The First Treasure You Retreat
On May 2-4, 2008, twenty women convened at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa located in the Phoenix-Scottsdale resort community. With the majestic Camelback Mountain providing a striking background, they didn’t come primarily for the exotic setting and fine dining. Their purpose was to pull aside from busy lives as the wives of high profile athletes, actors, entertainers and business professionals. For three days, out of the camera’s eye, no press waiting in the shadows taking notes of the proceedings, they worshipped, received instruction and impartation and shared their lives with women from a similar state in life.
The initial idea for the retreat was conceived during a 2004 trip to Pebble Beach. My husband, Emmitt, and former NFL Wide Receiver, Jerry Rice, were part of a foursome at a golf tournament. While the men were on the links, Jerry’s former wife, Jackie, and I spent the day sharing our lives on a deep level. It was then I had the thought that I wished I could get all the women I meet–wives of high profile men–together in one place to hear each other’s stories. In my interactions with Jackie, I recognized that the wives have great value and awesome experiences that often get overshadowed by their husband’s fame. Sometime later in the week, I was riding and conversing with Jackie and my sister Pam. In the course of our conversing, Pam basically confirmed my thoughts that it would be awesome to have an environment where women married to high-profile men could interact, share the issues that are particular to their place in life, and receive inspiration in an environment that was safe from media intrusion. Pam encouraged me to take the initiative and develop such an event.
The week prior to the retreat, the whole thing began to literally unravel before my disbelieving eyes. Earlier in the week, I received an email message from Mrs. Serita Jakes’ assistant informing me that she would not be able to attend the retreat. Mrs. Jakes was to be my keynote speaker for the Sunday brunch. The night before our departure, Emmitt’s brother passed. Later the same day, I received a call from Paula White’s assistant with the tragic news that Paula’s daughter had lost her battle with cancer. Last minute guest cancellations were also trickling in during that time as well. I was devastated and emotionally shut down. The only comparison I can make is to the night of my mother’s funeral. I was watching a wall crumble-a vision seeming to die. One thing after another, I kept asking God what was happening. The enemy told me I was a fool; I would look foolish and what I thought God said-He didn’t…! Once I received word of Emmitt’s brother, I thought of canceling the retreat. Emmitt told me it was my assignment and I had to do it. Emmitt had a meeting in Arizona the day I was scheduled to fly to the retreat. We were able to fly together and support each other. It was after our arrival that I got the call from Paula’s office. I locked myself in my hotel room, huddled up on the couch, crying, calling and asking everyone I knew for prayer support. How could I ever greet the women who were coming to my retreat? When Mrs. Jakes canceled, Cathy Moffitt told me to close out my own conference. Helping me to prepare for that closing speech, Cathy sent me the passage of scripture with the story of the woman with the issue of blood. I had read that passage many times and heard a few preachers expound on its truths, but somehow during my time of preparation, I saw myself as the woman with that issue.
As I studied that passage, I saw how like that woman I had searched to get my issues dealt with: counseling, shopping, hair and makeup, all in an attempt to get happiness and peace. In the biblical story, all that woman said was if she could just touch the hem of His garment, she would be healed. At that moment, I felt a peace and relief come over me. God was saying that because I finally reached out to Him, crying for Jesus’ help, that moment became defining in my relationship with Him. The next morning I was a new person. I dressed, felt beautiful and was genuinely happy to greet and interact with the retreat guests. My friend, Donna Richardson Joyner, told me she had never seen me in my element like that: comfortable and at peace.View Photo Album