By DeeAnn Bragaw – Loveland, Colorado … In early August, the annual Rocky Mountain Conference women’s retreat plans for a weekend escape to Glacier View Ranch filled with laughter, hugs, and friendships renewed was on track to be another casualty of the ongoing COVID situation.

Facing this reality Deeann Bragaw, RMC Women’s Ministry director, remembered the proverbial phrase, “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade” and began to think of alternatives to the weekend retreat.

“Our much-revised Fall Women’s retreat included being distanced, masked, and outside, but we came together in heart as we were reminded from God’s Word that He wants to take our suffering and turn it into service,” Bragaw, said.

Some 175 women, including Campion Academy girls and women of all ages from around the conference, assembled on the campus of Campion Academy to enjoy a day outdoors and in God’s Word at “Lemonade Women’s Retreat”

The gathering included a worship service led by Jennifer Woody, senior pastor of the Monroe, Washington church. After a picnic-style lunch, the group separated into three groups for workshops, including one designed for teens and led by Woody.

Later, the gathering reconvened to participate in a community service project which included painting “Hope Rocks” to be placed outside where individuals can discover them and gain courage and hope through their messages.

At the close of the retreat, participants were encouraged to surrender a lemon to Jesus, symbolizing “lemons” that have come into our lives, while the group prayed over these “lemons.”

As the assembly was leaving the field where they had enjoyed a day filled with laughter, unique socially-distanced fellowship, and spiritual lemonade, women could be overheard commenting on the events.

“This is the best thing that’s happened to me in six months! I feel so encouraged!” “My devotions were dry. Thank you so much for giving me new tools!” “I never thought of my suffering as something God could use. Thank you!” “I loved painting the rocks! I hope someone is encouraged when they find mine!”

–DeeAnn Bragaw is Rocky Mountain Conference Women’s Ministry director; photos by Stefanie Deapen