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Ode to Joy - A Women's Retreat

Updated on April 12, 2015

2009 One Community Spiritual Center Women's Retreat

During a bonfire on a warm October night in 2008, I followed the lead of a friend and joined her before a group of fun-loving, and spiritually minded women, by volunteering for the 2009 Women's Retreat Team. Many of those present were members of One Community Spiritual Center (formerly Christ Church Unity) in Kansas City North. You may be familiar with this church if you've ever heard of the Complaint Free World ministry and it's globally recognized purple bracelets.

For the record, I will receive affiliate commissions if you choose to buy music or some of the books I've linked on this lens.  Rest assured I've read and/or listened to each of them.  It's my hope you will find these items informative, fun, helpful and inspiring, too. Enjoy and thanks!

I created this lens to show appreciation for the individuals and businesses who supported our fundraising goals, and those who were instrumental in helping to make the retreat a huge success. I also want to showcase music, books and other products that found their way into the retreat; More than anything though, I wanted to provide a resource for future retreat teams (of any kind) to explore the many ways they can use music, photography, support of local businesses and the Internet to create a memorable event.

As with all good Squidoo lenses, this is a work-in-progress.

Ode to Joy - a Women's Retreat


One Community Spiritual Center - Kansas City North

What is Unity?

For more information about One Community Spiritual Center (now, Unity of Kansas City NOrth) please visit

WHAT IS UNITY? Unity is a positive, practical, progressive approach to Christianity based on the teachings of Jesus and the power of prayer. Unity honors the universal truths in all religions and respects each individual's right to choose a spiritual path."

As explained by and for more information, visit

JOY In Process

Retreat Planning

As I write this we are two months shy of facilitating the 2009 retreat to be held in October at Tall Oaks Conference Center in Linwood, Kansas. This Squidoo lens will be a work in progress (as all good lenses are) and will relay additional details of the retreat after it's taken place.

On Sunday, July 26th we concluded a very successful fundraising effort with the raffling off of five overflowing gift baskets. These baskets were possible through generous contributions of many individuals and businesses who donated gifts &/or services. One reason I'm creating this Squidoo lens is to recognize these contributors. I also want to describe the process of planning such an event, and share a little about my special teammates. Finally, I will point out some of the wonderful resources available to anyone wanting to experience some JOY in their lives.

Of primary importance in the planning and execution of this event is that all of the women truly enJOY a meaningful experience.

Some of the many considerations beyond the actual program content include: music choices, menus, sleeping arrangements, creative activities, using the outdoor labrynth, Sunday Chapel service, having a bonfire, PA system, free time, volunteers and how they can help, and many, many more. It's a little like choreographing a play.

For more information about Tall Oaks Conference Center, check out their site:

Photo: Rainbow Peace


Melanie, Retreat Team Program Director

Ph.D./ Psychologist

We are blessed to have among us Melanie, a Ph.D./ Psychologist who will lead us in identifying our own personal pathway to JOY. She will guide us in exploration of the most significant impediments to one's own JOY as well as personal myths and negative thoughts that inhibit JOY. Each woman attending the weekend retreat will leave with a deep understanding of her own JOY: what impedes it, what sustains it and how to share this inner jubilation with the world.

Melanie is a loving mother of two, devoted to her family and to spiritual discovery. A successful publisher, Melanie & her husband just began a new entrepreneurial endeavor.

As a result of last year's Women's Retreat (the focus of which was Rita Marie Johnson's book "Return of Rasur" which introduced us to the Academy for Peace ministry and it's BePeace movement) Melanie was drawn to participate. She will be leaving for Costa Rica later this month to be a facilitator for a BePeace workshop.# Rita Marie also introduced retreat participants to a phenomenal tool called "Heart Math."

For more information regarding BePeace please visit:

and regarding Heart Math:

Here's Susan----------

Retreat Emcee with Energy and Enthusiasm

Our Retreat Emcee, Susan, is also a writer, and a keen editor. A phenomenal fund raiser, Susan's efforts were critical to our fundraising success!

Susan accomplished all this despite having knee surgery and being a co-leader and participant of another retreat during this same period! She currently serves on the Board at OCSC. Her zest for life and dedication to a spiritual journey is key to productive retreat meetings.

Susan is a baseball fan of the nth degree and actually quizzed her then husband-to-be on his interest in the sport. You see, he'd have to make room in their lives for her love of the game. He agreed.

I asked Susan to share a little with me about what matters to her. "I've been a member of Unity for 12 years and love the movement's basic tenets. I LOVE to read, but most especially I love to read naval (specifically submarine) war books. Any military, espionage, or war novel will pique my interest. I have a wonderful husband and 2 FABULOUS adult children. I work for attorneys as an Administrative Specialist. I'm looking for a bigger and new way to express creativity in my life. I'd LOVE to learn weaving on a loom (fiber arts), painting, drawing, and more about how to create abstract art." She is considering getting another design degree or maybe going for a masters in Fine Arts.

I believe Susan will accomplish whaterever she sets her sights on.

Ellie, Retreat Team Administrator

and Treasurer and ..

I hesitate to think of how far off the track we'd be if it were not for Ellie.

Ellie serves as Retreat Team Administrator, Retreat Treasurer, and Retreat Team Liaison with OCSC's office --all while handling interim leader/spokesperson responsibilities for OCSC's Book Bunch, Unity Sisters, Garden Posse, Hillcrest Thrift Store and other volunteer activities. This woman is tireless!

Her meeting minutes will undoubtedly prove useful to the 2010 Women's Retreat team. We also have Ellie to thank for our Retreat "Mascot" which will remain nameless and without further mention in order that it be a pleasant surprise at the event.

Ellie retired from the government and moved to Kansas City from Dallas a few years ago. Active in Unity for many years, she began life as the daughter of a preacher and is also the sister of a preacher. She is a very proud "Granny" to her son's two young boys; she loves her "super special girlfriends," and all things purple. Birds, flowers and laughter rank high among her favorite things. It's not uncommon to find Ellie flying a kite or teaching one of her grandsons to feed the ducks.

Terry - Retreat Team Desktop Publisher

Researcher and Squidoo Fan

Your writer is Terry, Retreat Desktop Publisher and Internet researcher, gatherer of supplies, quotations, and book and music suggestions. Once tunes were collectively chosen, I purchased MP3s & burned to CD for the event.

This process of developing a fun and meaningful retreat is a lengthy one. It is also challenging, fulfilling, demanding, exhilarating, maddening, uplifting and rewarding in more ways than I can count. I am blessed to be on this team and charged with such an important mission.

This is my 3rd hub, having formerly displayed a couple others on Squidoo that are no longer published. Hub Pages are the perfect venue for spreading the word, sharing information, giving credit where credit is due and having a creative outlet.

I've been a freelancer for several years. Currently, I'm working on a 2nd book and writing industrial related articles for the web. I have much to be grateful for!

Let there be JOY!

There's No "I" in TEAM

It Really is a Group Effort

In fact, as a team we have ALL gathered quotations, suggested music and searched books looking for relevant ideas and pertinent activities. I'm so proud to be working with these amazing and creative women. Melanie is also a potter, Susan weaves awesome one-of-a-kind baskets, Ellie and I make jewelry. We are all of the CAN-DO mindset.

And another truth is, we're control freaks. Yep, we're a spiritually growing, mature yet young-at-heart group of women secure in choices, decisive, human, sensitive, explosive, funny, insightful, warm, challenging and soulful. Did I say human?

It is interesting how we achieve a kind of synergy where our roles alter slightly, responsibilities shift just a bit, and we assume additional tasks- as needed- to get the job done.

Photo: Group of People


Teri Wilder's I Choose Joy

Song by Teri Wilder Chosen as Ode to JOY Retreat Theme Song

The team is so fortunate to have attended a playshop led by versatile performer, Teri Wilder. Additionally, Teri has shared her musical gifts with One Community Spiritual Center several times. Her latest CD proved inspirational to us and we selected the title song to be the theme song for the retreat.

Here is the first part of the song's lyrics:






To learn more about Teri and her music, please visit her site at

Retreat Tunes:Girls Just Want to Have Fun +

available as MP3 downloads

The team set out to find joy-filled, happy and/or upbeat music in addition to music that fed us spiritually.

3d music notes ©MarsBars@iStockphoto

© @iStockphoto

Do You Believe In Magic?

The 59th Street Bridge Song

(Feelin' Groovy)

© @iStockphoto

Oh What A Beautiful Morning

I Am So Blessed

Fundraising Feats!

Fantastic Support from our Community

We set our intention: to use funds raised to help pay for retreat scholarships and some event activities. We pray in and out at retreat team meetings.

Generous contributions allowed for the creation of 5 marvelous gift baskets! Please see each basket theme below for a list of contributors.

Raffle tickets were $2.00 each. The five gift baskets encompassed gifts and/or services related to:



Spa/Health & Beauty

Sports: Baseball & Golf

Sports: Football

The drawings were held after the 11:00 service on Sunday July 26th. All baskets have been delivered to the winners.

It is my goal to include every contributor to this effort. If I have missed anyone, it is purely human error for which I am sorry. Please contact me so I may honor you here. This is no way minimizes your gift-thank you!

Photo: Multicolored Eye Macro

©nu_andrei @ istockphoto

Gift Basket #1

Kitchen/Food/Gourmet (contributions in no particular order)

This gift basket had an approximate value of $275 and was overflowing with: Trader Joe's Buttermilk Pancake Mix, Blu Italty Water, Oak Leaf Pino Grigio, a floral zippered Picnic Basket, olive oil carafe, serving dish, plates and spreaders, a ceramic bean pot with wire carrier, a variety of kitchenware, flatware, hand towels, picnic items, placemats, custom notecard set from care2share creative studio, a ceramic teapot, $10 vitamin gift card from Thyme Capsule Nutrition, North Kansas City, gourmet teas, glass handled cake knife & server set, $25 gift certificate to Hillcrest Thrift Store, Tower Slicer courtesy of Pryde's Old Westport. Individual contributors included: Suzanne Pearson, Robin Stanley, Pamela Hughes, Susan Ratliff, and Shirley Atkinson.

Photo: Grilled Chicken Breast ©JoeBiafore@istockphoto

Gift Basket #2

Spa/Health & Beauty (contributions in no particular order)

With an estimated value of $530, this was the largest gift basket we raffled off. The custom hand made basket held: Caress Beauty Bag, $25 Gift Card to Hair Connection's (Liberty) stylist Chad Dunivent, $55 in Gift Cards to Plain Jane's Hair & Nails (Kansas City) stylist Cherry King, a $10 vitamin gift card from The Thyme Capsule (North Kansas City)$65 Gift Certificate to Garden's of Delight, Foot Bath Spakit, $60 value One Hour Massage to Massage Works, Gardens of Delight Herbal Teas, Festive Gold Candles, custom notecard set from care2share creative studio, Delightful Aromatherapy Candle Set from Yankee Candle Store# 254 (Shops on the Boardwalk- Kansas City), 2 variety Bath & Body Sets, Arbonne Aromatherapy Set, "Rejoice" Canvas, Multi-colored beaded necklace from Bead Boutique, Kansas City, matching earrings, "Miracle" Plaque, Fancy Decorated Pillow, Framed "Worried" Poem, $30 Gift Certificate to Animal Reiki Divine, Kansas City. Individual contributors included: Lorraine Bologna, Doris Hynes, anonymous, Robin Stanley, Susan Ratliff, Barbara McEntire, and Evelyn Misner.

Photo: Balance in Blue ©imagedepotpro@istockphoto

Gift Basket #3

Gardening (contributions in no particular order)

Our gardening basket was filled with some special gifts and had an estimated value of $165. It held: a hanging Metal Votive Candle Holder from Backyard Bird Center, Kansas City,

Dragonfly String Lights, custom notecard set from care2share creative studio, various gardening tools, 2 bird feeders, 2 bird seed hangers and a kneeling pad courtesy of Lowes Store #2767 Kansas City/Gladstone , fine Smith & Hawken hanging garden light set. Individual contributor, Debi Overton.

Photo:Tranquil Garden Walkway ©onepony@istockphoto

Gift Basket #4

Sports: Baseball & Golf (contributions in no particular order)

With an estimated value of $350, baseball & golf items were included in a custom hand made basket, Kansas City fans had a chance to win 4 Club Level tickets to KC Royals vs. Oakland A's with a parking pass, courtesy of Dean Machinery., a blue stadium blanket, $67 Golf Gift Certificate, custom notecard set from care2share creative studio, various baseball snacks, a golf poster, and 36 Wilson "Smart-Core" golf balls. Individual contributors included: the Dean Family, Susan Ratliff, Jen and Ken Miller, & Russ Bohm.

Photo: The Pitch ©SteveMcsweeny@istockphoto

Gift Basket #5

Sports: Football (contributions in no particular order)

The football related gifts with an estimated value of $425 were placed within a custom hand made basket and included 2 KC Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers Club Level Tickets plus 2 Arrowhead Club

Passes from Dean Machinery, a KC Chiefs Stadium Blanket, KC Chief's Poster, custom notecard set from care2share creative studio, and a variety of football snacks. Individual contributors included: The Dean Family, and Susan Ratliff.

Photo: Sports Equipment ©belknap@istockphoto

The Wonderful World Wide Web- Open 24/7/365

Visit Businesses Listed in this Hub Page:

For more information on business contributors, please visit their web sites:

If your business participated in this effort and you have a web site you'd like listed here, please be sure to contact me.

Photo: Open 24 hrs Neon


Joyful Titles on Amazon - JOY-filled Books

A major part of planning a retreat focused on JOY, is research. Each of the team members are avid readers with personal libraries that held some of our "recommended reading" choices. Here are a handful of titles -- see if there is anything here that resonates with you.

Read Delight into Your Life

Besides, Reading is Therapeutic

The Wealthy Spirit:

Daily Affirmations for Financial Stress Reduction

Happiness Is a Choice

Sark's New Creative Companion:

Ways to Free Your Creative Spirit

Attitudes of Gratitude:

How to Give and Receive Joy Everyday of Your Life

Generosity of Spirit YouTube Video - from Humanity Healing Foundation

YouTube is an awesome venue for wonderful, moving videos. There are so many great ones. I hope you enjoy this selection.

Additional comments are those of Humanity Healing. For more information about this organization, please visit

Planning Continues

Focus on Fun, Relaxation and EnJOYment

We have a lot of work ahead of us as we near the retreat registration deadline of August 30th. We are delighted to be able to offer many scholarships and so very thankful for all the people who helped make our fundraising goals a reality.

Mention in a couple of press releases and here at Squidoo are but small measures of our appreciation. We are also very blessed and grateful for tithes given us by One Community Spiritual Center, now Unity of KC North. Check out one release under the headline:

Intention and Prayer Create Fundraising Feat for Women's JOY Retreat Type "Ode to Joy" in SEARCH field and the PR will be shown.

Free Press Release

This lens will be updated periodically with an eye toward discretion since the retreat won't be held until October. We want every woman attending to be pleasantly surprised. Once the retreat is held, it will be with great JOY that pictures and details are added here.

Photo: Read All About It!!!


Countless blessings and JOY~

One Community Spiritual Center's 2009 Women's Retreat

Retreat HELD Oct 9 through 11

Whew! We did it! The retreat was held on a beautiful (but COLD) autumn weekend. Based on participants' evaluations, the Tall Oaks Conference Center was given a huge thumbs up! Likewise, their new chef (and the team's menu selections for 5 meals) pleased our group tremendously. Respondents were asked to rate from 1 to 5 (5 being excellent) and provide comments for each category, such as what they really enjoyed & what they would change.

Our Program Presenter and her content were rated nearly perfect; the breaks we coined JOY BREAKS were also extremely well received.

Three weeks before the event, the Spiritual Leader we'd secured had to bow out due to a scheduling conflict. So, we had to regroup FAST! Our Emcee, Susan, stepped up to the plate volunteering to develop a Sunday service. Her beautiful mix of biblical references to JOY and wonderfully poignant and relevant quotations from famous leaders which, combined with her flawless delivery, created spiritual food for all present! Evaluations confirmed that everyone found her Sunday Service to be phenomenal! As we've all heard, "everything happens for a reason.." and our friend Susan might have discovered a new chapter unfolding in her life!

Since this retreat was about JOY and FUN, we chose to add a Saturday night PJ party in lieu of the traditional bonfire. Again, evaluations indicated this was a good choice. Although the snacks we provided were on the indulgent side, only a few people remarked they'd have preferred healthier fare.

Our music selection received mixed reviews. The majority rated the music as 4 and 5 but there were some 3s and even a couple of 2s. Our craft project, decorating the front of the three ring binders used for the event, was similarly received. Most rated 4s & 5s but several 3s, a 2 and a 1.

With a grand total (after illness, an accident and very sadly, a family death prevented a few women from attending) of 38 participants - we received 32 completed evaluations.

We knew going in we wouldn't please everybody so, overall we were thrilled with the positive response the retreat received! Thanks to all the ladies who completed evaluations. Their input is invaluable for us and for future retreat planning teams.

Retreat Entertainment

Walking the Labrynth, Puzzles & YouTube, Oh My!

As a result of feedback from prior years' Retreat evaluations, this year we made space for more free time or Joy Breaks, as we called them.

We had two round 600 piece Kodacolor Kaleidoscope Jigsaw puzzles. They were created from lightwaves of sound from 1.) Ode to Joy and 2.) The Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy music. These were purchased used, from a very reputable ebay seller, arlenecordell. The third jigsaw puzzle we provided was a new Glow-In-The-Dark Moon Fairy Jigsaw puzzle from PuzzlesandBeyond.

Though the round Kaleidoscope puzzles were maddeningly challenging, the glow-in-the-dark one was completed before the event closed.

One of the wonderful women who attended the retreat works for the VA Medical Center in Midtown Kansas City. Her business card reads VA Medical Center "Keeping the Promise to America's Veterans." They opened 5 hospice beds on September 29th, 2009. The Retreat Team is honored to have donated the puzzles for use in their family room.

Tall Oaks Conference Center has a beautiful Labrynth with decorative stones in a secluded wooded area. Walking the Labrynth is a very peaceful, spiritually centering experience. Some of the women chose to spend time doing that.

We also showed funny YouTube Videos for those who preferred to stay indoors. One of the funniest we found follows here.


Spiritual Splendor

God Is Good, All The Time

The retreat team "booked" an Associate Minister to deliver our Sunday Worship Service in late July. We were very excited about the person we selected and thrilled to receive an affirmative response to our request! You can imagine our disappointment and dismay when three weeks before the October retreat, we learned of a scheduling conflict that prohibited her from conducting the service.

So, we did the only thing that could be done under the circumstances. We fretted a bit. We scrambled. We brainstormed. And we regrouped. As it turned out, our very own Emcee Susan, stepped up to the plate and volunteered to conduct the service. A student of Unity for more than a decade, a well read, knowledgeable and intuitive spiritual messenger, Susan delivered a Sunday service that moved everyone present. It was amazing.

Leave it to Infinite Spirit to create circumstances that at first seemed terrible but which were ultimately a fantastic blessing! More to come in this Squidoo module, including a wonderful meditation provided by another sister in Spirit, also a Chaplain.

Meditation Leader, Debi Overton, PhD
Meditation Leader, Debi Overton, PhD

OCSC Women's Retreat Spiritual Service

The Meditation


Led by Debi Overton

Unity Women's Retreat, October 11, 2009

Close your eyes. Take some deep breaths. Go into your heart space. Relax.

We are all gifted by God to feel joy, and that joy shows up in our spirit, mind, heart, and behavior. When joy appears in our spirit, we experience a sacred connection. When joy appears in our mind, we think sacred thoughts. When joy appears in our heart, we feel sacred emotions. When joy appears in our behavior, we exude sacred actions.

We know the Divine Presence extends this gift of joy to us anytime. Under any circumstances, and always without conditions. The giving of this gift is from God, but the receiving of the gift is up to us. All the receiving ever involves is our response of an open spirit to connect with God, and an open mind to place joy into our conscious awareness.

Take a moment now to visualize in your mind God's extension of joy to you, and your spiritual reception of this gift into your mind, your heart, and your behavior. Then visualize your response to God after receiving this gift.


Our prayer is that your experiences this weekend have raised your consciousness to new levels. Joy is always available to you. You are always worthy. You are always empowered to invite joy into your life at any moment.

We are the light that is God, and we are grateful.

And so it is.

Woman Praying
Woman Praying

OCSC Women's Retreat Spiritual Service Led by Susan Ratliff

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I hope you have all enjoyed your weekend.

I hope you’ve enjoyed finding out about yourself and your relationship with JOY.

Some of the things you’ve come to understand about yourself were uncomfortable I’m sure; but, hopefully, some of them were good things, even great. And this understanding we’ll call wisdom.

Proverbs 3:13 says that

Happy is the man (read woman) who finds wisdom, this woman gains understanding. It goes on to say that “for the gain from it is better than the gain from silver and its profit better than gold. She (wisdom) is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her, those who hold her fast are called, happy.

Hopefully you’ve also been able to identify and come to understand more deeply what sustains your joy.

I believe what is more important are the uncomfortable things that we’ve touched upon. For each of us it is different but in many ways, the same.

We’ve made an attempt to individually identifying what impedes our personal joy. In some ways it’s a form of grieving. Grieving for what has happened in our lives that we wish we could change, for what hasn’t happened that we wish we can do something about and, more importantly, what we can’t do about them. For each of us, there are more of these things than we’ve identified and we’ll be thinking about them the rest of our lives.

I find comfort in knowing I’m not alone in that. That I’m just like everyone else. I’m not so special that I’m the only one with regrets.

However, I’ve found in Nehemiah 8:10 these words. “Do not grieve, for the Joy of the Lord is your strength.”

It’s like an unexpected gift, a gift of strength, of happiness and of delight.

As followers of Unity we believe that we are not separate from God. Father/Mother God is inside us. Do you get that, the JOY of the Lord is YOUR strength? That strength is inside you, and the strength resides in JOY. That’s what makes us strong. Joy.

How much more easily can you deal with the obstacles or impediments to your own joy if you realize that “the Joy of the Lord is your strength?

John 16:20 says “you will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”

In fact, I would put forth to you that being joyous, having joy, creating joy for others as well as ourselves is a veritable mandate from God.

Once again I turn to scripture. Det 28:47 says “Because you did not serve the Lord . . . with joyfulness and gladness of heart . . . you shall serve your enemies.” I believe as members of Unity we could say that “your enemies” could mean, discord within ones self resulting in illness, it could mean discord and unhappiness in our family lives, it could mean that we aren’t even able to enjoy the things we know we enjoy, like food, friendship and or even travel. I believe that unhappiness and living a non-joy filled life can turn you into something you won’t even recognize.

As Is 24:11 says - “There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine; all joy has reached its eventide; the gladness of the earth is banished. Desolation is left in the city.

As Is 61.?? says - Instead of your shame you shall have a double portion, instead of dishonor you shall rejoice in your lot; therefore in your land you shall possess a double portion; yours shall be everlasting joy.

Rom 14:17 For the kingdom of God does not mean food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for joy.

These are all ways of saying, what the Dalai Lama says: ‘the purpose of our lives is to be happy.’

How have you seen your own perception of JOY having changed?

Oneness Symbol
Oneness Symbol

Many Paths, One God

Oneness Jewelry & SYMBOLS, in general

The former bookstore at our church sold a few jewelry items. There, I found a pair of earrings I've come to love from a company called Oneness Jewelry. The Oneness symbol is shown in this picture though enlarging it has taken away it's clarity. I think you can still see 6 different spiritual symbols.

I personally wear & enjoy a variety of Cross pendants but loved this pair of earrings because "Many Paths, One God" truly resonates with me. If you'd like to explore this company's website, visit them at

Joy Break YouTube - Train Station Dance

There were several videos we found that exemplified JOY but this one was especially entertaining & uplifting. ENJOY!

Retreat "Mascot" Bella Bliss

Ellie's Girl

Let Us Know You Were Here - Your Feedback is Appreciated!

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    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Sounds like a wonderful retreat; someday I hope to attend one like this.