It’s a little quiet being alone… As I walked through the airport, journeying to my first Bloom Retreat last year, I realized it was a very rare thing for me to be alone with some quiet. No city noise? No Baby Shark? No appointments running through my mind? What’s a church planting woman to do???

Have you ever been so busy listening to people that you didn’t leave space to listen to the voice of God? Last year, I spent a few days at the retreat recalibrating my ears to listen to God’s voice and spend time communing with him. It actually made me more effective in listening to others!

During a space of quiet time following a retreat session, I asked God to give me a word for various women I’d been praying for and investing in. As I journaled and sat quietly listening, I sensed a word for various women on my list. Then came the name of one friend I’ll call Lina. No word came. I politely asked again. Nothing.

I began to ask more boldly. I was getting a little irritated that God would very clearly call me to this friendship, give me a heart for Lina, and then just abandon her with no gospel transformation. Talking with some women in a group that day, I was reminded of Genesis 32:24, where Jacob wrestles with God, finally giving Him a bold ultimatum: 

“But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’”

Interestingly in this case, I wrestled with God, not letting go until I heard a blessing for Lina. Jesus, what about her word? What is her name? A friend at the retreat encouraged me to continue asking those questions of God.

Quietly Lina’s word came. Mother. I’d first met my dear friend through a mommy group. Interesting. I’m still interpreting it, but I think perhaps her legacy and blessing will one day spring forth even more fully through her daughter.

I needed the space and opportunity to break away from the frenzy of life and just be with Jesus.; to hear things spoken over my heart, connect with friends, and reorient my heart in quiet, honest times with God. To evaluate things in ministry that I am normally too busy barreling through to actually take a step back and meditate on.

When I walk away from conferences and ministry gatherings, I typically walk away with at least a light tinge of “do better, try harder, hustle for the kingdom, but don’t die doing it.” The Bloom Retreat was unique. It brought healing and help to my soul—not just as a women’s retreat (although those are great). And not just as a Christian-ministry event. The uniqueness of the Bloom Retreat lies in a beautiful kindred community. 

Women in Bloom understand this extremely unique life path. Taking time together brings hush where the hustle normally happens. It allows me to listen to the Spirit, where I’m often busy listening to the needs of others. I can attend to my soul instead of attending to my Target list. I also receive practical training, and most of all connect with women from all over the country who have a passion to see churches planted for the name of Jesus and the good of their neighbor.

Are you a woman in church planting? I’d encourage you to begin connecting with the Bloom community. Check out the Bloom website for both in person events like the Bloom Retreat as well as online events such as Learning Communities and Learning Intensives–these are great ways to get connected to other women in church planting who can help us to learn, listen, and ultimately pursue Jesus together. You are not alone!

Katie is a church planter in Los Angeles at Thrive Church LA.

Katie Alesso

Church Planter, Thrive Church (Los Angeles, CA)