:

    My husband is in school and has a reading week next week, we’re already planning on him watching our girls for the majority of a day while I go to a coffee shop or somewhere to be quiet and plan and be refreshed. I’m loving this series,it’s come at a very good time for me. It’s an intense time of mothering and life, with two little girls and a husband in school and I’m in the need of some re-focusing.

    Loving the practical encouragement!

  • Since I’m trying to kill our debt and have vowed to holiday as a family as soon as I’ve got that right, my retreat may have to be just me hiding in the cupboard for a couple of hours at a time – but even that will be a blessing because I choose it to be!

    • Kat Lee says:

      “but even that will be a blessing because I choose it to be!” — those are possibly the wisest words I’ve ever heard. Well said. Well done.

  • Patti says:

    This is such an excellent post, chock full of wisdom and practical application. Thankful to revisit it. And I’m looking forward to visiting with YOU at the conference this weekend!

  • Dawn says:

    Good thoughts on approaching my upcoming retreat/revolution. Thanks for sharing these!

  • […] Two other bloggers I enjoy recently shared about taking a retreat. Check out Breanne’s here and Kat’s here.  […]