Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Jesus Camp Nantucket Retreat (and 30th Anniversary Jaunt!)

It brought me such joy, recently, to share with a great group of ladies at the Jesus Camp, Nantucket Women’s Retreat on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Conferences are super for reaching out to women in your community and surrounding areas, but retreats provide an intimate atmosphere for that’s conducive to both formal instruction and informal, one on one discipleship. And we had plenty of time and space for both! Many thanks to Darcy Creech Marelli for opening up her lovely homes and hosting this biannual time of refreshing for women from all over the country.

I love the way Darcy decorates her homes with these varied and striking maps of Nantucket!

My husband doesn’t often get to come with me to speaking engagements, but since we’ll be celebrating our 30th anniversary in December, we decided to make this a “working second honeymoon,” driving up to the retreat together, exploring Nantucket, and visiting any sites that caught our fancy on the drive home. (In case you’re wondering, it’s about a 24 hour drive from our home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Hyannis, Massachusetts, where we caught the ferry to Nantucket Island.)

Our view from the ferry as we docked in Nantucket.

Darcy and her friend Sheree graciously picked us up at the ferry and whisked us out to the High Point, the Jesus Camp property, a lovely home and guest house perfect for hosting retreats and other getaways. (Ladies if you enjoy admiring beautifully appointed homes, be sure to check out the slideshow and video of High Point here. You love the nautical and local island themes!)

Things got off to a cozy start Wednesday night with the arrival of all the retreat attendees. We shared a delicious dinner, then had the opportunity to hear everyone’s testimonies. Our backgrounds varied from those of us who were born and raised in church and came to know Christ at an early age to those who had survived abuse, or walked on the wild side, or were involved in heretical church backgrounds before coming to Christ later in life. There is no such thing as a “boring” testimony. Every new birth in Jesus is a miracle of His mercy and grace.

Thursday’s teaching started with God’s Word, Our Foundation, discussing the necessity, authority and sufficiency of God’s Word. We rounded out our instructional time with Teach What Is Good: Discipling Women in the 21st Century, examining biblical and practical discipleship and women’s ministry. Each session was followed by a time of Q&A and discussion groups.

Friday, session 1 was Hooked on a Feeling: Living By God’s Word Instead of Our Emotions. As Christians, our feelings don’t get to lead us around by the nose, we submit to the authority of Scripture instead. Our second session was Discernment 101. Both teaching sessions were again followed by Q&A and discussion groups. Many of the ladies were new to discernment and were disappointed to learn that some of their favorite ministries, authors, and teachers are false teachers. But they were all very gracious and receptive, and I had several fruitful conversations with women who were eager to learn.

During free time, the ladies enjoyed chatting around the dinner table, relaxing in the pool and hot tub, and trips into town and to the beach.

Retreat swag! Darcy kindly provided these resources and gifts for retreat attendees, and gave me a special treat of honey from High Point’s hive!

Ana, a retreat attendee who is originally from Guatemala but now resides in Ohio, brought me these lovely gifts. Homemade buckeyes and Guatemalan gifts and coffee. The sale of this coffee supports the orphanage and foster care home Ana and her husband still operate in Guatemala.

All too soon, it was time to say goodbye. It was a wonderful time of fellowship in the Lord, and I’m looking forward to going back next year! Many thanks to Darcy and her assistant, Otilia, who worked so hard to host a great retreat, took care of all my needs, and made my husband and me feel so welcome.


If your church or organization is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.


When the retreat was over, my husband, Scott, and I had the opportunity to explore the island a bit. We went out to Great Point, the farthest point on the island, and had a wonderful time seeing the seals and the Great Point lighthouse. The shops downtown were charming, and we enjoyed an authentic Nantucket dinner at The SeaGrille.

The next day, we boarded the ferry and headed back to the mainland. Since Plymouth, Massachusetts, was only 30 minutes away, we decided to make that our first sightseeing stop.

At Plimoth Patuxet we saw recreations of a Patuxet home site and 17th century English village. We enjoyed seeing Wampanoag (Indian) boats, dwellings, and a cooking demonstration. The Wampanoag word for the succotash stew (turkey, beans, corn, celery, onions, etc.) our guide was making means “throw it in”. (There’s a running joke in Louisiana that that’s pretty much what “gumbo” means, too.) They would just throw in whatever they had and keep adding to it. We sampled some at the visitors’ center, and it was pretty good – basically a turkey and vegetable soup. We also saw the English village, made up of several Pilgrim homes and a fort.

We loved the beautiful fall foliage and scenery in the Plymouth area.

Our next stop in Plymouth was Jenney family grist mill. It was situated in a lovely little area, on, of course, a running stream. It still operates several times a week.

From the mill, we walked over to Plymouth Rock. It sits ensconced in a little pavilion on the side of the road. No velvet ropes or admission fees, no big hoopla. It’s just there. Along the way we saw some other Pilgrim points of interest including the Scrooby Leyden Church / Mayflower Meetinghouse and the Church of the Pilgrimage, along with monuments to Governor William Bradford and Elder William Brewster.

Our final stop in Plymouth was the Mayflower II, a replica of the original Mayflower. It was much smaller than I expected, and very spare in its appointments.

My husband is a JFK buff, so the next day we drove the half hour to Boston and visited the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of the University of Massachusetts. (If you’d like to hear the “My Daddy Is President” song, click here.)

I had wanted to visit New York City on our way home, but, unfortunately, we didn’t have time. This is as close as we got.

After Boston, we headed for Hershey, Pennsylvania, and spent most of the day at Chocolate World. We went on a ride that explained how chocolate is made, designed our own candy bars, went to a chocolate tasting, and took a trolley tour of the town.

And one last stop on our way home from Alabama. I finally got a chance to go to Buc-ee’s!


Photo Credits

All photos marked with a white star were taken by Ana Morales.

Photo of The SeaGrille courtesy of The SeaGrille.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley